Mixing Things Up!

I popped by Bier Garden last week with a friend after we had dinner. I ordered Mother Earth’s Cali Creamin’, which is a smooth, nutty, ale with vanilla tones. She ordered a Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Our bartender filled our pints low by an inch. Of course, my gut reaction normally would be, sacrilege! But I come here frequently enough to know better. Our bartender then presented a small sampler of the two of these beers, mixed together. He stated that if we so desired, he would fill the rest of each of our beers up with the other one. If we did not like the mix, he would fill the rest of the beers up normally.

We both decided to do so. The Cali Creamin’ is great, but I do have it all the time, and it was nice to have a change. Topping it off with the peanut butter milk stout gave it a nice, unique boost of flavor without turning the whole beer into a stout. Plus, I’m not the biggest fan of peanut butter, so that little dash was perfect for me.

My friend’s beer was equally good, though hers obviously contained a higher ratio of the stout. The Cali Creamin’ toned it down a bit and gave it a softer, even creamier finish.

Well played, bartender!

Deschutes Inversion IPA

Deschutes, located in Bend, Oregon, is one of my favorite breweries. They have a variety of great beers, and a number of delicious IPAs, but one I particularly enjoy is the Inversion IPA. This beer is properly bitter, floral, hoppy, and satisfying. Its color can hardly be described as pale, as it’s almost an amber color, but you can’t hold that against it. If drinking during the day, be sure to listen to Sprawl II and Samba de Bencao while imbibing. If drinking at night, Voodoo Child and Stylo.

This is the kind of beer that makes you happy as you drink it. Happier when you drink another. Unfortunately, it makes you a little less happy when you wake up the next morning after having 6 or so.

Another great Deschutes beer is Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Pale ales usually bore me, but this one is notable. It’s citrusy, floral, easy, smooth, and is perfect for hanging out in the backyard in summertime. Its flavors are distinct and confident, but not as arrogant as an IPA. In comparison, some of the hoppier, heavier IPAs can get to be a bit much on a hotter summer day, as they turn warm quickly and take on a dull, syrupy texture.

Hillcrest Brewing

Haven’t been in these parts of town in a while, but stopped by here for a drink recently. “Just the Hop” IPA was enjoyable, though probably not as hoppy as I would prefer. It was a reasonable IPA, but it did not blow me away. I didn’t try the “Banana Hammock,” Scotch Ale, but the opinion on that was that although it was expected to taste strong at 9%, the taste of the alcohol was a little too prominent.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take some time and try their other sexy delights –  “Crotch Rocket,” “Hop Sucker,” and “Perle Necklace.” Service was very friendly here, and they have some outdoor patio seating, perfect in sunny weather.

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Illegal Drinking

The United States has some of the harshest drinking laws in the world, though it claims to be a bastion of “freedom.” When I was in Barcelona, we regularly would pay 5 Euros for a bottle of wine and drink it at a little snack shack in the sand. In the thick humidity of Taipei, it was always nice to cool off at a well-air-conditioned 7-11, buy a Sapporo, and drink it on the street, or drink a Taiwan beer while hanging out in night markets.

In Thailand and Bali, one of the greatest joys was to sip on a cold lager while ocean-gazing. In Prague, we bought some beers at a sidewalk cafe, asked to take them to go, and inquired as to whether it was legal to drink in the streets. The guy laughed at us and said, “Of course. This isn’t the United States!”

Where I live in the U.S., you can’t legally drink in parks or beaches, because the U.S. is a fucking police state. Of course, not being able to drink beer where you want in public is one of the least problematic aspects of police states, but still.

Fuck it. You should still do it. Hide homemade white sangria in your beach bag and drink it on the sand on Memorial Day Weekend, as the cops patrol up and down every hour eyeing people for law-breaking behavior. Bring a flask with you to parks just in case you get bored. Find an area of low visibility in a nearby park and bring wine in your picnic basket. Pack beers into your Camelpak while hiking and reward yourself at the summit. Sneak Stone Cali-Belgique into a playground at midnight with your friends and drink it on the picnic benches. Be sure to bring glasses too, because it is undignified to drink such good beer straight out of the bottle.

