Friday Bullets For The First Of August

Can you believe it’s August already? Can you believe the decade is almost over? This is crazy. Who sped up the clock? August is a month that is quite remarkable for standing for not much. Has anything remarkable happened in August? Here is a list of things that happened on this date. Hey, in 860 the Peace of Koblenz was signed by Charles the Bare, Louis the German and Lotharius II. Why didn’t I think of Lotharius when I was naming the boy?

  • I have written about Manny many times. I will write about him no more, however, as Manny is now a player for the Dodgers. Jason Bay, however, is a player for the Red Sox. I trust back bacon sandwiches and maple syrup laced cocktails are the order of the day where you are today.
  • I don’t cross pollinate the beer blog posts over here but this is a great example of DadLit.
  • Lawless? Would this be the same colonial French who in the 1680s took the leaders of the Iroquois nation invited to meet in Kingston, caged them and sent them to be galley slaves?
  • I like it when Harper stays away from policy and just taunts. He is better at mean than bright.
  • I hate the new Google little icon. I’ve looked at the damn lower case purple “g” for, what, a couple of months now and I swear it’s the stupidest logo I have ever seen. I’d ask them why they did swtiched from the old “g” but
  • A great primer on the rainbow pitch.

Well, that is enough for today. What do you want from me? Find a TV set to watch the Sox v. Oakland today. Watch Jason Bay get a standing ovation and then watch him quietly play great baseball.


Is Obama Really The Next Paris Hilton?

While I have to admit I still really have no idea what the policies of an administration led by Mr. Obama might look like, I really had no idea that this sort of thing was what would be going on:

After spending much of the summer searching for an effective line of attack against Senator Barack Obama, Senator John McCain is beginning a newly aggressive campaign to define Mr. Obama as arrogant, out of touch and unprepared for the presidency. On Wednesday alone, the McCain campaign released a new advertisement suggesting — and not in a good way — that Mr. Obama was a celebrity along the lines of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Is this unfair? Is there a ring of truth? I think the contrived protests that “the media ♥ Obama” are whacked. When did it dawn on those unhappy with his popularity that popularity is a factor in the political game? When did it dawn on them that the media is the conduit for information? What will be the charge against him next – that he is maybe anti-Bush? But is he really Paris Hilton?

Still…there is that “change” thing. As I was a wee laddie in the Maritimes I was familiar with the scenario of an opposition party facing a well-entrenched well-operating government and campaigning on “time for a change”. Whoop-tee-doo. Meaninglessness. So is this “change” of Obama’s the same as that “change”? Can we identify yet what change means?


Wisconsin: Bitter Woman IPA, Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills

My mid-west beer territory has expanded care of Stan’s visit the other day. The New Glarus Spotted Cow of the other night was my first WI brew (of the non-cricketing WI that is) and here’s the next one – Bitter Woman IPA from Lake Mills’ Tyranena. The brewer tells us that the bitter woman in question was one Aunt Cal, an old sweetheart of the famous American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and early local resident. See – a literary connection overcomes political correctness every time. And, well, I suppose that’s better than being a headless man, one of whom their alt is named after.

But what about the beer? It pours a smoked orange ale under a huge cream head releasing a bit of an orange marmalade aroma. In the mouth, a sweet wave of fruit-filled malt: plenty of graininess but also the sweet smoothness of residual maltose…mmmm, maltose. In the malt there is marmalade, sultana and kumquat. At least two distinct hop sensations with the black tea on the tongue as well as a bit of hot pine more to the back, cresting on the swallow. Plenty to chew on for a very reasonable 5.75%. Nothing thumb-index-pinkie salute here yet high praise from the BAers.

This might be the beer you really wanted.

Friday Bullets For Stay-cation Week

Well, I suppose that the promised break in the days of rain that have been mid-July in Easlakia has to stand for something. I can’t think when I last took a summer week off and did not load the family for somewhere – which is just as well as a van full of damp is not a happy van. It has been a time of napping and of reading something other than the glowing screen. I did not home repair. Of that you can be truly proud.

