Belgium: Pannepot GR ’05, De Struise / Deca, W’ Vleteren

I must have been very good today as this is the bottle I decided to open. I mowed the half the lawn. And I held the fort at my desk with a certain style. I’ll likely even keep the empty as it even has the mark of importers Roland + Russell, the kind folks who forwarded this sample.

But, you know, it would be bad enough keeping things straight if it were just the fact that Brouwerij ‘t IJ in Amsterdam has a beer called Struis. But these guys of De Struise don’t even have a brewery. Celebrator explained the deal last December. Well, they are adults so that is up to them but it’s no way to run a railroad, I can tell you that. Professor Unger tells us that the accumulation of capital was the path to brewing dynasties…at least as far as medieval low country brewing went – why is it that just because we are in the next millennium we throw all that wisdom right out the window? Kids. Go figure.

Anyway, this brew is a bomb at 10%. The label includes “candy” as an ingredient. I really hope that means candi sugar and not a Mars bar or Bubbalicious. That would be a real let down. It pours nutty mahogany under a thick beige head. Oloroso gently meets balsamic on the nose. In the mouth, it is a cross between Duchesse De Bourgogne and…um…Newkie Broon. Just a first impression but that’s what it was. Then – much to your relief – there is more: a sort of a black cherry thing, vanilla, balsamic, molasses and herbal/medicinals like maybe those in Orval hop profile. All in all, lightly soured and oaked brown ale of great complexity that shows no sign of its massive strength whatsoever.

Greg has more. The BAers go all gushy and blush.

More Yeasty History, More Yeasty Science

It seems like just a couple of weeks ago that I was learning about yeast history through science. Oh. It was just a couple of weeks ago. Now, instead of reaching back just four centuries, science is taking us back through over 400,000 centuries of yeastiness:


Why is it, even though there are 38,000 results for the Google search “Raul Cano beer“, that I have never heard of this? Look – it even has a website. You never tell me anything. More about the back story here but the interesting thing is not that it is done so much as it is not done more. Think about this. If dormant yeast can sit in the belly of a bug enclosed in amber, it must be lots of other places. I recall seeing some history show about medieval life in which the historian in charge of some European farming community site explained how, when they wondered about how they could figure out what food grains had grown there, they realized it was all around them in the deepest layers of the thatched roofs.

Hornsey describes how pot shards from pre-historic digs are studied for chemical residues to confirm their use in brewing. So, what is like a thatched roof and like amber that could hide a yeast that just happened to be used in the porter breweries of 1700s London or a dark ages monastery? Where can dormant yeast hide? Can it be sitting in a deeply buried layer of turf hibernating next to the old brewery wall or in a dried up goo residue that long ago seeped its way into the cracks in the beams of a 1400s ale house? Can it be identified that closely? And what do you call that search – is it yeast forensics? Or is it more like microbial archaeology? Is someone out there doing this right now? Are you holding back about that, too?

Without A Bailout, Whither the Corporate Elite?

Wall Street welfare. That’s what I have heard it called – imagine the insensitivity. Just because it is centred upon ensuring those who messed up get to both control the solution and be the sole beneficiaries of the solution. How can people be so cruel. David Brooks in the NYT stokes the flames of jealousy amongst those asked to pay for their betters wrongs:

Liberals and conservatives generally dislike the plan. William Greider of The Nation writes: “If Wall Street gets away with this, it will represent an historic swindle of the American public — all sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims.” He approvingly quotes the conservative economist Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics: “The joyous reception from Congressional Democrats to Paulson’s latest massive bailout proposal smells an awful lot like yet another corporatist love fest between Washington’s one-party government and the Sell Side investment banks.”

How rude.


Now With More Greenock Than Ever!


353One of the more actually useful things on the internet is the opportunity to find family records of some sort. Three years ago I found – and bought – a picture of my Grannie who passed away over 50 years ago. Eldest brother has been doing some digging as has Faither and an interesting observation can be made. My mother’s grandparents were married at “A” above. My father’s grandparents were married a few streets away. Both weddings occurred around 120 years ago.

