Wisconsin: Spotted Cow, New Glarus, New Glarus

Knut made an interesting observation today about the way social media (a far better phrase than “community”) creates the unexpected, brings beer fans and brewers together on the level. No one is in charge and each is responsible for their own degree of honesty. I was so interested that I tried to use Google’s Swedish to English translator to see what the hubbub was all about and here is what I learned:

Holds up the cup. Noting that it is indeed good dark to be an IPA. For the glass to my nose to pull me in a lot of pine and citrus. Wait? May run down your nose a good way down to the glass to feel something, and facing me is not the fresh hops, you might think should be there given that it is nybrygd. The taste is quite sweet, feels a little stale and boring, not very bitter, either. Nejdu, the batches were no further at all! Really sad, it felt more like a brown ale than an IPA on the verge of DIPA.

I was stunned. It was like looking in the mirror – beer tasting notes are actually the universal language. Forget Latin. To hell (dare I say) with Esperanto. We are all one though the power of “May run down your nose a good way down to the glass to feel something.” Frère! Tovarich!!

This made me want to do the unexpected myself, bring the distant nearer. And, oddly, do it with corn. I worry about corn. And I am worried about the anti-corn forces out there, the barley storm troopers who would have you believe it is the drinker’s fault – your fault – that the maize beer is simply no good, that rice beer is the sole dominion of the macro-industrial Babbitt. I like to think corn has its place. I like to think that the Einstein or Newton of alt-grain brewing has yet to be born. He may even be among us. Uncelebrated. Unloved. He might be that lump over there on your sofa right now.

So, I took it upon myself to do what I can in the cause of corn and to start with the highest expression of corn, New Glarus Spotted Cow and add to it a Belgian of dignity / snob appeal to come up with some thoughts about what a corn brew might be. Tonight, that test is being done with Duval. I had hoped for Orval but the local LCBO was out of it. So Duval will have to do.

100% Spotted Cow: it pours a lovely slightly lemon golden. On the schnoz, it’s creamed corn (which I love), a little cream of wheat (which I also love) and a zig or a zag of yeasty goodness (who doesn’t like that?). Light bodied, slightly yogurt soured lager yeast, a bit of steely hop, fresh corn (not boiled like some of the unbest beer) and graininess. Finish is light – steel, grass, corn. What is not to like? Pure homage to the golden age of American beer. Wish it came in a can at my own corner store.

50% Spotted Cow – 50% Duval: slightly lighter with the Duval whipped egg white head. The smell is very nice. On the sniff, the sweetness of the corn now has bracing from the light spice of the Duval. On the mouth, there is a bit of a nullification like when two waves come up each other out upon the ocean… and disappear. Less corn but also less Belgian bubble gummy spiced goodness. But there is body and at the back end heat. You could see that a well handled tripel or Belgian strong gold could handle a little corn.

33.3% Spotted Cow – 66.7% Duval: More whipped egg head but not enough corn flavour to justify the blending. While both beers are more fine in flavour than most I sip on an average day, the Duval spice really overpowers here and the corn is just a weird intrusion. No, this experiment really needs to be about Duval as a adjunct to the adjunct laced brew and not the other way around. Yet, there are some flavours that start to remind me of less than thrilling biscuity fruity sparkling wines.

66.7% Spotted Cow – 33.3% Duval: This is good with the blend breaking out into a two step with the Spotted Cow sitting up front and the Duval carrying up the rear. Just a white froth head with open watery corny on the first swish followed by greater complexity with the finish marked by spice. The best of the blends and gives me hope for that ultimate Orval smackdown.

There you have it. The experiment you have all been waiting for. What did I learn? That you have to be careful pouring Duval into a shot glass as it readily explodes into a meringue of a head in the blink of an eye. And that Spotted Cow is a grand brew worth the respect given by the BAers. I have two more of these corny treats to go. What to blend with them?

That Persnickty Barley Carbon Absorption Rate Thing

Oh, To Be In England With All The Cameras There

Oh, to be a automated camera salesman, too. Sounds like the nation has gone mad what with the checking up upon itself:

It was at one of these protests that Sussex police put a “marker” on his car. That meant he was added to a “hotlist”. This is a system meant for criminals but John Catt has not been convicted of anything and on a trip to London, the pensioner found himself pulled over by an anti-terror unit. “I was threatened under the Terrorist Act. I had to answer every question they put to me, and if there were any questions I would refuse to answer, I would be arrested. I thought to myself, what kind of world are we living in?” Sussex police would not talk about the case.

