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Tuesday, 29 June 2010


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" Every now and again I seem to have to rediscover that there is a world out there beyond the four walls of my home office. "

Sage advice.

Enjoy the break. You'll be missed.

OK, well, this off-topic column was great.

I've recently brewed a batch of beer myself, I drink it regularly, and I love microbreweries and microbrews.

You didn't mention parrots even once!


In the last few years small brewing companys have sprung up like....well, like dandelions. Here in Olympia Wa., just a few blocks away we have Fish Brewing Co. Quite a local crowd gather at the bar every night and they have a very fine porter I like.

As for dandelions, if NASA ever gets up and running on terraforming the moon I think a good start would be sending several canisters of dandelion seeds on a course for intercepting the moons surface soil. They will apparently grow anywhere and NOTHING will kill them.

Milwaukee Brewing is a class operation, but being more of a Dairy State traditionalist, I prefer Point Beer and miss Chief Oshkosh.

As a bit of trivia that is somewhat relevant, aluminum cans have not always been used for beer. Long, long, ago steel was used for the cans and steel could impart a taste to the beer - which may be one reason that most conventional wisdom says that bottled beer tastes better than canned beer.

I do not know this vital information because of extreme age, although I am certainly many years away from being a spring chicken. As it turns out, my father was a research chemist who specialized in paints and coatings, and one of my memories from childhood is of the notice that was taken when he developed a coating for beer cans. The reason for all the fuss was that not only did the coating not affect the taste, but it could be applied to the flat sheet steel before it was formed into cans, and would not crack when the steel was rolled.

Arrrhh...fresh air, natural light from the sun, giant healthy plants, old classmates and ... women! All in all, a nice combination to wake up the senses. :)

When I read the first para. and look at the picture next to it at the same time, I am thinking the blog would develop to something else. "Louie's Demise" is all its about then.


Do not drink beers for a long time. Would take the advice for coke zero. But how about plastic (not a container for beer hence not discussed I guess)? Would it be also needed to be pour to a glass? Wonder.

i need a beer

Before Prohibition, my grandfather brewed Old Port Lager up in Port Washington---"The Beer That Made Milwaukee Furious."

" I used to joke that I should grow potted dandelions, which might be funny except that I could probably kill those too."

The trick is to let Lulu water them.

I have to disagree that other grains are primarily fillers. Wheat in particular is used for a large part of the grist in many traditional German beers. Grains such as wheat, rye and oatmeal can all be malted, and I suspect they would be used more commonly if malted barley wasn't so much easier to work with.

Brewing is the other hobby I don't want to do professionally.

Plants are analagous to people and pets - obsessive care is seldom healthy and since plants can't run away, they protest in the only way they can.

Plants should be treated like everyone else. Placed in the environment for which they are best adapted, enjoyed for what they are, and fussed over only when absolutely necessary.

After all they managed pretty well on their own for 600,000,000 years before animals turned up ;)

I'll drink to that.


As an unabashed beer snob, it's great to see craft beer taking root in all parts of the country. Here in the NW we've enjoyed them for over 15 years. It's not unusual for me, like tonight, to pour a $12, limited release bottle from some of the better breweries. Although, always, always, in glass. Like I said, snobbish. The pubs here will often have over 40 taps of local beers.

A family member was just hired as a brewmaster for brewery in Roanoke, VA. Good news for him, although I suspect my Holiday case of home brews will be a thing of the past.


"Old Port Lager up in Port Washington"



Mike, I hope you survived the class reunion psychically intact. I've always viewed the experience as looking in a mirror, and I don't much care for mirrors anymore these days. Me, I'd rather stay in the home office :).

The process et's father worked on was trademarked as "keglined" I googled "keglined" and discovered that the artist's loft building three blocks down my street known as the "American Can Building" is not only the site where Washington's troups escaped from the British in the disastrous first battle by the U.S. Army but is also "the birthplace of the beer can! "

Yay, craft beer!

