Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Couple O' Fun Things

I think a couple of o' few things have led to the explosion of craft breweries (read as: GOOD beer) in these United States, foremost among them being our exceptional standard of living and the general mobility of our society. Relatively well-off people who move around a lot… for whatever reason… are exposed to different people and things, not the least of which is beer and people who appreciate good beer. So… tastes change and evolve and almost always for the better. But there's something else in play, too. Snobbery, as manifested by the appearance of "beer reviews" and the like.
I used to think this territory was reserved for oenophiles, who tend to be among the most obnoxious folks in the world. But no longer… as we beer drinkers are beginning to encroach upon their territory. Hell, even YrHmblScrb has written a beer review… and if I can do it, anyone can. There's even a "how to" to get ya started, if'n you wanna get into the biz for fun or profit. And here it is… "How to Rate a Beer," by Jim Armstrong. Just a couple of excerpts:
When tasting and comparing many different types of beer, it is helpful to have a standardized way of rating them. If you’re serious about your suds, start taking tasting notes and build a profile of what things you like and dislike about different beer styles. This doesn’t have to be a complicated endeavor, but you have to go a bit further than “I liked that beer” or “that one sucks”.
A good place to start is by breaking down a beer’s rating into several categories. I use the same categories as the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) scorecards – those guys know what they’re doing, and their criteria works for me.
Works for me, too. Well maybe except for this bit:
When you start out, everything will smell like beer, but after doing this for awhile, you’ll be amazed at how many different aromas you can pick up. Eventually, you’ll be able to pick out specific varieties of grain and hops!
It all mostly smells like beer to me. There are exceptions, of course… any fool can smell the difference between stout and lager… but I'd sure like to meet the guy or gal who can differentiate between the different varieties of hops used in the brewing process. Then again, I'm quite sure my senses of taste and smell have been whacked by 40+ years of cigarettes. Still and even… I find that particular statement a bridge too far.
That said… the article is interesting and (I think) useful, if only to explain and differentiate what separates good beer from swill. And while we're on the subject... if you love beer and you've never heard of Michael Jackson (no, not that MJ), you've led a deprived life. The man literally wrote the book on beer.
So… how did I miss this?
"Did You Know" is only this year's ninth most popular video, according to Viral Video Chart. Number One? Susan Boyle, with a staggering 174,923,055 views since April 11th of this year. And we've ALL seen that one… right? Which kinda-sorta closes this "Did You Know" loop…
Today's Pic: A re-run that's in keeping with the lead-off theme of today's post: beer. As in, ♫♪ "These are a few of my favorite things…" ♫♪. Heh.


  1. The "Did You Know" videos are amazing aren't they! The speed with which technology has advanced in the past 5 years is staggering. If you haven't already, look at the other "Did You Know" videos (I think there are 3 years worth). Go in chronological and be prepared to be blown away even more.

  2. That is a great video, love the theme song. The facts are astounding the note about living in exponential times. Amazing.

    But I do have a beer story.

    Long time ago, Coors beer was not available everywhere like today, just in the Rockey Mountain states. I am not sure, but that was how it was.

    While I was in the Navy and assigned to an east coast ASW squadron there was one mission everyone looked forward to.

    That was the Cross Country mission.

    This was some trip that required one of our crews in a trusty War Hoover (the S-3 Viking) to go to the far reaches of the empire, usually out west but not always. Most of these boondoggles came at the end of the flying quarter and if there was a surplus of funds in the operations budget for fuel. There was some unwritten rule that required the use of all the flying budget or someone got in trouble (or so we were told).

    Consequently aircraft would go out on special missions to you know, practice high level, airways navigation and such.

    We had aircraft fly up to Maine and return with lobsters, we would actually take orders ahead of time. Once we sent a six ship flight to Texas to bring back Taco's. And many, times aircraft were dispatched to the Rockies to return with Coors beer. Now the War Hoover is far from a cargo aircraft but with a fairly large internal compartment we were able to ferry quite a few cases of Coors, 50 to 75 or thereabouts.

    Now flash forward three or four years, I am on Shore Duty and assigned to the Naval Air Development Center (NADC). I worked in the facility there that was the Engineering HQ for the War Hoover. A few months after reporting aboard I was "ordered" to attend a conference with the Navy Weapons Evaluation Facility or NWEF(the Nuke guys) and brief them on upcoming changes to the War Hoover's armament systems which we were modifying. I was to handle the hardware aspects being a technician (I was an AX2, Second Class Petty Officer, an E5) and a LCDR would handle the software and administration stuff.

    The NWEF at the time (and I think this is true even today) was located at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque NM. No problem for me going there.

