Tag Archives: beer

Second Quarter Local, Direct, and Packaging Neutral Beer

The year started with the highest of hopes to consume beer that was brewed locally, purchased directly from the brewery, and packaged in such a way that no waste was created.  Coronavirus pretty much killed that goal in its sleep.  A lot of breweries closed entirely, although some stayed open to provide direct sales of packaged beer.  Growlers and other reusable containers were prohibited as potential virus vectors.

Plus, when a person is staying at home all day and night there seems to be little reward to kicking back with a cold beer at the end of the day.  Days and nights, weekdays and weekends, workdays and holidays just seem to kind of meld into one long slog of Zoom meetings, squirrelly children, and longing for something that approximates normal.

Here is what my beer purchasing looked like in the second quarter:

Second Quarter Beer

No real surprises.  The Sierra Nevada Brewing purchases are a little random.  Along with Summit Brewing, Sierra Nevada is a nostalgic brewery for me as it is one of the first IPAs that I can remember drinking back in the…1990s.  You know, that same period of time when Republicans were up in arms about a President having lied about an affair.  Oh, the good old days…

I did get a chance to visit my favorite brewery on the planet—Outer Range Brewing Company in Frisco, Colorado—during a trip to complete some trim carpentry on a friend’s vacation property.  Yes, the same trip where my truck decided to become a gigantic paperweight on the side of the interstate following a catastrophic water pump failure.  Can you tell that I am still a little bitter about that repair bill?

Some beer made it home with me and will have to be an occasional treat until I can hopefully make it back for the Christmas holiday and some skiing.  I have the sinking suspicion that the current spike in coronavirus is going to put a damper on any skiing this year.

They Forgot the Bread

The Roman poet Juvenal is generally credited with having created the phrase “bread and circuses” to illustrate Roman emperors desire for the superficial appeasement of lower classes at the expense of wider concerns.

In the modern context, it has generally been applied to organizations—political, social, commercial, etc.—that provide some level of material comfort and superficial entertainment to mask shifts in the underlying foundations of civil society.

Think about large land grant universities in the United States.  These institutions have generally raised tuition at levels much higher than the corresponding rates of inflation, increased class sizes to levels that would make most concerned educators blush, and allowed departments—athletic, academic, or administrative—to become nearly autonomous fiefdoms free from any sort of oversight.  Do the students these institutions purport to serve revolt?  Nope.  As long as the revenue sports keep them entertained and the cheap beer flows from lukewarm kegs no one raises a single cry of outrage.  It’s not bread and circus.  Rather it’s Beer and Circus.

However, in recent years the primary mother fuckers behind this cynical strategy seem to have forgotten that you need to at least provide some comfort to people in order to keep them mollified.  In an excellent piece of angry opinion writing Daily Kos community member Haricot Blue wrote:

Yes, you were sitting pretty.   And all you had to do to keep it that way was to not wage a racist, scorched-earth war against the first Black President of the United States.  That’s all!  That is the only thing you dumb, stupid idiots had to do:  swallow your pride, smile, shake hands, and play nice with one of the most charismatic, inspiring, intelligent and genuinely moral politicians in American history. 

Barack Obama didn’t want to ruin you, you dumbasses!  He wasn’t out to confiscate your estates, kill your grandmas, and force you into re-education camps!   All he wanted was a more humane, less cruel, less racist version of the system that made you rich.  You should have wanted that too!  Not because you care about other people — for your own good!   But you were too stupid.

What would it have cost you?  A moderate tax hike?  More oversight from nosy bureaucrats?  Some limits on your environmental depredations and exploitation of workers?  Maybe a few more women and people of color showing up at the Executive Retreat?   And in return, millions of your fellow citizens would have health coverage, a living wage, affordable education and child care, clean air and water, some disposable income and free time – in short, a stake in the system.  

Instead, these mother fuckers—yes, I use the term lovingly—took everything that they possibly could and supported the election of the worst president in the history of the United States.  Now they are surprised that people are pissed and want change.

A little bread would have gone a long way, but Mitch McConnell has never been one to concede an iota if it means that the same iota has to come from his pocket.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak, and with an election coming up in a little over four months things are looking increasingly worse for the Republican Party.  Not that it could happen to a better bunch of mother fuckers.  These are the people who spent eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency obstructing every idea, no matter how aligned with their priorities, because…um…that’s right, he was the black guy.  Then they stood behind the racist troll as he laid bare the reality of American politics.  That is to say, there is a large percentage of people who will vote based on nothing more than racial animas and perceived lack of standing.  Never mind that it has been Republican policies since the 1980s that have destroyed what little standing those same people had in the first place.  It is just easier to blame someone with darker skin, drink a Natty Light, and complain about Colin Kaepernick.