To be precise, beer should be poured into a glass whether its from a can or a bottle. As you say, doing so gets the nose involved (i.e., you smell it as you're sipping), which is a big part of the flavor experience. Also, bottled and canned beer tend to be somewhat gassier than draft beer (which some would argue is the only "real" way to enjoy it). Pouring it into a glass gives it a head (which contrary to popular belief is actually a GOOD thing), and removes some of the excess gas.

Regarding other grains, the big brewers often use corn and wheat as an adjunct (i.e., filler) because it's cheaper than barley. However, as mwg says above, some beers are intended to use other grains. However, there's a difference between deliberately crafting a wheat beer and cramming a bunch of corn into your Coors Lite because it's cheaper than using the proper stuff.

OK, one other thing: it's a misconception that biofuel is "green." You're still burning stuff and sending CO2 into the atmosphere. The only "green" part is that it is theoretically renewable. But it still pollutes. (I wrote about this in detail a couple of years ago, here: http://www.blork.org/blorkblog/2008/04/22/biofuels-solve-the-wrong-problem-and-create-others/)


>>...the can gets a bad rap for imparting a "metallic taste" to its contents. That's actually (surprise) user error...<<

If so, then it's one perpetuated by countless beer ads.
And an ingrained part of beer drinking culture.

Interesting that your discussion of beer in cans follows so closely your discussion of safelights. My taste buds tell me that canned beer often tastes better than bottled beer, and--assuming I'm not fooling myself--I think this may have something to do with light. As a one-time amateur brewer, I learned a long time ago that light spoils beer. Just as one should suspect the safety of safelights, I am dubious about the light stopping ability of brown or green glass.

It seems as if in the bottle/can comparison the assumption was that the glass might be recycled, but not the bottles reused. If you do, I doubt that cans come out as the clear winner. Indeed, I believe that producing cans is very energy consuming. As you note, that is however offset at least partially by lower energy needed for transportation.

Last weekend there was the first canned beer fest just up the road in Lyons, CO, home of Oscar Blues and Dales Pale Ale, which has the distinction of being the first canned microbrew.

...And you're surprised that something perpetuated by ads and ingrained in culture is wrong?

I'm just saying.


Of course not, Mike.
Just that critiquing customer behavior, which one's own industry advertising encourages, seems mildly perverse.

Good for you Mike.

Like 'latent image', though, I am reminded of darkroom matters. Light is the enemy of beer. I've seen lamps made from milk bottles, and now I'm wondering if brown bottles would make decent safelight filters.

Fun fact: Brown bottles are "greener" than green bottles, which are more costly to recycle due to the metallic impurities that make them green. This from an informative treatise on beer containers from Slate's Green Lantern: http://www.slate.com/id/2186219

Carsten & Dennis: Yes, refilling would be far more resource-efficient, according to the Slate article, and reususable PET bottles would be even better (and won't change taste), though a glass of draft beer would be best.

Ed H.: "The only "green" part is that it is theoretically renewable."

Er, no, at least not in this real world context. Reuse is "green" (generally far greener than recycling) and recovering waste vegetable oil for fuel is reuse. If it is then displacing a fossil fuel, with all its extraction, refinement and transportation costs, greener still.

I'm very glad microbreweries are becoming more popular in the US, as it used to be that, like the old Monty Python joke goes, American beer was like making love in a canoe.

Needless to say, Miller, Budweiser, and the rest of those commercial beers spawned by Satan are still worthy of the above comparison, but I dream of the day when Sam Adams, Magic Hat and other small companies take the reigns.

Then again, I also dream of the day camera companies start listening to their user base...

"It seems as if in the bottle/can comparison the assumption was that the glass might be recycled, but not the bottles reused"

Probably. Since WI has very little restraint on alcohol sales, most beer is sold in sixpacks, and most stores aren't set up to handle bottle returns.

