Wisconsin: Wisconsin Belgian Red, New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus

Is that not the most repetitive title to a post yet? I wonder if New Glarus is in New Glarus County…or maybe Wisconsin county. Anyway, this is simply an incredible beer. Stan and Daria brought it to us when they visited this summer. Once upon a time, I had a small old farmhouse and it was near a small cottage owned by another branch of the family. We had pin cherries, black cherries and choke (or is it choak?) cherries as well as juneberries and other bush fruit we planted over the years. Small bush fruit in the cherry family is the best – all relating to but not being defined by that toothpaste, cough drop or pie filling flavour that gets associated with the word “cherry” these days. This beer reminds me of the complexity of those natural flavours.

The beer is pie in a glass. Insanely fresh tart cherry backed by a cream of wheat richness. It pours cloudy reddish amber, like lightly oxidized fruit. Snow white froth and foam on top. Bright and cheery from the effervescent carbonation. Meaty fruit in the mouth with tangy acidity and that aroma which evokes the whole of the plant, the twigginess, the almondy scent you get when you peel new bark. It’s almost ammonia sharp but not. Is that brett? It is like with Orval, that dry lavender aspect. Is this a creation of hopping that moves the cherry from meaty and sweet to something more like scent of an orchard? Dandy. Not quite sour but in the neighbourhood. Makes me want to plan a trip to the other end of the Great Lakes.

I threw a couple of these ounces into twice as much a Burton Bridge porter just to see. Good but something of a waste. BAers love it. Is this the best fruit beer ever?

Make Sure You Chew Your Food Thirty Times, Too

In what can only be seen as a decision not to decide, our nation’s Prime Minister has proudly proclaimed that he will think about the impending recession after the whole deep dark Canadian winter has passed:

Canadians will have to wait until the next federal budget before Ottawa delivers what Prime Minister Stephen Harper said could be an “unprecedented” fiscal stimulus package – a delay economists say the country can ill afford. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday the government is still trying to determine what would be appropriate and is looking at 2009 budget measures rather than action outside of that.

Whoa, there big fella! Don’t get any whiplash or anything. Make sure you get a good season in before you react to fast moving events. I suppose it is funny because the infrastructure work that would likely be at the heart of a recovery plan is screaming to be done. Highway bridges in Quebec need renewal as do municipal sewer systems as do rural broadband as do water systems on remote First Nations. We have been sitting on our hands for a few decades and, now that we are facing the need to get work going, there is actually work needing done. And be honest – market intervention is not “yikes socialism!!!” when the government just plays the role of goods and services buyer. Puts money in the pockets of people who know how to use a shovel, always a good thing for the economy.

So, unless dong nothing turns out to be the wisest form of intervention – right after dairy production goes lunar – how will Mr. Harper look after Obama goes BAM! and gets the next generation of needed US infrastructure projects moving? Is this an Iggy-tastic moment?

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Day 9: A Few Updates On A Crazy Beer Filled Monday

contestvat2008

The contest is on! The contest is on! Entries are pouring on but there has been a bunch of other stuff keeping me from posting a semi-gallery so far. It is really a hemi-semi-demi-gallery so far but you get the point. Here is some stuff I have notice over the last few days:

  • I brewed yesterday but I have no idea what I made. It’s usually that way. It looks like a great holiday brew that I really should have put on about a month ago to do it justice. A real dog’s breakfast of ten malts in the bill along with three hops, orange peel, five spices thrown together with a subtle hand to create one nutty ESB…or perhaps just a strong pale ale. I will name it something Norwegian to add a little more confusion. The spices and peel were steeped in the wort before it got to full boil. However it ends up tasting, it sure made the house smell swell.
  • Steve at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. (a sponsor of the Xmas 2008 beer photo and blogging extravaganza – aka X08BP+BE…trips off the tongue, no?) forwarded a press release about Beau’s working with Operation Go Home to tie helping eastern Ontario youth in crisis with the job of getting more of Beau’s incredibly attractive ceramic flip tops back to the brewery. Great idea. By the way – I have six. Best home brew bottles ever.
  • bba2008The Beer Bloggers Alliance is about to be announced. But because I am the beer blogger with the best connections to Entertainment Tonight, I can tell you that the back room gossip I have heard is that the group plans to focus on (1) increasing retail and wholesaler red tape and related costs to the consumer, (2) creating a code of ethics for beer blogging that will be overly complex and will create dissension as well as finger pointing while also (3) reaching out to marco-brewers to find out how members can be co-opted into acting a mouthpieces for big business. Should be great when it gets a bit more traction.
  • I liked the New Yorker‘s article on Dogfish Head but it’s got nothing on the article in The Atlantic from 21 years ago this month called “A Glass of Handmade“.
  • Don’t forget: the return of the good topic at The Session is coming up. 21st Amendment is taking on the question of what prohibition’s repeal means to you. I expect to take a cranky Canadian point of view.