And whoever wakes in England sees, some morning, unaware, that the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf round the elm-tree bole are with tiny lens, while the police view from the orchard in England – now!


But Isn’t Taxing Beer The Third Oldest Profession?

It is interesting to follow beer fans in different jurisdictions in the US and the UK react to various plans to use beer as one way to cope with the global economic crisis. The British Beer and Pub Association backed by CAMRA and many brewers is running the Axe the Beer Tax campaign. States like Illinois are thinking about making changes while others like Wisconsin may leave them where they have been for forty years. Jay points out that the US Federal tax might be tripled from 18 to 45 bucks a barrel but is that really stupid or just reality in an economic collapse? Just as it makes no sense when a certain sort of politician advocates for lower tax on business income to get small businesses started – no sense because they have no profits to call income at that stage – similarly, in a downturn, you can’t raise taxes on the limp sectors of the economy economic activity. So, if there are going to be taxes – and, yes, there are going to be taxes – why should beer be exempt?

Amy Mittleman in Brewing Battles points out that modern taxation policy was largely created in the mid-1860s to react to the nation’s financial need to pay for the Civil War. Beer and brewing was the chosen conduit for the taxation as was follow existing European models with the aim of creating the greatest level of consumption and therefore the greatest revenue stream. She also points out that the Federal beer excise tax on beer was set at 9 dollars a barrel almost six decades ago under the Truman administration. The tax level now in after inflation dollars has simply not kept up given $100 in 1952 is now worth $798.87. Fully adjusted taxes would make for about $72 per barrel of Federal excise today at Truman’s rates. Obama’s Senate pals are considering $45. Jay quotes Jeff Becker of the Beer Institute as part of his argument:

In 2008, members of the beer industry paid more than $41 billion in taxes at all levels of government and provided jobs to 1.9 million Americans. Any proposed tax increase would severely offset this important economic contribution.’”

Really? Any tax will threaten it? Will “wipe out an industry”? Seems like the socialists do pretty well on the beer consumption scale. Look at it this way. In these tough economic times there are two western economies which are sort of standing out. Norway is booming and the Obama administration is looking to dull old Canada for banking regulatory lessons. Despite cursing it as we do, both Norway and Canada beer fans live in cultures with a pay-as-you-go mentality with high beer taxation. When I was a kid in Nova Scotia the beer cases even had “includes health tax” written on them right next to “union made” right on top. We paid the tax and were quite happy when the ER visit didn’t turn into a question about could we afford it. We also had no choice. Unlike today in the UK, there was no cheap booze alternative undermining the marketplace in the Maritimes. Well, except in PEI… but that is another matter.

Look, I am not going to say “oh, goodie goodie goodie, a new tax” but at the end of the day isn’t there an effort going on to somehow roll back the clock to about 1857 when shock and dismay is expressed over taxes on beer even in a time of economic recession?

Come Along – Let Google Do The Thinking For You

Remember when there was the whole “calculators in class” argybargy back when wideleg jeans were out before they were in again but after the second time they were out? Well, Lord Goog may be setting up a similar non-mathematical quandary:

One of the more experimental products was called Google Squared, which will go public in the next month or so. It takes information from the web and displays it in a spreadsheet in “split seconds”, something Ms Mayer said would normally take someone half a day to do. During the demonstration, a query for “small dog” was typed into the search box. Seconds later a table popped up showing photographs of various dogs, their origin, weight and height in a clear and simple layout.

Sounds like homework done in a snap to me. Of course, on one level this is good and really just a tabular representation of a results sheet that drags information from Google images, news and general web searches. And it will demonstrate the importance of gathering and sorting different classes of data into useful format. But it will also carry the air of authority so that there will be tension with the idea of improving on Google’s presentation as well as the problem of knowing to what degree the analysis presented is purely based on Google and what is the individuals.

Should we care? Should figuring stuff out and digging for information be valued even if the results are a bit like a nine year old’s take on a pancake breakfast, messy and less than appetizing?


American Craft Beer Week = Hooray for Everything?

beerisbestNot being American in the national constitutional sense, though somewhat in the continental Vespucci sense, sometimes I find things like American Craft Beer Week and a Declaration of Beer Independence all seem a bit too hooray for everything for me. You remember “Hooray for Everything” don’tca? They were in one episode for about 17 seconds of the Simpsons fifteen years ago, a youth musical group of “clean-cut youngsters” who sing about “the dancingest hemisphere, the Western Hemisphere.” In this case, however, it’s apparently about the greatest “beverage of moderation” instead. And keep tea out of this, wiseguy!

