Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nobody beats the biz

Um, ok, waaaay off topic here, but didcha hear the news? Biz Markie is playing a show tonight at the Dinkytowner...FOR FREE. I suppose I could go to Drinking Liberally tonight at the 311 Club, but c'mon, connecting with fellow lefties to talk politics, or witnessing a fore father of hip-hop make a fool of himself? As intrigiuing as rehashing the sex-capades of Sen. Coleman's father is, I think I'll be at the Dinkytowner.

The DJ/MC/human beatbox who brought you such hits as "Just a Friend," "Vapors," and of course who could forget "Pickin Boogers," is back from the underground. The Biz has reclaimed some fame via appearances on several Beasties Boys albums and on the acclaimed Prince Paul-Dan the Automator side project, Handsome Boy Modeling School.

Show starts at 9 p.m., but you better get there early. Did I mention IT'S FREE? (And if it does sell out, check out Keston and Westdal, a great jazz infused electronic duo, at the Kitty Cat Klub just down the street. Also free.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Queen is easy

There's a little brewery in Dallas, WI trying to produce some mighty fine beer. They used to distribute their beer themselves, driving a refridgerated van around the Twin Cities. Maybe they still do, but judging by their availability, I'm guessing times have changed. You can now find them in most fine beer establishments and retailers around the metro area.

Viking Brewery mainly focuses on German-style beers, lots of lagers, but also produces Belgian and English beers, and delves into some experimental stuff, like their Hot Chocolate Stout brewed with cocoa, milk sugar and cayenne pepper. I've only worked through a few of 'em, and they're either a great hit or a slight miss. I recently tried their Weather Top Wheat as I was going through my wheat stage, and found it perfect. Nice balance of sweetness and bitterness, with a touch of honey to balance out the malts.

Tonight I picked up a four pack of Queen Victoria's Secret from 1st Grand Ave liquors. The clerk raved about it, emphasizing how much he loved bitter IPAs, so I was anxious to try it. The open was soft and easy on the nose, and I knew when I poured it that it wasn't going to wallop me over the head with an extra dose of hops. I kept expecting a nice head to form, but it never did. It seems sometimes, with small breweries. they just can't get the carbonation right. What's so hard about adding some more sugar?

The pour made me lower my expectations a little, and so I knew there wouldn't be any magic when I went to taste it. Given that, the Queen turned out to be a light, airy, English-style IPA, with some pleasant citrus undertones, making it an accessible beer, even for the bitter skeptics. The hops are definitely the highlight of the beer, and the simplicity of the elements makes it easy to distinguish the various strains.

Ok, not really, but I grew Fuggles hops for a couple seasons, and it was easy for me to pick them out. Unfortunately, they took over my garage and I had to get rid of them. Tasty fellers tho.

Queen Victoria is a good beer to introduce a friend to IPAs, but this is not really what an IPA snob would want to drink over and over again. I had a reunion with a Snake Dog this past week, which is a solid IPA. In other words, the Queen ain't no Mojo or Devil. Still, they're a small family run brewery, and are worth checking out. You just might get that perfect bottle.

Pawlenty to students: 'I'm sorry'

Tim Pawlenty: "Yeah, we balanced the budget on the backs of college students, and I'm sorry, and I promise I'll fix it if you re-elect me."

Ok, he didn't really say that, but close: "The tuition-level increases were too high. Keep in mind that we had a budget crisis of historic magnitude in 2003. It's now 2006, and we've gotten to the point where we are adding back to higher education, and we will again." Read the full story here.

Hoping that 18-21 year olds are forgetful and disengaged (read: stoned and irresponsible), and won't remember the double-digit tuition increases imposed on them come November, the Governor is now trying to make good and redeem himself. First he proposes free tuition for the top of the class, and now he says it's time to forgive and pay 'em back.

Ok, I say, but what about all the kids and families you booted off health insurance? What's your plan for them, Timmy? Oh right, some of them can't vote. And if they did, they wouldn't be voting for you.