That’s it for now. I leave you with a great photo up there from Joe in Belgium. I real beauty. I have no idea where the brewery was but maybe you know. Even if you don’t, please be like Joe. Send in photos for the Xmas 2008 beer blog photo contest. You will be happy you did. And if that didn’t shift you maybe this will: SUBMIT! Be careful about this. I don’t want to have to unleash the Daleks or anything.

An Update On Trevor Greene’s Great Progress

[Alan here. I received a post updating my undergrad pal Trevor’s progress from Debbie and him this evening and figured I would post it as a whole new entry rather than adding to the string of the now 439 comments, best wishes, photos and fond memories from family and friends in response to the post I wrote when I heard the terrible news. So here you go…]

Hi everyone,

An update on Trevor’s progress is long overdue with much to write about.

On July 23rd, 2007, after over a year in Vancouver General Hospital, we joyfully left BC for the hope of rehabilitation at the Halvar Johnson Centre for Brain Injury in Ponoka, Alberta. We were advised by the doctors at VGH to put Trevor in a long-term care facility and “let him get on with his life”. I didn’t have to wonder too long what life would be like in a public long term care facility. I wasn’t about to let that happen. We flew out of BC via military flight early on a rainy “wet” coast morning. We were met at the airport by an honor guard from Trevor’s unit in Vancouver, the Seaforth Highlanders. Not surprisingly, this is Trevor’s first memory after the injury. He doesn’t remember any of his time at VGH, which is a blessing in spite of some of the wonderful people we came to know during our time there. I have many pictures and have filled him in on various events and people at that time. I also kept a daily journal for him to read which he has been going through of late. He is endeared by so many of the stories of the true spirit of friendship and generosity. Thank you to everyone who visited Trevor, sent cards, gifts and even prayers for him. He tells me he plans to respond to every one “in the fullness of time”.

When we arrived at the Rehab Centre in Alberta, we were told there was very little chance of recovery and that he would be offered medication trials only and wouldn’t participate in rehab. Fortunately, I had become very good at selective listening by this stage. I had read many stories of people overcoming the odds and I knew Trevor was capable of being one of those stories especially since modern research has found the brain to be “plastic” and able to reprogram itself if given proper cues. In my head I would think, “we’ll see”. Knowing Trevor’s spirit, I felt that he would respond and step up to the challenge rather than languish in this huge body for the rest of his life. I knew he would rather die than live in a wheelchair in a long-term care facility. If this was to happen, someone had to give him a chance to succeed. Thankfully, the Centennial Centre gave him that chance. He proved me right. He did succeed and surprised everyone. When we were admitted to the Centre, he had little to no purposeful movement. He is now able to do bench presses, leg presses and more functional activities like eating, shaving and brushing his teeth. His technique isn’t perfect and he requires a little help with each task but he gets better with each month that passes. When we entered the Centre he barely had a voice. He is now able to speak clearly and articulately and almost at his original level. On September 12, 2008 after 14 months in rehabilitation, we left the Centennial Centre and all our friends in Ponoka for our new home in Nanaimo, BC.