Even in that era, each party might still have gone to the Morton game after as part of the celebrations, the club then about a decade into existence.

Canada Votes Day 12: A Minister Jokes

This poses an important question: given we are all incredible stupid at exactly the wrong moments, should we hold public figures more accountable for being dopes? Consider the humour employed by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz leveraging the listeria crisis, a crisis which has occurred under his watch:

…The remarks were made in a conference call at the height of the crisis, between Mr. Ritz and members of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Mr. Ritz joked that the crisis was causing the government a death of a thousand cuts “or should I say the death of a thousand cold cuts.” When informed that one fatality had taken place in Prince Edward Island, Mr. Ritz is reported to have said, “please tell me it’s Wayne Easter.”

That last bit’s just a plain dumb political crack…Gerry’s a regular Ritz cracker. [Ed.: Rimshot!] I have had the pleasure of briefly knowing with Wayne Easter and talked with him a bunch of times back around 2000-2002. I can tell you that you’ll never meet a brighter politician who has his feet firmly on the ground and who works hard for the community…even if he used to call his US counterpart the “Sekkytary of Aggykulchur”. He’d take the joke just fine but still do the political duty of making a fuss…if the joke was just about Wayne.

But this is not about Wayne. It’s that other line: the “death of a thousand cold cuts.” On last count, 16 or 17 people are dead. This man is the Minister in charge of making sure meat plants produce listeria free food. He made fun of it. With his subordinates, the inspectors. A great leader. A sensitive public servant. Or is this a real human being, under great pressure – for the first time likely – blurting as we would all blurt in one way or another? Maybe his jokes are terrible whatever the situation and no one had the heart to tell him? A man with a foible like every one of us.

My verdict: time to go Gerry.

Other News for Day 12:


Canada Votes Day 11: Fighting With One Arm Tied

It has officially begun. The long knives are out. Warren Kinsella was on CBC Radio’s Ontario Morning explaining what Hans and Sean, both Liberal card carriers¹ if you don’t have a program, were going on about yesterday. Dion’s people are Martin‘s people and they don’t want Chretien‘s people back in. Yessh-ka-bible! So it is, in fact, better to lose in a squabble that should have ended five years ago and then watch the country follow Harper than to get together and move on, say, in 2007. This contains a certain script:

  • Chretienites are needed for victory.
  • Martinites are losers
  • Martinites are sore-heads.
  • A Harper victory isn’t a real victory.
  • Dion is really not supported by half the party.
  • Dion can’t even reach out to half the party.

No wonder Bob Rae is jumping up on the campaign podium – having nothing to do with any of this stuff (as a defector) he must be stupified with the stupidity of the stupid people around him.

¹[Ed.: but apparently more in the sense of “latent host / incubator of the disorder” “carrier” than actual wallet filler going by the comments.]

Other news for Day 11:

  • Is this really the campaign to blog about exclusively for 37 days?
  • In the US election, McCain goes all Rousseau: “There is a social contract between capitalism and the citizen. That has been broken by these Wall Street executives.”


Canada Votes Day 10: Jack Opens The Monetary Sluicegates

One billion! Jack is going to spend one billllllion dollars. And for what? Med students!

Speaking at Dalhousie University’s medical school, Mr. Layton said an NDP government would spend an average of $200-million a year to increase training spaces and help provinces expand their medical schools.

Madness. Seemingly sensible madness. It’s always the way, though. Never a plan for the 45 year old slightly pudgy dreamer, those specialists in small to medium ideas that never get picked up. Why no plan for us, Jack(!)? Hmm? Hmmm???? To be fair, last time I was among Dal Med students back in the day, I did like their frat’s (Phi Chi) bowling – taking a dozen empties and recycling them through firm contact with a wall in the basement. But, really, isn’t what we need something that brings that same sense of fun and innovation into the lives of the dulled and enrutted? Those otherwise known as the backbone of the economy – folks in their forties?

