Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beer Update

On the home brew front, I have just finished putting my third batch in the keg. For this round, I chose the Classic American Blonde Ale which is suppose to be a light-bodied, easy-drinking brew similar to lager. Now for two weeks in the keg and another two weeks in bottles, then this batch will be ready to drink.

On to another beer-related topic, I did not get the chance to add the letter 'E' to my Beer List as l discussed in my previous post. However, I did add a few new beers to the list. The first one was Seven Sisters, an abbey style ale from Highland Brewing over in Asheville, North Carolina. I have several abbey ales on the Beer List, and the style tend to be varied and complex. Seven Sisters is specifically a dubbel (or double ale) which relates to its strength against other abbey-style ales. A Dubbel would be less strong than a Tripel (or triple ale).

I previously added Sünner Kölsch to the Beer List based on a visit to El's and my favorite German restaurant, J. Betski's. Kölsch is traditionally served in a specific type of glassware, a tall slim glass. At J. Betski's, the Kölsch glasses have a logo for Reissdorf, but in this case, I had a bottle of Reissdorf Kölsch from our local wine and beer store. Kölsch is one of my favorite types of beer with its crisp, slightly fruity taste. It is a lighter beer that would be very good cold on a warm day. I enjoy both the Sünner and Reissdorf versions of this style.

The final addition to the list is Samuel Adams Noble Pils, this year's spring seasonal offering from the Boston Beer Company. Noble Pils is a traditional pilsner-style lager. It is yet another refreshing, easy-drinking beer to add to the list.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Presented by the Letter 'E'

El and I had sushi the other night. I had a Kirin Light with dinner, so I added it to the Beer List. I noticed that I now had 26 beers on the list, and there are 26 letters in the alphabet. How does that match up? I have the Beer List alphabetized by the brewery, so it's easy to scan down the list. Starting with the letter 'A', I have three beers on the list by the Allagash Brewing Company. I have a Kwak from Brouwerij Bosteels (or Bosteels Brewery in English). For 'C', I have the house red from the local Carolina Ale House and Dos Equis from Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery down in Mexico. And I have had a very nice pint of Burton Baton from Dogfish Head.

Alas, I don't have an 'E' brewery on my list. What to do about this? Obviously, you find a brewery that starts with the letter 'E', and then find out how to get some of their beer to drink. How to do that? Well, it helps to be dating the queen of the Internets. Quickly after announcing my conundrum, El found Einbecker Brauhaus, a brewery in Germany. As for where to find a beer from this German brewery, she looked up the beer menu from our favorite German and Polish restaurant, of course. They have three brews from Einbecker in bottles, plus Curator Doppelbock from Ettaler Klosterbetriebe on draft.

So now, we have a mission, even if it's just to eat and drink. Heads up letter 'I', you're on deck.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Six Pack

In sports news, NFL owners voted today to change the overtime format starting next season. However, only playoff games will be affected by the change. Regular season games will continue to use the current sudden-death overtime format. I assume preseason games would also maintain the current format, but I'm not even sure OT is even used in the preseason. The games don't count, so why bother with extra meaningless time? Anyway, the particular change for playoff games is similar to one that I discussed in a post last month. If the team winning the overtime coin flip drives down the field and then kicks a field goal on their opening possession, they will not automatically win the game. Instead, the opposing team will get an offensive possession. If the other team also kicks a field goal or if the first team does not score, the format reverts back to sudden dead. A defensive or special team score (either a return touchdown or a safety) would win the game outright. I suppose one gotcha would be if the opening kickoff was muffed or fumbled, and the recovering team then kicked a field goal. Since the receiving team may not be considered to have had an offensive possession, would they then receive another kickoff?

Let's move on another favorite topic of mine, beer. In another previous post, I mentioned that I tend to receive beer and beer-related items for gifts. Although I did exaggerate in regards to El and her family's gift-giving habits for me, I think it worked for the post. Anyway, El recently gave me a gift of a six-pack of various beers from our favorite local wine and beer store. This was a few weeks ago, and I back then had this great idea to write a post about each of the beers. Unfortunately, I'm currently drinking the fifth of the six bottles, and I have yet to post about any of the previous four. However, I remember to include them on the Beer List. The four previous beers were

  • Brother Thelonious, a Belgian-style abbey ale from North Coast Brewing Company in California
  • Éphémère, an apple-favored ale from Unibroue in Canada
  • Rare Vos, an amber ale by Brewery Ommegang in New York
The beer tonight is Delirium Tremens which is a Belgian strong pale ale by Brouwerij Huyghe in Belgium. Delirium is a fruity beer as Belgian ales tend to be, and at 8.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), it is the strongest of the bunch. As with the others, I found it to be a great tasting beer that is very drinkable.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Beer List

On the right side of my page, I have a gadget from the website Goodreads that shows books I've recently read. While I think Goodreads aims to be more of a social networking site, sort of a Facebook for intellectual people (i.e. people who think in more than 140 characters), I just like the site for tracking books that I've read, books that I'm currently reading, and ones that I plan to read. If you visit my Goodreads profile, you will see that I am currently reading a book entitled Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel. Galileo's Daughter is about the famous scientist Galileo Galilei and his daughter who was a Catholic nun. It uses letters that his daughter wrote to him, but unfortunately, his replies have been lost to history. I have previously read another of Sobel's books, Longitude, which told the story of John Harrison. Harrison developed highly precise timepieces which could be used by navigators on ship to calculate their longitude. Thus Harrison won a coveted Longitude prize from the British government.

