Day 15: War, Xmas Photos And Roger Freaks Out!

I got a great gift in the mail today. Copy 8 of 10 of Ron Pattinson’s new book, WAR! He wrote about the book’s release this very morning from his home in The Netherlands and by suppertime a copy was in my mailbox here in Canada. Compiling his studies to date on the years of World War I and World War II, it is a great example of the work he is doing to bringing actual detailed primary research to the question of the history of beer.

One wishes all beer writers were so concerned with the facts as we witnessed today from Roger Protz who went all freaky handbags over BrewDog’s new and insanely strong beer. He’s received a number of head shaking responses, deservedly so given his use of language like “over-inflated egos and naked ambition” and “the wild buckeroos” and “what were you smoking last night, chaps?” and “this bunch of ego-maniacs” and “anxious to give beer a bad name.” The oddest thing is that he goes off on his own ice flow all the while misunderstanding the technical process used for actually making the beer, baldly claiming it had wine yeast in it… not that wine yeast would get you a 32% beer. One wonders what Protz was thinking or, in fact, had been smoking himself when he wrote such a blurt. He has certainly gone a long way to discredit his own opinions on experimental beer generally. For a more measured response, you may want to read Pete Brown’s post on the new and insanely strong beer from last Thursday…you know, when it was news.

Now with the Xmas 2009 Beer Blog Yuletide Photo Contest Extravaganza. First, a couple of solo entries from Canada.

Chris Berry of Kanata, Ontario sent this one picture to the right which sorta looks normal… until you have a good look at the baby’s face. Frank MacDonald of Torbay Newfoundland kept the kids out of the photo to the left. It was taken at the Grizzly Paw Brewpub in Canmore Alberta.

Next, Jeff Alworth of Portland, Oregon has sent in some photos from the scene there. I have no idea how he got to put in 8 entries but never having been to Oregon I can’t be sure this is not some sort of cultural thing, some sort of secret message to us all. Maybe he can’t count. Better not mess with the photo set just in case:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally Tim Connelly of Cambridge Massachusetts sent in these pictures which are entitled “Inside Cantillon,” “In a Galway pub,” “Outside of a Galway pub,” “The Franciscan Well Brewery Pub, Cork’ and “Brooklyn Brewery”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four more great entries. I better starting beating the bush for more prizes. Here I go. Off to email brewers until all I have are bloody stumps for hands. Why? I don’t do it for you. I do it for Santa.

“BrewDog Go Bonkers” by Roger Protz, 30 November 2009

[Stored for cross referencing…]

BrewDog have surpassed themselves with their over-inflated egos and naked ambition. They chose — deliberately, of course — to launch on the very day the Scottish Parliament was discussing a minimum price for alcohol a “beer” with a strength of 32%. Naturally, the wild buckeroos in Fraserburgh claim this is the world’s strongest beer, even though technically it’s not beer at all, as brewer’s yeast cannot work beyond a strength of 12 or 13 degrees. Clearly the new product, called Tactical Nuclear Penguin (what were you smoking last night, chaps?), was finished with a wine or champagne yeast. James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said the beer was “completely pushing the boundaries”. Indeed, and it’s also pushing beyond breaking point what sensible beer writers and connoisseurs will take from this bunch of ego-maniacs. Those of us who attempt to paint an image of beer as a fine drink enjoyed in moderation by sensible people have the ground cut from beneath our feet by BrewDog, which just plays in to the hands of the yellow press, ever anxious to give beer a bad name. I don’t often agree with the likes of Alcohol Concern but I think Jack Law, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, hit the soft spile on the head when he said BrewDog was guilty of “childlike attention-seeking”. He added that the fact that the beer, priced at £30 a bottle, had achieved a new record was not admirable. “It’s a product with a lot of alcohol in it, that’s all. To dress it up as anything else is cynical.”

Where Do They Eat The Candied Yams?

Great bit of mapping of information in the New York Times Times morning setting out regional Thanksgiving dinner preferences based on search engine results:

It is hard to draw very many conclusions based on search trends. The fact that cooks in the Southeast rarely look up crust recipes could mean that they are not interested in pies or that they bake so many that no one needs to be told how to do it. And what of all the searches for “cheese ball” in the Midwest? Do people in Indiana just forget how to make it each year, or are cheese balls winning new converts? We may never know why cooks in North Carolina show more interest in sweet potatoes, their most-queried side dish, than people in any other state. Or why a broccoli casserole belt extends through Appalachia and ends in Florida.

