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Autumn wanes

I went to another wedding last weekend, in Peoria. My cousin Dianne got married in a very nice ceremony. Why is it that grown-ups(she's not in her twenties) always pull off the nicest, classiest weddings? One of the biggest things that impressed me was the 10-15 piece band that played the reception. Bands are much more expensive than hiring a DJ, but older folks can afford it better, I suppose. If and when i get married, I will try to make getting a band at the reception a priority. It adds immeasurably to the experience.

Among other niceties, there was no Hokey Pokey, and no Chicken Dance either. I think the exclusion of these two things elevates any wedding to a higher level. The garter toss still happened, as did the glass-tapping, but you can't have everything.

It was nice to be home, to actually spend a weekend with the family all together. Julia came in from Cleveland, I came in from Kansas City, and Brian came in from Chicago, bringing Rachel and Kathleen with him. On Sunday morning, we all gathered for brunch, and had some relatives over to share it. It was a fitting end to a very nice weekend.

This week at work was pretty busy, until now. Geoff and Paul are going to Des Moines for an exercise, and TJ's going with them, so I spent most of Monday and Tuesday moving computers out of the computer room, running back and forth between there and my office, troubleshooting problems with the computers, and helping to pack them up and load them into the van they rented. They departed at about 9AM yesterday, and if I thought I had nothing to do before, I should have heard from me now.

All the computers are in Iowa, so I have nothing to work on. TJ, Paul, and Paul's team are all gone too, so I have nobody to support, and to top if off, my checking account is overdrawn and I need gas for my car. With all these factors in play, I'm staying home today, and maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow is First Friday, though.

7:57 AM, Nov 4, 2004

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Michelob Ultra

I have decided that this column has been overly biased against beers that most people know. I haven't reviewed beers that are regarded by many as the "beers of the people." So, for all you macrobrew fans, this week is for you.

I met up with Josh and Sadie at Josie Ann's, for happy hour, and after a spirited glass of PBR, I informed Robin the friendly bartender that I was in the market for some shitty beer. Four minutes later, I had a very light yellow glass of Michelob Ultra grinning up at me with a low-carbed grin. Josh joined me for moral support. Sadie was of no such mind.

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The beer, when I first tasted it, surprised me. I expected it to be bad, but man, this stuff makes me want to go and turn myself in at the police station. It was so bad that I made a nasty face without even noticing it. Two sips into it, I decided this beer didn't need to be relished and examined. It had to end. You can't polish a turd, they say. So, I chugged it down in three gulps, suffixed by one of the worst pouty baby bitter beer faces I have ever contorted my face to.

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And here's the thing: I wasn't happy it was over. I was pissed. I was pissed that this stuff is as abundant as it is, and that people still order it at bars. It is anything but pleasurable to drink. I would classify the experience as one of mild torture. Yet, people drink this swill to reward themselves for a good workout. If this is how I'm supposed to reward myself, then I must really hate me. Here, you can see how unforgivably yellow and fizzy this beer is, compared to such a premium beer as Pabst Blue Ribbon.

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Desperate to get the terrible taste out of our mouths, we scurried over to Jilly's and got some real beer.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 2 (So bad that I wish I could undrink it, and unlive the moment.)

Body: 1 (It actually has an aftertaste that's somehow worse than the flavor. One thought enters the mind when this beer enters the mouth: get it the hell out of your mouth!)

Aroma: 2 (Are you kidding? It smells like, I'm not kidding, excrement.)

Smoothness: 1 (I would drink this beer again, but only for monetary gain.)

Price: 0 (I can't believe they wanted money for me to help them unload this sin against tastebuds. Even more amazing to me is that this is a successful beer. I guess it just goes to show that you can convince people to put anything in their mouths, as long as you have millions of dollars in your ad campaign.)

12:51 AM, Nov 6, 2004
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Florida Pictures

Sorry they took so long. I was exceedingly lazy in getting them processed. You can find them on the pictures page. As well, you might want to have a look at the new beer I got you.

