Monday, July 31, 2006

AWEB#14 Perfect 10

Another stellar brew from the damngoodbeer folks in Calgary. Man, we have the best beverages here!

Where they came up with the name for this monster is beyond me, unless it is a reference to the severity of the hangover that results from drinking it.

Clocking in at a brain cell killing 8.5% alcohol this is another beer that is best left to the professional.

I am always looking for fun projects and decided to take a 6 pack of Perfect 10 for a spin.

Sunday's are my favorite day, I like to get up early, blast some tunes on the computer and enjoy a nice cold beverage. I can honestly say that Perfect 10 is not a breakfast beer. That first can was really hard going.

The taste was something akin to drinking Liquid Plumber, in fact this might make quite a good unblocker of drains.

Take my advice leave this beer at the liquor store!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Who Is DW?

My last post about Axe has created a furor among the people I know. As a single voice they are asking "who is DW"?

My journalistic principals prevent me from sharing exactly who my sources are.

While I cannot disclose my source DW, I think it would be ok to highlight some of his achievements:

  • Has broken more bones than Evil Knievel
  • Most EMS workers in Calgary know him on a first name basis
  • His favorite Microsoft product is Excel
  • Michael Flatley got the inspiration for Riverdance from DW
  • He is going to be the first Inductee into the Axe Head hall of fame
  • Karl wants to turn him into a pretzel! **

It's tough at the top!

** Judge Judy says this is just hearsay and is not admissible in court.

Friday, July 28, 2006

AWEB#13 Axe Head Calgary

I do not want to appear superstitious or anything, but I noticed I was up to AWEB number 13. Well I decided that this post should be about something truly 'off the wall'. And Axe Head hits the spot!

Axe is produced in Calgary, I can only assume that the people involved in the brewing process wear full Biological suits at all time.

This stuff is 11% alcohol, and tastes like it contravenes the S.A.L.T 2 treaty. To bring your enemy to his knees you do not need atomic bombs, germ warfare, or even ground troops. All you need is Axe!

Drop a couple of thousand bottles of Axe on your enemy and they will be begging you for the anthrax!

I am pretty certain that Axe could provide a swift and certain end to the conflicts happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am certain that if someone was to mention Axe to Hezbollah that would be the end of that nastiness as well!

You want to bring Al Queda to its knees? Feed Axe to the prisoners in Gauntanamo Bay!

Axe is not one of my favorite beverages, but I did interview a 'true believer'. Of course I cannot reveal my sources name, journalism survives and thrives on the fact that you can have secret sources, Watergate had 'Deep Throat', the Clinton/Lewinsky nonsense was first published by Matt Drudge, and you can be sure that he had his 'secret source' (maybe the dry cleaner?).

So with that in mind, I obviously cannot reveal my 'In Source' about Axe. Lets call him 'Da Won', or to make it simpler, DW.

DW refers to Axe as 'Rocket Fuel', I wonder if NASA has considered this as a replacement for that nasty explosive mixture that they currently use? Ooops, Axe is nasty and explosive!

DW says that the first Axe is hard to get along with. The first couple of gulps will require the user to have a good ability to stop the 'gag reflex'.

About 1/4 of the first bottle down things start to improve, your taste buds are dead, and the 11% alcohol starts to kick in.

By the end of the first bottle even a migrane is fixed.

Bottle number 2 goes down very easy. Maybe too easy. Unfortunately all ability to move around on 2 legs and speak coherently have disappeared.

Bottle number 3 should only be attempted by 'professionals'. Even DW has had problems with bottle number 3. The most common result being the intervention by the Emergency Medical Service.

Generally the problems have involved broken bones from falling over and concussions, of course the good news was that no anesthetic was required for the actual medical procedure, Axe is better than morphine for dulling pain.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

AWEB#12 Michelob

In 1980 I had the opportunity to visit Chicago. This was my fist adventure onto American soil. Myself and three co-workers spent an interesting week living at the Downtown Hilton.

It is a fine old hotel boasting four or five bars and about the same number of restaurants.

What caught my eye right after checking in was it also had a liquor store.

After gruelling flight in business class what I needed was another beer! But what to buy? I knew nothing about American brands, I decided to pick the one with the best looking label. And that was Michelob!