Rehab is far from over for Trevor. His goal is to walk. We’ve been told it’s not realistic by some but this just drives us even harder. We’ve encountered many obstacles over the past 2 ½ years and tackled them head on. Walking isn’t going to happen overnight but we believe it will happen in the fullness of time. In the meantime, we work with our new expert team, have fun and enjoy the journey. Rehabilitation is Trevor’s job. His hard work is paying off. He works out over 2 hours a day and is seeing progress and results weekly. He’s a proud man and isn’t content to have people helping him but he has accepted it as a means to an end. He is scheduled to get a universal gym in the new future for his workouts.

There are many people to thank throughout this journey. I’ll do my best although words cannot express how much these people have done for us in their own way. For those whose paths we haven’t crossed, you no doubt need to be thanked for keeping Trevor, Grace and I in your thoughts and prayers, thank you.

The first group to give a special thanks to is PPCLI ‘A’ Company (ROTO 0, Op Archer), specifically platoon commander Kevin Schamuhn, and section commander Sergeant Rob Dolson, for their quick thinking and rapid response reflexes that prevented the young fellow from taking what would have been a final death blow at Trevor. Your courage and expert training saved Trevor’s life. We are forever grateful for your actions on the afternoon of March 4, 2006. A large debt of gratitude is extended to Shawn Marshall, medic with A Company that day for your proficiency in stopping the bleeding and saving Trevor’s life with the skills your were bestowed. The entire group should be applauded for comforting Trevor and encouraging his soul to stay with us while awaiting the Blackhawk’s arrival for transport to Kandahar hospital.

Special thanks to Sergeant Gary Adams, medic onboard the US Blackhawk helicopter. Gary was instrumental in unblocking Trevor’s airway amongst other procedures on the flight to Kandahar Hospital. Gary flew to Vancouver from overseas on his time off to visit us. He was met with a night out with the rugby gang. I’m told he did survive the night. I did get to thank Gary personally that night but there are never enough thank you’s for helping to save a life!

I haven’t had a chance personally to meet Dr. Homer Tien, trauma surgeon at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, who stabilized Trevor in Kandahar Hospital for the flight to Landshtuhl, Germany. Thank you to Dr.Tien and his staff at the Kandahar Hospital.

An expert team of doctors met Trevor at the Landshtuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany. Dr.’s Sorini and Johnson (and team) performed life-saving surgery which allowed Trevor’s brain to swell without causing additional damage. Both doctors no doubt saw many horrific injuries from the battlefield during their time in Germany. We were blessed that they were there when Trevor arrived. These doctors gave Trevor his life back and a future for our family. Heartfelt thanks to both of these exceptional surgeons. Also a big thank you to Dr.Catherine Gray for being a liason between the doctors and family in Landshtuhl. We appreciated meeting you every night for a briefing of the days events, in layman terms. We wish you all the best on the birth of your first child and look forward to seeing you next time you’re on the island. The care Trevor received in Germany from the doctors and nursing staff was second to none. We applaud these people for looking after our injured soldiers.

Although our time at VGH was fraught with numerous ups and downs, I appreciate the efforts of the nursing staff, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and respiratory therapists in all the four+ units Trevor was in. I also appreciate the work of Dr.Woodhurst, nuerosurgeon for the second bilateral cranioplasty which successfully repaired Trevor’s skull. An extra special thank you to Cynthia Wilson, physiotherapist for remaining committed to Trevor despite the lack of initiation, awareness and results. Trevor doesn’t remember much from VGH but he does remember your big smile and vibrant personality. You are a talented physiotherapist and a compassionate person. I have videos from when a thumbs up or 12 minutes of keeping his head up was a big day. You provided the building blocks for much greater things!

A warm hug to Ray McDonald of VGH spiritual services. Thank you for dropping by Trevor’s room with your guitar and furry friends. I miss laughing with you and hearing your stories and songs in person. You were a great source of comfort during those turbulent times.

Also a big thank you to Dr.’s Dhawan and Reebye, physiatrists for being “cautiously optimistic” about Trevor’s outcome. It was a pleasure knowing and working with both of these specialists in Vancouver.

