Tag Archives: Serious Eats

Friday Linkage 5/2/2014

The “best” part about having minor elective surgery is that you get to spend a lot of time catching up on your DVR backlist and the books that have started reproducing in a corner by your bookshelves. I must have read for something like ten hours a day after surgery. Damn.

On to the links…

Supreme Court Backs Rule Limiting Coal Pollution—This is a big deal because it means that the executive branch, through the EPA, can issue rules that restrict the pollution from coal burning plants. I think it also sets the stage for a series of discussions about the externalities of other polluting industries.

U.S. Solar Capacity Grew 418 Percent In The Last Four Years—The drumbeat of bad news is pretty incessant, but there are some glimmers or flickers of hope. Solar PV is hot. Like Paris Hilton hot back in the day.

How Solar Energy Cuts Electric Grid Costs—Distributed electrical generation usually means that electricity is produced near where it is consumed so you do not require extensive transmission networks to move power from a single generation source to multiple consumption points. Also, you do not lose as much energy in transmission. Win-win baby!

Arizona May Impose Unusual New Tax On Customers Who Lease Solar Panels—Just when you thought the battle over residential solar PV had been won in Arizona the power plant lobby came in with an end around. Nothing like resorting to legalese and arcane property law to get what you want.

A Ghost Town, Going Green—Does the Mojave Desert attract some strange cats. There is something about the high desert air that contributes to strange flights of fancy.

Renewable Energy Policy in Europe is Faltering—What I took away from this report is that consistency is key to the development of alternative and renewable energy. You need a consistent regulatory and tax regime to ensure investment. Take that stability away and investment dries up. Very simple.

EPA says Automakers Ahead of Schedule for 54.5 MPG by 2025—The number can be misleading because CAFÉ is a number that is figured across a fleet and there are vehicles that count more, etc. However, the good news is that our fleet, in general, is getting more efficient.

In Florida Tomato Fields, a Penny Buys Progress—I have profiled a book that featured the workers in Immokalee, Florida—Barry Estabrook’s excellent Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit—and it looks like campaigns to improve the conditions in the tomato fields might actually bear fruit. Pun totally intended.

Is There a Sustainable Future for America’s Most Popular Seafood?—We eat a lot of freakin’ shrimp in the U.S. Like tons and tons of the stuff. We actually eat 600,000 tons annually, so we eat like hundreds of thousands of tons. Is our appetite for these little guys ever going to be sustainable?

The Coffee Industry Is Worse Than Ever For The Environment—This makes me feel like garbage. While I do not eat much meat or seafood, I drink a lot of coffee. If you drink non-shade grown coffee you are part of the problem. Coffee grown in direct sunlight is no different than endless fields of corn or destructive palm oil plantations.

Taco Bell Reveals Its Mystery Beef Ingredients—Taco Bell has finally answered the question about what was in the other 12% of its meat filling, but I do not think that has really answered the question well. Why does there need to be 12% of other stuff in something called meat? When I make taco filling at home for a quick dinner it consists of ground meat and a few tablespoons of spices.

Why You Should be Eating More Wild Pigs Right Now—Feral pigs are a big problem. Texas gets the lion’s share of attention when it comes to the problem because that state has been overrun, but these beasts have caused problems in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I would love to dine on some feral pig bacon.

A Partnership to Help the Tallest Residents in Yosemite Park—We do not fund our national park system to an adequate degree. Every election cycle politicians for national office will talk about doing more, but it always dies on the vine. I am glad to see a private-public partnership that is trying to help the situation.

Friday Linkage 3/14/2014

A note to everyone, I am going to be out of touch and offline for the next week and a half.  It’s not really a vacation unless you totally unplug and I am going to park my smartphone at home before I leave.

On to the links…

Use of Public Transit in U.S. Reaches Highest Level Since 1956—This report made a lot of headlines when it was released, but most reporters failed to mention how abysmal our mass transit ridership numbers were to begin with.

Turning Food Waste Into Fuel Takes Gumption And Trillions Of Bacteria—Why aren’t we turning all of our biological waste into energy and/or compost?  It seems like a no brainer.

