Friday, March 28, 2008

Kris Goes on a Work Trip

This being an unusually easy work trips (read: NO 12+ hour days on my feet in heels) I had a chance to fit a little beer-ing in. Wednesday after flying into Los Angeles and getting work out of the way I proceeded to check out Bonaventure Brewing, conveniently located on the 4th floor of my hotel, the Westin Bonaventure. They are reportedly an independent operation so I was hopeful. However upon entering the uninspired and decidedly un-brewpubish d├ęcor I started to wonder. Their sampler included 4 of their own brews and 1 guest, Stone Smoked Porter. Of their own, the Golden Ale was the star as far as my mouth was concerned although my head wondered about the name as it tastes like a pale ale (of which they also had). The Blond was your standard light lager and the Strawberry Blond, well she tasted pretty fake. Feeling unmotivated to venture further, I decided that was enough of the LA beer scene for me and called it a night.

The next morning it was off to San Francisco to check out another potential property for work. One that part of the day was wrapped up I was on a mission to visit both of the brewpubs within walking distance from my hotel. My 1st stop was the Thirsty Bear, which Mag had been to before and therefore my expectations weren’t particularly high. While they did have 8 beers on tap, only 2 really stood out in a good way – Aged Cherry Ale and Meyer ESB. As 1 of their 2 seasonals the Cherry was very well done for a fruit beer and not overly alcoholic although it might be higher in alcohol than one would think (but they didn’t list the ABVs so that’s only a guess). No surprise that the ESB just plain made my mouth happy! The stinker of the bunch was their Golden Vanilla, which the Canadian sitting next to me agreed shouldn’t even be called beer. The rest of the bunch fell in varying degrees between the stars and the stinker.

Next up I ambled down to the 21st Amendment to meet up with my brother. Being a Thursday night and clearly a popular joint (even though pints were $5.50 during what I would have expected to be happy hour) it was packed! I didn’t bother asking about a sampler, instead starting out with their Bitter American. They claim this is only 3.6% ABV and if that’s true it’s nothing short of magic how they pack so much wonderful hop flavor into it. At 40 IBUs this is a very drinkable bitter. Continuing down the hop path my next pint was their 21A IPA which from its stats – 7.2% ABV and 78 IBUs gives you a clue this is a BIG, HOPPY boy. While big and strong it is one not to be missed! The rest of their line up (South Park Blond, Watermelon Wheat, St. Patrick O’Sullivan’s Irish Red, Repeal Rye and General Pippo’s Porter) didn’t spark enough interest in me to warrant a full pint so I switched to their guest beer. The Pomegranate Cider made by Two Rivers was amazing! Had I not known the name I probably would have guessed it was cranberry instead of pomegranate due to its tartness. This would definitely fall into the dangerous category for me as it goes down WAY too easily. It was a good thing I only ended up having time for a pint of it before Justin and Jeff returned me to my hotel. Since I was flying out early Friday morning that had to conclude my California beer adventures for this trip. Next time I have to try to find time to make it over to Anchor.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crap, I'm Screwed!

I just ran across this article on It doesn't bode well for me. Luckily I'm still in my 30s. I've got a few years to lose the belly...yeah, right.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Having a big belly in your 40s can boost your risk of getting Alzheimer's disease or other dementia decades later, a new study suggests.

It's not clear why abdominal fat would promote dementia, but it may pump out substances that harm the brain.

It's not just about your weight. While previous research has found evidence that obesity in middle age raises the chances of developing dementia later, the new work found a separate risk from storing a lot of fat in the abdomen. Even people who weren't overweight were susceptible.
That abdominal fat, sometimes described as making people apple-shaped rather than pear-shaped, has already been linked to higher risk of developing diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
"Now we can add dementia to that," said study author Rachel Whitmer of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California.

She and others report the findings in Wednesday's online issue of the journal Neurology.
The study involved 6,583 men and women who were ages 40 to 45 when they had checkups between 1964 and 1973. As part of the exam, their belly size was measured by using a caliper to find the distance between their backs and the surface of their upper abdomens. For the study, a distance of about 10 inches or more was considered high.
The researchers checked medical records to see who had developed Alzheimer's or another form of dementia by an average of 36 years later. At that point the participants were ages 73 to 87. There were 1,049 cases.

Analysis found that compared with people in the study with normal body weight and a low belly measurement:
• Participants with normal body weight and high belly measurements were 89 percent more likely to have dementia.
• Overweight people were 82 percent more likely if they had a low belly measurement, but more than twice as likely if they had a high belly measurement.
• Obese people were 81 percent more likely if they had a low belly measurement, but more than three times as likely if they had a high measurement.
Whitmer said there's no precise way to translate belly measurements into waist circumference. But most people have a sense of whether they have a big belly, she said. And if they do, the new study suggests they should get rid of it, she said.
It's not clear why abdominal fat would promote dementia, but it may pump out substances that harm the brain, she said.