I can hope, dear god I can hope, that come November enough people are sick of this carnival barker’s sideshow and his Republican freak show to usher the mother fuckers out into the cold D.C. air in January.  The think tank jobs and Fox News gigs will be cushy, but at least we will not have to hear them lecture the nation on…whatever, I stopped listening at about the same time as that Tea Party bullshit.

First Quarter 2020 Beer Local, Direct, and Packaging Neutral

Here is what my beer purchasing history looked like for the first quarter of 2020:

Q1 2020 Beer

In terms of drinking “local” I only purchased one beer that was not produce nearby.  At a hotel bar in Davenport my choices were fairly limited, but for some reason Summit Brewing’s very good Saga IPA was on tap.  I will admit that I am conflicted when it comes to large-ish regional breweries like Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It is not local to me, but it is definitely still more of a craft brewery than something owned by the giant brewers.  Nonetheless, one beer from a non-local brewer over the course of three months is pretty good.

I was doing really well buying beer that did not produce any packaging waste, but then coronavirus upended all of my plans.  Before leaving for an aborted ski trip to Colorado I stocked up on some local beers from Big Grove Brewery and Iowa Brewing Company.  Big Grove Brewery’s Easy Eddy has become my “go to” beer over the last six months or so.  Available in twelve packs widely across my metro area it is an easy pick-up.

In Colorado I found myself really digging the beers made by the folks at Hideaway Park Brewery.  On the Saturday that the state of Colorado effectively closed all ski resorts for the season—only two hours or so after I arrived in Winter Park—I was sitting on barstool at Hideaway Park enjoying several draft beers.  I also bought two six packs to take back home and hunker down for a period of isolation.  Damn coronavirus.

If there is one thing that I can ask everyone and anyone who ever drinks beer it is to support the local breweries in your community any way possible during this really shitty period of time.  A lot of the business that these breweries count on is gone.  There are little to no commercial account activity in bars and restaurants.  On site draft and merchandise sales are gone.  It is hard times.  Buy a six pack if you can.  Hell, buy a case if you can.  Even if it sits in the refrigerator for several weeks that is okay because the cash flow might just help your local brewery make it through until we can all raise a glass again at the bar.

Friday Linkage 2/7/2020

What a week.

First, the Iowa caucuses fell flat on their face.  In the end I do not believe that anything really bad happened.  If you consider that there was an issue that was realized as the vote tallies were being made, so the party made a decision to delay reporting results and get the numbers right.  With a physical paper trail it was possible for the party to take its time and check its work.  Isn’t this a course of action that should be applauded?

Second, to no one’s surprise Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate.  Whatever.

Third, Nancy Pelosi is my new spirit animal:

NancyGif-1

On to the links…

Mountain Athletes Push Progress over Perfection in Climate Fight—Climate change is the fight of our lives and, for that matter, future generations’ lives.  Too often the environmental movement gets stuck on reaching for a perfect solution in place of progress.  Every step forward counts.

EPA Readies a Present to the Coal Industry—This is just another example of why the 2020 election is so important.  Big pollution, which includes industries like coal mining, is standing arm in arm with the corrupt and criminal Trump administration in an attempt to destroy the integrity of our air and water.  It really is the best government that money can buy if you want to poison people.

10 US Oil Refineries Exceeding Limits for Cancer-Causing Benzene—Does anyone think there would be any enforcement of this by the Trump administration?  Didn’t think so.

Why One Solar Power Project In South Dakota Will Rule Them All—South Dakota apparently gets a lot of its power from hydroelectric, which means that maybe its additional renewables can be fed into the grid to replace coal power elsewhere.  Is a single big project in South Dakota the tipping point for the region?

Can The US Wind Industry Beat The Coming Headwinds?—Yes.  Why?  Cost.  This one graphic shows where wind is already the cheapest additional kWh:

Wind Map

Change the assumptions a little and a lot of the natural gas counties become wind counties with a few solar counties in the sunnier places.

The Future Of US Solar Is Bright—It’s a future so bright we should all wear shades.

Costa Rica Is At Nearly 100% Renewable Energy For Electricity—Sure, Costa Rica is a small and has abundant hydropower.  Regardless, 100% renewable energy is a big deal.