U.S. Homeowners, Especially Republicans, Want To Be Able To Choose Clean Energy—People want the ability to have renewable energy.  It’s not an issue with the end user.  It’s an issue with the people who want to control the means of production.  And you thought Marxist political theory was dead along with the Soviet Union.

California Set Back-To-Back Solar Records Last Week—Not only do people really want renewables, but in some places in the U.S. it’s really taking off.

These Mad Scientists Want to Replace Solar Panels With Potted Plants—I always thought potato clocks were cool, but moss producing electricity is even cooler.  Now I can imagine green roofs putting out electricity.

Spraying Toxic Coal Ash Is A Cheap And Popular Way To De-Ice Roads—This just really bums me out because I have no idea if my town in Iowa uses coal ash.  My emails and letters to the city have gone unanswered.  I can take solace that I do not live in Muscatine, which is confirmed in the article as using the coal ash to clear roads of ice.

Meat Makes the Planet Thirsty—If it was not already apparent, eating meat is just about the most environmentally destructive thing that we do on a daily basis.  Given how much meat we eat in the U.S. it’s probably the worst thing we do on a collective basis.

The Fat Drug—It’s interesting that the same effect antibiotics have on livestock, in terms of promoting growth, may also be something that affects humans.

Poll Suggests Americans Think Sugar Is A Bigger Health Threat Than Marijuana—Sugar is a bad thing.  In small amounts it is sweet and delectable.  In the amounts modern Americans consume it might as well be a mainline of nasty into your veins.

The Japanese Can’t Stop Eating Endangered Sea Mammals—I used to have a lot of respect and interest in Japan, but the more I learn the more I lose both respect and interest.

Momentum Building for Deforestation-Free Palm Oil—Palm oil is a dirty business.  I avoid the product with a religious zeal and advocate that anyone else do the same.  It’s not that the product itself is bad.  It’s that everything involved in its production is bad.  Plus, I love orangutans.

Wish You Could Fertilize Crops with Pee? Urine Luck—My dilute with water and pour it on the base of a tree approach is not really scalable, but I am hoping that more people being to see urine going down the toilet as a wasted resource.

Spending 15 Minutes With a Great White Shark on a Boat Deck—It’s always interesting to get a look into the lives of researchers.  Spending some time on the deck with a great white shark is something I am going to leave to more brave souls.  I have an irrational fear of sharks.

So You Think You Want to Open a Brewery—This is a question I get a lot from friends and family who know I am not the most happy person at my job.  Why don’t you quit and start a brewery?  Other than I believe the field is full of excellent brewers already and the market looks saturated, the job is not always about the beer.

Friday Linkage 11/1/2013

I feel like I am finally getting back to a sense of normal after two months of crazy.  The next couple of weeks should bring some good project notes on some things that I have been working on and a plethora of beer related musings.  In recent weeks I have bottled a couple of batches, brewed another, and planned trips to several breweries within the region.  Good things are coming.

On to the links…

Surly Brewing Breaks Ground on New Brewery—Why is this the lead link?  Because the brewery is going to quadruple annual capacity bringing hope to those of us not living in the Twin Cities that Coffee Bender might make a trip to our environs.

Annie Leonard Shows us How to Solve Our Problems—I just love the simple and impactful way that these “sketchboard” videos lay out issues that are sometimes very difficult to process in a meaningful way.  Take a few minutes and watch with intent.  When you are done watch the Story of Stuff as well.

Shutdown Of National Parks Cost $30 Million In Just One State—It is a damn shame that anyone has to argue about the value of the National Parks.  At least the recent government shutdown highlighted the value that these parks possess.  Now, if anyone on the right actually learns the lesson it will be a miracle.

Vision of Prairie Paradise Troubles Some Montana Ranchers—When the Poppers proposed the “Buffalo Commons” many years ago a lot of people laughed the idea off as east coast elite nonsense.  It looks like the folks behind the American Prairie Reserve did not think it was such a silly idea.

Why You Should Care About Everglades Restoration—It’s hard to love a swamp and it’s even harder love Florida.  But, the ecosystem of the Everglades is very important and its restoration could be a harbinger of common sense for a state devoid of it, in general.