Andy was wondering a bit about the promotion as well, especially the part in the Brewer’s Association material that states their members “want the week to inspire beer enthusiasts to declare their independence by supporting breweries that produce fewer than 2 million barrels of beer a year and are independently owned.” I don’t know about you but I would expect that beer made by an operation making 2.5 million barrels a year has a lot in common with those making say 1.25 million a year. Hardly a reason to distinguish one from another and, frankly, hardly the hallmark of “an artistic creation of living liquid history made from passionate innovators.”¹ But, to be fair, this is a PR effort that, like the recent craft brewer pep rally video, is really aimed at someone other than me. It seems to me that it’s aimed at the brewers themselves and the clients that have yet to commit to a relationship. Me, I just want a tasty beer. It could come from anywhere for all I care… or could it:

During the discussion portion of Beer Wars Live Greg Koch pointed out that Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard Ale is the nation’s top-selling craft 22-ounce package. How’s that for a target? If Anheuser-Busch could brew that beer for less wouldn’t they? So to the line I’ve heard so often: “The big brewers could brew whatever they want if they chose to” I say “Poppycock.” I’m of the opinion they can’t brew the beer at any price. It’s not in their DNA.

beeril² I don’t know if it is about DNA but I get Stan’s point – it may be within their technical capacity but it is not in their business model. But is it really in the business model of the brewer that makes 1,999,999 barrels either? Does the recently released lists of both the top 50 brewers and top 50 craft brewers really provide that much of a distinction? And what about Yuengling anyway?

So, if you don’t buy into brewers as celebrity… or brewing as nationalistic jigno… or can see “not quite mass industrial” as being fundamentally different from “mass industrial”… well, it all makes for a yearning for the simpler approach to ads in the England of the 1930s like “Beer. It’s Lovely” or “Beer is Best.” Such short simple sentences. All the everything with a bit less of the hooray.

¹[Ed.: that’s rather plummy… a bit ripe… where is my cravat anyway?]
²[Ed.: image brazenly nicked from Pete’s blog. Buy his books. Now I feel better.]

Can You Make A Map About Nothing?

Ruk is a helpful person. Far more helpful than I ever am. This weekend he posted about how you can create a Google map to collaboratively and graphically and geographically display information about something. Trouble is… I write on a blog and have been writing on this blog for six years and about two weeks but I don’t really think it is about anything. So, I am creating a map to see what would go on a map collaboratively and graphically and geographically to display information about nothing.

It will take time to either fill or be forgotten. I have invited a number of people to try to play with this but also have made collaboration public, too. Click here to get to the map if you care to watch or play amateur cartographer. And read Ruk’s instructions for how to participate. Remember at step 5 to press “edit” to make that blue water droplet icon for creating new information.


Kingston St. Lawrence Base Ball Stats 1874

The big news at the outset of the third season for the Kingston St. Lawrence Base Ball Club in 1874 is that they settle their unhappy relations with the local cricket club to a certain degree. An announcement in the Daily News on 20 May 1874 declares:

The base ball club have changed their ground to the end of the town nearest the town. This change will prevent any re-occurance of the quarrels with the cricketers, will give both parties plenty of room and will utilize the whole of the Cricket Field.

A couple of interesting notes including the base ball club didn’t need naming in the article. Also it pretty clearly identifies the location of the baseball field as the Cricket Ground still exists, as clickably illustrated. It may be that the baseball was played facing westish while the cricket ran north south. In the 9 June 1874 edition of the British Whig, an article appears that states that the “portion of the Cricket Field apportioned to the Base Ball Club is very rough still, not withstanding the work bestowed on it this spring. It has a monster hollow in it which will ever make it a poor field for playing on.” The paper makes a plea for the sending of the street scrapings to fill in the hole for the good of the “base ballers”