Dr. Jose Luchsinger of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who studies the connection between obesity and Alzheimer's disease but didn't participate in the new work, cautioned that such a study cannot prove abdominal fat promotes dementia.

But the study results are "highly plausible" and "I'm not surprised at all," he said. High insulin levels might help explain them, he said.

Dr. Samuel Gandy, who chairs the medical and scientific advisory council of the Alzheimer's Association, said the results fit in with previous work that indicates a person's characteristics in middle age can affect the risk of dementia in later life.

And it's another example of how traits associated with the risk of developing heart disease are also linked to later dementia, he said.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beer & Chicks...Mean Chicks

Kris and I had a chance to finally see a Minnesota RollerGirls bout last night with some friends. Kris didn't enjoy it much, but I had a great time. Man, that looks like a painful sport. Don't believe me? Check out their bruise photo gallery. The competition was fierce and entertaining but the scuffles were a little contrived (still entertaining though). And a dude could get a good beer...well, a Summit anyway. PBR was the big seller at the event. Unfortunately, we didn't bring a camera so don't have any photos to share. Anyway, I'd highly recommend catching a bout if you've never been. But be sure to get there early as the good seats go quickly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good Goose

Last night I had my second taste of Goose Island’s specialty series of beers. These are sold only in 4 packs and are essentially seasonals on steroids. I’m not a Goose fan in general however last summer during our trip to Chicago we did visit their Clybourn pub and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That being said I was hesitant when I picked up my first 4 pack a couple months ago. Demolition is described as a golden ale brewed with Saaz and Styrian Golden hops. At 8% abv this is a wonderfully drinkable, smooth beer. This past weekend on a trip to restock at the Cellar’s in Eagan two new 4 packs caught my eye. One was a Belgian, Pere Jacques, which didn’t interest me too much but the other was Bourbon County Stout. My interest was piqued and confirmed after talking to the fine folks at Cellar’s. This is no drinking beer, kids! This is a sipping beer to be sure. After aging in bourbon barrels for 100 days, this stout weighs in at 13% abv and is one to savor. Mag thought it belonged in the same category as Barley John’s Rosie’s and I’d have to agree. So if you’re looking for a well done, high alcohol brew give this one a try. Goose might be one of the bigger boys but they still know how to do it right.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Firkin Fest - Well Worth the Hangover

Well, from my perspective, the Happy Gnome's Firkin Fest was a success. And I think Kris, Kat, and Scott would agree. I didn't mind, at all, that it appeared Firkin Fest was an afterthought from the St. Patty's celebration the day before. I mean, they already had the tent up and porta-potties primed. The crowd was pretty small and well mannered. For $20, I got more to drink than I really needed on a Sunday...or any day for that matter. And Kris and I got to see many friends. $20 got you 16 tickets (1 4 oz. pour per ticket) plus an additional ticket you could use to get a sample of Surly 2. Of course, I don't think anyone actually paid attention to whether or not you gave a ticket per drink. Kris' favorite beer and the one I thought was most interesting was Summit's Oatmeal Stout made with Belgian brettanomyces (yeast). The yeast gave the beer a distinctive, and not unpleasant, cheese smell. The flavor was pretty interesting as well. Of course, I'm not sure if it was supposed to smell like cheese, but then again, I'M not supposed to smell like cheese, but who cares? I was happy to hear that many of our beer friends at Firkin Fest are also going to be at Gitchee Gumee.

Of course, we couldn't just stop at Firkin Fest. We decided to head up to Barley John's after Firkin Fest to take part in their anniversary celebration. They had a nice fire going to take the chill off the March Sunday and, of course, I stood too close to it. There was a nice crowd there and we saw many faces from Firkin Fest. And we continued to drink. Oh boy.

Needless to say, my headache is finally gone but the heart-burn still rages. Good times...good times.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Destination Portland

Hot damn! Portland, here we come! Kris and I are heading to Portland with some friends for our second visit. Our first visit was a whirlwind four days, but we were able to squeeze in six brewery/brew-pub visits and check out some other sites, but we didn't get our fill of beer and we missed some sites we wanted to visit. Our next trip, starting on 4/23, will be five days. I'm guessing it'll be five decadent, bleary-eyed, slurred, days. First of all, we're gonna try to hit the famous or infamous doughnut shop, Voodoo Doughnut. Any place that puts bacon on their doughnuts is worth visiting. We're also gonna try to hit a 'za joint called Apizza Schole's. Sounds like we're going to try and hit a few Tiki hot-spots as well. I wonder it'll be warm enough for a Hawaiian shirt? I guess if I'm swilling mega-rum-bombs it won't really matter what the temp is. And of course, we'll be hitting a few brewpubs and breweries. The itinerary is still being worked out, but there certainly is no lack of places to go. I'd love to hit Rogue, but that's a bit of a drive. Hell, maybe we'll get a chance to run about Astoria piss-drunk yelling "Pinchers of Power!" and doing the truffle-shuffle. Yeah baby!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Great One Has Fallen