Natural Allies for the Next Sandy—In the future, we are going to have to consider every solution to ensuring our communities are protected from super storms.  These storms will become more common and more intense.  Bet on it.

Over 100 North Dakota Oil Spills went Unreported—The dark side of the oil boom in North Dakota is seeping out story by story, day by day.  None of it is really good.  Now we know that the safety record of these companies is pretty piss poor.  Are these the same people you want in charge of a pipeline bringing sludge from Canada across the American heartland down to Texas?  Did not think so.

Want to Stop Hunger? Shift the Food Industry to Plant Based Foods—As the ecological and economic impacts of our rampant meat eating become more and more apparent, a movement is going to grow that treats such wanton consumption with the same contempt that we have for smoking.  A guy can hope right?

Should You Eat Chicken?—Mark Bittman nails the problem on the head with the simple statement that the issue with the food system is that “We care more about industry than we do about consumers.”  In this light, decisions made by regulators make sense.  A speed up of processing lines?  Sure, why not, we’ll just tell people to cook their chicken until it resembles a Duplo block to ensure no contamination.  We should not have to handle our food like it is hazardous waste.

Organic Crusader Wants Food Labels to Spell it Out—Ronnie Cummins and the Organic Consumers Association, a Minnesota based advocacy group, have been a key player in the push to have labels that tell the consumer if genetically modified ingredients have been used.  Voters in Washington will go to the polls soon to decide the fate of a labeling measure similar to the measure that failed in California recently.

F.D.A. Finds 12% of U.S. Spice Imports Contaminated—Now it looks like the spices that we import from overseas are contaminated and adulterated at a rate that is twice that of other food contamination.  Like was said in Fast Food Nation, there’s shit in our meat.

Watchdog Warns Of ‘Dirty Dozen’ Hormone Disruptors As Scientists, Industry Argue Regulation—I remember when talking about ensuring your child had BPA free bottles was just “hippie talk.”  My search for glass bottles was treated like some kind of project in Wicca or dark arts.  Now labels proudly proclaim the chemical is not present.  Too bad these endocrine disruptors are everywhere.

Should You Be Afraid Of Your Smart Meter?—Add smart meters to the things that might be potentially dangerous.  More and more I want to live some kind of neo-Luddite, off-grid existence.

What Is Coffee’s Carbon Footprint?—I am a coffee person.  Over the years I have reduced my Starbucks habit to about once per month as a treat with my daughter, but my mornings always begin with a cup of coffee from the Aeropress.  Reading about the carbon footprint is just a buzzkill.

WalMart has More Solar Capacity than 38 States—Granted, in terms of economic size, WalMart is bigger than most states as well.  The thing that gets me is that not every roof in America is being measured for panels like the store in this picture.  When flying into Chicago’s O’Hare Airport I was struck by the acres of flat and low sloping warehouse roofs that I could see from the window of the airplane.  So much acreage that could host solar panels.

As Solar Takes Off, Utilities Fight Back in Australia—This is getting to be a common refrain.  As solar becomes more accessible, utilities see a threat to their business model.  Fighting tooth and nail they delay progress on a truly transformative power generation method.  It’s all about control.

2013 to be Record Year for Offshore Wind—The lack of progress on U.S. offshore wind hides the fact that nations around the world are making it happen.  Although the total amount installed is low compared with what is deployed on land, a growth rate of 40% per year is very sporty.  Also, offshore wind allows wind power to be deployed closer to clusters of population that need renewable energy.

Portland Swaps 163 Parking Spots for 1,644 Bike Spots—The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland.  The thing that blows me away about car parking is how much space we devote to our cars being stationary.  At my place of employment the new cubicles for employees are less than half the size of the average parking spot at the same company.  What is truly valued?

Friday Linkage 2/22/2013

By the time this is published I will be on my way to Kauai.  Therefore, this is the last post for a while but I should have a lot to talk about once I get back from paradise.  That is if the chickens let me sleep.