I have been interested in how regional and even local US food is for years. New York white hots, Maine Indian pudding, Indiana chicken noodle. All comfort and all about the neighbourhood. We’d never do this in Canada. The other day at work I was mentioning how I was over in upstate and picked up Vermont and Wisconsin cheddars, how different they were. One scoffed response was “well, I’m sticking to Canadian.” Doesn’t matter who produces it, what it tastes like, where it comes from – that person eats “Canadian” apparently.

It’s pretty funny how out national false superiority tells us tales. In a land of homogenized, standardized and nationalized food units, in a nation that researches how to make mild cheese more mild, we strangely assume that we are more diverse and interesting. The generic theory of national character that never fails to disappoint. It’s too bad as there are no doubt many local patterns in history, culture… food. But we’re not interested. There’d never be mapping of Canadian food patterns presented as a positive and interesting. It’d have to tell us again that there is beef in Alberta – never mind PEI’s fantastic “Easter beef” thing when you get to eat the cattle raised for prizes at the previous fall’s Royal Winter Fair or other blue ribbon winners. We are told that fish comes from the sea without consideration of the fried Lake Huron perch shacks or that smoked splake they make there, too. We’d never want to know where the hunter’s mystery pies are to be found.

None

Where The Heck Did That Deer Come From?

Nature can be surprising.

The animal will be watched over by veterinarians and then likely given to the Toronto Zoo, police said. Still, no one knows where it came from. “Obviously, it made its way from Rouge Valley, Humber Valley,” said Supt. Hugh Ferguson. “How? God only knows … GO Train, maybe.”

How odd being a few blogs for Deer-Gate, the great question of how the heck a deer got into Toronto. Funny. When I look out the window of the 26th story where I am sitting, I see woods. And on the map nearby I see ravines and woods and I bet that deer is a downtown Toronto deer of long standing.

None

Ontario: Two Evenings In Dark Bars In Toronto

 

Beer culture is is such a delicate and hopefully early state of development in Canada – even after all these years – that there are only a few places you hope to find an important work related training course so that when the bell rings and class gets out, well, you have something to do. I found a couple of spots the last few days that did the trick.

Feeling all very Ron, I got off the train last evening at around 9:00 pm and by one mere hour later had placed myself (after a little confusion from staff going off shift as to whether they were at work or not) at the upper room of the Queen and Beaver on Elm Street a half block away from the former site of Sam the Record Man. A sad testimony to the swath being cut through recorded music in Canada, the greatest record store in the land is but a hole in the ground now.

But I didn’t let it get me down. I have plenty of lps in the rec room to see me out. Instead, I planted myself in a wing chair and watched the second half of the MLS finals with a small group on a quiet Sunday night. At eight bucks a pint, it was not cheap but not insane either and when you can get a Denison’s weissbier as well as McAuslan oatmeal stout things are not all that bad. Service upstairs was far better than the apparent social intrusion I made on the empty first floor. The neat and tidy English soccer themed rec room feel was great after being stuck on the train for a few hours. We need a society for wing chair appreciation. A society with beer taps.

 

 

 

 

Tonight was a different matter as I walked up Yonge Street to hit the wonderful Cafe Volo. I met Troy Burtch of GCP’n’B there for supper. We got to chat with plenty of fine T.O. beer nerds as well as Ralph the owner and Michael Hancock of Denison’s Brewing. Blab-blab-blab. Chatter-chatter-chat. Bought Troy late wedding gifts in the form of a share of a bottle of Pannepot as well as another of Nostradamus. Should his good bride point out that the gift only went to one half of the happy couple, well, I can only plead that once I gave a wah-wah pedal as a wedding gift.

I had a County Durham Hop Addict which was very good as well as a Beau’s Gabba Gabba Heywhich was one wee notch gooderer and which got a solid three thumbs up from Michael. Five buck pints and the relaxed but seriously aware good beer atmosphere had the place hopping on a Monday night. Ralph was in the cellar beating on the casks at one point, the next telling us about his travels to Italy, then talking about how he was heading back to England for more training before he rolls out his own micro brewing on site. It was the place to be for good beer that night – busy when I wanted busy as much as the night before was quiet when I was whacked.

These moments are few. I don’t get out much so I am that much more tickled when they turn out to be just what I needed..

