Thursday, June 22, 2006

Take off yer pants!

So word is, is that more people are watching the World Cup than watched the NBA playoffs or the, um, golf thingy competition. I would be one of those people. Having played soccer in high school --and lettering in it!--(ok, so Minneapolis North didn't have the best team), I do feel a bit of the connection to soccer. And those guys are HOT. (C'mon, they are.)

But the real story may have happened this past weekend, when thousands of Dutch fans were asked to remove their orange lederhosen before entering the stadium. It would make sense if the attractiveness--or lack thereof--of the pants was the reason they were denied entrance. But no, the accompanying logo of Dutch beer Bavaria on the pants was the problem. But not because it sucks--most Dutch beer sucks--but because, damnit, Budweiser is an official sponsor of the matches (no, not Budweiser Butvar from the Czech Republic, close to Germany, where the games are being held).

For real. Read the story here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Never discount Ole

I totally forgot to toot my horn about the first ballot for DFL endorsement for Governor. You may remember I predicted Hatch 38% Lourey 31% Kelley 27% Savior 4%. And actual numbers?
Hatch 39%
Lourey 31%
Kelley 29%
Savior 0.5%

Obviously, Ole Savior threw me off. I really thought he might pick up some of the votes of people who wanted to sit out on the first ballot. Nope. One vote. Ahh too bad. But he's the only candidate with laminated business cards.

That being said, if you're living in a vacuum, Mike Hatch ended up with the endorsement and Becky Lourey is running in the primary. I'm disappointed with her decision, but not surprised. She's convinced she can win first the primary and then the general. Having worked on the '97 Pappas for Mayor Campaign against Norm Coleman, I understand the blinders you have to put on in that kind of situation. And not to mention she's not the DFL-endorsed candidate. But that being said, if I believed she could beat Pawlenty, I might just support her.

Alas, go Hatch!

Summertime, and the livin' is thirsty

Being that it's summer (officially today), I've been loading up (getting loaded?) on a lot of hefeweizens, white ales and other Belgian-style ales. You can add a wedge of lemon or orange or I suppose grapefruit to some of them, but I prefer mine au naturale.

There are no shortage of 'em hefe's out there. Of late Boulder Brewing and their Sweaty Betty Blonde has been filling my fridge. You'll find Betty a enjoyable pour, of course aligned with the typical banana and clove. While I found last summer's to be more unique, pushing the envelope by adding a few more ounces of hops, each brew in Boulder's Looking Glass series (Mojo, Hazed) brings a reliably good time. Summit Hefeweizen is of course always looked forward to, and this year's batch is no different. I'll be sampling some Paulaner Hefe this evening from one of those mini-kegs, always a standard barer for German style beers. On the lighter side of wheat, I absolutely love Sunrye from Red Hook, and what would summer be without Bell's Oberon?

I don't typically drink many "Belgian" beers, at least in not one sitting, due to their higher alcohol content, It seems thought that no two beers in this "style" are the same. While labeling something "Belgian" is hardly very descriptive, I tend to think of stronger beers, like a saison, or a dubbel, tripel or even a quadruple, a la Chimay. Then you have your bruins (mmm, Tilburgs--fom Holland), and lambics and faros (yuck). Thanks in many ways to Blue Moon (you'll notice the link takes you to Coors...the irony) for bringing the style to the masses in America--especially the white ales.

As a disclosure, I am generally not a fan of American white ales, although I inevitably have them around the house in the summer. My wife's a big fan, so I suppose I can drink a few now and then. Here, twist my arm. Whirlwind Wit from Victory has a nice earthy wheat taste, making it a very drinkable white ale--but these beers are designed to do just that. Even Point Brewery's White Ale is a surprisingly competitive beer, especially on a budget.

Summit entered the local market this year with Scandia, promising "a Scandinavian interpretation of a famous Belgian ale." Most beers from Northern Europe, especially Norway, are lagers. Interesting note about Norwegian beer, according to Wikipedia, "due to government restrictions, beers above 4.75% ABV are only available from licensed premises or the state-run Vinmonopol chain of shops. This rule has had a rather drastic impact upon the market, hence the production of strong beers, yet it is well worth the effort of locating them."

But I digress. While the local favorite's debut white ale is a solid representative to the style--albeit lighter--I expected something different to set it apart from the myriad of white ales that come with summer. No worries though, given Summit's willingness to tweak a beer from year to year, a testament to their commitment to good beer. I wouldn't be surprised to see the something more exciting--or at least different--in the summer of '07.

I can't speak too knowledgeably on Saisons, only enough to know their style and know they're good. With their initial beers, Surly Brewing set the bar pretty high. So when they announced plans to release a Belgian Saison ale as their summer beer, most on-lookers were curious with anticipation. Well, they certainly surpassed all expectations with CynicAle. At only about 6% ABV, its still higher than many American beers, but low enough to allow you drink pint after pint after pint.