Oh, that Timmy is a sly one. Let's not him get away with this. Make sure students remember who their friends are, make sure they know cute news conferences and empty promises don't pay for a four year degree.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Bitter End is coming

You might think that making a good beer depends on the correct amount of hops (boiled for the desired amount of time) or the particular strain of yeast used, but as any experienced brewer will tell you, it really comes down to the soap.

I brewed my first batch of beer in about a year a couple weeks ago (three weeks and three days ago to be exact--it was during a heat wave, when I love to do nothing more than stand over a boiling pot of wort), and I'd forgotten, as I always do, what a pain in the arse it is to clean and sanitize all the equipment. Luckily I've never experienced that legendary armpit taste or achieved the brewed-with-skunk effect I have heard stories about. I've had my close calls. Once, I had to fetch a spoon which had dropped into a fermenter full of hefeweizen (I called the brew "Eric's Arm"). It was said someone found a hair in their beer, but I believe it had more to do with the fact that the fermenter exploded and sat in the open air for several days. Either way, hair or no hair (or maybe because of the hair), the beer turned out pretty incredible.

But you want to take no chances with cleanliness--in general, a good rule to live by. And now I am faced with a problem of my own creation: a keg which has sat uncleaned for two years. I thought about just skipping the keg and filling bottles, but it's just so much cooler to serve homebrew out of a keg. Besides I am taking the beer to a party in Duluth, and accounting for one large steel keg is a lot easier than saving (and reminding the consumers of the beer to save) their bottles.

Nope, this weekend I will have the pleasure of disassembling and scrubbing my keg system. I never knew a keg had so many parts! Valves, hoses, o-rings, couplers, regulators and of course faucets. Of course this is easier than washing and sanitizing up to 48 bottles. If you're ever in the same predicament as me, Yellowdog has a great website with step-by-step instructions.

The beer, which I am affectionately calling The Bitter End, is a dry-hopped IPA, using four different kinds of hops--two ounces of the ever-popular Cascade no-less. I sampled a bit during its transfer to the secondary fermenter, and it was delicious. Sure, it was warm and flat, but it was mine. I can't wait to share it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Introducing Mantooth

Mantooth is a friend of mine who at this juncture wants to remain anonymous. Therefore I will take the credit or blame for anything great or irresponsible he does. He offered Capitol Brew-haha a nice wrap-up of yesterday's activities.

Posted by Mantooth:

Kudos to Capitol Brewhaha, who got mad props from's " Polinaut" (ne Tom Scheck) for being one of the first to report a significant development in the race for state attorney general - a race that has been nothing but a steady stream of significant developments over the past six days: Sen. Steve Kelley will run for AG.

Kelley joins Solicitor General Lori Swanson and former-Rep. Bill Luther as serious contenders in the DFL primary. Unless, of course, you agree with Nick Coleman and think that Jennifer Mattson's experience on the "field hockey and lacrosse [teams] at Barnard " has adequately prepared her to be our next Attorney General.

Coming off a run for Governor that ended little more than one month ago at the DFL state convention, Kelley should be in the best position to quickly pull together a fully functioning campaign in the sliver of time between now and the Sep. 12 primary. However, Swanson obviously has the support of Mike Hatch which would prove valuable should he choose to divert his attention - and, more importantly, campaign personnel - to the AG race. It's not like Hatch has been spending a lot of time worrying about his own primary challenger. And, one could argue that he can afford to be even more disinterested given that the noise from the AG race is bound to drown out the Lourey campaign for at least the next several weeks.

Bill Luther likely has too much going against him to be a legitimate threat to take the primary: he can't use the left-over cash from his last Congressional bid in this race; his last campaign employed tactics that were way more questionable than those that allow his attempt at a return to public life, and; he seems to be out of step with the current make-up of the DFL - not unlike MIke Freeman, who's decision to continue a Quixotic campaign for Hennepin County Attorney apparently cleared the way for Luther to enter the AG race. While it seems unlikely that Luther will make it to the general election, he could still come out of this a winner if he is able to garner enough support to position himself as a kingmaker. If that is that shoudl come to pass, I suspect Luther would back Swanson as Hatch is more likely to be in a position to repay such a favor quite handsomely come January.