Hi-Jinx And Fun Times In Canada’s Parliament

I had a sense that there was the word going out this week to raise little bubbles of discredit of the legislative process when young Tory Stephen Taylor¹ put out the message “did you know that 15 minutes in the House of Commons costs the taxpayer $75,000?” Makes sense. Dad’s out of town. Juniors have to be kept in line. With performances like these, well, he may be right:

“Yesterday the government could not tell us why it erected an expensive sign in Gatineau to advertise the installation of another sign,” Nova Scotia MP Mike Savage said. “In Yellowknife, another Conservative sign has been bought to advertise the installation of ‘interior-exterior signs.’ Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.” Mr. Savage wanted to know why the government is spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on signs when more and more Canadians are using food banks. Transport Minister Baird characterized these signs as “signs of hope”, and signs of opportunity.

You get used to this stuff when it continues for long enough. But it grates and it wears. Look to the voice of reason when it can be heard, like that of Canada’s favorite alt-country politician, Chuck Angus, who spoke out against Twitter in committee on Tuesday:

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but this is not a clown show. We are elected to represent our people. We go to committee to do serious business. I believe the issue of members sitting on committee with their inane Twitters about what happens at committee demeans the work of all parliamentarians. I am not going to speak on this party or that party. We have an obligation to represent the best of our country and I would like members of Parliament to put the inane little games away and get down to business of serving their constituents.

Now that’s public speaking. He was building upon his rebuke of the Liberals on Monday:

Mr. Speaker, I always listen with great interest to my hon. colleague, but I think we need to back up a little to see where the Liberal Party has been. When it came to siding with the Conservatives on stripping pay equity for women, the Liberal Party stood and supported that. When it came to stripping basic environmental protection on Canada’s river ways, the Liberal Party stood with the Conservative Party and supported that. When it came to stripping the fundamental obligations on Kyoto, the Liberal party went along with that. The Liberal Party always looks through the prism, not of a national vision but of how to get back to power. Now we have a situation where the Liberal leader, perhaps he was seeking employment benefits himself, suddenly announced that the Liberals would oppose everything from here on in. The Liberals are opposing changes to EI, which would help unemployed workers. Many in my riding have asked me about supporting it, but the Liberal Party does not support that. The bigger issue is getting the visitor from Harvard elected. Now the Liberals are refusing to support the home renovation tax credit, even though it is out there, because the visitor from Harvard sees this as a path to getting to power. The Liberals have supported the government on everything that is wrong. When it finally has done one or two things right, the Liberals oppose it. I cannot understand their hypocrisy on this.

Now, that’s the voice of someone who is taking the business of the business of the nation seriously. Far clearer and finer a voice than, sadly, we had to put up with from Defense Minister Elmersson MacKay whose idea of oratory is “Mr. Speaker, I think we all know here in the House who is doing the huffing and puffing and hyperventilating and pontificating. It is the member opposite.” Sounds like one of those out guys on the Muppets complaining form the balcony, Statler and Waldorf. Another gem from the man who cursed the language with his personal invention, unCanadian.

¹You know, the…err… blogger who gets to speak “with a senior staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office and another staffer at Public Works” to put together a blog post. As fine a gentleman as ever you will meet. Just hi-jinxy methinks from time to time.

None

Now I Want The Toque Of My Dreams…

I rarely remember dreams and if I do they are boring. But this morning I woke up laughing. I was at a 20th anniversary of something and my pal Chicken was there holding the hand of a chubby four year old who was packed into winter boots and a ski-doo suit. He starts laughing at me because I am wearing a pale lavender toque with a really over sized patch on it. The patch is slightly irregular. It has dark edging and a white background with some pale spacey stars and space clouds with a black head and shoulders silhouette of a cat eyed round headed spaceman. Now I want that hat.

Chicken’s Dad laughed at it, too, saying it was the stupidest hat he had ever seen. No wonder I don’t try to remember the dreams before they fade away.

England: Coffee Porter, Meantime, London

I must have picked this up at Finger Lake Beverage last February. Lovely new web site. $3.50 USD with as cheery a small bottle as ever there was. Well, to be fair, the 375 ml cork top from Girardin is pretty damn fine but this is swell as well.

Gorgeous. Dark mahogany beer under a tan cream thick lacing head. Subdued nose with an oddly enhanced twigged hop statement over roast but a weird inversion occurs on the first sip. Excellent coffee meets a hint of double cream with dark chocolate wave followed by a nicely balanced mild astringency cutting it all ending in a very pleasant herbal stuff. All this in one wee bottle. Lovely.

