Ontario: Pan-Ontario, BeausFlyMonkGrandGreat Brewing


They are still at it over at the Kingston Brew Pub as I write. Steve is to the left and Dave to the right, both Beauchesnes and both of Beau’s All Natural Brewing of Vankleek Hill in the furthest eastern edge of the province, roughly east of the eastern tip of Cuba if you must know. The release of Pan-Ontario, a blend of four Ontario beers which were then rammed into a a bourbon barrel, heated to 3,000C and sent to the moon and back in the Space Shuttle as part of the celebrations of the second annual Ontario Craft Beer Week.

OK. I know. I made the last two bits up but it is a pretty snazzy beer so it’s like it went through all that and came out the other side – all the better for it. It’s a big beer. 10% brown ale full of date and vanilla and other good things with maybe a bit of black cherry, too, but not so heavy that you wobble around like a weeble. Made of Flying Monkey’s Netherworld and Grand River’s Curmudgeon and Great Lakes 666 as well as Beau’s Screaming Beaver in unknown proportions. What I really like is that is not a recipe collaboration (aka another tax write off holiday in Norway for the brewery owner) but an actual blend of actual real beers to make another beer. It was like a nut brown ale as envisaged by a rabid squirrel. Sounds bad but I expect you have not hung out with rabid squirrels as much as you might so just have a little faith in the image, wouldja?

A great way to end a work week. I got to spend a few hours with the guys. I got to talk with staff and local beer fans talking about the brew as well as other things. I got to ask for another sample and was handed a full pint of the stuff. I made my way home in one piece.

Your First Friday Bullets For Summer Of ’11

So, it is finally summer. A thunderstorm hammered the town last night so that makes sense. The kids don’t actually seem to be learning anything at school, just trips trips trip so that makes sense. And you can’t find anyone at work. The trifecta of summer’s start. It was a busy week, too. Reports came in. Personnel shuffled. Outsourcing appointments were confirmed. And that was just at home.

  • • Canada’s national shame. We export death. Is this why Chuck quit?
  • • Roger Ebert was right and everyone should say so. If the driver had lived he would have played “Jackass in Jail” for the rest of his life for killing his pal.
  • • My kids really don’t have this issue: “you call this toast?”
  • Senate reform? I don’t understand how when a constitution has a section 23 that sets out qualifications of a senator that addig a qualification is not an amendment to the constitution.
  • • The Feds did something else weird constitutionally recently that no one noticed. It passed a bill in the House and in the Senate before the Throne Speech to demonstrate the right to act without the leave of the Crown. Hmm.
  • • North Carolina considers compensation for victims of state forced sterilizations under its eugenics program that lasted until the 70s. Is it time for Alberta to face its own past?
  • • Speaking of the Senate, BC’s new Premier seems to be bad with math: ““Twenty-four Senators for the entire western Canada? The economic engine for our country?” she scoffed.” In the depths of the recession, Ontario dipped to 38% of GDP, more than BC, Alberta, Saskatchwan and Manitoba combined. Twenty-four seats for Ontario? A joke. And, besides, democracy requires representation by population not by oil wells.

There. That’s a lot of bullets. Surely enough to hold you for now. Next week? Canada Day is on Friday. Expect a treat. Or much the same thing. Either one.


It’s Beer And Sausage Week At Finland’s Cottages


I can’t tell you my Finnish joke because I told you in 2008. It was in a post entitled “Tonight Is The Night To Drink Like A Finn!” but I now understand that this week is the week to drink – and eat – like a Finn:

The amount of sausage Finns consume during the Midsummer week is approximately three times as large as normal. For example the Midsummer sales of the food producer HK’s grill sausages amount to almost a million kilogrammes, reports Antti Paavilainen, Senior VP of sales at HK. And with their sausages Finns want to drink beer. Lots of it. Around 4.5 million litres of beer are sold around Midsummer – about 50 per cent more than during normal weeks.

Apparently, it all happens at the back country cottage, especially in the sauna: “…traditional saunas right down to the wood fire that’s best lashed with beer to give the steam the yeasty flavour of a bakery.” So, you drink beer in a sauna that reeks of beer and, no doubt, soon come to be soaked in beery sweat, too. That does not sound too bad. And that’s not fiery enough, you are supposed to trot off to the bonfire to top off the day before another round of beer and sausage.