5:23 PM, Nov 7, 2004

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Nutcracker Ale

I decided that even though it is effectively impossible to find the beer I chose for this week's draught of the week, I must still drink it and review it for you. Kansas City's own Boulevard Brewery offers all of the beers it produces, on tap, throughout the Kansas City area, with two exceptions: their summer seasonal, called "Zon, and the beer that is featured in this column: Nutcracker Ale.

Nutcracker is Boulevard's winter seasonal beer, touted as a "winter warmer," partly because of its holiday-spice taste accent, and partly because at 5.31% alcohol by weight, it is the strongest beer offered by Missouri's second-largest brewery. Interestingly enough, it is also the least accessible of all their beers. This is especially upsetting to me, because among their beers, it is also my favorite.

Brian and I have been on the tour at the Boulevard brewery more times than either of us can guess. Brian places his total at around fifteen visits, and I would guess that I've been there a good twenty five to thirty times. I chalked another one up today, as I took Geoff, Josh, and Craig for the 1 PM tour.

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When we walked in, I cleared the reservation stuff out with Julie, the hospitality specialist. I asked her if they'd see fit to allowing me to conduct a review of their Nutcracker Ale, using a full pint glass. She cheerfully said it was fine, and when I sat down with my full pint, next to the 7-oz glasses everyone else had, I was surprised not to see any looks of disdain from the peasants. But, i suppose the kind of people who are apt to attend a Boulevard tour aren't generally the jealous type.

It pours a deep dark copper color, with a relatively thick head.

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Josh was having the same beer, and was also anxious to get into it.

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For the tasting period, they provide complimentary pretzels and Pale Ale Mustard. Josh was very enthusiastic about enjoying them.

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Craig and I enjoyed our beer, happy to get it for free, for once.

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The beer went down relatively quickly, and maintained the same flavor from top to bottom. I wonder if I'll have it again on tap, this year.

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We stayed until we were encouraged to leave, by way of the free beer access being snuffed, so some of us got a little loopy.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 9 (Hints of spice and sweetness pervade.)

Body: 8 (Very heavy, especially considering its coloration.)

Aroma: 7 (A subtle whiff is an exciting preview of what's to come, as the qualities of the flavor dance in your nostrils.)

Smoothness: 7 (I would drink this beer all night, but i would definitely notice every swallow.)

Price: 10 (Since it was a tour, the beer was free, so the price couldn't have been better. It sure would be nice to find a place where you can pay for it on tap, though. HINT HINT, Boulevard!)

8:52 PM, Nov 13, 2004
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DOTW Overhaul

In the commission of the newest entry into the Draught of the Week section, I have inducted a new style into the appearance of the DOTW front page. I thought it'd be a bit more interesting to do it that way, and more helpful than the largely empty page I had there before.

Keep your eyes open for a new feature on bahua dot com, in the coming days, too.

I love this time of year. It's getting chilly, so the beer's getting better.

10:10 AM, Nov 14, 2004

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The Beginning...

I like beer. I have liked beer for about as long as I've been exposed to it, and allowed to drink it. I actually liked it for some time before I was officially(legally) allowed to drink it. I drank the first beer I liked in June of 1994, in the town in Gruissan, in the south of France. I was fifteen years old, and I was handed a bottle of a French beer called Lutzbrau. Up to this point, drinking beer had been something of a chore for me.

But, there were women present - French women - so I felt obliged to put on a show for them. I turned the bottle upside-down, and emptied it down my throat in about ten seconds. To my great surprise, I did not choke on it, nor did I have any trouble gulping it down. I enjoyed it, and I wanted another one.

In the ten years that followed that incident, my love for the most unlikely potable mix of ingredients in human history has grown, and matured. Through stupidly keeping sixpacks of beer under the seats in the family van, a couple brushes with the law, and the most ridiculous period of beer drinking in my life(college), I sharpened and honed my appreciation for the drink so callously named, in our language, "beer."

I have traveled around these United States, and sampled beers from one coast to the other, and many many beers brewed in between. Boston, Portland, Denver, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Nashville, and my own home city of Kansas City, all have astonishing arrays of beer, as I have seen and tasted when visiting them. I have picked up some friends who share the same fierce appreciation for the art of brewing: Carl, Alex, Dave, Steve, Renae, Joel, Matt, Geoff, Louis - along with my brother Brian, and my sister Julia.