Change is a-comin'

With the increase in traffic to Capitol Brew-haha yesterday, I've been doing some things to the public image of the site which I've been meaning to do for awhile. Mainly small tweaks in things like font size, adding and deleting some code, and individualizing the site with some images, but potentially acquiring some new drinking partners to add their $0.02 on beer and politics (but hopefully not on my life).

So pour a cold one and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Shake up SD 44

So Rep. Ron Latz is running for Steve Kelley's seat (source: Polinaut), and I've just heard from a reliable source that Mike Freiberg, committee administrator for Sen. Leroy Stumpf, is likely to be one of many running for the Latz seat.

Steve Kelley for AG

For once you heard it here first, or at least second*....Steve Kelley is filing for attorney general.

Update: David Lillehaug has thrown his support to Kelley (source: MN Publius), and Bill Luther is also going to file, which means Mike Freeman is out (source: Centristy).

*MN Publius posted the news a couple minutes before me, but we both had our separate sources. I posted the news before seeing Publius' post. They're good guys and work hard for their sources, and I would never take credit for their scoops.

AG replacement

After Matt Entenza's sudden withdrawl from the race for Minnesota Attorney General (his best move of his campaign), the DFL will need to scramble to come up with a good crop of candidates from which to choose an endorsee. The more the merrier at this point, I say.

Just speculation, but how about Steve Kelley for Attorney General? After his classy and expectation-blowing performance at the DFL state convention, he proved he has what it takes to motivate and energize voters. Oh yeah, he's also a good attorney and one of the better thinkers in Minnesota politics.

As long as he doesn''t have any parking tickets or conflicts of interest with his wife....

Monday, July 17, 2006

Music for Life

A little PSA here for those looking to buy some new music and contribute to a great cause.

Once a year, Clare Housing, a Twin Cities non-profit organization for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Twin Cities holds a massive CD sale at Calhoun Square to raise money for their organization. This years' "Music For Life" fundraiser is this weekend, July 21-23, 10am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10am to 7pm on Sunday. The music is very reasonably priced, and while you sometimes have to wade though lots of crap (tribute albums to every band you've ever heard of, best of albums for bands you've never heard of), it's well worth it. Last year I spent about $30 and walked out with most of Pearl Jam's catalog, a bunch of Uncle Tupelo and the current releases from the Gorillaz and White Stripes.

If you can't go, but want to contribute something, you can donate those CDs (and DVDs, LPs, cassettes, VHS, video games, etc.) that you never use anymore. Contact Lee Haugee (my mom) at or 612.236.9527 for more information, for pick-up of larger donations or to volunteer.


I forgot to mention that there will be live music at the event on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hope '06

When I walked into room 125 at the Capitol and the site of Ford Bell's U.S. Senate withdrawl announcement today, filled with soon-to-be-unemployed campaign staffers and I'm sure some loyal volunteers, there was indeed a sense of, oh, longing? Sadness? Even a little hope maybe?

Hope not so much for the things that Mr. Bell stood for--I mean, what good progressive doesn't think the troops should get out of Iraq or that the government should implement a single-payer health care system? Ok, we might differ on when the troops should leave the Middle East, or which populations exactly will be eligible for health care, but generally speaking we're on the same page.

No, hope because it increases Amy Klobuchar's chances of winning. And more importantly, hope that the U.S. Senate will fall into Democratic hands. And hope that the Democrats will step strongly into their leadership role and set a real policy goal for Iraq, begin a renewed discussion about health care, and maybe even hold impeachment hearings.

Agree or disagree with Klobuchar on the nuances of her positions compared to Bell, she is going to be a tough opponent and a solid U.S. Senator--exactly what Minnesota and our country needs. Hope.

Now, someone needs to have a discussion with Becky Lourey....

Monday, July 10, 2006

More Music

I've *finally* updated my "Current Musical Endeavors." Check it out on the side bar to your right. Leave comments (if you have 'em) here.

CAKE to headline Summit Big Brew

That's right. CAKE is going to headline Summit's Big Brew festival.

In other Summit news....A quick update on the Summit ESB...In addition to it being on tap at the Happy Gnome (which just updated their tap list--thanks to MNBeer for the heads-up), it's also showing up at numerous other locales around town. Summit was kind enough to share with me some of their distribution list for the ESB.