Cheers for beers, because life is more fun this way.



Giving Due Credit to Stone

As if Stone needs my support! It doesn’t, but I’m posting this because Stone is such a longstanding pro, that I take it for granted at times. I’m always on the hunt for new IPAs, new beers, and new tastes, and I forget I can never go wrong with a good solid Stone IPA. Sometimes I go months without touching any kind of Stone, until I realize I haven’t been all that satisfied, and I remember that Stone IPA’s fresh, consistent taste is always a relief after a long day at work. Or after any type of day involving any work. Or any day period – as pictured above, it is quite pleasurable sipped out of its own logo glass, with a canyon view, on a Sunday afternoon. A big plus is that you can get cases of the IPA or regular pale ale at Costco around here for $28, which is a steal.

I’ll resort to the pale ale when they don’t have any other types of Stone on tap, but as far as the easier Stone beers go, Levitation (an amber) is one of my faves, though I typically am not the biggest fan of ambers. And then, of course, there’s the Arrogant Bastard. Arrogant Bastard is an American strong ale that is as awesome as it sounds. It is an amazing, punch-you-in-the-face kind of beer. Beer Advocate considers it outstanding.

It surely is outstanding, and it isn’t cheap either. There used to be a local dive around these parts that served $7 pitchers of any beer until 10:00 p.m. everyday, including Arrogant Bastard (for reals!). At $7 a pitcher, it literally was cheaper than the grocery store. You better believe we abused that deal on many an occasion (boy those were always fun nights). And you won’t be surprised to hear that they no longer offer that deal, which was pretty much a tragedy for me. But it’s OK; I took advantage of it for a good year or so. Even though I can’t get cheap ass Arrogant Bastard, I still have this shirt –


Woah, get your mind out of the gutter! The shirt’s referring to beer… aged in oaked barrels. Duh.

Mother Earth, Julian Casablancas

I have always liked The Strokes. But Julian Casablanca’s solo album, Phrazes for the Young changed the experience of listening to The Strokes a bit for me. Casablancas is versatile, and his style seems to vary wildly, from folksy to poppy to electronic, but underlying all of his songs is a very distinct nostalgia. After Phrazes for the Young, Casablanca’s innate nostalgia seems to be constantly trying to claw itself out through some of those Strokes songs, barely able to make it to the surface for air every now and then. Like unfinished business.

This is relevant to beer, I promise. I was at Mother Earth last night for a networking thing, and couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted to drink, because this –


They have a pretty good selection of solid beers, so I got a flight. Their flights are no joke, by the way – six 6-ounce tasters.

And now, I’m going to attempt to pair beers with music.

When at Mother Earth, I always like to start with the Cali Creamin’, a vanilla cream ale that sounds boring, but has surprising strength and taste at 5.2%. Its smooth, nutty, richness pairs well with Old Hollywood, glamorous, black and white, zoning out most of the night, where we end up imitating all the ones that we once were hating, men as clumsy violent fools, women a delicate pool of flowers and cobras.

Once you’ve warmed up, you can try a little Kismet IPA. It’s got the expected hoppiness of an IPA, which is a must. It has an abv of 7.2%, and is not quite as a deep and thick as some really stellar IPAs like West Coast or Sculpin, but has a sadder, darker edge compared to Mother Earth’s Boo Koo Mosaic IPA. This goes nicely with Tourist:

Feel like a tourist out in the country
Once this whole world was all countryside
Feel like a tourist in the big city
Soon I will simply evaporate

And when you’re done being a little edgy, it’s time to head over to Ludlow Street:

Everything seems to go wrong when I start drinking,
Everything seemed to go my way last night.
Everything seems so wrong to me this morning,
I know things’ll be brighter later tonight.