On a less monumentally capitulating note, I visited beer-loving friends Joel and Susie in New York in September of this year, and while enjoying some delicious East Coast beer, Joel and I agreed that what with all these people making delicious beer, and us doing nothing but drinking and critiquing it, we needed to produce some beer of our own. We shook hands on it, and drained our glasses. After the sluggish reality of purchasing over $200 worth of equipment and ingredients, we had our "Deluxe Brewing Kits," courtesy Minnesota's Northern Brewer.

Joel managed to get his brewing done two nights before I did, and got an excellent picture of his finished product, fermenting merrily.

beatmetothepunch

I brewed on Saturday night.

11:40 AM, Nov 14, 2004
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First Brewing

I first brewed on Saturday, November 13th, 2004. My first attempt was an English nut brown ale. Prior to brewing, I took an inventory of sorts. Here is the bulk of the brewing equipment.

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Here's the Yeast package that came with the ingredients, reproducing under my supervision, and plant.

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Before I could start, I needed to mark the carboy with volume markers, for where each level of volume would be. I also primed the kettle at this point.

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The brewing actually started at about 6:15 PM, with the pre-boil steeping. The principal ingredient in the package was a sealed bag of speciality grains, pre-crushed for my convenience. the first step is to steep them in the sub-boiling water, in the enclosed mash(gauze) bag. I was surprised at how quickly the water changed color, early in the fifteen-minute steeping phase.

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I enjoyed the steeping a lot. I didn't have to move.

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I asked Josh to help clean off some of the dirty dishes that were in the way, and to give the syrupy malt extract a warm bath, to make it easier to pour into the mixture, when the boil began.

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After the boil was complete, I filled the sink with cold water and set the kettle in, to chill the boiling wort. I had to change the water three or four times. All in all, I used a ton of water to brew this beer.

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The next step after chilling the wort was to tranfer it to the fermenter, also known as the carboy. For this, I got to use the siphon that came with the kit. I thought that this was especially cool.

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Just after filling the fermenter, I pitched(added) the prolific yeast, and took a hydrometer reading. The starting gravity was 1.082, which means that it's 82% more dense than water, and has a potential alcohol content of 12%.

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After that, I affixed the stopper and placed the very heavy carboy in the pantry.

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Now all I have to do is wait.

12:13 PM, Nov 14, 2004
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Sleep on It

They say things always look better after a good night's sleep. I got a good nine hours of sleep last night, and when I checked the progress of the fermentation, I was ecstatic to see this:

dayone.jpg

Only five more weeks to go!

12:20 PM, Nov 14, 2004
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Bahua Brewing Saga

I have introduced a new section on this website, devoted entirely to my experiences relating to the production of beer in my apartment. I'm calling it the Bahua Brewing Saga. From there, you can keep up with the process of my tandem brewing, with Joel in New York brewing at the same time. Expect regular updates, but for the next few weeks, it'll be relatively slow, as the brewing is already done, and the fermenting is happening now.

12:48 PM, Nov 14, 2004

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Ferment means Rot

I recently found out about a Korean delicacy called Kimchi, and upon hearing about how it's prepared, I wondered how anyone could ever find something like that even remotely appetizing. It occurs to me, upon reflection, that consumables based on letting something rot, aren't that disgusting. I say this because I realized how my favorite beverage in the world is made.

Beer, this beverage that I have come to love so dearly, is a direct product of rot. I am leaving a tank of a delicious-smelling sugary substance in an unrefrigerated place, so that the sweetest, most delicious parts of it, may decompose, and turn into yeast excrement.

At that point, I will enthusiastically consume it, so I can't hold anything against the Koreans. Just for a peek at what's going on under the hood, check out this picture:

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Besides the growdy layer of greenish-brown head, Yeah, I'd say that's a palpable sign of rot, or to put it more nicely, "fermentation." I noticed this particularly interesting going-on in the airlock.

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What the hell is that white stuff? When I saw this picture, I went back to get another look, and the white was gone.

The odor now is less pleasant than before, by the way.