This cartoon from a guy called Seppo seems to sum it up.

Two Cautionary Tales Of Good Beer Bad Behaviour

monkey4We like to ascribe so many positive things to good beer and those who love it we often forget that we make most of it up. We pretend brewers are rock stars. We pretend thinking about beer began (and sorta stopped) in the 1970s. But most of all we pretend people who make and enjoy craft beer are the sort of people we would like to hang out with. Really? Two morality plays for your consideration. First, Zak points out the tedium that one craft beer boor has put him through recently:

This post isn’t really about Chad, it’s about the idea that you have to reach a level of ‘beerdom’ in order to be allowed to drink certain types of beers. Sure, there are some beers that benefit from a little explanation, most sour beers and rauchbiers being the primary examples. But surely beer is a democratic, egalitarian drink that can be shared by everyone? Or do you disagree?

A great point that has attracted some comments but my point is not to highjack his discussion but to compare and contrast that situation to a second one that has been reported on by Jeff:

Don McIntosh of the NW Labor Press–a worker’s rights publication that’s not exactly neutral–has a devastating article about how Rogue Brewery treats its workers. The main issue is an effort to unionize Rogue that the management has aggressively fought. They have deployed tactics familiar to anyone who has followed labor relations in the US over the last 20 years–all legal by today’s laws. But worse than that, McIntosh paints the picture of a hostile work environment where management acts capriciously to ensure full compliance.

As Jeff points out, the tactics of Rogues he points out are likely within the law and the accuser is a labour publication – but the story is still pretty distasteful. So much so that I took the opportunity to not buy Rogue beer after work today, part of the LCBO’s summer brewery feature. I would ask you to consider making the same consideration – however you decide to act afterwards.

But, really, I would ask you to consider how craft beer may sometimes brings out the bully and why. For me, it boils down to one word: passion. Jeff points out the motto “Rogue is not for everyone” but we can take that a few ways. Either it can mean many can not handle their beer or, my preferred reading, the brewery is not egalitarian, is not for all people and, apparently, not for that part of its workers who don’t fall into lock step. “Passion” has that problem of being ultimately fairly meaningless and too often code word for my way or the highway. We’ve seen this sort of “passion” at work before with the bland “hooray for everything” attitude of trade associations, defensive niche hugging consumer group executives or senior brewery buffoons who believe good marketing include condescension. Spare me the passion.

And isn’t that really what Zak has had to deal with as well? Somehow, yet another self appointed craft beer person of importance awards himself the right to denigrate others, to be not for them. We’ve seen the self-appointed boor in action before. How many of them are there? How many bad boss craft brewers? Lord, how many? Certainly not anywhere near a majority. But is there any part of the beer culture that makes us celebrate the illusionary community without point out the individual arseholes amongst us in the crowd?

Wouldn’t it be nice if beer rating sites included a way to factor in how happy the workers are as part of the over all scoring? Wouldn’t it be nice in beer rating sites punished boors with pomposity points reminding us all to take their opinions with a very large grain of salt?

Friday Bullets For The First Third Of June

Why not measure the month in thirds? The dates lead us to that but the weeks knock us off that path. My first third of June was noted by a hair cut and a massive storm that saw me shouting at roofers on Wednesday night. Shouting “GET THE HELL OFF THE ROOF!!!” and other such things. Came up fast. They had to scramble. What else was a first third event? Sox are back on top. El Tigre is a conventioneer. It didn’t snow. Dandelions appear to have departed.

  • • A great use of the web to tell the story of Canada’s role on D-Day.
  • • Best Canadian political ad I have seen in a long time… and, no, not any kind of rip off. Far better than the bland Tory fare.
  • • Nice to see the separatists still having problems. I have no issue with including separatism in the political debate. I just like it losing the political debate.
  • • Speaking of losing causes.
  • • Sounds like Steven Moffat wants to make another show, other than Doctor Who, while making Doctor Who. James Bow is more hopeful of the direction of the season than I am.
  • • I had no idea that “a ne’er-do-well” was either a legal term or used in modern journalism.