I like having the Goodreads gadget on my site, and I would really like a similar gadget for tracking various beers that I've tried. Instead, I have made do by using Blogger's Link List gadget, although I'm also considering just using a regular post that I continually update. Anyway, at the very bottom of my main page I now have the Beer List. It is ordered alphabetically by the name of the brewery. Next is the location of the brewery in parentheses, either the country or U.S. state, and then the particular brew and whether I had it on draft or in the bottle in parentheses. While my aim is to track interesting micorbrews and imports, I have also included more generally available beers such as Yuengling, Dos Equis, and even Miller Lite, which I tend to drink at my biweekly male-bonding sessions. However, I have so far decided not to include the Mr. Beer home brews.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Founders and Empire

Note: Due to being a bit under the weather and being busy, particularly with work, I've been working on this particular post for about two weeks. I only hope it's a good one, so let's get to it.

Growing up, I was a big fan of science fiction. I was particularly fond of authors from the so-called "Golden Age of Science Fiction" including Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein. Like many other people however, my favorite author was Isaac Asimov. I enjoyed his short stories and books, especially those from his epic Robot and Foundation series. I also find it amazing that he wrote his first published story, "Marooned Off Vesta", in 1938, when he was only 18 years old. For several years, I was subscribed to Asimov's Science Fiction magazine which every month included a editorial from the good doctor himself. Nowadays, I don't gobble up science fiction as I did when I was younger, but when I'm in a used bookstore, I always like finding one of his paperbacks covering various topics of science.

The title of this post is take-off on the Foundation and Empire, the second book of Asimov's original Foundation trilogy. The Foundation in that series was a group of intellectuals, I would call them historical mathematicians, who used complicated mathematical formulas to forecast history on the grandest scale. Being science fiction, the empire was, of course, a galactic empire. Being me, my references to Founders and Empire are to a brewery and a book.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was reading Empire by Gore Vidal, and last Wednesday, I finally got around to finishing it up. Empire is the fourth book in historical order of Vidal's fictional series spanning the history of the Unites States. While I enjoyed the first two books, Burr and Lincoln, I found the third book, 1876, a bit lacking. Unfortunately, Empire was more like 1876 in that it was basically a soap opera. In a way, Empire serves as a bookend to Lincoln. In Lincoln, John Hay is a private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln. In Empire, John Hay starts as the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom before moving back to the United States to become Secretary of State under William McKinley and then Teddy Roosevelt.

In my previous post on Vidal's historical series, I mentioned that I felt both Burr and Lincoln benefit by their dramas revolving around major wars, the American Revolutionary and American Civil Wars, respectively. Empire starts with the end of the Spanish–American War which Hay famously described as "a splendid little war." However, the war itself is only a topic of discussion. It is the aftereffects of the war that play more into the plot of the book, particularly the transfer of foreign territory from Spain to the United States. The acquisition of Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines are the empire referred to by the title.

But the dawn of the American empire and effect of that change on the country and the world is not really the main focus of the book. The book is mainly about the newspaper business and the influence of the media. Aside from the fictional main characters, a sister and her half-brother who are the grandchildren of a character from Burr and 1876 and squabble over their inheritance and control of a newspaper, the main character is not Hay or McKinley or Roosevelt. It is not Hay's close friend Henry Adams nor multiple Democratic nominee for President around the time, William Jennings Bryan, although all of them share large parts of the book. No, the main character is William Randolph Hearst, the heir of a mining fortune turned newspaper magnate turned politician. Hearst is the spiritual fore-barer of the National Enquirer and Jerry Springer. Through his newspapers, Hearst goaded McKinley into entering the country into war against Spain, and the end of the book insinuates that Hearst manipulates Roosevelt into turning against the robber barons who financed his run for President and becoming the king of trust busting.

Moving on to Founders, I mentioned in another previous post that El and I picked up a four-pack of Founders Brewery's Nemesis 2009 which is a one-time concoction aged in bourbon barrels. I did not care for this brew, but El loved it. Of course, El also enjoys a good Scotch or bourbon, and she likes wines aged in the barrel. I'm beginning to think that I just don't like the woody taste of barrel aging. I generally don't care for whiskey. Instead, I prefer the clearer liquors like vodka. The other day, El and I had a wine which was trumpeted for being aged in the barrel, and once again, I did not like the woody taste of the wine.

Luckily, all is not lost for Founders Brewery. Last Saturday, we visited our favorite wine and beer shop where I had a Founders Dirty Bastard which is a good, malty beer. I also sampled two beers from Allagash Brewing, Black is a dark Belgian stout, and Four also a darker Belgian ale. Both are good solid beers.