An Iowa IPA

Every visit back to Iowa, the numbers of craft beers and spirits being made in the state never fails to impress.

Millstream still makes my favorite IPA, a wonderful play on the name but not on my affinity for hoppy beer. A visit to their brewery in Amana introduced me to their pilsner and stout, but it’s the Iowa Pale Ale that keeps me coming back. A wonderful play on the name for my favorite style of beer from my home state.

An evening at the Molson Brewery for Brew 2.0

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted about Brew 2.0, an event that was being held at the Molson Brewery in Vancouver that was to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the operation. Even better, this little shindig was being put on for social media folks like myself, plus a lot of familiar and not so familiar faces in the tech community in this city.

Yah beer!

The concept for the night was to invite a bunch of bloggers down to be apart of this celebration, try their beer, have some amazing food, learn more about the people behind the brewery, get a tour of the facility, and basically be treated to a rather amazing evening. That suites Rebecca and I just fine.

Brew 2.0

Brew 2.0

Brew 2.0

All in all, I was immensely impressed by not only the event, but my overall opinion of Molson has changed quite a bit. Of course, they were generous hosts, but even Geoff Molson, the great-great-great-great-grandson of founder John Molson[wiki], was there to give us a great history of the brewery in Vancouver, and good friend David Drucker was there to capture his introductory speech on video.

Probably the best part of the night was when Duane said to Geoff Molson, “You make a pretty good beer, but can you do a keg stand?” And Geoff honestly answered yes, but this remains to be seen.

Gord Rickards pouring beer for us

The other treat of the evening was to have Gord Rickards, co-creator of Rickard’s various brews, pouring my Rickard’s Red from the tap. After spending $7-$9 per single cup of beer at Canucks games, it doesn’t seem so bad after meeting the guy and drinking his beer for free. He also gave us a wonderful tutorial on the basic ingredients that go in the various beers that they make there, even letting us sample various grains that they use.

When we took a tour of the cannery floor, I asked Gord if he ever gets tired of seeing his beer put into cans with his name on it. He didn’t blink when he said no, and I didn’t doubt that answer before I even asked it. Shortly thereafter, they pulled about 8 cans off the line before they went through the pasteurization process. We went upstairs and had Rickard’s Red that was two minutes old, unpasteurized. They were cold and very, very tasty.

Micro-brews will always have a special place in anyone’s heart (and liver) who enjoys beer, but an evening like this helps you to understand that even the macro-brew folks are working just as hard to produce great beer. The next time you turn your nose up at a Molson Canadian could be a missed opportunity of having something that isn’t as bad as you think. Additionally, the Canadian we were given was the freshest, tastiest brew that any of us had ever sampled. Maybe it’s proximity, but the truth is that it was good.

The 50th Anniversary Gold Standard is something that will not go into production as much as brewed especially for marking the occasion. Trying it out, I can say that it’s really good. Creamy, kinda like an IPA, but that’s the best I can describe it.

I can’t say enough good things about the folks at Molson. Every aspect of the night exceed expectations, and it continued the next day when each attendee had a case of Rickard’s delivered to them. Since Rebecca was invited in addition to myself, we got two. Trump card once again, Molson. Thank you!

See more reaction around the blogosphere from Raul, Tris, Tanya, Arieanna, Ryan, and the Molson Community Blog. More photos can be seen in the Flickr set.

One of the best things about summer

I know that it’s only sugar, water, lemons, and ice, and they cost $4, sometimes even more depending on the money swindling location and/or event that you are at. Still, there is nothing better than a lemonade like this on a hot, sunny, summer day.

Our coffee maker has decided to not make coffee

Actually, the element has crapped out. It happened a while ago. I put the grounds and water in it, hit the switch, and it wasn’t doing anything nearly thirty minutes later. We had a french press, so I decided to worry about it later and default onto our other alternative.

Notice that I said “had” in referring to the french press. Doing dishes the other morning, it fell out of the strainer where I had put it to dry. I heard it hit the counter when I turned away. It was nice to pretend that I didn’t hear it crack, but it was neatly held together in three various pieces by the metal bindings around it.

This morning, I got a screw driver and pulled apart the coffee maker to see what I could find out. Aside from being amazed at how very little goes into the technology of our particular maker, some burnt spots on the wiring under the element was enough to alert me to potential problems. Still, I tried it out to see if it worked anyway. Sure enough, the element didn’t even get lukewarm. I could try to replace the part, but it’s much easier to just say, “it broke!”

Rebecca took the ghetto engineering up a notch after that. Boiled water, a strainer, and a coffee filter stuffed inside of that, we had some tediously made, delicious coffee. It worked fairly well, but the waiting is a little painful.

A second attempt proved a little better. Take away the paper filter from before and the process was much quicker. There was a little bit of grit, but not too bad. A second straining proved to make it just right in terms of consistency.

We just have to replace either of the two broken appliances, but this works when in a pinch. I Googled various other possibilities, but Rebecca took to the experiment undaunted. We could just have done tea instead, but that would have been boring.