On to the links…

Eat Bray Love—I used to be a Tony Bourdain fanboy.  I loved Kitchen Confidential and No Reservations, not the silly movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones, was a must-see Monday night event.  What happened?  The bitch god of success has suckered him into playing a diet version of himself on a show with a third rate contestant from Top Chef.  How the mighty have fallen.

What’s It Like to Wake up from a Tea Party Binge?—If you want a preview of what the world would be like if the current crop of Republicans had their way, visit Florida.  If you are rich, it’s great.  If you are not…it basically sucks goat phallus.  I am sure Ayn Rand would have liked it that way.

Chinese Companies Projected To Make Solar Panels for 42 Cents Per Watt In 2015—Between 2009 and 2012 the cost per watt of Chinese solar panels dropped almost 50%.  If the targets are met in 2015, the price will have dropped another 30%.  At what point does solar PV become ubiquitous?

New Outdoor Industry Data Show The Power Of The Recreation Economy In Every State—People value the outdoors.  People are willing to pay money to recreate outdoors.  These do not seem like crazy statements, but to some people the idea is foreign.  Almost socialist.

Here’s How Billionaires Launder Their Climate-Denial Cash—It’s basically a front for billionaires to funnel money into pet causes that might cause them public embarrassment and force some sort of contrition.  Alas, it’s all a big dark pool.

15 Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ratio in Nature—If nature does not, in general, blow your mind on a daily basis then you are probably not looking around very much.  It is amazing the order that has developed out of chaos.  Sorry, I am not buying the whole “God did it” argument even if that would make things easier to explain to my daughter.

Why Food Workers Need Paid Sick Days—That person handling your cheeseburger?  Rockin’ the flu.  The person who picked your salad?  Strep throat!  The people who handle our food are some of the most under protected and it endangers all of us.

The Dark Side of How Flavored Coffee is Made—Basically, when you buy flavored coffee you are getting stale beans that have been soaked in chemicals to mask the real flavor of the coffee.  Sounds good?

What Does 200 Calories Look Like—Just an interesting set of photos showing you how much or how little food is represented by 200 calories.

Effort Growing to Ban Styrofoam in Boulder—It would come as no surprise to anyone who has spent any time in Boulder that there is an effort to ban Styrofoam food containers.  It may seem fringe right now, but I am sure that is what people said about banning plastic bags years ago.

Trashy No More—People who manage to do massive reductions in lifestyle like this amaze me because I am overwhelmed by the stuff in my own life.  Okay, I do not have twenty something dining chairs or multiple tables.

Girl Scout Cookie Infographic—The tables are set up outside every store right now and half of my co-workers seem to have passed the order sheets around.  What time is it?  Girl Scout cookie time:

girl-scout-business info_

Friday Linkage 10/29/2012

Two solid days of rain this past weekend and two more this week have really changed the drought landscape in eastern Iowa.  More than twelve percent of the state was classified out of the “severe” drought category this week.  That is a good thing looking forward to the 2013 growing season because a lot can depend on the soil moisture before winter sets in.  Here is to hoping that the forecast that calls for rain continues to be accurate.  Even if it makes for a miserable night game against Penn State on Saturday.

On to the links…

Ten Charts that Show the Planet is Warming—As if anyone needed any more proof about human driven climate change…oh wait, is that the crickets I hear chirping when looking for major political parties’ stance on climate change?  Yep.

Larry Ellison Plans to Turn Lanai into an Eco-Lab—I have always wondered why Hawaii is not even further down the road to energy independence through renewables.  The state has an isolated electrical grid.  The electricity rates are some of the highest in the nation.  Most of the power is generated from imported oil that is an accident waiting to happen.  Maybe good ol’ Larry Ellison can make some things happen.

The Great White Whale of American Cheesemaking—This is an interesting profile on someone trying to recreate Italy’s buffalo mozzarella in the United States.  No easy task.  The entire set of articles in the food centric article of the New York Times Magazine are pretty excellent.  Take a moment to read them all.

Eat the Goats to Save the Goats—It may seem counter intuitive, but when goats are raised as a dairy animal approximately 50% of the goats born in an operation will be of no use, i.e. the newborn goats are male.  With little economic value in the U.S. because there is a limited market for goat meat these animals are frequently euthanized.  What a waste!