4:30 PM, Nov 15, 2004
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Half-Life 2

I went and picked this game up yesterday, and I am blown away. The game has the best graphics, gameplay, and AI I have ever seen. The story is also excellent, with the game beginning in a semi-post-apocalyptic city, though it's still supposed to be contemporary. Everything about the game is amazing. There were several parts in which I just dropped my jaw, and didn't pick it up again until I stopped playing.

My only problem with the whole affair is that I bought the CDs, and really wish I hadn't. You can buy the game over the developer's own game launch software, called Steam, for less than the price of the CDs, and doing so sets it so you don't have to keep the CD in the drive to even play the game. Steam handles all the authorization and authentication, so there's no reason that you should have to keep the CD in the drive. It indicates to me a material difference of opinion between Valve, the developer, and Vivendi, the CD publisher.

Anyway, I will be reinstalling the game, using Steam.

7:47 AM, Nov 17, 2004

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Off to Iowa

I'm headed to Iowa City tomorrow, to spend the weekend with my drunken college friends. I will probably get lots of pictures, but we'll see. I've just about had it with pictures in 2004. I have taken about 2000 pictures with the new camera, and you can see about 400 of them. If you want more, too damn bad.

Expect a slight update from Steve and Renae's.

9:55 PM, Nov 18, 2004

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Chocolate Bock

This week, I am allowing a bit of a change in standard operating procedure. In the past, I have always run these Draughts of the week, myself, and have always enjoyed it. However, last week, I received a phone call, asking for the opportunity to write a guest column. My brother, after I granted permission, wrote a guest Draught of the Week. He's been looking for an excuse to ask to do one for a while now, and an opportunity presented itself in the form of Sam Adams Chocolate Bock. All that follows is Brian's words. -b

--------------

This beer is unique not only because of its flavor, but also its distribution. Though there are several fine liquor stores where you can buy a 20-some-odd ounce bottle (for a very premium price, around $15 per bottle), there are only six bars in Chicago's North Side that have this beer on tap. Two in Old Town, two in Lincoln Park and two in Wrigleyville. On top of that, these six establishments only have 100 sixth-barrels between them. Where I decided to drink it, Kelly's on Webster near DePaul in Lincoln Park, they had gone through 3 of those sixth-barrels in as many weeks. Our friendly bartender, Kevin, told us that Kelly's had been selling the lowest volume, but the buying patrons have all been quite satisfied. Well, count me among them.

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The beer pours very dark, completely opaque. The head is on the thick side but dissipates very quickly. It smells, well, wonderfully. It's halfway between burnt chocolate and Nestle Quik. I thought the actual taste was much more subtle. It was still delicious though. Actually, it was surprisingly not very sweet on the tongue.

It went down very easily. A little too easy perhaps, as it's 5.6% ABV. It definitely snuck up on me. That didn't stop me from ordering another round, though. The first one finished so well, but left little in the glass to remember it by, so a second was certainly in order to job my memory.

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Ben enjoyed his too.

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I must give mad props to my homies who made me aware of Sam Adams' latest gift to the world and invited to share it at Kelly's that evening.

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We then proceeded to kick the Night Ranger. Aww yeah..

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Ratings (out of Ten):

Flavor: 9 (Chocolatey, but not sugary)

Body: 7 (Heavy, but dissatisfying head)

Aroma: 10 (Chocolate and incredibly inviting)

Smoothness: 9 (Like silk)

Price: 6 (I actually just threw money down, but the big bottle is quite pricey..)

8:35 AM, Nov 22, 2004
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Hidatakayama Weizen

Okay, I know I said that it would be rare, but I now have four more DOTW entries for you, this time submitted by mister Joel Z Johnson, on assignment in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. He sought out the number one-rated beer bar in the entire Tokyo area, according to Beerfly, a segment available on BeerAdvocate, and enjoyed himself into a bunch of DOTWs. All that follows was written by Joel. -b

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Just off the Ryogoku stop on JR Line was the top-rated Tokyo beer pub according to Beerfly: Bakusyu Club POPEYE, featuring one of the city's largest collection of draught and Japanese craft beers, including a rotating selection of three hand-pumped cask beers. After an hour's worth of wrong turns on the subway(one leading me off my map, which was a little troubling), I found my way to Popeye and plopped down ready to sample as many new Japanese draft beers as possible. While Popeye has a very nice selection of "World Beers," including Rogue Ale, Hair of the Dog, and Hoegaarden, it seemed a waste to travel half-way around the world only to drink beers I'd already had before (and I had been drinking Hoegaarden quite a bit the previous nights, truth be told, as it was very common).