On June 10th, 1874 the Daily News reports on a grand base ball tournament to be played at Watertown NY on the 29th. It is to be held under the auspices of the Base Ball Association, the members of which are among the leading citizens of Watertown. A little more detail is in the notice in the British Whig on the same date. Apparently Watertown had a smaller tournament in 1873 and that the best games were being reserved for the Fourth of July. In the Daily News on 6 July, 1874, it is stated that the Guelph Maple Leaf were coming to play KSL at the Cricket Ground on the next day after traveling from the Watertown contest. As the 10 June article stated that the tournament was expected to last a couple of weeks, it may well be a reference to that event. In the 30 June 1874 edition of the British Whig it states that both the Maple Leaf club of Guelph and the Kingston St. Lawrence were leaving at 7 am for Watertown. “The great base ball tournament at Watertown is drawing large numbers from Kingston and the surrounding country to witness the match between the Canada and United States Clubs.” The Maud was also sailing in the afternoon for Cape Vincent NY with spectators. A notice is posted in the Whig dated 7 July 1874 with the headline “The Base Ball Tournament – Guelph Wins The $500 Prize” states that the Maple Leaf of Guelph won the Watertown tournament beating the Eastons of Philadelphia this forenoon by a score of 13 to 10.

Here is a listing of the games played by the St.L BBC in 1874:

3A: KSL v. Maple Leaf club. Report in the 20 June 1874 British Whig has no box score and it a little fuzzy on whether it is Picton or not playing but KSL wins 26 to 15 in a game played on the Picton fair grounds. 250 travelled from Kingston on the ship Maud, leaving in the morning, arriving at one pm, leaving for the return trip at 7 pm arriving in Kingston at 11:30 pm. Mr. J McCammon “retained the medal for base hits after a close close struggle.” The Whig‘s article on the 23rd of June has a box score and says the recent match was between the leading Kingston clubs, the Maple Leaf and St. Lawrence, but it was played in Picton. Umpire was W. H. Smith. McCammon had four base hits while six other players in the game had three.
3B: Tuesday, June 23, 1874. KSL v. Newcastle Beavers. The Daily News reported on 24 June 1874 hat it was not really a game as ‘ the game was stopped and declared “no game” “owing to the many mishaps which occurred to the Beaver Club of Newcastle.” It was to be made up. Interestingly, when the game was canceled, the score was 14 to 10 for Newcastle over the St. Lawrence. The identity of the umpire was not noted. As the Beavers had 9 outs and the St. Lawrence 12, it looks like it was called after 3 1/2 innings. But that would mean that the visitors were batting in the bottom of the innings. No indication it was a game with Kingston on tour. The report of the same day in the Whig confirms it was played in Kingston but that Newcastle batted first. The mystery of the mishaps is explained as “as one of the Beavers was going to the bat in the fifth inning he fell a fainting fit, and have to be carried off as much dead as alive”. That was after their catcher got a “bad hit” from the ball in the face. The Beavers were on a tour and had to go on to play Ogdensburg the next day then on to Prescott and Ottawa.
3C: KSL v. Guelph Maple Leaf, 7 July 1874. Referenced in previous day’s Daily News.
3D: KSL, First Nine v. KSL, Second Nine, Friday 17 July 1874. Score is 15 to 8 for the First Nine with the Second Nine scoring five in the eighth inning. Umpire was P. Nolan. Game took 1 hour and 50 minutes.
3E: KSL v. Napanee, Monday 20 July 1874. Reference in the 18 July 1874 edition of the Whig. Also referenced as having been played in the 25 July 1874 edition of the Whig with Eilbeck winning the medal for most base hits. As it is referenced again in the following Ogdensburg game as being retained by Eilbeck, it must have been a medal that was for the KSL player with the most hits, a club prize.
3F: KSL v. Ogdensburg, 24 July 1874. 29 to 24 for Ogdensburg. Note is made of two things in the Daily News article. Kingston was stated to have no professionals and this seems to result in “the members playing much better themselves than they used to and “whatever success may attend their efforts, they can claim it fairly as their own.” The other thing is that the KSL complained about the American umpire who was not at all the impartial individual that an umpire should be.” He was replaced in the seventh inning but only one umpire, P. Nolan, is named by both players. We see that Nolan umped the 17 July club game so he must be the replacement as it is unlikely an American would be brought in to umpire a game between KSL 1 v. KSL 2. Oddly, Ogdensburg got 14 of their runs in the eighth and ninth innings which the Whig on 25 July 1874 described as they “went up in lemons in the last innings, ran up live high figures and squeezed out a victory.” Ogdensburg is also not called the Pastimes as it was in 1873. Game took 2 hours and 40 minutes.
3G: KSL, second team v. The Beaver Club of Kingston, Monday July 27, 1874. The score was 22 to 16 for the second team of KSL. The Beaver Club is said in the Daily News to be a new club, recently organized. The game is referenced as upcoming in the 25 July 1874 edition of the Whig.
3H: KSL, second team v. the Stars, Wednesday, 27 July 1874. Score was 35 to 17 for the KSL2 as reported in the Whig, 30 July. Not sure why the team is called the “second nine” for KSL as Elibeck and most others who were in 3F against Ogdensburg played.
3I: KSL v. Ogdensburg Dauntless. Played Friday 8 August 1874 in Ogdensburg. Referenced in the 28 July 1874 edition of the British Whig. The team is well off enough to have chartered the tug Falcon and anyone who wished “to join them were to send their names to the Secretary, Mr. Eilback.”
3J:KSL v. Montreal Caledonia Base Ball Club, Friday 22 August 1874. Referenced in Whig of 19 August 1874. Played in Kingston. KSL wins 69 to 17.
3K:KSL v. Cobourg Travellers, Saturday 23 August 1874. for “the championship game”. KSL won 25 to 18. Played in Kingston starting at 4 pm “giving everybody a chance to witness it. Referenced in Whig of 19 August 1874. Played in Kingston. The Whig of 5 August stated the date of the game to be Monday August 24th so I have to check all these dates. Also, it stated the game was for the championship of eastern Ontario and that the winner would win a flag. The results are reported in the Whig of Tuesday August 25th and the game was played on the previous day, a Monday civic holiday. Kingston was behind until they switched pitchers and put in Wilson, a leftie. The crowd apparently was large and rude. Game called at 7 pm in the ninth.
3L:KSL v. Bowmanville Live Oaks, Friday, 18 September 1875. KSL loses 4 to 7. Bowmanville is also referred to as the “Royal Oaks” in the article in the Whig. Nolan was the umpire. Game was called early so Bowmanville could catch the boat so Kingston retains championship.