  • Byelection Fever Update: About 1% of the Canadian electorate go to the polls on 8 September. Woooot!!! This is what we have been waiting for.
  • Ben is proxy blogging Berlin. I hear we need change.
  • What do you think about the fence?
  • My new found status as Canada’s sixth most popular political blogger demands that I make some obtuse observations on the state of doings in Ottawa. Except nothing seems to be going on. Who cares about election plans – I want substance. But aside from the general quality of Federal leadership, there seems to be only one big issue: carbon tax. I still think this is a yawner and a loser for whoever gets marked with the green tint. It shouldn’t be so but as there are no strong answers yet, proposing the unpopular and the unlikely-to-succeed is seldom a yellow brick road to a majority hold on Parliament. And it’s no more than a plank at best. We need more.
  • So which Federal issues deserve more airplay?? The recent premiers’ gathering raised the prospect of actual steps towards First Nations reconciliation. Wouldn’t that be nice of real steps were taken towards that national quandary? How about infrastructure – Ottawa and Toronto have made nice to buy bridges and buses. But do you run an election on that? Rideology not ideology??
  • Al Purdy’s cottage is for sale. Owning that would be rather neato.
  • This week’s weather shattered the promise of a massive harvest for a lot of Ontario fruit growers. Hailstorms. We need to start the “Buy A Peach With A Bruise” campaign. Why do all the farmer’s protests have to be around the combine harvesters? Who’s behind this anyway?
  • Apparently the oversight committee decided to lay off hitting each other in the head with hammers. Who thought that was ever a good idea?

Full disclosure: I wrote most of this Thursday. Between the dodgy internet access and my new found love for not being up at 6:15 am, I thought it would be prudent to plan ahead so as to ensure you desk jockeys have your moments of bulletty bliss at the crack of dawn.


Can’t We Just Admit We Like Corn Sometimes?

One of the things I don’t get about beer lovers is the seething disrespect of corn – aka maize for some of you. OK, maybe not seething but my comment the other day that I now craved New Glarus Spotted Cow was met with particular surprise by Jeffery Glazer of Wisconsin’s Madison Beer Review who wrote to say that “Spotted Cow is good, but to drive halfway across the country for it? I’d be really curious to hear what was said about it to cause such a reaction.” In response I wrote:

It’s the king o’corn, baby! I like the ur-cream ale Genesee Cream but I also like cream corn, corn chowder, corn on the cob and corn chips. I think the taste of corn gets a bum steer as far as corn and beer goes. Why praise other grains yet diss the maize? I have grown corn, have watched it grow and, I have to admit, admire it privately. Stan brought the Spotted Cow (as well as a few other New Glarus) and this corntastic beer made me love it. It is clean, has the raw chew-the-cob sweetness and is also balanced and without a tinge of chemical, the hallmark of modern corn-y brew…Did I mention it comes with corn?

I asked Stan when we were sipping his giftie if it had flaked corn and he thought maybe it was just corn sugar but was not in the know. I would be surprised if there is that much unfermentable corn in it from just a powder. Nonetheless, I am here to bear witness, bretheren and the real lesson here is that cream ale like Spotted Cow is corn ale and cream ale should be great! It is just a style, after all. Corn is, folks, and corn should be more than the flakes in your breakfast bowl. As I mentioned, I understand that there are two ways to get corn into beer. The most common is through glucose or corn sugar which is derided as an adjunct gone mad in American macro lagers but praised in Belgian tripels when, as I learned from Al Korzonas in his useful Homebrewing, Volume 1, simply combined with a little fructose to make candi sugar. This sort of addition of corn gets you a little more alcohol and a little less body but not much flavour – and certainly not the creamed corny goodness that is at the heart of Spotted Cow. Flaked maize is more like rolled barley or oats, a raw grain product that leaves plenty of unfermentables to add flavour. That is what I think I am tasting in that brew.