hida... what-have-you

My first selection was the Hidatakayama Weizen, a beer that was brewed in Gifu Ken, which I can only presume is a city or province in Japan. Although it wasn't cheap(935 yen (about $9) for a pint). I had wisely landed during happy hour, where each beer is served with a selection of dishes from the 'O'Tsukare Sama' set. Not wanting to fall too far off the boat, I selected the fried chicken, all three small pieces of which were quickly served (and were delicious).

Popeye provides and English menu for those not able to order in Japanese, and the waiter was quick to scratch off the selections that were outdated. Polite, but it also made me wonder how often gaijin find their way to the place, as it's not exactly on the beaten tourist path.

The Fujizakura Weizen was solid, if predictable, with typical banana notes and a cloudy color. As you can see from the picture, I had forgotten that a DOTW entailed taking a picture of the brew in

question until it was almost too late. Suffice it to say that the Fujizakura, while a very pleasant beer in general, tasted typically unrounded(something I find all too common with Weizen, and part of the reason for their disregard by some). It did not taste, if you were wondering, the least bit 'Japanese.' It could have come from a bottle with a Brooklyn label and I would have been none the weizen (oh ho ho).

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (Pleasant, with banana and light spice)

Body: 6 (Typical of weizens, with little head)

Aroma: 7 (Strong wheast smells but almost zero hops)

Smoothness: 5 (Very drinkable, but nothing remarkable)

Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)

6:15 PM, Nov 23, 2004
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Yona Yona Pale Ale

While the bartender poured my next beer, the Yona Yona Pale Ale (I had asked for the Yona Yona Porter, but alas), I sampled the slimy, iridescent bits in the bowl that had been placed in front of me when I arrived. Despite looking like an internal organ, the oil and mystery sauce-soaked vegetable was pretty damn tasty. It was obviously a stem of some sort, but I couldn't place it from looks or taste. I ordered the Yakisoba-style Spaghetti, hoping it was the cold soba buckwheat noodles I had been eating a lot of the last week.

yadda yadda

The Yona Yona Ale is advertised as coming from Nagano Ken (I really should look these names up at some point when I have internet), and is priced at 924 yen for a pint (around 1000 yen is typical for most of the Japanese beers at Popeye, while oddly the imported beers tend to be cheaper per pull). The Yona Yona has a honey color, with no head to speak of. It's flavor is weak at first, with a moderate hoppy finish. Since I tend to justify pale ales' existence only as a hops delivery mechanism, I would have preferred a stronger hoppy punch (although it would only be fair to note that I have been on an aberrant hops kick of late, having swung from an almost anti-hops viewpoint to a 'can't get enough hops' perspective over just the last 3 months or so). There are some IPAs on the menu that I might try%97it would be interesting to try what has become almost an American beer as interpreted by the Japanese.

The soba noodles arrived hot, in a slightly more ample portion than the chicken did. They were great, though, although I worried that the vinegary flavor might overwhelm the half of pale ale that I had left to drink. Fortunately, the watery front wave of the Yona Yona cleared the palate of soba flavor just in time to pass on the medium hops finish. I bet soba noodles and a real hoppy beer would go great together.

I have to say, Japanese food is pretty great. While fishy flavors are much more common than in American food - fish flavor is a seasoning in Japan, much like we tend to use pork or... well, pork, I guess - not everything is fish or rice. In fact, I found of the food to be very rich, filling the mouth with a flavor sphere (unmammi is it?) when you least expect it. Imagine eating some noodles but getting a mouthfeel like duck, for instance. It can be striking, but very attractive.

I noticed while looking over the menu in anticipation of my next drink that the Yona Yona Pale Ale I was drinking was also available hand pumped. I would imagine that was what I was drinking, in fact, which would partially explain the 'flat' flavor. Hand-pumped beer doesn't have the same levels of carbonation draft beer does. Maybe I'm a rank amateur, but I don't tend to enjoy cask beers as much as draft beers. I like me some bubbles.