This note would go on and on forever if I mentioned everyone’s gifts in detail but a big part of this journey has been various “healing hands”. These folks added their touch to Trevor’s mind, body and soul despite the critical eyes of hospital staff. The first was Adam, a gifted healer who worked his magic on Trevor during the critical first few months of his injury. I have no doubts this young man has very special powers. He was able to see early on the “spark” in Trevor brain. Numerous others have helped to bring this spark to life including our good friend Eve for the months of Reiki (and tea), John Blazevic and Janet Cook for the acupuncture, Andy Bryce for the EFT, Kelly Johnsonand Joy Larsen for the cranial sacral therapy and Anita Lawrence for the spiritual guidance. In Ponoka, we were fortunate to find Trish Bowie at the wellness Centre, Heather Lambert for craniosacral therapy and Jennifer Davidson for her magical massage therapy.

We are so grateful to Dr. Gray and his team of professionals at the Centennial Centre in Ponoka. We were fortunate to work with the best of the best at the Center including physiotherapist, Lori, occupational therapist, Kunle and speech therapist, Leah. Although we presented a huge challenge, these capable professionals rose to it in their respective fields. Thank you to Dr. Gray for his knowledge and expertise with the botox needle, I’m sure Trevor won’t have to worry about wrinkles in his upper body for a long, long time. Also a big thank you to Rebecca and Jamie, recreational therapists at the Centre. We had many, many laughs with you both and miss you incredibly.

A big thank you to Theresa Hacking and Greg Edmonds and the Military Casualty Support Foundation (MCSF) for your generous gift toward our wheelchair accessible van. The van has been an essential part of our lives. In Ponoka, the van gave Trevor the freedom to leave the Centre for weekends and outings with the family. Since we’ve been home, it’s been critical for appointments at the physiotherapist, an hour drive each way. This organization was created to fill the gaps not currently met through the Ministry of National Defense programs and services. Information on contributions to the MCSF can be found at www.mcsf.ca.

We are so incredibly grateful to Nick Twyman, Dave Neufeld, Valerie and Rob Gibbs, Deanna Vandeneykel and everyone who contributed to or assisted with the fundraisers. We have comfort knowing that we have a backup fund for Trevor’s ongoing rehabilitation or recreation needs. What we don’t spend on rehab we plan to pay it forward to those in need.

Lastly, a big thank you to the Department of National Defense with special thanks to our case managers Steve Stawiarski and Lisa Bardon and assisting officers Steve Basaraba, Colin Coutts, Mike Larose and Dave Gilmour for providing Trevor with the best any soldier could hope to receive. We also recognize the incredible work of Sandy Daughn, OT for her ideas and ability to make things happen. It’s been rewarding working with you all. Canadians should be proud of the way their country took care of its injured soldier. We received the best Christmas gift in 2007 from the military engineers who installed a lift in our house which allowed Trevor to come home for Christmas and weekends thereafter. A sincere thank you to the Seaforth Highlanders for your continued support throughout Trevor’s recovery. We appreciate the place you set for him at each mess dinner. We were honored to attend the inaugural family day at the regiment on Nov 8th this year and look forward to future events. Also a big thank you to the military people in Edmonton, specifically the CIMIC and OSI folks for your support. It really helped Trevor get through the rough phases. We were able to personally thank Ponoka Legionnaires Dave MacPherson and Hugh Greene for your visits also during our time in Alberta. Trevor and I were so blessed to have weekly visitors from all facets of our lives since the very start of this long “marathon of baby steps”. The visitors started immediately when we arrived home in BC and still continue today. We cherish how you keep our connection to our former lives. And thank you to everyone who posted comments on this blog. Trevor is blown away every time he reads it.

Most importantly, thank you to our families and friends who continue to supply us with unwavering support. There are too many of you to list here but you all know who you are. A special thank you to Regina for taking good care of us all over the past 3 years.

On Dec 13, 2008 at 7pm PST CTV will air a documentary on Trevor’s recovery by filmmaker Sue Rideout. The story follows Trevor after release from 13 months at Vancouver General Hospital until we moved back home to BC.

Trevor and I can be reached on facebook for anyone that doesn’t have our contact information.