What needs to be done by Jack(!) to fill that need? I say a policy that combines preventative health policy, international development and giving the little guy, that cog in the wheel of industry, a break – and not a tax break…I mean a break. I am talking Federally subsidized Caribbean holiday camps. To create work in our shipyards, we build a fleet of liners to ferry the overworked and under-appreciated to Turks and Caicos after finally finalizing provincial status. There slightly challenging courses on topics such as the history of moustacheo care in the 1970s, the use of orange in everyday fashion, great socialists in winter sports are offered while the kids are taken care of back north through a nationalized teen daycare…err…weekcare program.

Brilliant. By focusing on the demographic that likely won’t vote Jack(!) anyway, lives are changed, happiness is reinvested creating a more productive workforce and binds across the nation. Katimavik for adults…without any real assistance to others…but with drinks and a warm beach. Isn’t that what we really want? What other programs and promises should we see over the next month or so?

Other news for Day 10:


Canada Votes Day 8: Do We Need To Reinvent History?

Stephen Harper has an eye for the use of history. It’s a means to illustrate a desired image. But is he concerned enough about actual history? He spoke yesterday about creating the notion that conservatism is something that has an exclusive hold on certain elements of the Canadian identity – yet does so quite openly without firm footing in the facts. How unsatisfactory. Consider this:

He said in the last two decades there’s been a broad embrace of policies once considered the domain of conservatives, from free trade to balanced budgets and spending restraint. “We saw the Liberal Party in the 1990s flip its positions on all these issues and adopt small c-conservative positions,” Mr. Harper said. But there’s also been a revival of pride in ideas and entities that conservatives have traditionally backed, Mr. Harper said, meaning not just policies and organization that Liberals and New Democrats say defines Canada. “Not just [in] things like Medicare and the [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] but [also] in our national military and other institutions,” he said.

So, did you know that fiscal prudence and military honour are “conservative” values? Never mind that a conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, increased the national debt more than any other leader or that provincial Conservative parties from Nova Scotia to Ontario to Saskatchewan led sometimes scandalously mismanaged governments, leaving records of debt and even jail terms. Never mind that Canadians of all stripes both answered the call and Liberals guided Canada’s hand in military affairs in our darkest hours – Chris Taylor has the right read on politicizing the forces. Never mind it was a Tory who brought in the CBC and minimum wage and other socialist programs when they were needed. And it was the Grit MacKenzie King who led the fight against the Nazis and our Conservative Prime Minister Borden who understood the need to have a Unity government of both Liberals and Conservatives in WWI’s toughest times.

Strange to see Stephen Harper take the credit for these things solely for his own kind. The good values of good governance, honouring one’s duty are values all Canadians aspire to and some, regardless of party affiliation, achieve. Any half-way able opposition leader would run up and down him with the facts and leave him nothing but breathless. We do not live in those days, however. Sadder still is the lack of necessity as the Prime Minister could state instead that he seeks to capture the values held dear by all Canadians and to govern guided by those good principles. A missed opportunity to tell actual history and weave it into his own story…and his within it.

Other News For Day 8:

  • Nuttin’ yet.


Canada Votes Day 6: Friday Bullet Points For Week One

There is a certain pattern to elections. The days come and go and within only a few days some patterns seem to appear. Generalities. Themes. Motifs, even. So far in this one the main theme I see is that the Liberals have not collapsed through their own sheer incompetency. I think we all had suspected they might. That is victory in itself. Next, Stephen Harper is trying to be nice and, in doing so, is showing more confidence than his prior chippy habits allowed – though sooner or later it might cloy. Third, faction and gridlock rules. And a fair bit of ho-hum. Something is really going to have to break for anyone to get momentum. Frankly, I think the Tories have a plan to do just that after a quiet first third, a initial phony campaign. But what? What can it be? You will just have to wait.

Other news on Day 6:

Hmmm…for the rest of you unCanadians out there – what else is going on outside of mapled politics?