Revolution Brewing Rosa Hibiscus Ale

Sometimes you are figuring out what beers to get in the seemingly never ending selection of craft beer when a different can from a generally trusted brewer catches your eye. That is how I ended up with a six pack of Revolution Brewing’s Rosa Hibiscus Ale:

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The color should have been a warning. No beer has that electric red color unless something is deeply wrong with its construction. Instead of listening to my own internal warning system I jumped in palate first and was rewarded with an assault. Geez, how do I describe the flavor sensation? Awful and artificial? Like someone took a pale ale and poured the dregs of a Boone’s Farm vat into the fermentation vessel hoping that some unknown black magic would produce something drinkable? I will just leave the description as nearly undrinkable. It took an entire can of Anti-Hero IPA to expunge the memory from my tongue.

Seriously, is this the craft equivalent of one of those Barf-a-ritas that are stacked to the ceiling every summer as an alternative to something that tastes good? You have been warned:

Zero Mug Purchase

See what others are saying about Revolution Brewing Rosa Hibiscus Ale at Beeradvocate.

New Wheels for my Ride

It was not planned this way, but I ended up equipping my cyclocross bike turned gravel grinder with new wheels a little early.

An online store that shall remain nameless, so that my LBS does not shame me forever, had a major sale on wheelsets and I was able to pick up a set of Vuelta Corsa Lites for less than $150. This is a screaming deal on a good set of wheels. Sure, I could have spent a lot more on wheels but I am putting these on a bike with Shimano 105 components that is going to get beat up on some gravel roads and trails here in Eastern Iowa. Exotic is not the name of the game.

The wheelset sat in my garage for a few weeks because I was planning on doing a complete rebuild of my current bike to make some major changes based on my riding this summer—don’t worry details on the major changes to come later. However, circumstances changed on a ride last week when something—probably a strip of flashing metal or something similar—ripped a hole through the tread section of my well-worn Kenda Kwicks. How well-worn? The front tire—switched from the rear about halfway through the season—was bald and ready to die. The piece of metal just hastened its burial.

Tire choice was probably the biggest decision. If you look up “good tire for gravel” on the Internet be prepared for a lot of opinions and no definitive answers. One theme that seemed to be constant was the love for Clement’s X’PLOR series of tires. These are the USH and MSO, named for the airport codes for Ushuaia, Argentina and Missoula, Montana respectively. The USH comes in 35mm width and the MSO comes in 32mm or 40mm width.

Trying to decide between the tires came down to the center ridge. The USH has a more solid center ridge that seems like it would offer a smoother ride on the pavement sections of my usual rides:

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If the county ends up paving more of the Cedar Valley Nature trail than I will be riding on even more pavement. Plus, the 35mm width seemed to strike a balance between the 32mm and 40mm width of the MSO. I went with the 60 TPI version versus the high zoot 120 TPI version because I could not justify the difference in cost for a tire I did not know if I would enjoy. BTW, I changed out my old Tektro Oryx cantilevers for Tektro CR720 cantilevers. Big improvement, huge!

How do things look:

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All up—including skewer and cassette—the wheelset weighed in at 3380 grams. This is compared to my prior no-name stock wheelset weight of 3925 grams. The stock wheelset included tires that were 5mm thinner and lacking a lot of tread after almost 3000 miles. Doing the whole conversion math thing—thanks Google—the difference of 545 grams works out to approximately 1.2 pounds of weight saved. For those of you who slept through physics, this weight is even more important than cutting frame weight because it is rotational. It’s not the two or three to one delta that cyclists have used for years to justify spending a lot of money on wheels but it matters.

The true measure of a new set of wheels is not how much they weigh, necessarily, but how well they ride. The Corsa Lites and Clement USH tires are light years better than the prior wheelset. The ride is noticeably smoother because of the tires, especially when the pavement ends and the gravel begins. Also, out of the saddle sprints seem a lot more fun which I am going to attribute to the lighter weight and “springiness” of the new wheelset. The bike just seems to pop when I start mashing.

The other big improvement was the aforementioned brake swap. The Tektro CR720s are a big jump in stopping power versus the stock Tektro Oryx brakes. For about $20 per set there are few better bargains for improvement in performance. Plus, the new brakes look “old school” cyclocross. Sometimes it is about how something looks when all else is equal.