Debbie, Trevor and Grace

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Craft Or Kraphtt: Porter, Michelob Brewing, St Louis, Mo.

I was going to write “wow” or something but that wouldn’t quite capture my surprise at how good this beer is. Poured at a chilly cellar temperature, there is an immediate mass of dry cocoa that sits in such balance with that bit of hop, a little java and that little nod to dark plum that immediately lets you know this is no ordinary budget beer. Chalky soft water makes it particularly moreish. In fact, if I had not bought this as part of a $10.99 12 pack at the A-Bay Mart the other day I could have been quite happy to pay $4.99 or more for a 22 oz bomber of this stuff.

Definitely craft. Nothing near kraphtt. Perhaps the most surprising value in beer that I have come across so far. BAers rate widely.

Yuck! That Yeast Is Flocculating Itself Again!!!

beerscience

When I was a home brewer – as opposed to a person who has home brewing supplies and equipment in the house but never does anything with it all – I used to be concerned about flocculation. Flocculation is the word that describes the capacity of a yeast (or other stuff for all I know) to clump. It is a fancy pants word for clumpiness – but is more about the propensity to clump as opposed to the clump itself. I think. If a yeast strain floucculated too much it could cause precipitation leading to poor attenuation due to separation of yeast and wort. Yet if the yeast was under flocculating there would be difficulty in settling out and creating a bright beer. I think.

So, it is comforting to know that all my half baked understanding of yeast clump-a-bility is actually related to a massively important scientific moment:

A team of scientists at Harvard University reported last week that they isolated the single gene that allows yeast to stick together. That gene allows the normally solitary yeast cells to shield themselves from toxins in their environment by banding together in protective balls. Since one of those toxins is the ethanol that the yeast themselves produce, grouping together allows the yeast to survive in the alcohol-rich environment that results from brewing. What’s more, the gene has a built in social value system that prevents yeast cells without the gene from taking advantage of the yeast flock’s protective sphere. That social control mechanism is an example of how single cells can regulate function in larger units.

Excellent! I knew that something about beer was out there promoting social values…or is it promoting socialism!?!?¹

The point? As Kevin Verstrepen, one of the eggheads in white lab coats² – a Haavaad man no less – notes: “You can look at it as a model of how single-cellular organisms can cooperate, taking a small step toward multicellular life.” A-ha! No, not the Norwegian 80’s band…I mean “a-ha” as in light-klicky-on, as in “EUREKA!!!” So not only was the creation of civilization dependent on beer but the core zymurgystic fact of beer is also the same core fact of complex life as we know it. See? Without the making of alcohol, we are all single cell amoeba… amoebae… amoebas. I think. Which leads me to my amoeba joke: “two amoeba leave a bar and look up at a bright light. One says to the other ‘is that the sun or the moon?’ to which the other replies ‘I dunno. I don’t live around here.'” Get it? That is what we would have to put up with were it not for the flocculating powers of yeast. And nobody wants that.

¹Cue the theremin music!
²…and let’s not have a repeat of the whole “sensitive yeast scientist” thing this time, ok?

Just Say No To A.J. Burnett

Up in the middle of the night, I caught Chris Carlin on WFAN 660 going off his rocker at 5:00 am over the idea that the Yankees and Red Sox going after A.J. Burnett. Why? Look to his stats:

  • He has never won even 13 games in his career. Other than last year.
  • He is a perpetual disabled list player.
  • He is his 2007 Jays season: “Burnett was the only pitcher to make all his starts through the first two months of the season. In that period, Burnett posted a 3.98 ERA, throwing 71.0 innings. Unfortunately, Burnett missed 48 games during two stints on the disabled list, finishing the season 10-8 with an ERA of 3.75.”
  • His stats as a Jays pitcher peak against the Yankees and the Sox meaning that if the Yanks take him his estimated ERA based on past performance should go up almost half a run.
  • Otherwise high ERA compared to wins.