Here are the stats for 1872 and 1873.

Vintage Base Ball At The Royal Military College

What a day! A squeaker in the first game at 14 to 13 for RMC over the St. Lawrence after RMC entered the bottom of the ninth down 10 to 13. In the second game a more reasonable 12- 5 by the Canadian military elite over the slothful loutish lumps. Each game was roughly an hour and a half. Great fun and a wonderful reason to retire to the Kingston Brewing Company for a great variety of interpretations on what exactly happened. Oatmeal stout is such a tonic. No word of a lie when I tell you there was TV, radio and newspaper coverage from two nations present. A great way to welcome in the warmer months.

Friday Bullets For Tra-la It’s May!

I was not so much in a production of Camelot as I was part of the production. OK, I raised curtains. I sat in a closet for a week’s worth of evenings when I was 14 and raised curtains. But I heard the “tra-la, it’s may song” more than most humans have and I really don’t mind it that much. I bet Iggy is saying tra-la this weekend. It is sort of like listening to Robert Goulet, so manly and mapled. By the way, when preparing for a conference I spoke at this week, I was quite pleased to learn that, no, I did not have a head shot for the materials. Why do people lean at a 17% angle for promotional head shots?

  • I am not sure whether buying a bit of Chrysler is a good idea for us all. I mean, I have not been in one since the old Dodge Diplomat died around 1993 – no, not true – I drive an inherited van here in 2003 before trading that in at Ford.
  • How to deal with invasive species – eat them. Shows them who’s top of the food chain.
  • I had no idea that the Edwards Opera House was so close. Now that I have a passport I may nip over for a bluegrass Saturday night sometime. Which reminds me – we are weeks away from the Watertown Wizards.
  • Stephen Fry on something other than Twitter – thinking about himself at 16.
  • Ted Reynolds, CBC 70s and 80s sports reporter and part of my youth passes away.
  • Why isn’t PEI just a column in the paper every day like “your daily smile” except it would be “look what happened in PEI today!” and it would have a story like this one about the Environment Minister telling everyone how great it was when he was a kid and dynamited beaver dams. And they sell citizenships for profit, too!
  • The season finale of Private Practice last night was the worst hour of TV ever but it was like watching a shopping mall burn – can’t stop staring as careers are destroyed.

That is it. Vintage base ball tomorrow. A three team event, too. We even have hats this year. And I will be sporting a hurlihee and a part well to the side. Huzzah.