Friday, April 23, 2010

5:00 Fridays: Schneider Mike in the House

My buddy Schneider Mike wrote a fantastic guest post today all about beer. Beer! I love Schneider Mike. I love beer. It's an age 21+ peanut butter and jelly match made in hoppy heaven. I met Mike at Social Media Business Forum last fall. We clicked. Just like that. Not in a smitten way, more of a you-are-so-witty-smart-fun-irreverent-and-cool way. I dig him so much that I've been nagging him to move down here. But I'm trying my best to keep him near me in the city and not in hinterland suburbia like his best pal Greg (whom I also adore!). Anyhow, here's Schneider Mike's take on beer, brewski, beevo, whatever you call it. Cheers!

The first taste of beer that I remember was a Ballantine Ale at 6 years old. Knowing my old man, it was probably sooner, but I remember liking the carbonation and the bite, but not the acidity. I now refer to old school beers like Ballantine and Schlitz as "drinking a battery". There is a metallic electricity and aftertaste that has been all but eliminated from the beer world. He also used to really enjoy Blatz. Blatz was a beer that would haul off and punch you in the mouth every time you dared to sip. I recall trying Goebel, American, Molson, Genny Cream Ale and my grandfather once let me try "generic beer". The bottle was brown. The label only had the word BEER on a yellow background. He came from a different era and so did my old man who still thinks it does not get any better than Ballantine Ale.

Unlike my dad and grandfather who find what they like and usually stick with it, I am really hard to satisfy. My dad would take me to the beverage store with him and I noticed that just like cereals, yogurts and sodas, there were beers I hadn't tried yet and I was curious. I tried a few beers in high school. I first drunk at a graduation party, but still I wasn't satisfied. Michelob Dark couldn't be the best, most interesting thing that the beer world had to offer, could it?

Enter Samuel Adams, who, in 1985 first introduced their Boston Lager and, in my mind, gave us hope that there was more to beer than Budweiser, Miller and Schlitz. I had my first Samuel Adams in college at 19. We had a friend pick us up a couple of six packs for the first ever "good beer night". The idea was concocted when Andy, Karl and I decided that drinking mass quantities of swill like Natural Light and Busch Light Draft was unacceptable, that we did not like drinking to get drunk and that we wanted something more. This was a very good idea and we spent the rest of the evening reveling in the fact that I was right all along about beer and that we had finally discovered the Holy Grail. This was a huge step up from freshman year when we decided that Miller Genuine Draft was the "Nectar of the Gods".

Since then, I've tried many beers in many glasses, casks, bottles and growlers on my show at belchingmonkey.com and wanted to tell you about 4 IPAs that I really enjoy.

Bear Republic Racer 5
(BM rating: B+)
They call it aggressively hopped, but I find this to be incredibly well balanced between orange zest, pine and floral notes. Highly drinkable, but beware of the 7% alcohol by volume.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (BM rating: A-) The pride of Delaware starts with a gentle, floral nose. Sipping reveals surprising java bean complementing bitter flowers and some vanilla.

Great Divide Brewing Company Titan (BM rating: A) This sucker has delicious forest-like notes on the nose. The hoppiest of the bunch (most bitter), the flavor reminds me of sushi that goes nicely with a little green tea, pine and lime zest. The packaging for Great Divide beers is also brilliant.

Avery Brewing Company (BM rating: A) Big lemon and spice nose. Perfect balance of pine and zest with gentle sweetness. When I am drinking this one I usually think "favorite".

What are your favorites?
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Everyday is Earth Day

Earth Day is like Valentine's Day to me. Do we really need a day to go rah rah and ignore the hearty issues the rest of the year? It's like being treacly sweet and clad in pink lace to woo your man one day of the year and check the hubba hubba off your list. I don't get it.

One day does not a habit make.

Everyday is Earth Day in my house. I need a T-shirt that says so.

Bird and Deal are in on it, and I love when they follow Mac Daddy to the trash and bust him tossing junk mail in there and yelp for him to put it in the recycling bin. Nowadays our trash can is practically empty while our recycling bin overflows. I am a nutso, recycling clothing tags and all bits of cardboard that pass through my fingertips. And yes, paper towel and toilet paper rolls can be recycled too, folks! We also save all sorts of "trash" in the art project box to craft into various nifty creations. Egg cartons are a big hit. Ditto for wrapping paper tubes...except that no matter the project at hand, those turn into swords or light sabers.

I happen to love Earth Day and get jazzed by all the attention it gets. Earth Day totally kicks Arbor Day's ass. It's kinda a shame since Arbor Day is all about the trees and all. Earth Day is the only holiday that espouses Love Your Mother. I happen to dig the double entendre.

Oh Earth, how do we love thee. Let me count the ways...

  1. Our garden is planted: lettuce, chard, spinach, cucumbers, beets, green beans, tomatoes, all sorts of peppers, mint, basil, sage, lavender, thyme, cilantro.
  2. We're the last family in North Carolina to turn on our air conditioning and the first to turn it off. Also, it's set at 80. Heat is set at 67 in winter. Mostly we rely on open windows and ceiling fans. And if you visit us in winter, pack extra socks. Pack scantily when traveling here in summer.
  3. We ditched plastic water bottles. Thermoses are all the rage.
  4. Mac Daddy packs lunch for the boys in reusable containers. When we do use plastic bags, we wash them and reuse them. Over and over and over.
  5. When we take walks, we take along garbage bags and pick up trash. And wow is there a heap of junk littering our walkways, waters, and wildlife.
  6. No dog poop is left behind.
  7. Most of what we eat is organic (and local!).
  8. All our appliances are energy efficient. And yes, we explain what that means to our kids.
  9. Hand-me-downs rule. So do thrift stores and girlfriends' closets.
  10. All our cleaning products are green. No bleach and icky fumes that make you go ewwwww...
  11. Even our toothpaste is chemical free.
  12. Deal collects rainwater in sand buckets to water the garden.
  13. We embrace our clovered, creeping charlied "lawn." No ChemLawn here. And no, I'm not fooled by the rebranding to TruGreen.
  14. I don't vacuum often. This saves electricity, right?
  15. I turn my underwear inside out to double the wear. KIDDING! You know the neatnik in my couldn't stand for such a gross violation of grooming.
  16. Rain organic vodka is the bomb.
  17. If I used FourSquare or TriOut or any such location blabbering tool, I'd be the mayor of the public library.
  18. Our cars, while not hybrids or electric, are not behemoths.
  19. Front load washing machine. Double the load, half the energy and water.
  20. We talk to our sons about the environment and our responsibility to it.

My family doesn't take drastic strides to be green. We value our planet more than we value a pristine lawn. That's about values, not sacrifices. Every one of us is a visitor here, and we owe it to our children (and theirs) to leave the earth a better place. Cliches ring true for a reason.

Everyday is Earth Day.

At least it should be.
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