Have that one with Mother Earth’s Sin Tax imperial peanut butter stout. For a stout, it’s surprisingly light. You might love that, or you might resent it, but either way, it’s smooth, light, yet no joke with an abv of 8.1%. It has a generous spirit, and you can contemplate a raging night life, fading history, and the invasion of yuppies while you drink it.

I don’t have a Mother Earth beer to pair with the 4 Chords of the Apocalypse, but I love it; it’s beautiful.

Texas Abortion Laws Force Abortion Clinics to Close, Liberals and Conservatives Both to Blame

By definition, freedom is the is the power to determine action without restraint; alternatively, it is the exemption from external control, interference, or regulation. The definition itself is straightforward, yet its application in politics is anything but. Conservatives want to protect people with oppressive laws and militaristic police from “the illegals,” “the terrorists,” the Muslims, drugs, and other various bogeymen, but feign a concern for “freedom” when it comes to economic issues. Liberals might not be quite as rabid about immigrants, Muslims, or drugs, but want to protect people nanny-state style, with equally burdensome laws from banning cigarettes/sodas/fatty foods, to forcing people to buy health insurance, while paying lip service to social freedoms.

In other words, everyone wants to pick and choose the freedoms they support, which is ultimately an untenable position.

Conservatives, who cheer on laws regulating sodomy, gay marriage, drugs, among other things that are no one else’s damn business, should not be surprised (yet for some reason, always are) when they find the government has inflated to an unmanageable size, and has continually extended its reaches into healthcare, private businesses, and other aspects of peoples’ private lives.

Liberals, who cheer on high rates of taxation, ostensibly for the purpose of the “greater good” and “general welfare,” should not be surprised (yet for some reason, always are), when they find their taxes have been spent on endless war, the most bloated military on the face of the planet, militarized police, and a growing police state.

The most recent example would be the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling on a Texas law, which severely restricts abortion clinics. One key provision of the law requires that physicians performing abortions have hospital admitting privileges. This aspect of the law was upheld by the 5th Circuit last week (see here). This undoubtedly will limit access and availability of abortions across Texas. But wait, there’s more!

Another provision of the law, already in effect, mandates that abortions be performed in facilities equivalent to an ambulatory surgical center (see here and here). This has resulted in the closing of about half of the abortion clinics across the state of Texas, which should be unsurprising (see here).

Obviously, one motivation for the law was to limit abortions. However, that was not the stated intent. Lauren Bean, of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, explained, “This decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women” (see here). Sound familiar, liberals?

When one exchanges a few verbs and nouns, it becomes clear that this law, designed for “protecting the health and safety” of Texas women, is really identical to the countless other laws, regulations, and restrictions in existence in every other area of healthcare.

The law requires that every abortion (which is a surgical procedure) be performed in a facility licensed as an ambulatory surgical clinic. Every doctor performing an abortion should also have hospital admitting privileges. Arguably, the law sounds reasonable on its face. Why shouldn’t a doctor performing a surgical procedure do so in a licensed ambulatory surgical center (which isn’t even a full-fledged surgical facility)? And why shouldn’t such a doctor have hospital admitting privileges for performing surgery? Surely, this will be a reasonable form of quality control and protect women from “dangerous” abortions. In fact, it’s very similar to any of the following laws:

  • Every prescription for medication X must be written by a licensed physician
  • Every procedure X must be performed by a provider licensed to do X
  • Every procedure X must be performed at a hospital licensed to provide X
  • Every medication X must be purchased only at dispensary/facility with permissible licenses to do so
  • Every device X for disease Y must be tested by the FDA under A,B,C requirements before being made available to any member of the public

I doubt most liberals have a real problem with any of the above, because certainly, those laws were passed to “protect” the idiot populace from greedy doctors, Big Pharma, scheming hospitals, and other horrible capitalists, and are completely justified. In the absence of those regulations, doctors will be colluding with Big Pharma to prescribe cyanide for profit, and hospitals will be killing patients, because, profits and stuff!