But by far the most impressive Belgian-style beers I've tried recently are from Goose Island. Everyone knows Goose Island. I've always viewed them as the Summit of Chicago. Their Honkers Ale put them on the map, and all their brews are consistently good. If you needed any more proof, Maltilda (7% ABV) and Pere Jacques (9% ABV) have shown that Goose Island knows beer. Apparently, the head brewers made a recent visit to Belgium. From a label of Matilda:

"While traveling in Belgium, we visited an abbey that was surrounded by great legends and folklore. We were lucky enough to hear their story and enjoy the great beer they brew. We wanted to share what we'd heard and tasted, so we created Matilda. Matilda is made with a rare yeast that suggests a fruity and spicy flavor. There is complex maltiness balanced with a profuse amount of hops making it a great beer to enjoy with a plate of fresh mussels."

Both of these specialty beers can compete with the likes of Chimay and Duvel Moortgat. If you're willing to pay upwards of $10 or $12 for a 4-pack, then check these beers out.

While pilsners and lagers have their place in the summer time, I prefer to grab a hefe or a wit once in awhile. There are a lot of 'em out there, and I'm obviously missing a lot. Got a favorite? Leave a comment!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mmm, 3.2 beer

Here's a quandary for you: You have two choices of beer to drink: MGD or Summit. Each is 3.2 beer (or "near beer") and each costs $6. However, the MGD is sold in 16-ounce cups and the Summit in 12-ounce cups. Which do you buy? The crappy beer, which you get more of, or the better beer, which you get less of? Take my poll and let me know.

This could never happen, you say. Who would pull this sort of mean trick? Ah, the fine folks at the Metrodome, during all sporting events, that's who. I happened to experience this Sophie's choice at a Twins game a couple weeks ago. What made it even worse is that we had come from Town Hall Brewery, one of the best brew pubs in the Twin Cities, where we had our fill of their amazing cask-conditioned Masala Mamma IPA. I'm told that the new stadium Hennepin County is building will serve real beer, and have a better choice. Maybe I'll go to more games now, although I doubt it.

Just to note, we finished the evening at Alary's in downtown St. Paul. One wouldn't expect a Hooters type of bar to have good beer (or for me to visit a Hooters type of bar), but they did, and I did, and that's all I'll say about it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Referrals and percentages

Seeing that not much has been going on in politics--well that's not entirely true, but nothing that anyone but political junkies would care much about, people like those who read Power Liberal or Minnesota Democrats Exposed, where many of the visitors to Capitol Brew-haha come from, but more on that later--and I'm waiting to try a comparison beer before my next brew review, I thought I'd recognize some of the interesting tracking stats about Capitol Brew-haha (get all that?!).

Clicking on this little icon located on the sidebar to your right (which I couldn't find the what-would-seem-to-be-simple html code for linking the icon to the site, which reiterates the fact that html sucks), gives you a ton of data about Capitol Brew-haha. I thought that knowing how many hits I've had (1476 unique visits) was interesting, until I realized I now knew who was visiting my site and where they were coming from.

Remember that post I had about the Warriors of Oz? While about neither politics nor beer, people goggling "warriors" as part of "warriors of oz" has generated almost nine percent of total search engine results. This is incredible considering that Capitol Brew-haha has had a total of 106 words used to arrive at the site via a search engine ("brew," "haha," "happy," and "gnome" are the next four most popular).

And thank God for Minnesota Democrats Exposed, where I sometimes leave comments and who has been kind enough to link to Capitol Brew-haha (even though much of what they write about is sensational and hyperbolic); 46, or 11.6%, referring hits have come from them. Interesting, since I come from left field, and am linked to on several left-leaning sites. Although I do get a bunch of hits from people who have come to my site via my profile--usually meaning I have left a comment on a site that links to my profile on rather than the actual site. I may never know.

What does all this mean to you? Well nothing. Just some stuff to keep you busy while I'm busy drinking beer and thinking of something profound to write about.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Are you ready to rumble?

Like most people, you are probably not aware that the DFL State Convention is happening this weekend in Rochester, MN. But if you are aware, and want to follow the goings-on, a number of folks are blogging live from the convention. I will not be one of them--no, I will be at my parent's cabin, fishing, drinking, and generall relaxing. Admittedly, I am a little disappointed, as it's the first state convention I've missed in about 10 years. But if I went I'd just end up picking sides and pissing someone off, and I've managed to stay on the fringes of this year's gubernatorial race thus far, so why change that?

So here's that list, if you don't have a life and want to sit in front of your computer all day.

  • U-DFL Blog Updates through out the convention.
  • Minvolved Updates through out the convention.
  • DFLSenate Updates during Friday for the US Senate race. I know it's a gamble, but my money is on Amy Klobuchar.
  • Power Liberal Updates Saturday for the governor's race. My prediction on the first ballot, based on nothing: Hatch 38% Lourey 31% Kelley 27% Savior 4%
  • Minnesota Democrats Exposed Read what the other side thinks about our event. Updates throughout.
  • Minnesota Campaign Report More analysis than blow-by-blow.
  • Mn Publius Updates thoughout.
  • Checks and Balances You have to register, and if you can wade through the typos and bad editing, CnB has pretty good info.

If reading just isn't good enough for you, you can listen live at Minnesota Public Radio.