U.K. Government Plans to Bring Petrol and Diesel Sales Ban Forward to 2035—The end of fossil fuel powered vehicles is approaching.

Fossil Vehicle Sales In France Crash By 25% As EVs Quadruple To 11% Market Share—The market is speaking and it wants EVs.  Remember, France is the eight largest car market in the world.  This is not small potatoes.

Norway Hits 64.4% EV Market Share In January, Up 24% Year On Year—Almost two-third market share for pure EVs and plug-in hybrids is insane.  The future is now.

ChargePoint Teams with U.S. Truck Stops to Expand Electric Vehicle Adoption—I use ChargePoint operated charging stations frequently on trips to Iowa City, about twenty five miles from my house, and when I need a top off at work.  I have never had a problem save for not being able to use the charging station because someone beat me to it.  What blew me away about this article was that ChargePoint has places to take their network from ~108K charging stations today to ~2.5 million charging stations in 2025.  Wow!

Americans Still Love Libraries—Libraries are still an important part of our cultural landscape.  Support your libraries.

Let’s Play Chicken—How would anyone know if a chicken nugget did not actually contain any chicken?  It’s like Whit Castle going with an Impossible Burger patty.  The meat is really not the point of the product.  It’s a vehicle for condiments.

Colorado Marijuana, Beer Industries Partner to Recycle CO2—Synergy baby, synergy.

Local, Direct, and Packaging Neutral Beer

The “middle” of the craft beer market is dead.  Successful craft brewers caught between the mega corporations like AB InBev and the nimble locally focused brewers are either selling to the big boys (e.g. New Belgium Brewery) or downsizing (e.g. Boulder Beer).  Heck, even the big boys are getting out of the craft beer game after realizing that nationally distributed craft beers are not really attractive to a consumer with hyper local choices.  Yes, I am looking at you Constellation Brands.

Instead of forking over money to a faraway brewery that might actually just be a faraway mega corporation, make your beer consumption as local as possible.

Better yet, make your beer consumption a direct affair.  Buy your beer directly from the brewery.  Do not involve a distributor or a retailer.  Make every dollar go to the brewery.  It can make a difference.  The most successful new breweries—over the past five years or so—seem to be the ones who operate with a taproom as their primary source of revenue.  Why?  It cuts out the middle man and avoids the headaches of distribution.

Even when you buy local beer at the grocery store it potentially involves a number of middle men.  In some states it is possible for your local brewery to “self-distribute” but this is a hard road and really only works in a hyper local type of market.  Even in this instance there is the retail outlet’s need for some level of profit.

Going further, make your beer consumption a packaging neutral affair.

The old saw about recycling an aluminum can is that it saves approximately 95% of the energy compared to creating an aluminum can out of virgin ore.  This is usually equated to running a light bulb for an entire day or watching a television for a couple of hours.  Calculate a different way, recycling one pound of aluminum (approximately 33 cans or a “dirty thirty” of PBR) saves around 7 kWh of electricity.

However, even recycling that aluminum can uses energy and contributes to a global supply chain that uses a lot of energy.  The aluminum supply chain, unfortunately, does not have a 100% recovery rate as evidenced by the number of cans I pick up along my usual cycling route in a given week.  Removing any volume from this supply chain is an environmental win.

By utilizing a reusable package, in this case a glass growler or “meowler,” removes aluminum packaging from the waste/recovery stream.  I am sure that there is a calculation to figure out how many times I need to use a growler to compensate for its own production costs in terms of energy, but given that I have owned the same growler for almost five years I am going to consider those costs accounted for several times over.

The goal is to buy beer that is made locally, purchased directly from the brewery, and in packaging that is reusable.  Local, direct, and packaging neutral.  It’s the future.

Final Report on 2019 “Resolutions”

It is time to take stock of my so-called New Year’s resolutions for 2019 and see how I did.