It would behoove liberals to acknowledge that for the most part, protecting people from their own choices does far more harm than good. Just as Texas’ recent abortion laws are designed to “protect” women from from a host of imagined dangers, but severely limit access to abortion, and indisputably increase the costs thereof, so do the the myriad of healthcare regulations already in place similarly decrease access, and increase prices in every other field of healthcare.

Abortion clinics are closing their doors across Texas, which will create monumental obstacles for women seeking needed services. Conservatives are certainly to blame, but liberals are not entirely blameless either. After all, they usually support all kinds of government regulations and interventions in a wide range of other healthcare issues. This particular intervention and restriction upon abortion is just one of many logical consequences of such support.

I’m not about to limit my beef to liberals, though. Stay tuned for the inevitable circumstance wherein conservatives find that their love of big government similarly has come back to bite them in the ass.

Colombian Beer

Just got back from Colombia. It was often 90+ degrees, with high humidity, so we ended up drinking a lot of lagers/light/yellow beers. The two most popular there are Club Colombia and Aguila. Aguila is comparable to Bud Light. Basically, undrinkable (in my humble opinion). Club Colombia is similar to a Modelo, and I rather grew to like it. Both these beers were cheap as hell. Street vendors were selling Club Colombia for around $3,000 COP (around $1.50). Aguila tended to be cheaper. It was around the equivalent of $1.50 at bars, while the Club would go for around $2.00 or $2.50 (definitely worth the extra $.50 to get the Club).

However, we did come across a couple of craft beer companies, including Apostol and Bogota Beer Company (BBC). Apostol, in my opinion, had the better brews. The Dubbel (below, left), got the Belgian flavors right. The Bock (below, right), was a black-lager type beer. It was good for the weather – dark and flavorful enough, but not too heavy. It still had a nice, light texture.

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Bogota Beer Company had the better marketing. Their beers have cute labels, featuring a vintage woodie car, and their beers have a trendy feel, if that makes any sense. We popped by the BBC restaurant/bar in Cartagena and had a couple of beers. Their style (the decor, labels, packaging, not the beer itself) is reminiscent of Karl Strauss. The beers there were a bit bland for me. I had the Monserrate Roja, a red beer, which was really on the light side of reds. The Chapinero Porter (see featured picture at the very top) was probably their best beer, but even that was really on the light or even watery side. Their menu featured some exciting-sounding seasonals, including an IPA, but they did not have them available when we visited.

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The Media’s Distortion of the English Language and its Role in Absolving Police of Heinous Crimes

The American concept of justice has fallen so far that police are no longer recognized as individuals having the volitional capacity to act with corresponding consequences; instead their crimes are treated as forces of nature or acts of god.

When ordinary people harm or kill others, it is typically viewed as what it is, regardless of whether the aggressor was acting in the course of employment. Doctors who recklessly injure patients are sued and suffer injured reputations. Taxi drivers and truckers are held to account if they drive carelessly and cause unjustified injuries. Employment aside, people who attack others without just cause are duly considered to be criminals. Most people in society are deemed negligent individuals and face appropriate recourse when they engage in heedless behavior that results in injuries to others.

Not so with the police. When police are careless, negligent, reckless, or even malicious – they are viewed as blameless, because in the United States, it has become impossible to blame the police. This makes perfect sense when you perceive that a great proportion of Americans essentially view the police as gods who can do no wrong. Just as it is not possible to cannot cast moral blame or “personal” responsibility upon nature or god, so has it become with American police.

Last week, Miami police stormed a house in a SWAT raid and injured two children, who were left bloodied and bruised. The family claims the police raided the wrong house. Police and the media claim that in the chaos of the raid, a child “ran into an officers weapons” [sic]. More here and here. Take note: the police did not create chaos by dangerously barging into the wrong house and injuring children. It was during “the chaos of the raid,” which magically appeared on its own, that a child injured himself, by running into weapons.