And the U.S. won the bronze

Very Canadian
I like to add that tidbit about the U.S. winning the bronze medal round against Sweden this morning because neither of their countries seem to care(World Junior Ice Hockey Championships[wiki]). There was probably a very slim chance of catching the game in the states, and there wasn’t much of a crowd supporting team Sweden in their home country. Lack of U.S. coverage and support is one thing, but Sweden? Come on. The core of the Canucks is made of guys from there.

Watching the young guys play is amazing. Truly the future of hockey to come. You just know that with the new rules in the NHL and the way these guys play in this tournament, the game will just keep getting faster and faster.

The other thing is, there is this new dynasty of hockey brothers in the game. I don’t think there are anymore Staals left, and little Tom Pyatt certainly shows some promise. I can’t be too sure about the boys from the states, but only three of those players don’t have pro statuses with the NHL listed yet. Still, not too many people there care.

Canada 4, Russia 2. Good game. I was hoping for a battle, and Russia fought hard to come back. Just wasn’t enough gas left in the tank to combat Canada’s onslaught. Combine this with Tim Ho coffee in my hand at 10:30 in the morning. Doesn’t get much more north of the 49th than that.

Hello Oscar

OscarThis is Oscar. He’s a yucca[wiki] plant, and the closest thing we have to a pet. Our building frowns upon anything other than bipeds of the human variety. He and I hang out a lot during the day. I wish I could say that I talk to him and stuff, but that’s simply not true. Over the past few months, his health kind of went downhill.

I’ve been feeding him coffee grounds lately, and he seems to really like it. Either the grounds are good for his root system or else he’s become addicted to caffeine. I’m hardly a botanist, but you can’t argue with the results. Three new leaves all started sprouting around the same time that we made the change. Being the middle of winter in Vancouver, that’s pretty good for a plant that thrives in arid climates.

What I do know is that as a kid, my dad always had me put coffee grounds out in the lawn to feed the worms. Then we’d go out at night, harvest a bunch, and take them fishing with us. It would be creepy is we suddenly had huge earth worms growing in Oscar’s pot.

Starbucks is going to podcast

I kind of understand the angle they are going for, but for the love of god, why?

Regardless of whether you regard Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX)as an icon of everything good in the corporate world or a harbringer of the apocolaypse, we all have to agree that the coffee company is quite innovative. It comes as no surprise, then, that Starbucks is set to launch a podcast series.

The coffee retailer is rolling out a new “Coffee Conversations” program where the company will provide downloadbable audio on its web site. Starbucks said that the podcasts will cover coffee topics, including home-brewing, specialty coffee, and pairing coffee with foods. [bizpodcasting]

I can’t even joke to say that I’m excited for this. Yes, the idea is innovative. More businesses should consider doing ventures like this to help promote themselves and/or their product.

On the other hand, “coffee topics” by the largest, coffee corporation in the world is another thing. They’ll be able to tell you the best thing you can buy from the display case full of pastries that go along with their menu of drinks. That’s called a “target-cast”; a podcast that is intended to sell you a product.

You can’t throw a brick in downtown Vancouver without hitting a Starbucks. Now you can listen to the podcast while you do it.

Guinness is an acquired taste

And I have happily acquired it. This might seem sad to some, but it’s taken me up until yesterday that I have my first, real taste of Guinness. It was my father-in-law who has opened my eyes up to this new experience. I think that’s the only way to sum up this first, and far from the last, chance. They say that it’s good for you, too. I say, bonus!

For years now, I’ve been less than a fan of beer. That whole time, people have told me about the differences between good and bad brews. I’ve never doubted this, and there are times where I have backed down from my stance. More than likely, it was when the price was right, meaning free. Quality, on the other hand, has long been lacking.

Every so often, I would feel nostalgic for my days in Japan, grab some spicy tuna rolls, and pick up a liter of Sapporo after a long day at the radio station. Now I live within walking distances of numerous sushi bars with more Asian brews that I probably still don’t know exist. I can’t fail to mention the soft spot that Asahi has in my heart, and that other brand that had kanji all over it except for the one phrase in english, “Good Value and Quality,” which is what I have referred to it as since. Beer machines on the street and long train rides are responsible for my low level knowledge of Japanese brews.

To say that I like beer is too broad of a statment. I’m finding pale ales to be among more of my favorite, and it really comes down to enjoying, not chugging, a pint that isn’t just suds and water. This is combined with the truth that I have discovered from moving above the 49th. Canadian beer is some good stuff, Granville Island and Okanagan Spring being my top favorites. Guinness, obviously not Canadian, gets a slot towards the top.

What Is It About TimHo Coffee?

I’m on a mission to figure something out.  What makes Tim Horton’s coffee so good?  Sure, it’s all a matter of personal preference, but I’ve found that it’s some of the better coffee that you can get compared to the other, bigger chain alternatives.

Is it the beans?  The way they brew it?  Something they put in it?  I don’t add anything to the coffee I drink, so I know it’s not about the cream or sugar either.

I’m looking to experiment in the near future.  I’ll bring some of their coffee home and brew it a couple different ways.  First I’ll try the straight up coffee pot.  The other thing I’ll try is via french press as well.  I have to find out if it’s something they do or just the coffee being good coffee.