After a quick icy cold Michelob in the hotel room it was time to regroup with the rest of the boys in the bar.

After a couple of beers one of our number decided that he wanted to go out and explore the town. The rest of us opted to stay right where we were.

Tom was gone about an hour. When he returned his eyes were really big, and it looked like he had seen a ghost.

After a couple of strong belts of medicinal whiskey he told us his story.

He had opted to exit the hotel through the back door, and that was his first mistake. The Downtown Hilton 'fronts' onto the lake and is very ritzy, the back though dumps you by 'the loop' and is really sleazy. Tom had wandered for a few minutes and had spotted a neon sign advertising 'Mexican Food', and a flashing neon arrow pointing down to the basement of a rather rundown building.

Exercising really poor judgment he had ventured into the establishment.

The first odd thing about it was the abnormally high percentage of women. In fact the only male in the place other than Tom was an 8 foot 6 black guy behind the bar. Tom sidled up to the bar and climbed about a stool.

"What do you want" was the rather gruff greeting the bartender offered.

"Mexican Food" Tom replied.

"We only serve lesbians in here" the bartender continued.

"OH, OK, I'll have one of them and some fries".

Apparently at this point King Kong came from behind the bar, picked Tom up by the scruff of his collar, carried him up the stairs and deposited him in an untidy heap on the sidewalk.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Blogger Hell

After a few cold beverages yesterday I decided to make a minor tweak to the template of this blog. That was a really, really bad move! I discovered to my horror that there is a very important feature missing from Blogger, there is no 'Undo' button.

Things went from bad to worse in the space of a couple minutes. I completely trashed my template and had to reload a 'virgin' one. The net result of this was losing all of the modifications that I had made over the past couple of months!

My solution was to walk down to the liquor store and buy more beer!

So I guess i'll just have to start over hahahahahahaha

Sunday, July 23, 2006

AWEB#11 Simons Homebrew

The great beer strike of 86 went on way too long. Things got so bad that I took matters into my own hands.

I had no experience with brewing, but, what the hell, how hard can it be?

A trip to the local Home making beer and wine store made me quake. The whole meal deal was over $100. That was way too much money.

I did find a kit in a can for $5, that's more my kind of price range. Of course I would have to improvise on the actual equipment.

My wife had a big pan, so that's what I used to stew all the icky stuff in.

The big issue was where to put it so it could rest. I had no bottles, and even if I had bottles, I had no way to put caps on them.

My solution to this problem was a trip to 'Canadian Tire'. I bought 2 5 gallon plastic gas containers.

The first part of the process went quite well. I boiled water, put the 'dehydrated' beer mix in, and filled up the gas cans.

About 2 weeks later..... My boss (actually my bosses boss) gave me a ride home. Being the consummate host I asked John if he would like a beer. John said 'sure, where the hell did you get beer from'?

"uh, it's homemade"

It tasted like something no sane person would put in their mouth, but, it had a kick like a mule. The biggest hurdle was opening the Gas can. The yeast had worked its magic and the Gas Can was about 25% bigger than the one I bought in the store.

John and I hardly put a dent in the can! Serious drinkers, Serious drink, Serious hangover the next day.

AWEB#10 Olympia

The big beer strike of 86 brought out the best in some people. My next door neighbor Don's brother was a fine example.

Although he lived in Saskatchewan, he took pity on us Albertan's and made a beer run to Montana.
He came back with his pickup truck loaded! This was my introduction to Olympia.

Apart from some minor issues with the police, it was a great evening.

While researching this post I found an account that I had written in 96, it is worth a read!

Oh, the good ole days! hahahahahahaha

AWEB#9 Uncle Ben's

Back in the bad old days of the 1980's the government regulated beer in Alberta. The only place you could buy the stuff for home consumption was at the 'Alberta Liquor Control Board' ACLB outlets. This was worse than Microsoft's monopoly on operating systems! To make matters worse the bars and ALCB outlets were closed on Sundays. I don't know how people survived under these draconian conditions.