Last year, Miami Beach police tasered a teenager, Israel Hernandez-Llach, who died as a result. The news carefully avoided the indisputable fact that a cop killed the teenager for fleeing the scene of vandalism, and artfully suggested that the teenager died of “heart failure” from what authorities called the “energy device discharge.” Again – the cop did not shoot a taser at a teenager and kill him – it was the “energy device discharge” combined with “heart failure” that caused his untimely death.

Jose Paulino Jr. was another victim of taser-happy police recently. Upon his death, police again deflected blame from themselves, and the media dutifully parroted the excuses. David Beohm, a Pennsylvania State Police Spokesman mused, “I don’t know if he went into cardiac arrest or what happened…was he under the influence of something?  What was going on with him that could create this condition?”

Allen Kephart was tasered to death over a petty traffic dispute. No criminal charges were filed against police, as Kephart’s death was attributed to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other pre-existing health conditions. (More here and here).

Several years ago, Eurie Stamps, a beloved grandfather of 12, was tragically shot by the Framingham, MA SWAT Team in a botched drug raid. Again, the statement from police at that time obfuscated any mention of individual action and personal responsibility, claiming Mr. Stamps was “fatally struck by a bullet, which was discharged from a SWAT officer’s rifle.” Who knew bullets could discharge on their own?

Similarly, when 7-year-old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed in another botched SWAT raid, it was certainly not the  case that the officer shot the child. Predictably, what happened was, “the officer’s weapon discharged one round, which….struck…Aiyana Stanley Jones in the neck/head area.” (More here). Of course. How obvious it should have been – people don’t kill people; guns send bullets flying on their own.

When it comes to reporting on most criminal activity, English grammar is pretty straightforward for the media:

Example A: The murderer[noun – a perpetrator] killed[verb – criminal activity] the child[noun – victim].
Example B: The criminal[noun – a perpetrator] tasered[verb – criminal activity] the victim[noun– victim].
Alternatively, another common usage is to use the passive voice, to emphasize that something horrific was done to the victim:
Example C: The grandfather[noun – victim] was shot[verb in passive voice – criminal activity] by the villain[noun – a perpetrator].

When it comes to police, the media exhibits a convenient and total disregard for traditional use of English. There are no direct actors, no humans to hold accountable, only inanimate objects. There are tales of bullets that discharge on their own, guns that fire for no reason, tasers that shoot themselves, and of course, multitudes of vague health conditions victims may have had which contributed to their own deaths.

This distortion of language should be transparent and abhorrent to anyone who is paying attention. Unfortunately, it seems that no one is.

If you repeat a lie enough times, people will begin to believe it. So it is with the American public. The media has repeated time and time again that police are never responsible, and never can be responsible, because they are not to be judged as individuals like the rest of us. They are of a higher order, and their actions are equivalent to forces of nature and acts of god. It’s been said enough times, and Americans now believe it.

Culture Brewing IPA

I do love writing about individual freedoms and social issues, but if there’s anything I love even more, it’s beer. On Friday, I found out that a judge reversed her tentative ruling against my clients in a case after hearing my oral argument, and granted my Motion for Summary Judgment as to all issues, effectively dismissing my clients out of a lawsuit that has dragged on for years. If you’re not a lawyer this is gibberish to you and you don’t care. But anyway, to celebrate, my boss shut down the office early, and we went to go have some beers. I started with a Mother Earth Cali Creamin’, which is a wonderful, smooth, nutty ale that is great for any occasion, but I didn’t take a picture of it. My next beer was a Culture Brewing IPA. I’ve actually been to Culture several times before, and they have a few IPAs, but I forget if the menu specified which one this was (If I had to guess I’d say it was probably the El Dorado). It was 5.5% and unfortunately, not hoppy enough for me. The 5.5% should have been a clue for me, but I thought I’d start the evening with lighter IPAs. It was a pretty beer, but it was a little boring. I like it when the IPAs punch you in the face with hops. Like Greenflash Westcoast IPA, or Sculpin by Ballast Point. Next time I’ll have to remember to stick to their double IPA. Culture also makes a good black IPA as well.