Is the Search for the Perfect Aquaculture Fish Over?—I remember reading about barramundi in Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.  Oh snap, I said people should also read his book.  The moral of the story is that instead of trying to engineer or breed a fish for aquaculture systems, maybe we should find a fish that does well in aquaculture.

Seed Diversity In Pictures—Farmers breed resilience into the system because they understand at the lowest level what resilience means for their own survival.  The more varieties of plants that we lose to neglect because Monsanto and their ilk are successful in destroying these systems the greater the chance for an epic collapse of a particular crop.

Inside Google’s Kitchen—All you have to do is move the M&M’s into the dark corners of your cafeteria and maybe your employees will eat better.  Or they will turn into characters in a zombie survival movie hunting down the last Twinkie on Earth.  Just saying.

By the Numbers, the Facts about Gasoline Prices—Mitt Romney is a serial liar.  Think Progress did a great piece running down the numbers about gasoline prices, oil production, and Mittens’ attempts to obscure the truth.  Or was he trying to disguise the fact that he has no plan?  I get so confused.

The Failure of “Drill, Baby Drill” as a Policy—Oil is a global commodity thus prices are the result of global supply and demand. I know this is hard for the sound bite portion of the Republican Party to understand, but merely increasing U.S. production will not necessarily provide price relief although it will enrich their donors.  What is the real game here?

Hybrid and EV Sales are Up—Each year brings more news about the success of hybrid and electric vehicles in the market place.  As these vehicles become more spread out across vehicle types and manufacturers the growth is only sure to continue.

Will Algae Ever Power Cars—Along with hydrogen, fuel from algae seems like the Holy Grail of transportation fuels in the United States and, perhaps, the rest of the world.  But will we ever actually fill our gas tanks with bio-diesel made from algae?  Good question.

Friday Linkage 7/27/2012

Some storms moved through the area on Wednesday night/Thursday morning and the temperatures went from above 100 degrees to a manageable 85 or so by Friday.  It is amazing how people’s mood changes when the temperature drops from the triple digits.  Everyone is a little less edgy right now.

On to the links…

Veganism by the Numbers—Let’s start the ball rolling with a good ol’ infographic:

Any Shoe Can be Clipless—Retrofitz has developed a system to seemingly turn any show into a clipless compatible shoe.  All right!  Maybe now I can finally fulfill my vision of SPD Chacos.

What to Buy for $5.63 in a New York Bodega—Anyone who has ever spent any time in New York City has run across the peculiar institution of the bodega.  A cross between a meeting place, restaurant, grocery store, and whatever else the owner can cram into an impossibly small place the bodega is also a place where one can indulge in junk food fantasies.

The Hidden Cost of Cheap Lobster—Looks like climate change is affecting the lobster catch in several ways.  Maybe Mitt Romney will finally get concerned when his lobster dinner is imperiled.  Probably not.

Good Eggs is the Etsy for Local Foodies—I like the concept, but I feel this is one of those ideas that will not scale beyond its hipster roots.  I do not know, I probably said the same thing about Etsy as well.

Norway Cuts Palm Oil Use 64%–Why is cutting palm oil use so important?  Because the rain forests in southeast Asia are being clear cut for palm plantations to feed to modern world’s voracious appetite for this particular fat.

Quebec City Orders Front Yard Garden Removed—Is this not one of the best looking gardens you have seen in a long time:

Why would any city official want it torn out and replaced with a monoculture of grass?

One of Denmark’s Oldest Eco Villages—Why does Treehugger taunt me with slideshows of these communities that I would so like to live in?  It’s a cruel world.

How to Rebuild the Mississippi Delta—The destruction of the Mississippi Delta is one of the late-20th Century’s environmental catastrophes that no one ever seems to talk about.  It looks like a strategic rethinking of how the entire system operates could recover some of what has been lost.