In terms of “big changes” or transformations coming to my bike I am considering ditching the front derailleur and small chainring in favor of a single chainring setup. I rarely use the small chainring and I do not use the smallest cogs in my cassette, so I feel that a smaller big chainring with my existing cassette would meet all of my local riding needs. The Wolftooth “narrow-wide” chainrings look like a sweet option. Anyone have any experience?

The Joni Ernst Watch 8/31/2015

When it comes to Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst or Steve King it’s clown shoes all day, every day. Recently, the conversation in Iowa has turned away from our homegrown whack-a-doos and focused on the nutcase circus that will be the Republican caucus.

I do not know if Steve King is a betting man, but I would wager that he is wrong about Donald Trump’s odds of receiving the Republican nomination:

Trump is more likely to receive the Republican nomination than Hillary is to receive the Democrat nomination for president.

Of course, this is the same Steve King who said there was nothing for the United States to apologize for when it came to the issue of slavery.

In a world where Donald Trump is the leader in the clubhouse for the Republican Party it is hard to beat him for moron of the week, but Jeb! managed to pull it off. It looks like he decided to jump on the “anchor baby” bandwagon, but chose to lay blame at the feet of Asians:

What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts—and frankly it’s more related to Asian people—coming into our country, having children, in that organized efforts, taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship. I support the 14th amendment. Nothing I’ve said should be viewed as derogatory toward immigrants at all.

You have to wonder if Marco Rubio is just sitting back and hoping that all of these old white dudes out idiot each other.

Donald Trump is the unrestrained id of the right wing. He does and says things that people like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul want to but just cannot muster the courage to do. Just take his latest mocking of an immigrant group:

Negotiating with Japan, negotiating with China … (he then folded his hands over his middle).

“When these people walk in the room, they don’t say, ‘Oh, hello! How’s the weather? It’s so beautiful outside. Isn’t it lovely? How are the Yankees doing? Oh they’re doing wonderful. Great.”

(He then scowled dramatically.)

“They say, ‘We want deal!'” Trump bellowed.

Naturally, the crowd ate it up. Remember, Trump supporters are a lot like this guy who told Jorge Ramos to “get out of my country.” Never mind that Jorge Ramos is in his country because he is a U.S. citizen. Do you want to know who is really behind the Trump mania? Take a look at the cabal of lawyers behind ending birthright citizenship.

Maybe we just all fear the Trumpcabra.

Ted Cruz, feeling like Donald Trump has stolen all of his thunder, decided to take his own shot at Megyn Kelly because she deigned to ask him a question about his intentions if he were president.

I guess that is one of those “gotcha questions” that Sara Palin used to talk about all the time.

Scott Walker did not want Donald Trump to get all of the attention for being an idiot when it comes to immigration. Walker decided it was high time to get tough on Canada by building a wall:

They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at.

Legitimate? Really? Give Scott Walker a week and he will take three positions on any issue.

John Kasich has a lot of problems, not 99 but somewhere close to that, and his record with regard to education is just one of them. Apparently, Ohio charter schools were a sham that funneled money to private corporations at the expense of children’s education.

Bobby Jindal is running for president. Does anyone remember that? As the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina rolled around he wrote a letter to President Obama telling him not to mention climate change.

Friday Linkage 8/28/2015

I encountered one of the most disheartening sounds in the world this week. On an aborted bike ride my tire made the noise of a full on blow out. This is not the gentle hiss of a pinch flat or a small puncture, but the full throated blast of air and the realization that you are walking home. Why walking? Because the tread area on my well-worn Kenda Kwicks was torn through. Whatever I ran across was bad news.

On to the links…

Here’s What Happens When you Try to Replicate Climate Contrarian Papers—Let me spoil the punch line: you can’t replicate the results.

Shocking: Prominent Climate Denier gets Money from Big Coal—Shocking? Not so much. Christopher Horner is a paid shill of the fossil fuel industry. Anything that comes out of his mouth is little more than coal stained propaganda.