Maybe you know more than me but where are the rest of the corny adjuncts – the malted corn, the roasted corn or the crystal corn that some agronomist or another sort of lab-coated egghead should have developed by now? Surely a grain as versatile as corn could be subject to more treatments that might make for some other great beers. Surely there is a Department of Cornology in some Midwest US state working on coaxing more flavours from the humble yellow kernal. As far as may daydreams of future beer goes, I would think that the residual sweetness of corn could work in a roasty stout. The huskineess of a dried cob might also work when blended with a little rye malt. And Jeffery pointed out that it would also fit with the local and sustainable trends we are seeing becoming more and more important.

If corn can make a fine whiskey, why not a beer? And are there other fine corn beers out there, some modern chichas, that I do not know about?

The Hieronymi Were Here…As Were Steve and John!


So beer writers Stan and Daria and family were here getting a break from the camper on their world beer tour 2008. As it turned out, so were Steve from Beau’s and John o’ Church-key. Between them the lads drove 500 km to get here and as much to get home – nothing compared, however, to the Hieronymi land cruiser which hit the 10,000 mile mark yesterday. And, after hours of great beer and some good chow I threw together, I came away from what I will call the first Kingston Symposium on Craft Brewing realizing I pretty much know nothing about beer. Zippo.

Hanging around with such people of the beer is always a great education but listening to two such knowledgeable beer thinkers as Stan and Daria (who is also a recent winner on Jeopardy) over a whole evening with two of Canada’s most interesting young brewers was pretty amazing. Not to go blow by blow through the beers but I shared some Ontarians including our local Barley Day’s Wind and Sail Dark, some Stuart’s Natural and made some fairly snazzy scallops in a pan with a slug of Wellington Dark. Good Ontario and Quebec craft cheeses also shared the table.

We talked about beer price and value, the regulatory challenges of the Ontario market and the Canadian border as well as the opportunities a province that is trying hard to catch up to our southern neighbours provides. We also poured bottles of Steve and John’s brews including Beau’s flagship kolsche and Church-key’s West Coast IPA – as well as half year cellared bottles of Bog Water and Lactese Falcon, that beer that begs to be next to a rib-eye. Each of these showed really well and, in their comparison, begged the question as to which better expressed Ontario-ness: the traditional Algonquin Park canoe trip invocating bog myrtle or the funky blue cheese tang of the beer of the 22nd century. I just made that up. I am sure John will pick it up as the LT’s catch phrase.

To finish, we popped the tangy spicy dry and quite fascinating Fuego del Otono, a seasonal chestnut beer which is also very under-priced from Jolly Pumpkin. Stan and Daria had passed Dexter on a Saturday when the brewery was not open so it was fair to include it in their year-long continent hopping search for the essence of global local beer. By the way, that last beer is one of the ones that make me think there should be a web based auction for craft beer where beer lovers could set out what they would pay for a beer. If Ron at Jolly Pumpkin would set me aside a mixed case of beer like Fuego del Otono for pick up when I am in the neighbourhood, I would definitely pay $11.99 or a bit more compared to the $8.99 I paid for this one last fall at the ever excellent Bello Vino of Ann Arbor. Other beers of the moment might not get such a price boost from the set you own auction, if my suspicions are correct.

In the end, one in the morning came far too soon and, as with the best gatherings like this, I came away having added understanding as well as happily convinced in how little I still really know. There is so much to learn about good beer. For one thing, I now crave New Glarus Spotted Cow and may have to drive to Wisconsin just to get me some more.

Notes From A Stay-cation

I don’t mind “stay-cation” except that you can’t spell it without the hyphen. Better than being called an unimaginative twerb who can’t get it together enough to take the family camping. I have excuses – I always have excuses. First, family reunion on Saturday. Then, the annual vintage base ball game that got rained out yesterday. Today, a beer writer or two visit as part of their multi-continental trip. So even though we are at home, we are getting something of an edjification.

I hope I don’t just watch TV but the twisted back makes that a possibility. I watched the ESPYs last night, thinking they would be lame. Best TV awards show ever. Justin Timberlake was a dreamy host – I say no more for fear of affecting my cred. Now, on a Monday morning in July, I hunt in vain for reruns of Mr. Dress-up and The Friendly Giant. What the heck has happened to the CBC? Thank God, I can at least look forward to Elwood Glover’s Luncheon Date at noon to go with my egg salad and parsley sandwiches.