As a side note, in 1988 the city passed a bylaw permitting bars to open on Sundays because the Winter Olympics were happening and Calgary would look pretty damn silly if visitors from around the world could not get a nice cold brew, the 'rule change' was supposed to be for a 28 day period. The revenues generated in taxes though meant that the law was extended indefinitely.

In 1986 there was a strike by the brewers and delivery drivers. This basically resulted in the liquor stores having no beer. A disaster for the average drinking Albertan.

There was one company though that was still operating, Uncle Ben's from Red Deer. For a period of several weeks this was the only draft beer available in the bars. It was some truly skunky green beer. I think the life cycle of Uncle Bens went something like this:

  • 09:00 Brew it
  • 12:00 Stick it in a barrel
  • 13:00 load on truck
  • 14:00 Deliver to bar in Calgary
  • 14:01 Serve to customer
  • 14:05 Customer is in the restroom with stomach issues!

This is not a brew I have fond memories of!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

AWEB#8 John Courage

Shortly after the project with Lyons was completed I changed jobs and started working for Commercial Union, an insurance place. My mission in life was to plan and implement a network of 50 or so IBM mini computers. This time based on the IBM 8100. It looked like a fun job at the start, but it soon became clear that the company had pulled a bit of a fast one.

Six of us had been recruited , one for each of the 6 disciplines that their current staff did not have experience in. Our mission was to get the project rolling then hand the reins over to the existing staff and quietly ride off into the sunset.

I decided that while I was there I would take full advantage of whatever 'perks' were to be had. The best by far was the 2% staff mortgage. So I got me one! I bought what the brits call a 'flat', (apartment to you folks in the US of A) in a place called Mottingham.

Lady luck was on my side. It turned out that pub was less than 100 yards from my door step.

The 'Porky' as the locals called it served John Courage beer. While it is not one of my absolute favorites, it is quite drinkable considering that it is massed produced.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Animal Gangs

Just when you think the gang situation is as bad as it can get. You have the Hells Angels, the Crips, the Bloods, and who knows how many others. Well it turns out that gang violence is also rampant in the animal world, as this photo shows!

Click on the picture for a bigger version.

AWEB#7 Young's of London

My introduction to Young's fine beverages also occurred during my time at Lyons in Hammersmith. A couple of blocks from Cadby Hall was an establishment called the 'Brook Green Hotel'. I am happy to report that my research shows that it is still in existence 30 years later, and still selling Young's beer.

Due to exercising some extremely bad judgment at work I found myself working on a time critical project that was based on one of IBM's less than stellar mini computers (in 70's speak, a mini computer was anything that only required a forklift to move, as opposed to a mainframe that required heavy lifting gear).

The project involved creating about 50,000 lines of computer code that had to be operational in 6 months. The accepted norm at that time was 10 lines coded and tested per day, 10 x 180 = 1800. I knew I was in deep doo doo. Scouring the planet, and nearby galaxies we managed to find someone as stupid as I was, the infamous Dave Groves. Dave and I quickly fell into a regular pattern.

Go to work on Monday morning, and program our hearts out till the 'Brook Green Hotel' opened on Tuesday (11:am). Get very drunk and pass out. Go to work Wednesday morning and work till the bar opened on Thursday, Get drunk and pass out. Go to work Friday morning and work till the bar opened on Saturday. Get drunk, and pass out.

Sunday was a day of rest! Usually spent sleeping.

This regime lasted for the entire 6 months. We both had suitcases that we kept at work with clean (or little used) clothes in it. On one occasion I went to visit my mother and asked her if she would do my laundry. She was not happy when she discovered that it consisted of 40 dress shirts. If I ran out of shirts, I'd just buy some more!

I have no idea how many pints of Young's Dave and I consumed during this project, but it was a considerable amount.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

AWEB#6 Fullers of London

Its been a while since I did an AWEB (Around the World in Eighty Beers).

In the mid 70's I was employed by the J Lyons company working in the Cadby Hall location in Hammersmith, London. Cadby Hall had all of the charm of Folsum Prison.

My introduction to Fullers beer came on the first Friday lunchtime that I worked there. One of my co-workers told me that we HAD to go for a beer, and that beer HAD to be bought at "The Red Cow".

It transpired that the 'Cow' was a very popular lunch time haunt on Fridays because they had a stripper.