Without further ado, here is the list:

  • Decarbonize transportation—My 2015 Nissan Leaf has been in the garage for about a year.  Over that time ~7,987 miles at an average efficiency of 5.2 miles per kWh. The Leaf saved ~9,119 pounds of CO2 being emitted compared to my prior vehicle.  Furthermore, I added ~62% generating capacity to my home’s solar photovoltaic array so for 2020 I should be driving on sunshine 100% of the time.
  • No more Amazon—A little bit of failure and a little bit of success. I definitely spent a lot less money at Amazon than in prior years, but it speaks to the company’s ubiquity that I ended up buying anything at all.  Want to buy that odd little gadget?  Guess what, Amazon is about the only place to find fulfillment.
  • No more Walmart—A little more success as I the only trips to Walmart were few and far between for the year. Over the course of the entire holiday shopping season it never entered into my mind to even shop there.  Once a store is no longer part of your “consideration set” that has to be considered a success.
  • Read twenty five books—51 books read.
  • Drink local—Pretty good, but I think I can do better in 2020.
  • Declutter my house—Fail. My family and I spent some time getting rid of old clothes and other stuff that was taking up space in our closets.  However, it feels like we replaced whatever we got rid of over the course of the year.  I know that I will never be a fervent follower of Marie Kondo’s methods nor will I ever embrace modern minimalism.  I thought I could do a little better.
  • Replace existing toilets with low volume flush models—One toilet was replaced. A second toilet is scheduled to be replaced in January.  The third toilet in the house does not get enough use to merit replacement at this time.
  • Plant at least five trees—Two Norway spruce trees are in the ground.  Three Colorado blue spruce trees in the ground. Mission accomplished.
  • Reduce lawn coverage—Fail. I had the best of intentions to start replacing some of my lawn with mixed plantings and landscaped beds.  While I got the trees in the ground the rest of the plan did not come together.  This is where I am going to focus my 2020 landscaping efforts.
  • Ride 2,500 miles on gravel roads—Over 3,000 miles ridden on the year. Mission accomplished.

 

For 2020 I am going to try and build on what was done in 2019.  The goal is to improve each year.  Different goals or different metrics, but the overall theme is improvement.

Stay tuned!

Drinking Local in the Fourth Quarter of 2019

Here is how my fourth quarter 2019 beer consumption worked out:

Q4 Beer.png

You will notice two trends: heavy on the Big Grove Brewery and a tilt toward Colorado beers at the end of the year.

The emphasis on the Big Grove Brewery beers was due to holiday parties and wanting to be a crowd pleaser.  The three six packs ended up as mixed six packs—two of each kind—for a gift exchange.  Needless to say, my gifts ended up getting “stolen” the most.  Genius.

The Colorado tilt is all about location, location, location.  I spent Christmas break in Grand County, Colorado and these were the beers that were on tap or in the small liquor store by our condo.  I was said to not see any Outer Range Brewing on tap anywhere, but I managed.

It was a “no claws” kind of year as I managed to avoid the hysteria and mania of the summer of hard seltzer.  Seriously, does anyone actually enjoy those monstrosities?  The number of times someone has introduced a White Claw with the statement, “It doesn’t taste that bad” is staggering.  This is like people telling me that they chase a workout with a couple of Michelob Ultras.  What is the point of drinking a beer after working out if it does not actually taste like beer?

For 2020 I have some goals regarding beer buying and consumption that is going to up the ante from just being about “drinking local.”  Stay tuned.

Third Quarter New Year’s Resolutions Progress

It is now October and that means it is fall.  It also means that I am nine months of the way through the year which is probably a good time to check in on where I am at with my resolutions or goals for 2019.  Here goes:

  • Decarbonize transportation—My 2015 Nissan Leaf has been in the garage for almost nine months. Through the end of September 2019 I have driven ~5,893 miles.  By trading a Ford F150 for a Nissan Leaf I have saved ~6,733 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted.
  • No more Amazon—While I failed in the first quarter and succeeded in the second quarter, the third quarter was a little better. I spent some money that I was “awarded” from work via a gift card.  It was money spent at Amazon, but it was not my cash and I felt that the effort to transfer the funds was not worth the return.  Trying to reduce my spending at both Amazon and Walmart has made me think about our consumer habits in general.  More to come.
  • No more Walmart—Spent about a $100 on school supplies for a work organized effort to help out area kids during the back to school time. Walmart was running sales where I was able to pick up whole classrooms’ worth of some supplies for a few dollars.  It was craziness and well worth failing in my goal to make it happen.
  • Read twenty five books—38 books read in the first nine months.  Mission accomplished.
  • Drink local—Doing pretty good so far.
  • Declutter my house—This is probably the singular failure so far this year. Sure, some stuff has gone to Goodwill but I feel that on the whole nothing is less cluttered than it was nine months ago.  Maybe I can sprint to the finish.
  • Replace existing toilets with low volume flush models—I have picked out the model of toilet to replace my existing commodes. I have even purchased the wax rings to install the new toilers.  Now I just need to get a free day on a weekend to spend a few hours doing some plumbing.  Can you tell that this is my favorite way to spend a few hours on a Saturday?
  • Plant at least five trees—Two Norway spruce trees are in the ground. Three Colorado blue spruce trees in the ground.  Mission accomplished.
  • Reduce lawn coverage— No real progress, but I have plans. I promise!
  • Ride 2,500 miles on gravel roads—I am sitting at ~2,718 miles for the season as the month of September came to a close. Surprisingly, September was a real dog of a month for riding as the weather really conspired to keep me inside.   Mission accomplished.

