April 24, 2008
In the rural areas of Northern California, in the shadow of beautiful Mt. Shasta, lies a sleepy small town. In that town, however, lurks a menace. The town itself elicits laughs from degenerate drug users all over the nation. In fact, the town itself is a literal advertisement for drug use.
At least that’s what the BATF would have you believe:
The federal government has said no to Weed.
Or at least to the bottle caps of beer brewed at a popular local brewery in this small Siskiyou County town, which has a name that no doubt would have kept 1970s pot-smoking duo Cheech and Chong giggling.
Weed brewer Vaune Dillmann faces possible sanctions or fines from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau if he continues to brew and sell beer with bottle caps printed with the label “Try Legal Weed.”
You see, in the world of the government, there is no room for humor. After all, in a country of 300 million people, a few of those people are going to get the wrong idea. Might they believe that a beer company is suggesting that they stop drinking beer and start smoking pot? Maybe so.
And the BATF (actually, the TTB) believes it’s their place to save those people from their own idiocy, and at the same time ruin it for the rest of us.
Now, it’s clear to me that this is nothing more than a clever marketing tactic. As a homebrewer and beer connoisseur, I often see store shelves lined with a dizzying array of six-packs, and outside of word of mouth and places like beeradvocate.com, I have very little way to tell one brewery from another. What might convince me to try something new? Perhaps if it catches my eye for some reason, I might buy it.
The use of the town’s name may elicit a chuckle from a few potheads, but it’s hardly an advertisement by a brewery for a competing (and illegal) product. It’s made even more ridiculous by the fact that a competing (and well-known) brewery has a similar double-entendre in their name and advertising, but is allowed to proceed with their own labeling and advertising.
Dillmann, who says his bottle caps both promote his beers and the community in which he brews them, has appealed the decision.
After all, he said, the labels on his beers have a picture of the Weed arch and the city’s founding father, Abner Weed, on the label. Dillmann’s bottle caps also say a “A Friend in Weed is a Friend Indeed.”
“We’re dealing with a surname that’s been used for hundreds of years,” Dillmann said Monday.
The owner of the Mount Shasta Brewing Co. said he’s also outraged that his beer is being singled out for using a possible pot play on words when Anheuser-Busch has used “Bud” — another name for marijuana — to promote their Budweiser line of beers.
“What’s the difference here?” Dillmann said. “They sell Bud — we sell Weed.”
There is no difference, Mr. Dillman. Some bureaucrat has a stick up his butt and the power of the federal government behind him. You’re bearing the brunt of it. This is the way government works.
In a letter to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s administrator, Siskiyou County Supervisor Michael Kobseff said California tourism officials have identified Weed as the single most recognized name along I-5.
“Surely, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is not in the business of suppressing the ingenuity of a small business owner, (and) the community of Weed . . .,” Kobseff wrote.
Of course that’s not what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to find some way to apply their one-size-fits-all rules, which don’t allow any room for variation or common-sense, to a situation that requires variation and common sense. It’s not that they’ve got a problem with the town of Weed. It’s much simpler than that. Rules are rules, and you’re not following them.
This is government, folks. Petty, with no sense of humor and a complete inability to understand why we find them ridiculous. You either conform or you get pounded down, in a high-stakes game of bureaucratic whack-a-mole. As Washington called them “a fearful servant and a terrible master”, they’ve been spending a lot more time being the latter.
April 22, 2008
I made it out to Chicago last week, but never had any good pictures to share. And after realizing that my “travel camera” is a steaming pile of a dog crap, I only managed to get one good picture from Denver. My wife keeps the nice new camera, but since it’s very large and bulky, I wouldn’t likely carry it around and use it when I’m on business. I think it’s time for me to buy a new camera, and I’ve got a few things I’d like in that camera:
1. Small/slim (fits in a pants pocket easily).
2. Good value (good pictures, but not overly expensive).
But luckily, the picture I did get happened to be of the entrance to my favorite beer bar:
April 13, 2008
The homebrewing community is, by and large, a very helpful, generous, and kind group. They’re quick to help each other, always ready to offer advice, and enjoy the fraternity of “do-it-yourself” mentality that we all share.