Us geeks have lost one of our own with the death of Gary Gygax. The world is a less colorful and interesting place all of a sudden. Raise a glass in farewell to an influential man.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Bubbles Are Back

Thanks Scott! I'll try to get the bubbles on a comcast homepage soon so that I can relieve you of the bandwidth burden.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Imminent Danger!!!

Okay, this doesn't have a damn thing to do with beer, but it has to be said. I guess I'll call this an important Public Service Announcement.

I went to the Burnsville Center mall this morn to buy some new shirts for a new job I'm starting tomorrow. I rolled into the mall about five minutes before it's stores open at 10 A.M. thinking I'd kill some time looking at the cute puppies pushed out of our local puppy mills. Having scratched that itch, I then headed off for Macy's. I was cruising along what some folks might call the wrong side of the mall (I was walking down the left side of the mall as I was to be making a left turn) and was looking bemusedly to my right at a large pile of hats, coats, and gloves that the elderly folks had piled on some benches. You know what I mean - the old folks who amble through malls in MN to get some morning exercise rather than risk the dangers of a fall on ice outside. Generally harmless.
Well, no sooner did I swivel my head back to where I was going and begin to take my left turn when I saw, to my shock and horror, a cavalcade...a convoy of sweating, red-cheeked, puffing mothers pushing single and double-wide baby strollers at break-neck speed towards me. Christ, there must of been two dozen unemployed, suburbanite breeders in the stampede (now, I'm an unemployed suburbanite capable of breeding, but I wasn't running anyone I can say that). With an exclamatory, "What the fuck," and an NFL-worthy foot-chop to my right I was able to avoid a 20-pram pile-up but I could not avoid the beady-eyed, self-rightous glares of the pack leaders as I danced my little jig and voiced my surprise. Nor could I save the poor woman I had been walking behind who was quickly enveloped by the sweaty mob. I think the boiling mass of humanity recognized one of their own in that woman, because they let her escape unharmed. Of course, only the first couple of ranks of the massed infantry noticed my evasive moves. The rest blithely jammered on about this and that while sweatily shoving their babes onward through the mall and over any unsuspecting customers. As I passed the last of the woman, I was horrified to see some unfortunate octogenarian twisted and wrapped around the rear axle and undercarriage of the last stroller, his wispy white hair making a sad little, "fop, fop, fop" as it repeatedly hit the mall floor.
Okay, I'm exaggerating...but not much. I'm not allowed to have a few beers and drive my car over a few pedestrians, but they are allowed to tear around the mall in large, sweaty packs endangering the lives of the elderly and innocent shoppers. WTF? I'd rather have the mall overrun by Hells Angels than by the local chapter of Stroller Strides.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beer for Dummies?

When I first saw an ad for Miller Lite's Brewers Collection, their new craft, lite beer offering (wheat, amber, and blonde), I held my tongue. I was proud of that. I figured I'd give it a chance. I didn't want to be ignorant in my bitching. But then, I'll be damned if Miller didn't go and do something stupid that has forced my hand. I guess Minneapolis is one of four test markets for the new offering (Baltimore, Sand Diego, and Charlotte are the other three). That being the case, I guess some buxom college babe was passing out some hand-outs near Sgt. Prestons. While sitting around Town Hall swilling beer with Kris and some friends, I got a chance to read the hand-out that someone had brought in. This thing was a piece of work. It read as though it were written for 6th graders. It was supposed to be informative, I guess, but maybe only if you've never had a beer before and know virtually nothing about beer (which might be true for 6th graders). Unfortunately, I didn't try to keep the hand-out. I would have loved to been able to quote directly from it. Let me try to paraphrase, though. "Miller Lite Wheat beer is made from wheat. The wheat is what gives it the distinctive flavor." Or, "Miller Lite Amber is named so because of it's color, which is amber." It's bad. Damn I wish I could have kept a hand-out. I'm embarrassed for Miller. I may give the beers a taste, but I hope I don't get dumber for doing so. I don't know who created those hand-outs, but I'd say it does a disservice to Miller and their new offering. I'm gonna keep looking for the hand-out so I can accurately quote from it.