So far, so good I think.

Drinking Local in the Third Quarter of 2019

Here is how things shook out for my goal of drinking local in the third quarter of 2019:

Drink Local Third Quarter.png

Pretty good, I think.

Really light on the packaged beer for home because I did not drink much out of cans and I had “forward bought” some beer in the second quarter that sat in my refrigerator into the third quarter.  This might change in the fourth quarter.

About the only beer that was not “local” was the Firetrucker Brewery Cloud City, but that came from a brewery just two hours away in Ankeny, Iowa.  Over the Labor Day weekend I was drinking local in Nebraska with Lincoln area breweries including stops at both White Elm Brewing and Code Beer Company.  I am hoping to make a return trip to try out a wider selection of beers and breweries.

As a note, I did not record the beers that I drank during a trip to the so-called ABC islands.  Throughout the week I drank quite a few Balashi, Carib, and Polar lagers.  The joke in my house is that the beer does not matter since it all tastes the same.  Just order a Chango.   Now, drinking Polar lagers was interesting since the company is from Venezuela so it felt a little bit like I was breaking with protocol given the state of relations with the United States.

Labor Day in Lincoln, Nebraska Leads to…

Bikes and beers of course.  Were you thinking I was going to say University of Nebraska Cornhusker football?  Hah!

As a loyal University of Iowa alumnus going to spend a long weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska I was not going to participate in any game day festivities.  Instead I was going to attack the Homestead Trail south of town.

Last year over the Memorial Day weekend I went on a ride that covered a portion of the Homestead and Jamaica North trails.  At the time the temperature was hovering around 90 some degrees with an equal percentage of humidity which forced me to cut my ride short.  Heading back to my truck I vowed to return.

The route from just south of Lincoln at the trailhead off Saltillo Road southward to Beatrice is a little over 30 miles.  Round trip I expected this ride to take about 4 hours assuming I could keep a consistent cadence on the gravel.

The morning started out cool and humid.  How humid?  Like fog dripping from the sky humid.  Like trailside grasses sagging under the weight of morning dew humid.  At least the trail dust was kept down by all the moisture in the air.  One can really tell that it has been a wet spring and summer in Nebraska just by the density of the greenery along the trail.  It is damn near jungle-esque.

Traffic on the trail was light.  A few ultra-runners early on, but almost completely depopulated by mile ten.  I passed a few people on bikes the rest of the way.  If you want to be alone with your thoughts on a bike I highly recommend the Homestead Trail.

The trail surface was in good condition for most of its length.  Somewhere around mile 20 the trail was scarred by what appeared to be quad bike tracks that whipsawed across the width of the gravel surface.  It was as if someone deliberately came out after a rainstorm and dug deep tire tracks in an effort to frustrate cyclists.  If so, that is just sad and belongs in the hall of shame next to the guys who “roll coal” next to cyclists at traffic stops.

I have got to be honest, the trail is a lot of this:

IMG_20190901_110547170_PORTRAIT

If it looks really flat that is because the trail is really flat.  Over 60.34 miles—out and back to Beatrice—I gained a total of 479 feet.  That is right, just an average of less than 8 feet of elevation gain per mile.

I made it to Beatrice:

IMG_20190901_110605316

Barn wood…it’s not just for people from Waco, Texas:

IMG_20190901_121736993

Caution: Animal Holes…my new favorite sign:

IMG_20190901_092808165

The reward for achieving my goal of riding to Beatrice and back was a trip around Lincoln to try out a few, new to me breweries.  My legs were rubber after sixty miles of riding, but I was game for quick pit stop by White Elm Brewing and Code Beer Company in Lincoln.  Both breweries put out a well-made IPA.  I really only had the energy to sample a few beers before heading to dinner and bed.

Like before, I will be back.