The Incredible Shrinking Mineral: How It Went from King Coal to Coal Kills—If I was confident I would start playing “Taps.” Coal is not dead yet, but with continued pressure and an unfavorable market the dirty fuel may be in its final death spiral.

NYC Rooftops Could Host 11 GW of High-Yield Solar ProjectsMapdwell’s work on modelling what solar could do in eastern cities is some pretty amazing work. Think about 11 GW of solar power in America’s largest city. Now multiply that across other major cities in the U.S. like Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, and so on.

California’s 40 Years Of Energy Efficiency Efforts Have Saved $90 Billion In Utility Costs—California has been a leader in trying to get people to use less electricity and it has worked. Furthermore, those efforts have trickled out—not trickle down because I do not believe in voodoo environmentalism—to the rest of the nation due to California’s sheer market heft.

Here’s Where The Rubber Hits The Road (Natural Guayule Rubber — Updated)—Apparently, rubber is a big import for the United States and we have been looking for a domestic alternative since before World War II. It also looks like guayule—a shrub that is drought and pest tolerant—could provide a significant offset to our imported rubber habit. Interesting.

New Study Finds Horse and Beaver in Grocery Store Ground Meat—As if you needed another reason to stay away from the case of ground beef at your local grocery store—pink slime anyone?—along comes the knowledge that we may actually be eating horse or beaver. Freaking beaver?

Salad Seems Really Virtuous, Right? It’s Not.—Salad, it turns out, is really just leafy green water. By the time we pick a few leaves out of that plastic clamshell most of the nutrition is gone. Never mind the fact that people end up throwing away tons of salad greens every year. Just go with the frozen peas.

Butter In Your Coffee and Other Cons: Stories From a Fitness Insider—I am really glad that people are calling bullshit on the people behind so-called Bulletproof coffee and food fads. If someone is trying to sell you something it is high time to get a move on. It’s probably bullshit.

28 Historic Photos of Yosemite to Celebrate its 125th Anniversary—Sometimes we forget to appreciate the amazing places we can visit right here in the U.S. Take a moment and appreciate the sheer awesomeness of Yosemite.

The Joni Ernst Watch 8/24/2015

When it comes to Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst or Steve King it’s clown shoes all day, every day. Recently, the conversation in Iowa has turned away from our homegrown whack-a-doos and focused on the nutcase circus that will be the Republican caucus.

Steve King thinks that Donald Trump is the best:

I think today he is the leader on immigration. There’s no question about that.

You have to wonder when the right wing of the right wing is going to snap out of its Trump mania. It might never actually happen. However, Steve King is right there with Trump when it comes to getting extreme on immigration and citizenship:

The people who say that the Constitution has to be amended in order to end birthright citizenship are invariably the people who think it’s a good idea — and those who think it’s a good idea generally are the beneficiaries of it.

No, the people who say you need to amend the Constitution are legal scholars who understand how the U.S. federal system works.

But at least Steve King found time to dig into a stick of deep fat fried butter at the Iowa State Fair.

Scott Walker, who has watched his early momentum in Iowa be usurped by the Donald, apparently does not want reporters asking any tough questions. Walker now has his staff screen questions before anyone is allowed to ask anything.

John Kasich, competing with a whole bevy of second tier candidates trying to get some spotlight, went al Chris Christie and attacked public teachers. Apparently, the problem with our public school system is unions and teachers’ lounges:

I’ll tell you what the unions do, unfortunately too much of the time. There’s a constant negative comment, ‘They’re going to take your benefits, they’re going to take your pay.’ So if I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges, where they sit together and worry about, ‘Woe is us.

Carly Fiorina, who is apparently still running for the Republican nomination, wants to get in on some bashing of poor people and laws designed to provide a floor on how bad businesses can treat vulnerable workers:

We are crushing them under the weight, the complexity, the cost, the power of a federal government that frankly advantages the big, the powerful, the wealthy and the well-connected, and is crushing the small and the powerless. Every time we destroy a small business or we destroy a community bank, we are destroying the opportunity for someone to get that first job, learn skills, and get a better job.

We are really crushing companies that are making lots of money while people are on government assistance because wages have stagnated.