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 6 (Strong, hoppy finish, but a watery start)

Body: 4 (Flat with little head, but then again, I'm 99% sure it was hand pumped)

Aroma: 7 (Crisp and fresh)

Smoothness: 6 (Of course, part of that smoothness was lack of carbonation)

Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)

6:44 PM, Nov 23, 2004
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Echigo Stout

An Amy Grant song started playing over the sound system. I noticed that many of the beers displayed on tap weren't on the menu, including Murphy's Irish Stout, Conquest Master Brew, Old Engine Oil, and BelleVue Kriek. If all the taps were actually live, they had a very impressive selection, rivaling the tapworks of any bar I've ever been to. I also noticed a sign for 'Shizenbakushu Pyramid Old Lambic' from Hakuseki Kan Brewing%97I was determined to try a Japanese 'lambic' if they actually had it, but after some hand gesture communication I determined they didn't.

Instead I ordered a Echigo Stout, from the eponymous brewery from Niigata Ken, for 935 yen for a pint. I had been noticing the staff being extra polite, probably because I had my Powerbook out and was clearly taking notes (and I have to admit, giving a little bit extra class{flourish} for each sip). It might have made me a ripe bastard, but it's not often one can be in a situation to suggest they are an important journalist documenting their experience in a bar without actually having to lie about it. I finished my cigarette before starting in on the stout.

ick, I go

The Echigo Stout was fairly light in color for a stout with little-to-no head. I had a little swig to cleanse the cigarette taste and ate the potatoes I had ordered along with it, which were served in the typical Japanese quarter-wedge style (along with mayonnaise, butter, and what tasted like cocktail sauce).

The stout had a strong coffee line, although none of the richness typical of the sweet, milk stouts that I prefer. Many of the beers I had been sampling in Japan shared that same fear of richness - single note beers seemed to be par for the course. Even when that single note was pleasant - and the coffee note of the Echigo certainly was - it still left the overall impression to be one of immaturity, not simplicity. The bouquet of the Echigo was much the same - appealing, but not intriguing.

I realized with a start that I had consumed two and a half beers in the space of about 45 minutes, which put the likelihood of my successful return to my hotel in Shibuya in some doubt, especially when I had such trouble getting to Popeye sober. The Japanese are a friendly sort (with a few notable exceptions), so I decided to just go for it. I had spent almost every night lit up like a Christmas tree since I landed, often from beers that I only drank because they were there. 'Might as well make a night of it,' I figured, even though it was just then seven in the evening.

Overall, the Echigo Stout is pleasant, but suffers from my prejudicial preferences in stouts. It is clearly a dark-roasted barley drink, but I like cream stouts, and it is too clear of a flavor to really suit me - I like my stouts muddled and rich. Still, as I slowly worked down my glass, I was anything but dissatisfied.

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (Tasty but not complex. Coffee tones, not chocolate)

Body: 6 (Very round, but not creamy at all)

Aroma: 6 (What smells it had were great, but they weren't strong

enough to set the nose and tongue ready)

Smoothness: 5 (Very drinkable, but nothing remarkable)

Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)

6:56 PM, Nov 23, 2004
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Swan Lake IPA

I knew I had maybe one more beer in me before I extended myself too far, so I looked carefully over the list of Japanese craft brews and hoped I would be able to select something that would really knock my socks off. While I was extremely impressed with the bar itself, the Japanese beers had so far done nothing to impress me. They were good, and clearly brewed by capable hands, but I was hoping to taste something uniquely 'Japanese,' yet all the beers I had tried so far had been good, but unoriginal. Perhaps there was something to the idea that beers should be brewed tailored to the local yeast strains and not in emulation of other countries' specialties. America has its hoppy IPAs and West Coast ales, Belgium has its lambics and multi-layered barn brews, Germany has its pilsners and fundamental imperialist tendencies; what does Japan bring to the brewing table? I was beginning to fear that I wouldn't discover that flavor, if it existed at all.