I would add he sucks. That is entirely subjective, of course, but – by that I mean he is no iron man. Not the man to pass the ball to. The never-won-a-big-game pitcher. Not only does he suck, I think he is a suck, a sook and also sucky and perhaps sookey – all quite different characteristics. In a way, he is the utterly complete Jays player: skilled, not committed, looking past the job, a specialist in underachieving and, you know, sucktastic. Happy to be proven wrong. If he is a Sox and plays well like Julian Tavarez did once, I will eat my words.

But I hope the Sox are just winding up the Yankees and inflating the price that might be paid by pretending they are in the market. I wouldn’t mind a return of Derek Lowe, however. That would be interesting.

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Jay’s Party Of One On Free Speech

Being the leftist libertarian that I am, I have a certain affinity for what Jay is writing about these days, like this one, on the theme on better regulation of the regulation of free speech – though we are not on the same page in any ways and I think he wanders in unnecessary and potentially unhelpful areas. And I wrote the following comment and, being uncaffeinated as yet, thought it worth saving as I suspect Jay’s comment function may be unintentionally set back at “Abyss Mode”:

I was going to make a point about the third [class of free speech protections – libel, copyright and incitement arguments]. You can’t say that it is not the role of the state when it reaches inciting hatred as that is at the extreme criminal law and at a lesser point still within mischief or breach of the peace. But all enforceable by the state though the court and police systems and not administrative tribunals. And libel is not about property, it is about reputation – though they are connected. Civil society has a layer of regulation that is about decency on a human to human level. Loss of that respect leads to many wrongs including potential loss of property values. But it is not limited to that. A poor and unknown person without wealth can be libeled if, through the status, dignity is denigrated. This becomes a useful tool in creating a civic identity and standards of speech and interrelation – not socialism but civic republicanism. Without that, there is only true moral relativism, that Satan spawn of Ayn Rand’s wacko ideas.

See, libertarians will never admit that they are the actual source of moral relativism, the loss of community standards of decency and acceptability that carries with it a myriad of complications. Well, I suppose that that is because libertarians will admit nothing, it being just a selfish day dream in the guise of a philosophy wrapped in the illusion of a political theory.

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Friday Bullets For Your Mid-November

I am finally getting used to the clocks changing. I suppose I am getting used to the Obama victory and maybe even the Harper one, too. Maybe even getting used to not being half my age now that I think of it. Is autumn the season of acceptance? Do we rage or go quietly into these dark nights and mornings? Quietly I think. Placated by the promise of Christmas buffets to come. Visions of heaping plates with both ham and turkey with, yes please, gravy over both. Finding the brussles sprouts with bacon amongst the covered trays.

  • Sometimes I am amazed by the detail and effort given to high school sports coverage in small town America.
  • Speaking of the near and international, who knew about Galloo? You can now own it.
  • One thing I would buy if I could.
  • Remember when the choice was between green shift and the call to be square and prudent? Given the circumstances being foisted, I am not all that uncomfortable with square and prudent. You? But isn’t selling and leasing back a shell game?
  • Iggy. Let us consider Iggy. The Ig-meister. The Iggy-tron. Is there enough new or even known to make him compelling? He certainly wears the clever clogs but wasn’t the last guy a professor, too?
  • Now we know where the aliens who one day will destroy us live.
  • Jay has had enough. He has invented his own right-of-right party and I have to say I approve. The more splintering schizmists the better. Sure I wouldn’t vote for 66% of it but that is not the point. Conservatives have been duped out of the 1980s Preston Manning vision in the wilderness – even now by Preston Manning as far as I can tell – and they have every right to feel ripped off even if the drive to the right proposed will place them exactly back where Preston sat – nowhere’sville.
  • On a related note, isn’t it somewhat comforting that Chretien had the decency not to create a think tank in his name given how little Manning’s is actually being listened to by the new breed of moderat-o-conservatives?
  • Has Ian got a point?

I offered to make lunch for a meeting tomorrow that had been set for 18-20 but which is looking like 45 now. I am a church lady. I dream of failing to fill sandwich trays. I email myself webpages with sandwich making hints. Then I am going to see Dylan tomorrow night. A very odd day is in the works. I need to find ear plugs.

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