Summit also had this to say: "This beer’s draft presence will be somewhat limited. Our production is skewed heavily towards bottled beer, not draft." Ah well.

And this: "As for the Big Brew, the headlining musical act will be CAKE. Other bands include Soul Asylum, the Suburbs, Tapes n' Tapes, Richard Thompson, The Alarmists and Big George Jackson and others. Tickets will go on sale in August 7 for the event. "


Friday, July 07, 2006

Where have all the candidates gone?

Say there's a huge event that attracts Minnesotans from all over the state. There's free music, good albeit overpriced food and fireworks every night. Wouldn't you think this would be a great opportunity for candidates for statewide office to, at the very least, have a couple volunteers in t-shirts roaming the grounds?

My three-and-a-half year old son and I went to the Taste of Minnesota last Monday to see Soul Asylum. (Which he loved. He wanted to get "closer to the players," so we did. He lasted about 3 songs before he complained about the noise level, and in the end, he was more content to stand in the back and show off his dance moves.) We were there from about 5:30pm until after the fireworks, and didn't see a hint of political activity. I suppose that's opportune phone time, but geez, send a person through the crowd with stickers every couple hours. Klobuchar and Kennedy don't have that great of name ID yet, so every bit helps, right?

On the flip side, if it weren't for the experience of bringing my son to his first rock concert, I never would have gone. The Taste is loud, dirty and poorly laid out. Food is overpriced, the vendors suck, and with a few exceptions, the music leaves a lot to be desired (really, the only reason I'll ever go again). I miss the days when it was on the state Capitol grounds. I guess it's understandable why a campaign volunteer wouldn't want to be there, but it seems like a pretty easy way to get a little recognition.

We'll have to wait until the next big state event--the Fair--to see how well-organized the campaigns are.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

One for the Family

As some of you know, I have extended family overseas. From time to time, I post pics of my incredibly gorgeous boys for them to see. If you came to read about beer or politics, just scroll down to read the latest, or wait a couple days for us to resume regular programming. Or, you can just enjoy these photos like the rest of us.....

Dylan doesn't always share so well with Adrian.

A nice blankie solves most of the days' problems.

With Dylan's help, we finished the job five minutes ahead of schedule! Shout out to WW for use of the truck.

The first Saints game in 10 years I've been too that we've won. I need to bring the boys to more of 'em. Thanks D for the tix.


A natural.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Another Score for Summit

While this July 4th marks 230 years of our country's independence from overlords subjecting their views and will on the citizenry--not much has changed--this July also gives cause to celebrate 20 years since the first keg of Summit beer was sold.

Like many great occasions, this one snuck up on me. I remember looking forward to it some months ago, but was pleasantly surprised when someone offered me one of their commemorative brews at a party a few days ago.

ESB, or Extra Special (or Strong) Bitter for the uninitiated, is an English style beer, typically clocking in at about 6% ABV. The trick to an ESB is ensuring a nice balance between hops and malts--think a cross between an American ale and a bock. If I was, er, "trapped" on a tropical island somewhere and had to pick one style of beer to have it would be ESB. Needless to say, I was really excited to learn the 20th anniversary beer from Summit was going to be an ESB.

My plan was to open a bottle and write a review of the beer, from the initial opening, describing the smell and color of the pour, the taste and "mouthfeel," the way it slid down my throat and the aftertaste. But alas the beer I opened (and the one after that) are already gone. I'd open a third, but I do have to work tomorrow, and me thinks the Summit ESB is a tad over 6% ABV.

But damn, are they drinkable. I knew it would be so after the first pour, smelling the malts mix with plenty of hops (fuggle?). I was relieved that the mineral aftertaste quickly dissipated and I found myself taking another sip. That pursued balance found in great ESBs makes it a clever girl--smooth and confident, inviting and longing, especially knowing, at least at this point, that she won't be around for very long. And so she hits you hard, knocks you on your ass after few rounds, and knows you won't forget her when she's gone.

Mark your calendars for September 30, 2006, when Summit celebrates their 20th with the Big Brew at Harriet Island in St. Paul.