What I found unusual about the "Cow" was everything was nailed or bolted down. My Co-worker explained that this lowered the number of potential weapons that were available to the customers! I did not beleive him at the time, but while researching this post I came across the followng:

Latymer's is on the site of the Red Cow, whose history goes back to the 17th century and which was a renowned (or notorious) punk rock venue in the 1970s. The current pub was built in the early 1980s but not opened until 1988. On its opening it was called the Red Cow but was renamed in 1989

The stripper was a 300lb monster whose previous job probably involved the 'Hitler Youth'. She had short blonde hair, and muscles that the average body builder would have wet dreams about.

She had all of the dancing grace of a bull elephant, and the crowd went wild!

Oops, I supose I should mention the beer. Fullers makes a couple of brews, London Pride and ESB. London Pride is their regular bitter. Its pretty heavy going. ESB is for serious drunks only! ESB is beer with a message, and the message is..... BEWARE.

There is a postscript to this. In 2000 I was living in Phoenix, Arizona, and I had a couple of friends who wanted to set up a joint buisness in the computer consulting field. Seeing as I wasn't paying, I had no objection to entering into an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) with them. The major problem was what to call the stinking company. I hated the idea of 'Computer Nerds', or anything else that sounded stupid, equally I didn't want it to sound like a law firm 'Barrett, Buzuyen and Smith'.

We decided to go for a long beery lunch at one of the psudo brit pubs and thrash out once and for all what we would call the company. Several beers into the adventure we were no closer to a resolution. I looked up at the bar, and to my amazement saw that they sold Fullers ESB. "Thats it I proclaimed, we call it ESB". "But what does it stand for" they asked? Well it used to stand for 'Extra Sensory Bitter', but I don't supose that would work for us, so how about 'Excellent Solutions for Business'.

And that was what we called it!

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Iron Chef

Now I have long believed that the Japanese stole my idea on this. I am the original Iron Chef, I just cook whatever I can find in the house!

Its amazing the things that you can make with the strangest of ingredients, you ask Jan if you don't believe me!

Anyway the Food Channel runs an hour long show called the Iron Chef, actually there is a new version 'Iron Chef America', but I prefer the Japanese version with its terrible English voice over and the choice of truly bizarre theme ingredients.

Most of which are NOT available in your local Safeway supermarket. When was the last time you saw 'Natto' at the supermarket?

Just in case you are not familiar with Natto, it is stinky, sticky, fermented Soy beans, that the Japanese seem to think are an important ingredient, although considerable effort seems to go into disguising the flavor so you don't have to actually taste the nasty stuff! One report I read said that it was a cross between smelly socks and vomit, with a consistency of something that you would find in the U-bend of a blocked toilet.

The concept of the show is to pit two chefs against each other in a culinary battle that lasts one hour. They are given a theme ingredient and they have to come up with as many dishes as possible. The festivities are presided over by chairman Kaga, whose dress sense is about as good as Michael Jackson's.

The House chefs usually win. Well hell its TV!

Anyway, being a big fan of the Food Channel I was thinking about who I would invite for the ultimate Iron Chef battle. There are lots to chose from. But I think my choices would be a couple of Brits. Now Brits are not really known for their culinary abilities, Fish n Chips with mushey peas are pretty much haute cuisine.

If you are fan of food, you have probably at some point seen Chef Gordon Ramsey, his culinary ability is only exceeded by his colorful use of English swear words. One of my favorite parts was when he told a bunch of would be American chefs they were 'A load of wankers'. That is definitely a brit swear word!

Gordon would make a delightful contestant.

For his opponent I would have to pick Jaime Oliver, another Brit celebrity chef. Jamie's claim to fame was a crusade he went on to revamp 'School Dinners', and I must say that the ones I remember were not nearly as grim as the ones that he was trying to fix.
This in my opinion would make the perfect 'Iron Chef' matchup. Quite how the Japanese commentators would react is beyond me. Even better, how the English voiceover version would sound.

As to the theme ingredient, almost anything would be fun. Natto of course is the first thing that comes to mind, but almost any icky stuff would do!

These would be fun! (if you need to ask what they are........ don't order them)

Bulls nuts! Now thats some good eating!