So, when a few homebrewing bloggers got into a 90’s-style internet flame war, we knew this could not stand. Travis from CNYbrew.com is a homebrewer in New York. A Syracuse fan and a northerner, he’ll brave the elements to brew, even if it means dressing like a gay Eskimo. The Monday Night Brewery guys, Jonathan, Joel, and Jeff, met a few years ago in Bible study, and wish to help the beer-starved Southeast by opening their own brewery in Georgia within the next few years. Plus, they’re huge Bryan Adams fans, which makes Travis’ brokeback overalls seem far more normal. The flame war begun, with Travis intimating that MNB was its own grandpaw, and MNB suggesting that Travis simply can’t brew. There was only one way to settle this – man to man, mano a mano, cerveza a cerveza! A brew-off!
So they decided to send samples of their IPA to myself, and two other brewers. This is good, as I consider myself a connoisseur of IPA’s, and live in the mecca of the IPA, Southern California. So, two packages arrived, each containing two IPA’s from each brewer, and my brother-in-law and I took to the task of settling this dispute!
First, the intangibles. MNB sent two bottles of their beer with their custom labels, a very nice presentation. Travis sent his beer in two Saranac bottles that he had neglected to even remove the original label. MNB sent a few bottles of Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, one of the beers I missed from my time in Georgia (which I liked so much that I brew my own RyePA), along with a few Monday Night Brewery pint glasses. Of course, I am evaluating purely on the beer, so the
bribes presentation is not a factor in judging.
Pours a pale gold color, with a strong head that persists for quite some time and leaves very nice lacing on the glass. This got me a bit excited, as the color was exactly what I want in an IPA. I took a few nice long whiff’s of the beer, and got very little hop aroma. What I did pick up was a slightly heavy ester & higher alcohol aroma, suggesting high fermentation temps. The mouthfeel was very thin, with low to moderate maltiness. Taste followed similarly, with a very thin body, mild bitterness, and little to no hop flavor/aroma. The thin body made the beer feel a bit “hollow”, but without a heavy hop aroma, there was little to make up for the light body. I don’t mind a light-bodied IPA, in fact I prefer it to be lighter and more crisp, but it didn’t have the “clean” dry taste or the in-your-face hop characteristic that I expect.
Pours an amber-reddish color, small head, but the head persists while drinking the beer. The aroma had a very mild hop character, but picked up more maltiness. No higher alcohols or heavy esters detected. In the mouthfeel, there was definitely more body, and more sweetness came through. I wouldn’t call this beer a “malt-bomb”, which is good, as an IPA should not be one, but the malt is prominent. Tastewise, there was a good balance between malt and bitterness, but the balance was more appropriate for an American Pale Ale than an IPA. The beer could be well served by additional bitterness and dry-hopping.
I had already heard that Travis had conceded defeat, and the Canadian judge had awarded the win to MNB, and I thought that I might find this to be a runaway win. Instead, it was actually a very close match. Both beers would really have been improved with some dry-hopping, as they did have bitterness, but not the pungent hop aroma. I think the thin body and more harsh higher alcohol I detected in Travis’ brew would be considered a technical flaw, whereas my view of the MNB beer is that it was a good beer, but not a great IPA. But, the results were unanimous (okay, it was only myself and my brother-in-law*), and we also decide in favor of the boys from Atlanta. It was the cleaner technical beer, and in general was something that I’d be more likely to sit down and drink a few in an evening.
So when is round 2?
* The tasting notes are my own, as my brother-in-law is a novice at reviewing beer.
brewpoll.com linked with The Unrepentant Individual » Settling A Homebrew Beer Blogger Dispute...
April 10, 2008
I’ve found something that the government does quickly. When you owe them taxes at this time of the year, they don’t waste time. I owed at the end of this year, and there was maybe a 3-4 day from the time we SENT the check and the day it cleared. That check cleared faster than giving it to a crackhead with a gambling problem…
…which is a lot like government, when you really think about it!
April 1, 2008
Richard Branson is taking space tourism to the next level, with the help of Google.
For thousands of years,
the human race has spread out across the Earth, scaling mountains and plying the oceans, planting crops and building highways, raising skyscrapers and atmospheric CO2 levels, and observing, with tremendous and unflagging enthusiasm, the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply across our world’s every last nook, cranny and subdivision.
Earth has issues, and it’s time humanity got started on a Plan B. So, starting in 2014, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars.
I’m so there!
I think I should file this one under “travel”, right?