Will Falling Renewable Energy Prices do in Fracking?—This is one of those “I hope so” type of moments.  The tipping point for renewables—where the installed cost per watt is low enough to compete with cheaper forms of subsidized fossil fuels—has been rumored to be on the horizon for years.  I think we have finally seen enough installations of all types to show that the numbers now back up this belief.

Strong Storms Threaten Ozone over the U.S.—It looks like the news just keeps getting better and better with regard to climate change’s effects.  First it’s a mega drought.  Now, the ozone layer is under threat.

Fuel Economy in U.S. Hits New High in First Half of 2012—It looks like, on average, Americans are finally purchasing more fuel efficient cars and trucks.  It’s a long way from real victory when I consider how many full size trucks I see in the parking lot at work, but it’s a start.

And by the way, Herman Cain is still an ass.

Friday Linkage 5/11/2012

A little late with the links today because it was perfect.  80 degrees and sunny with a pretty brisk wind.  No one was out on the trails for some reason, so it made for a nice afternoon on the bike.

I did not get to check out the Cedar Valley Nature Trail north of County Home Road because it is closed in preparation for paving.  I am of a mixed opinion.  The paving opens the trail for more users but a little gravel and bumps keeps out the “riff raff.”  Oh well…progress.

Republican Budget Infographic–If you were wondering about Republican budget priorities just check them out below:

Bike Funding in Minneapolis Pays Off–At times I think the Twin Cities are overblown as a cycling nirvana.  The weather truly blows and outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul it is still a place where drivers rule.  However, the amenities and culture is pretty sweet if you live in the actual Twin Cities and not just the “metro.”  Plus, Republican hate bikes.

Why You Should Buy Fair Trade–You probably already buy fair trade coffee, but the folks over at Serious Eats lay out a very cogent argument why you should be doing so.  Brew up a cup.

Maternity Ward Swag–This is something that bothered me both when we had our daughter and son.  My wife was committed to breast feeding–making it to one year with both children–and the nurses at the hospital were super helpful in getting us started.  But right next to everything was swag from the forumla makers.  Heck, these people even sent us pre-made bottles just waiting for your preference in nipple.

Funny Solar Ads–These ads have been making the rounds.  SunRun took an offbeat approach, but one that nails where solar power is right now.  It’s not about the granola crowd anymore.  It’s a viable solution for a lot of people because it is reaching grid parity.  Dig it!

Massive Marine Energy Potential–If we could just get off the fossil fuel treadmill that mimics some kind of b-grade crack addiction.  There are a lot of resources out there that could be tapped, but lack the funding that now goes to subsidize highly profitable companies like Exxon.

See What Happens When a Car Dies–Ever wonder what happens to your trusty Subaru or Volvo when it finally gives up the ghost?  Car and Driver takes you through a busy salvage yard in Southern California to show you what happens.

Swimming Pool Vegetable Garden in Quebec–Who put an in ground swimming pool in Quebec? Insanity.

Behold, a Plant Nourishing Urinal–Yep, I use my urine in the yard as a form of fertilizer.  Maybe I need to get one of these…

Random Beer Thoughts

Latest Organic American Ale

My second organic American Ale turned out okay.  The hop profile was subdued with some of the aromas associated with more pungent American ales, especially the kind that predominates in the Pacific Northwest.  Here is a look:

I have not noticed a lot of difference between Wyeast 1272 American Ale II and 1056 American Ale.  My palate may not be advanced enough, but the beers taste similar.  The 1056 seems to produce a beer with more of a head and is more effervescent.  It’s about the only quantifiable difference I can pin down.  Maybe it is the preponderance of American style ales I have been drinking lately, thus I find myself…

Tired of American Style Ales

This winter my brewing has focused heavily on American style ales using Wyeast 1056 American Ale and Wyeast 1272 American Ale II with a variety of malt extract, steeping grains, and hops.  After drinking several batches and trying some brews from fellow homebrewers I can safely say that I am tired of the style right now.