Know other live bloggin going on? Have fun!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The Happy Gnome has finally updated their website! Props to Truth Brew for putting together a solid site, complete with their wonderful beer list so my friends in KC and NY will finally know what they're missing.

Apparently they're going to offer an RSS feed for their beer list, so you can get an email or phone call the exact minute its updated. Love it!

Ever wonder....

I read somewhere that for a blog to be successful, it should stick to one theme. I’ve tried to do that—politics and beer—but occasionally find the need to go off topic, like about my family, figurines, and music. Here’s another one of those times.

Last night, a buddy and I had a couple beers (see--not entirely off topic) and like we do on so many occasions, put together a list of best albums ever. Of course that can be pretty subjective, and so to build on that subjectivity, below is the Top 10 List of Most Influential Albums on My Musical Tastes. They’re in no particular order, and in some cases where there is maybe a better album by that performer, I’ve listed it parenthetically.

I should also note that there are better albums and artists, I believe, but they weren’t necessarily as influential on my musical tastes as these. For example I feel guilty about not including Wilco or Beastie Boys or Bjork or…well you get the point.

So without further ado……

Led zepLed Zeppelin – IV You remember the first time you heard the opening line to “Black Dog.” Which 14 year old wasn’t influenced by this album? (III or Houses of the Holy or maybe Coda)

Bob MarleyBob Marley – Legend I don’t even own this album anymore, but it was the album which introduced me to BM&W and to a whole genre and way of thinking. Irie mon. (Rasta Man Vibration)

jayhawksThe Jayhawks - Tomorrow the Green Grass TTGG opened up my eyes to alt-country, and expanded my musical world-view to include a little bit of twang. (Hollywood Town Hall)

Run DMCRun DMC - Raising Hell One of the first rap albums I owned. Half of my musical collection is because of the guys with Kangols.

phishPhish – A Picture of Nectar Appropriately, I saw Phish live before buying an album. “Nectar” was the first one I bought, and taught me a lot about freedom in music. (Rift)

PEPublic Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet Taught what it meant to sample and to speak out. I owe much of my political career to PE. (It Takes a Nation of Millions)

furnace roomNeko Case – Furnace Room Lullaby Sure, Neko entered my world a little late, but geez, can this woman belt out a song.

radioheadRadiohead – OK Computer I bought this album on a recommendation, not knowing a thing about Radiohead. Mind shattering.

tribeA Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory Completely changed my outlook on hip-hop, and IMO, changed hip-hop’s outlook.

j and bJazz and Blues – A Mix Tape A friend of mine in high school made a mix tape for me with a great mix of—you guessed it—jazz and blues. It was my formal introduction to the genres, and had as big of an influence on my musical tastes as any store-bought album.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pawlenty: Say one thing, do another

During the last four years, Governor Pawlenty has done a masterful job of positioning himself in the political center, at least in the minds of voters. If you didn't actually look at his record, but focused on his news releases and press conferences, you'd see a governor who is protecting the environment, bringing reform to our public schools, and largely trying to stay out of the fray in terms of hot button issues like gay marriage, abortion and immigration. Never mind that his actual governance paints a different picture.

Which is why it should come as no surprise that in accepting his party's endorsement yesterday, his true right wing extremist colors came shining through. Are these the words of a moderate?:

"I can tell you what your worst nightmare is. It's one of the big-spendin', tax-raisin', abortion-promotin', gay marriage-embracin', more welfare-without-accountability lovin', school reform-resistin', illegal immigration-supportin' Democrats for governor who think Hillary Clinton should be president of the United States."

It's typical I suppose for politicians to run to their base when they're getting endorsed and when they're up for re-election. But Pawlenty's mad dash into the arms of right-wingers in pretty shameless, and hopefully the voters will recognize that the words he spoke during his first term in office and the manner by which he has governed are in contrast with one another.


A personal example of this happened yesterday, in signing the supplemental budget bill and more specifically, his line item veto of a quality improvement and rating system (QIRS) for child care (personal because my boss was the author of this particular provision and I worked on getting it included in the bill). Back in early March, the Governor proposed $10 million to improve transparency and accountability in early childhood programs. A piece of the package improved quality of early childhood programs by "assist[ing] child-care providers in developing curricula based on early learning guidelines."

Well, his overall proposal died in the House of Representatives--controlled by republicans, so you would think he'd have no trouble getting it passed there, right?--and as we worked on the QIRS proposal, never once did anyone from his office voice objections or raise concerns. As we headed into the final days of the session and late-night negotiations, never once did anyone from his office voice objections or raise concerns about it. No, I suppose it's easier to just veto something, rather than have a discussion and work out the problems.

It's especially unfortunate because the QIRS is a good program, developed by parents and providers, and the legislation was simply a pilot program to evaluate its effectiveness. So much for results and accountability. Thanks Tim for your reasonable and thoughtful consideration.

The Star Tribune has a good article on the veto, and you can learn more about the QIRS at Ready 4K's website, one of the organizations who worked on its development.

And so the hypocrisy continues...157 days until we can elect a new governor.