    So, the Navy decides to fly us there in a P-3 from the base there at the NADC. It was supposed to continue on to Moffit Field outside of San Jose CA but the crew found a friendly bar and the aircraft was suddenly down and could not be flown. Well, not until they ran out of drinking money.

    So, on the morning of our flight back to NADC I brought my father aboard the base and onto the flight line for a tour of the P-3 (I had been staying at home). I had wanted to show him stuff that was similar to what we carried on the S-3, emphasizing that we could do almost the same missions with only 4-crew (instead of 17 on a P-3) and of course we did our stuff off a Carrier.

    Now, in every nook and cranny of that P-3 there was stashed Coors beer. Lots of Coors beer. The area where the Sonarbouys were supposed to be stowed held maybe a 100 cases. The crew had even loaded more Coors into the Bomb Bays which happened to carry racks like shelves instead of hook points for bombs.

    My father was beside himself at all the Beer stowed aboard. I mentioned about how the S-3's would sometimes make the journey out for Coors too, but my father was not impressed.

    You see, while growing up in the land where Coors was plentiful it was regarded as well, less than a premium beer. In fact it was always referred to as Rocky Mountain Goat P***, ah well you get my meaning.

    It seemed that as a tax payer seeing your hard earned contributions to the treasury being used to haul out maybe 200 to 300 cases of Goat P*** was not reassuring that the national military resources were being properly allocated. Ahh, such is the Military, all the quirks and warts make it the adventure.

    I still don't drink Coors, I just can't get over that Mountain Goat stigma.

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  3. Could be mistaken, but...They all look like they are brewed in Fort Collins, Colorado. You need a designated driver here to to a brewery tour ;-).

  4. That is "to have" a brewery tour in Fort Collins... at least it is highly recommended ;-).

  5. I'm not the beer snob that some are, but I do have some particular tastes in beer. I like it on the light side rather than dark and heavy - more of a wheat beer. And I like it cold.

    Jimmy T, We used to haul lots of Coors from Northern NM back to college at Texas Tech. Too bad we didn't have an airplane :)

  6. Kris: Thanks for the suggestion... that was fun!

    Jimmy: We have similar experiences with Coors, but mine don't involve military aircraft, though. Back when I was in tech school at Keesler AFB ('63 - '64)... enterprising types made beer runs to East Texas where Coors was available and loaded up their vans or other vehicle with as much as they could carry, hauling it back to Mississippi. The going rate was a buck a can and some idiots were willing to pay the price... a LOT of idiots, actually. This was in the day when the Airman's Club had "Nickel Beer Night," with eight ounce glasses of Carling's Black Label and other beers going at that rate... although the choice was limited at that price. But it was that "unobtanium" mystique that made Coors. Your Dad is right: it IS swill.

    Thanks yet again for the cool story!

    Paula: At first I thought you were offering... :D

    Lou: I wonder why Coors wasn't available in Lubbock in the '70s? The guys I knew bought it in some little burg just across the Louisiana/Texas state line in '64... there were a couple of three liquor stores there that moved a LOT of Coors to all kinds of people (not just GIs). Or so I was told.

  7. I'd still recommend you try a "Golden Monkey" (which sounds like some sort of deviant sexual practice, now that I think about it, but it's actually a sweet-tasting trippel, 9.5% alcohol content, two of which came close to kicking my ass one evening, and I was up for the ass-kicking, too.)

  8. At what point is it merely enjoying something and when does it become snobbery?

    Notice I left out the word beer in the question, we all enjoy certain things over another, beer is no different.

    What separates a connoisseur from a snob I guess is the real question. I get more grief from my Coors/Bud drinking brother about my taste for microbrews than I give him for drinking that swill. I could care what anyone drinks but I know what I like and if that makes me a snob so be it.

  9. I have never been a beer drinker; I never developed any taste for it at all. But the one beer that I really was able to swallow was Coors. Go figure. LOL

    My nephew Tim is starting a blog site to post his beer making stories. So far the blog site is just a framework with no posts yet:

    If he ever gets up some posts, I will point you guys to them, as he needs the traffic as a brand new blogger.

  10. Jim: I'll most certainly try a Golden Monkey the next time I'm up that way.

    tim sez: At what point is it merely enjoying something and when does it become snobbery?

    Good question, and the answer is probably similar to what Potter Stewart said about porn. As for me... one of the defining factors of snobbery is chasing trends... whether it's eating, drinking, driving, wearing... whatever. If your taste is limited to what's au courant, then you're a snob in my book. But that's only part of it, of course. Condescension is another big part. We could go on and on and on in this space.

    Sharon: I was never much of a beer drinker until I went to England in 1980 and tasted real beer for the first time. That said, I used to drink a lot of Coors in my youth, what with growing up in California.

    And be sure and let me know when your nephew begins posting!


Just be polite... that's all I ask.