With the weather turning warmer—it’s the end March and the temperature in eastern Iowa has tickled the upper 70s—I am looking forward to “spreading my wings” and brewing up something different.  The Innkeeper, an extract kit from Northern Brewer, is in bottles and should be ready in a couple of weeks.  This weekend I brewed up a California Common (a.k.a “steam” beer”) and an Irish Red Ale is coming on right after that.  I think I might try the AK47 extract kit from Northern Brewer and whatever else strikes my fancy, but it is not going to be an American Ale.

The California Common or “steam” beer is a uniquely American beer.  The key feature of this beer is that it is fermented using lager yeasts at ale temperatures.  Needless to say, this results in a style that does not conform to the dictates of either traditional category although there is so much blurring of the lines anymore that the lager versus ale debate is somewhat moot.  Besides, if it tastes good who cares what official style the beer conforms to?

Originally a beer for working class patrons, steam beer was brought back to the modern beer drinker by the Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco, which is also the traditional home of the steam beer style.  Compared to the other beers I have brewed the California Common was the most complex.  It involved malt extract added at two different times, hops added at four different times, and will require a secondary fermentation following primary fermentation.  It will also take approximately eight weeks from wort to glass.  Right now it is in the carboy, fully krausened, and bubbling away.

I am very partial to steam beers because it takes me back to graduate school at the University of Iowa where a friend of mine introduced me to a whole range of different beers, including Anchor Steam on tap at the Sanctuary.  Simpler times.

Taste Testing Organic Beers

The folks at Grist have decided to do a roundup of organic beers.  Apparently, New Belgium Brewery is going to be phasing out the high profile organic Mothership Wit.  The overt reason is a decline in sales, but I would say that the decline in sales is in direct correlation to the beer’s total lack of depth or complexity.  It’s a fine pale yellow beer and it’s organic, but that is all that it has going for it right now.  After one pint you sort of look at your choices and move on to something else because there is no point in drinking boring beer.

Organic beer does not have to be boring.  It’s about replacing ingredients, not necessarily cutting out the methodology that can make great tasting beer.  The past two batches of American style ale that I have made had both complexity and lots of flavor yet both were organic—the malt extract, steeping grains, and priming sugar were organic.  The hops and yeast were not.

When a Pint is Not a Pint

How much do we really think about weights and measures?  A pound is a pound, a gallon is a gallon, and a pint is a pint?  Right?

Nope.  According to Jordan Mackay the American pint is just too damned big.  The contention is that the newer ultra-hoppy beers of the U.S. craft beer movement are unsuited to being served in glasses 16 ounces and larger.  I tend to agree with this in principle because most of these beers are not quaffed with near the rapidity of a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

A pint is a somewhat arbitrary measure of beer volume because the variety of what is considered a pint varies dramatically based upon locale.  Get a pint in the U.K. and it is determined by law how much beer is included.  Note: I have a set of Imperial pint glasses from which I drink beer because the glasses can hold 16 ounces of beer with some room leftover for the head.

In the U.S. a pint is generally referring to a 16 ounce glass containing beer.  The Boston Beer Company, the brewer of Samuel Adams and arbiter of all things beer in the U.S., feels that there is something left to be desired in the common glasses used for beer consumption in this country. 

I do not know if I agree with the technical merits of one glass over another as I tend to enjoy beer in all its serving vessels be it pint glass, red Solo cup, das boot, or straight from the can.

Backyard Hops

This just makes me want to order some hop rhizomes from Northern Brewer, build a trellis, and get to growing my own hops in my backyard.  Keepin’ it local!

Cellar Raid

There is something strange about finding four years of a beer “vintage” in a local beer shop, let alone having the newest vintage and receiving an older vintage from a friend.  I have never been one to let a beer age for any period of time or to really enjoy the merits of beer that is aged outside of some of the sour beers being produced by craft brewers all over the U.S.

Maybe this is the next evolution in my beer education.

Waste into Something Else

WTF?  Breweries use 400 million tons of grain a year and most of it is thrown away!  I am glad the macro-beer and purveyor of thin lagers Anheuser-Busch is trying to find a use for the stuff.  I think New Belgium in Fort Collins has already beat them to the punch in using brewery waste in a bio-reactor to generate electricity, but somehow A-B will get a lot of credit for following.  Granted, the impact will be big.  It’s still a copycat.