Friday Bullets Without The Pain…Except For The Pain

I need a new back today. Despite the sit up and other exertions of unbelievable dedication, the back still goes. And it is quite prepared to go before just before the summer holiday begins. Such is life. Good thing I plan to do nothing.

  • Nevermind those who 3% of folk who think George W. Bush will be well remembered by history. He’s going to be considered a goofball if his final words to the G8 are anything to go by: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.” He has to plan that sort of thing. That can’t be what he’s coming up with off the cuff.
  • I wish Google had reviewed the whole fewer and better ads thing with me. See that over there down to the right? Who am I to complain about who give me that big $350 bucks a year?
  • The Mets: 10 for their last 10.
  • I have never liked Paul McCartney that much so I guess I am with that 0.3% of Quebecers who are unhappy. Surely he is not the biggest act in the world, surely they could have gotten Plastic Bertrand.
  • Kottke noted a great illustration of the disutility of information technology this week. Because the information was not sortable by the critical factor, availability of restaurant seats, the application is practically useless.
  • No other politician generated more dancable tunes, though no ska that I know of. Happy birthday, Nelson!

My got to explore the home pharmacy some more. I understand one pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small. But which is which?


The Barenaked Witness Statement

I sometimes wonder why Canadian news media report on the reporting of things. So often the CBC or major papers go out and find out what person X thinks about or can explain about what happened to person Y. There is a level of abstraction that isn’t the case elsewhere. As you likely know, I watch local Watertown NY news in the morning – initially for a better sense of the weather and now for all those fun police reports. It’s amazing how much pre-conviction detail is set out for the public, servicing as both information about the workings of the court justice system as well as a conduit for that oft stated goal of justice, general deterrence.

The arrest of Barenaked Ladies singer Stephen Page in nearby Fayetteville, NY, an easter suburb of Syracuse, is a good case in point. The Globe and Mail include excerpts from the statement given by Page’s girlfriend’s roommate while The Star gives only a summary. Syracuse’s Post Standard, however, has a far fuller and more detailed account:

Ford’s statement to police provides the following account: The two women walked to the bar about 10 p.m. About 11 p.m., Page showed up. “After about 30 minutes, Steven and Christine got into a huge fight because Christine was flirting with another guy. Steven left the bar and I followed him back to the apartment,” Ford told police. Page said that he was going back to Canada, but Ford was concerned because Page had been drinking. Back at the apartment, Page lay down on the grass and Ford sat on him so he couldn’t drive away. “While we were on the front lawn, Christine showed up and started yelling at me not to take Steven’s side. I’m not sure how it happened but Christine ended up with Steven’s keys and drove away in his car leaving hers in the middle of the driveway,” Ford said. Page and Ford went inside the home. Eventually, Ford found Page at the kitchen table with a bottle that said “calcium” and contained capsules with white powder, but the rest of the label was in French. “There was a pile of white powdery substance on the table, near one of the capsules,” Ford said. “There was a Canadian bill on the table which Steven rolled up and we used it to snort the white powder. “We never discussed what the white powder was but I thought it was cocaine,” she said.

What have we learned? The abstraction of celebrity and perhaps a measure of national embarrassment, things I think may be fueling the abstraction in the Canadian press, are not there. But neither is the unspoken menace. It’s a pretty banal scene and the participants appear co-operative. People are trying to do the right thing, keeping the incapable off the road, while doing the wrong thing. The comments to the Syracuse news article are interesting as well.

This may well be a more serious matter than we are learning about in Canada. The are articles about how the business of the band will be affected, a matter Canadian media is somewhat invested in given all the spin-off radio and TV shows the band have generated. Is that projecting an actual Canadian cultural point of view? The view from Fayetteville Village Court is likely less engaged in that respect. And look at this opinion piece from 2007 about sentencing inequality in New York – a ten gram possession appears to attract years of incarceration, though this snippet may indicate months. This may be a far more serious matter than we are being told.