BAers have the hots. And, best of all, Roland + Russell have announced that they are bringing the brewer’s stock to me, here in Ontario. It is all working out, this thing called life…

Big Easlakia Base Ball News Circa 1874

While I was over hobnobbing with the shaken and moved of the southern part of our Easlakian neighbo(u)rhood, I have actual stuff to do. Base ball stuff as I wanted to research the Watertown tournament of 1874 given that there were references to it in the Kingston papers of the time. I had thought that they went to play but in fact it appears that they went to watch as they are not listed as a team in the schedule.

Kingston’s rivals of the day, the Guelph Maple Leaf, win the event held in late June and early July over eight days before pop up here after for a game on 7 July 1874. But there are other notes that make it very curious:

  • There is a first and second class tournaments being played side by side making for a total of 14 teams. I do not know why you would have seven teams per class but there you have it.
  • Being or rather not being “daunted” meant something in the mid-1870s as there is a second class team called “The Undaunted” of La Fargeville, NY and another second class team called “The Dauntless of Watertown, NY. Careful readers will know that there was also a team called Dauntless of Ogdensburg, NY which the Kingston St. Lawrence played on Friday 8 August 1874 in Ogdensburg as well as the Dauntless Club of Toronto that Kingston played in 1872 and 1873 .
  • One team in the first class group was the Ku-Klux of Oneida, NY described as “the acknowledged champion club of Northern and Central New York” in the 29 June issue of the The Daily Times of Watertown. You will be comforted to know that the Maples Leaf of Guelph thumped them 13-4 and that the team was slagged in the paper as “the negro haters” who scored a “usual whitewash,” a “goose egg, ” a “cipher” and “skunked” in various innings.
  • Certain players of the Nassaus of Brooklyn, NY and some Eastons of Easton, Pennsylvania were reported in the 6 July issue as having taken a wagon to Sackets Harbor on Sunday 4 July and returning in quite a state: “It would have been proper if the whole crowd could have been unloaded at the jail.” They apparently were driven through Public Square as they sand “Mulligan Guards” and kindred songs.

Thrilling stuff. Need to do a little cross referencing but it looks like the Eastons of the 1870s may have been a rival to the Philadelphia Athletics which are now the Oakland A’s.

Big Easlakia Base Ball News Circa 1874

While I was over hobnobbing with the shaken and moved of the southern part of our Easlakian neighbo(u)rhood, I have actual stuff to do. Base ball stuff as I wanted to research the Watertown tournament of 1874 given that there were references to it in the Kingston papers of the time. I had thought that they went to play but in fact it appears that they went to watch as they are not listed as a team in the schedule.

Kingston’s rivals of the day, the Guelph Maple Leaf, win the event held in late June and early July over eight days before pop up here after for a game on 7 July 1874. But there are other notes that make it very curious:

  • There is a first and second class tournaments being played side by side making for a total of 14 teams. I do not know why you would have seven teams per class but there you have it.
  • Being or rather not being “daunted” meant something in the mid-1870s as there is a second class team called “The Undaunted” of La Fargeville, NY and another second class team called “The Dauntless of Watertown, NY. Careful readers will know that there was also a team called Dauntless of Ogdensburg, NY which the Kingston St. Lawrence played on Friday 8 August 1874 in Ogdensburg as well as the Dauntless Club of Toronto that Kingston played in 1872 and 1873 .
  • One team in the first class group was the Ku-Klux of Oneida, NY described as “the acknowledged champion club of Northern and Central New York” in the 29 June issue of the The Daily Times of Watertown. You will be comforted to know that the Maples Leaf of Guelph thumped them 13-4 and that the team was slagged in the paper as “the negro haters” who scored a “usual whitewash,” a “goose egg, ” a “cipher” and “skunked” in various innings.
  • Certain players of the Nassaus of Brooklyn, NY and some Eastons of Easton, Pennsylvania were reported in the 6 July issue as having taken a wagon to Sackets Harbor on Sunday 4 July and returning in quite a state: “It would have been proper if the whole crowd could have been unloaded at the jail.” They apparently were driven through Public Square as they sand “Mulligan Guards” and kindred songs.

Thrilling stuff. Need to do a little cross referencing but it looks like the Eastons of the 1870s may have been a rival to the Philadelphia Athletics which are now the Oakland A’s.

None