There. I am off to the states this morning for work. Tour of a base. Maybe there’ll be pictures. Back by supper. Wizards have started play. May cross again on Sunday.


What Is The Etiquette of Beer Blog Photography?

Ron has explained that he has had a run in with this man above due to the use of a camera. In his post from last Sunday, he describes the salient facts:

…the boss came and told me I had to show him all the photos I’d taken and erase them, even the ones that were just of my beer. He threatened to call the police if I didn’t. Even the one of the entrance, taken from the street. He claimed that it was all private property and I couldn’t take any photos. He followed me out onto the street shouting insults at me…

I am not naming names but you can look it up. As he was clearly dealing a person of little common sense beyond the confines of his own mind, I am completely on side with Ron… except for the nagging question of a potential principle. See, I was named and even had my photo published in a paper recently in the course of my work and found the experience odd. You can look up that, too, but because I am fat I really hate photos of myself and, even at that, I was a little shocked with the realization that me being seen in any context was news. But Mr. Teutonic Tizzy Fit 2011, Ron’s new friend, wasn’t about that. He was just a pompous boor, pretending he had a right to the sight of his bar.

Ron reminded me of two other incidents as a beer blogger that have shaped my thoughts. Back in 2004, I went into a beer shop in Pennsylvania and was told, no, I could not take photos, that it was against the law. I thought that was a lie, that I was getting jerked around and, as you can see, I snuck a few interior shots out back. Sirens did not wail. In the other case, in the spring of 2005, after hitting the Blue Tusk and Clarks, I found myself late at night on a great crawl in Awful Al’s Whiskey and Cigar Bar where I was soon told to stop taking pictures and even to show I had deleted a couple in particular. The request was made by a bouncer backed waitress and, even at that particular moment, I saw the ethical point. While I love all three sets of photos from that great night out, to the waitress I was Mr. Creepy Digital Cameraman 2005. No issue at all as far as I am concerned.

Is there a thread of an ethical principle to be drawn through these examples? For me, I have every sympathy for wait staff. I’ve done it and, like laying sod for a living, stopped. That waitress, I realized immediately, had every right to feel I was out of line. I even have some sympathy for the guys in PA whose shop I may have illegally photographed – given the whacked laws down there and how it might just be true. But even if German law gives Ron’s pal the right to control the dissemination of images, I don’t care. He’s a bully.

But is that good enough? Those are my conclusions based on the moment. Is there a better way to determine whether it is right to take a photo for your beer blog?

Friday Bullets For Getting Up At 6:43 AM

I don’t set the alarm as the house lives on the rhythm of pre-schoolers. If I am up at 5:15 am, that is life and if the stars align like last week and there is quiet well past a sensible hour, that is life, too. Like last week. When I get a string of good sleeps I start to ask why there isn’t more activism for early to bed, early to rise. Government programs. That sort of thing. I mean of we can get tax breaks for kids activities, why not for jammies if both are key to good health? What else? I am not against taxing soda pop like cigarettes but I would rather see it extend to the prepared food aisle. If you can’t cut a carrot and put it is a pot as part of making something, you should pay the same premium for health that a ciggie toker pays.

  1. Wed Design History Update: Where have all the .gif files gone… long time ago…
  2. • I would not exactly use the words royal newlyweds parasites but a do see a glimmer of the point. I pay for my own holidays. And I do appreciate that the young couple facing a life of nationals service does try live a relatively “go to worky” life. But I pay for my own holidays.
  3. Holy Division of Powers Action, Batman! I want a Supreme Court ruling on the meaning of the Senate as well as the role of the provinces in defining the Constitution.
  4. • It’s not that I don’t care about a postal strike so much as I am surprised by the extent of my not needing to care. No one sends me cheques I have to have by mail. No one sends me chatty letters. I wonder if there is a twitter hashtag to follow the strike.
  5. • Dear Ratko. Rot in hell.
  6. • 2,197 calories for nachos? I went to a US somewhat fast foodie place that had calories listed the other week and found that I paid more attention to that than the prices. I was stunned that equally priced and relatively equally interesting alternatives ranged from 400 to 1,000 a sandwich. But 2,197 calories for a plate of nachos?

There. Posted early. Before I was awake last week. No rushing. Why don’t I do this all the time?