Friday Linkage 8/21/2015

It got unseasonably cool here in eastern Iowa this week. Like, mid-50s at night and no more than mid-70s during the day. I am sure that we will pay for this comfortable weather with a slap of hot and humid in the coming weeks, but it was a nice preview of the cool fall weather to come.

On to the links…

How The EPA Plans To Cut Methane Emissions From Oil And Gas Wells—This falls into the “boring, but important” category of news. The EPA is proposing new regulations on methane emissions, which is important because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and a lot of methane is released at gas drilling sites.

Four Powerhouse Bills to Help California get to 50 Percent Renewable Energy—In a lot of economic and policy circles the saying goes “As goes California…” because the size of California determines a lot of what happens in the rest of the country. If California could really get to 50% renewable energy it would be a major change.

World Needs 53GW Of Solar PV Installed Per Year To Address Climate Change—If that is the number, how do we get to 53 GW per year? I know that this is more of a thought exercise than anything else, but in order to beat the worst of climate change we are going to need addressable goals.

Coal Mining Sector Running Out of Time, says Citigroup—I am not going to start playing the funeral dirge just yet, but when major financiers and banks are pulling out of coal and being public about the shift the winds of change are blowing.

90 Years of U.S. Fuel Economy Data Shows the Power of Incentives, Dangers of Stagnation—This is a pretty compelling chart:

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Why did we have such a lull in the 90s and early-2000s? Oh right, SUVs and a right wing that encouraged nothing but “drill, baby drill.” Thanks.

How Much Of California’s Drought Was Caused By Climate Change? Scientists Now Have The Answer.—California is bound to go through periodic droughts, but it looks like the current drought cycle is being exacerbated by climate change.

How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa—This is just a fascinating read. The author placed GPS chips into fake elephant tusks to track where illicit ivory made its way across the globe.

The Pork Industry is Full of this Drug You’ve Never Heard Of—Ractopamine, besides sounding like the name of a plague in a spy movie, is bad stuff. Most of the rest of the world has not deemed meat raised with this drug safe for human consumption, but in the good ol’ USA it’s what’s for dinner.

How the Midwest’s Corn Farms Are Cooking the Planet—Industrial corn production is turning out to be one of the more environmentally damaging agricultural pursuits of the modern age. Maybe it is time we start looking at a different paradigm.

The American Lawn Is Now The Largest Single ‘Crop’ In The U.S.—If corn is bad, lawns are downright insane. At least there is something that comes out of a corn field. A lawn is just a green carpet that requires more maintenance than wall-to-wall white shag carpeting.

What Happens When Your Cash Crop Goes Bust: The Fall and Rise of Zimbabwe’s Coffee Economy—A really good write up about what happened to Zimbabwe’s gourmet coffee economy following the seizing of farms by the Mugabe dictatorship.

An Artist Proves There’s Enough Sugar In Your Soda to Create a Lollipop—Would you drink a lollipop? Probably not, but you are doing the equivalent every time you drink a Coke.

Four Ingredient Jalapeno Cashew Spread

For some reason I decided to plant a single jalapeno bush in my garden. I am not a particularly heavy user of jalapenos in my cooking at home because none of my other family members are fans of the flavor or the heat. Chalk it up to garden center optimism, which is the same syndrome that causes people to buy twice as many plant starts than they actually have space for in the garden. Guilty as charged.

In the past week or so, as the heat has been turned up outside and the weather took a turn for the dry, the jalapeno bush exploded in peppers:

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How does one take a bowl of jalapenos that are rotting away on the counter and turn them into something that is easy to eat? Enter jalapeno cashew spread. Specifically, super easy four ingredient jalapeno cashew spread.

In the handy dandy Ninja blender I combine rough cut jalapenos, a few cups of unsalted cashews, a dash of sea salt, and some very neutral vegetable oil:

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Pulse or blend that mixture until it takes on a consistency to your liking. Some people I know add more oil until it is almost smooth like peanut butter. I prefer a little coarser texture and less oil. It’s all up to you.

Another option is to use olive oil instead of a neutral vegetable oil like canola. I have yet to try olive oil as I like the jalapeno and nut flavors to come through.

What you will be left with is a bowl of spicy spread that is perfect for toasted sourdough:

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Enjoy!