I'm used to beer only coming by the case or keg, and of course you pay a bottle deposit for the case, and of course you bring the bottles back every time... It feels really weird still to buy beer in such small quantities.

The local grocer just started stocking Heileman's Old Style again.
It's the perfect "I just finished mowing the lawn and a cold beer would taste good while I fire up the smoker" beverage.
Heileman's is also the beer you drink to salve a broken heart.

re: steel cans Vs. aluminum cans. Do you remember that beer ad where the football player crushed the can of Miller or Bud again his forehead? That was in the early days of aluminum cans in the US. Meanwhile in Canada we were still using steel. There are many Canadians with circular dents in their foreheads from trying to replicate the feat of the US footballer.

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

The Green Veneer. Thank you. exactly the sort of phrase I have had in mind but which I would adapt to socially responsible veneer. You know, the big consulting companies, saving the world by encouraging companies to downsize and outsource and best of all the oil companies, telling us they are saving the planet while ..... We don't have to say more do we.

Re: cans verses bottles. You'll never convince me that canned beer is, or tastes, better. I think that glass is a more inert substance than metal, and the beer cannot possibly react chemically with glass, but it could with metal, or whatever is on the surface of the metal. In fact, I don't think it's a good idea to consume anything from cans.
As for the environment, here in Ontario (and I believe also in Quebec), beer bottles are not recycled, they are washed and reused, and when not reusable, then recycled. This has been the case for at least fifty years or longer. The reason this works is because purchasers pay 10 cents a bottle deposit when they purchase the beer. When they return the bottles they get their 10 cents back. It adds up, 10 times 24 = $2.40 per case. I don't know the exact figures, but a very high proportion of bottles are returned. This has been successful because beer sales in Ontario are restricted to two outlets, beer and liquor stores. Most people buy beer from the "Beer Store," where you also return the bottles. In Quebec you can buy beer in grocery stores, but it works there as well. Another reason why this works is that the bottles are identical across all the major brewers, with the exception of an odd company that wants to stand out. The beer is also packaged in sturdy cardboard boxes that makes it very easy to put the bottles back in and take them back. And they are very easily counted this way. Lift the lid of the box, it's full - $2.40 for a case of 24, $1.20 for 12, $0.60 for 6. Ever try to round up a bunch of cans, or count them?
That's as green as you can get, and it could be easily done for a lot of other consumeable items as well. The only way you could be greener would be to make your own beer and wash and reuse your own bottles. Actually it might be greener done by the brewers in high volume.

I actually spoke to a guy once--he is a Honda salesman locally--who had formerly worked for a brewery (I won't name them) in bottle reclamation--the guys who wash out the bottles for reuse. He told me he will never, ever drink beer out of a bottle again and he won't let anyone in his family do so either. He was very emphatic about that. He said something like "you just would not believe what people put in beer bottles." FWIW.


I hope you did not indulge yourself while at the brewery, what with 19 or 20 years of sobriety under your belt.

No chance. I sampled their root beer, which is brewed to resemble the root beer hard candy, sweet and a little minty.

I do drink the occasional non-alcoholic beer, but only in company.



I know, the dirt (or God knows what) in the reused bottles is always the monster under the bed. Kind of like the fear of drinking processed sewage water, yech! I used to pick up beer bottles from the roadside when I was a kid to earn spending money. They were only worth 5 cents back then, (or was it 2 cents?) but that's probably 10 times more real worth than today. Some bottles would be full of yuck. However, the bottles are cleaned with high-pressure equipment. The ones that can't be cleaned would be recycled. Today, I expect they have sophisticated equipment to examine the bottles to ensure they are clean. In forty years, I've never encountered a beer bottle with any foreign material inside it, or any off-flavoured contents.
I think it's actually more likely to find foreign material inside new cans. In fact there was a case of that not long ago, where, I think it was pop cans, were contaminated with a chemical used in the cleaning of the cans prior to use.
To be greener, I guess we have to change our approach and attitude to a lot of things.

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