I figured my best chance to discover something unique lay in the hands of the bartender, who I suspected was also the owner. He was quick to interpret my hand gestures and brought me a Swan Lake IPA (925 yen, brewed in Niigata Ken). I ordered the 'Pizza of the Week' as my complementary appetizer.

ballet

The Swan Lake was not the new flavor I was looking for (and would ultimately leave without discovering, if it existed at all), but it was clearly the best beer so far, with a sharp sweetness at the start blossoming to a hoppy, poppy finish. Clearly, my gamble on trusting the 'tender paid off, and I was rewarded with a rich, rounded beer that would probably stand up to most of the American IPAs that I was starting to enjoy. In fairness, I was already pretty inebriated, and I also think it is best to compare beers in alternating swigs. But even disregarding my hope to discover a beer that moved past 'good' into 'great,' I can stand behind my assessment that the Swan Lake is very solid.

Still, while a great beer is always a pleasure to discover, I have to say I was disappointed overall in the craft output of Japan's brewers (at least the four I tried). I guess a beer is a beer is a beer, to an extent, especially if you stick to the four core ingredients, but I still hoped to discover a risk-taking beer that hadn't been - or could not have been - duplicated anywhere else. Maybe that's unfair%97I don't exactly have a lot of experience trying beers brewed outside of the 'core beer' countries.

As a bar, though, Popeye's is not to be missed if you are in Tokyo. The selection of beers is outstanding, an order of magnitude beyond what I've seen anywhere else in the city, and you owe it yourself to try the Japanese craft brews for yourself. I don't put too much stock into others' opinions, to an extent, as my own tastes change more often than I would expect. There may be qualities that I'm not appreciating. And besides, a new beer that is only so-so is always worth drinking.

hai

The bar is impressive, although the bamboo-backed stools leave little room for my big, beautiful ass. And after I paid, the bartender followed up with a sample of a delicious barley wine, Japan-brewed That was a treat%97maybe I should have started with that first?

Ratings (out of ten)

Flavor: 8 (Sweet, almost syrupy start (in a good way), with a POW

block of hops at the finish)

Body: 6 (Solid, but not its strong suit. Still no head)

Aroma: 8 (Bubbling mixes of hops, with the occasional flower coming through)

Smoothness: 7 (Easy to glug, with no sharp edges)

Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)

7:01 PM, Nov 23, 2004
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Transfer

I tranferred the wort-slash-beer from the original, six-gallon carboy, over to the secondary, five-gallon carboy today. Before actually firing up the siphon(which, by the way, is one of the coolest single pieces of all this new equipment), I made sure to get a shot or two.

carboys.jpg

This is the primary fermenter, in which the first stage of fermentation took place. A couple of days ago, the bubbling and head party came to an eventual end, signalling to me that it was time to get busy a-transferrin'. I sanitized the equipment I would be using, with the OneStep powder supplied in the brewing kit, and pulled the airlock off the original carboy. I expected a stench of gameday portopotty proportions to frantically emanate from the glass container, but instead was met was a pleasant odor. Beer! I actually smells like beer! I made something that smells like beer, besides a Friday morning expense report.

siphoning.jpg

I enthusiastically began siphoning the beer from the carboy to the other. I took about twenty pictures, but the above shot is all you get. It was at this time that I realized how much sediment had been created in the running of the primary fermenter. I had no idea what I was in for. The transfer finished cleanly, and I sealed up the secondary fermenter.

fullsecond.jpg

The transfer took about five minutes, and revealed the extent of the sedimentation, as you can see in the picture down into the carboy.

intocarboy.jpg

For your viewing pleasure, I submit this and this, as a reminder of what I had to clean. All things considered, it wasn't really that bad, except to look at.

7:17 PM, Nov 23, 2004
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November Snow

We got a surprise dumping of about 4 inches of snow, last night. While contemplating how I'll get to Peoria today, I went outside and got these pictures for you.

snowydowntown.jpg snowyrail.jpg snowysidewalk.jpg snowystreet.jpg

8:58 AM, Nov 24, 2004

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Iowa Game

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun, yada yada. It was nice to be home, yada yada. I have finally finished the pictures I took a week before Thanksgiving, in Iowa. You can find them on the pictures page.

6:25 PM, Nov 29, 2004

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