14 June 2008

Boston Beer Roundup

North Carolina has, as I've mentioned, a surprising and growing microbrew community. But as I'm in Somerville, MA for the summer it's worth giving the necessary shout-out to Boston as certainly one of the original homes of the microbrew movement - there was a time, yes, when Sam Adams had indie cred.

There is no lack of excellent options here, now, from Boston proper but also from Portsmouth, Portland Maine-not-Oregon, and assorted other New England hamlets. A short review follows.

  • Harpoon IPA. At this point, perhaps the iconic Boston good-beer - on tap pretty much everywhere, often brought to BBQs, and an exceedingly solid choice. It doesn't have the lovely stanky hoppiness of, e.g., Green Flash IPA (indeed the Eastern IPAs generally shy away from that, in contrast to CO, CA, WA and OR), but it retains a solid bitter character, is not overly malty and is eminently drinkable. Good standby.
  • Cisco's Whale Tail Pale Ale. Sweeter and maltier - not an IPA - but still a good balance of hoppiness. Not an all-night beer but nice early in the evening.
  • Shipyard IPA. Just superb. Crisp, hoppy, refreshing, bitter, and balanced. Very little malt but again, not West-Coast-hoppy. At $7.25 at my corner store, this will be a reliable choice through the summer.
  • Geary's Summer Ale. As with all Geary's, it's good-not-great. Nothing distinctive but just nice and drinkable.
  • Magic Hat Circus Boy. A nice hefeweizen, if unremarkable save a crispness sometimes lacking in hefes. Magic Hat, generally, is nice-but-overrated, for my beer $.

13 June 2008


I would like to strongly associate myself with Andrew Leonard's thoughts on the bid by InBev for Anheuser-Busch:

I know these are dangerous waters in which to tread, and that I will soon be pilloried as a coastal elitist beer snob, but I must be true to my own deeply held beliefs. Anheuser-Busch, the controller of half the U.S. beer market, symbolizes everything that is wrong with America. With special emphasis on the foul stain upon the brewer's tradition that goes by the name Bud Light. Great-tasting? Have we all gone mad?

For true beer-lovers across the world, Budweiser is a joke. It's embarrassing. Since when does America mean watered-down pablum, forced down the throats of an unthinking populace by sheer power of mass-marketing muscle? Since when does America stand for homogenized, lowest-common-denominator swill? Michelob? Busch? These are not the names of American patriots -- these are signposts of the triumph of a particular strain of capitalism in which true identity and taste are sacrificed in the service of gaining greater market share.

If we're looking for real American icons that represent the grandest traditions of our Founding Fathers, who threw off foreign rule so they could stand independent and seek their own destiny, we have to search elsewhere than in the realm of giant conglomerates with humongous Super Bowl advertising budgets. I'm talking home brewers, microbreweries, and those brave, privately owned breweries that have yet to sell out to the false dream of "going public" -- and all the betrayal of brewer freedom that such slavery to the market implies.

Amen. I'll also note that civilization didn't end when the vastly superior SAB acquired Miller a few years back [but, come on guys, can we please get some Castle stateside? please?].

12 June 2008

Gardening your own food = sport of the future?

Of course!

Here's the link to the NYT article. Frankly, there is one sentence in the article that bugs me, along the lines of seed and gardening stores 'who didn't see the soaring demand coming'. Really? Is that true? Food prices go up, and people--people in the vegetable seed business-- are surprised that consumers are turning to more reasonably priced sources of food?

Come on, people, grow some imagination! It's pretty obvious that considering the state of our food and the prices of it, we will have to turn to some self-reliance, which does not mean just a return to simplicity, or a step backwards in evolution. It's adaptation.

11 June 2008

Spicy Collard Greens

Ingredients (multiply based on quantity):
Bunch of collard greens
Jalapeño pepper
Soy sauce
1/2 onion
Water or light beer

  • Roast jalapeño pepper on cast-iron pan, turning periodically to blacken entire skin. When complete, place in paper bag for 15 min.
  • Chop onion coarsely, and set aside; do same with ginger, chopping finely
  • Wash collard greens, and break into stem and leaf sections. Rip leaf sections smaller, and chop stems in half; separate.
  • Peel jalapeño pepper, and chop
  • In large-enough pan or saucepot, heat oil on medium-high. Add onions, ginger and jalapeño pepper to pan, and sauteé until onions become translucent.
  • Add collard green stems and mix with contents of pan; add portion of water or beer and soy sauce, and cover for a few minutes.
  • When stems have become bright green, add leaves, mixing thoroughly to wilt. When leaves are bright green and wilted, remove from heat.
  • Enjoy!

06 June 2008

Friday Afternoon

Time for a Manhattan:
2 oz. Phillips Union whiskey
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
several liberal dashes Angostura bitters

03 June 2008

A Cruel Sad Joke

I love organic markets - good attitude, nice atmosphere, friendly people, etc. But I was looking for tortillas yesterday - eventually I found some passable facsimiles at Shaw's, for apparently there're no bodegas in the Cambridge-Somerville area - and found only the above on offer. Flax, oat bran and wheat flour: all acceptable ingredients. Not suitable for tortilla production. And again, I say this as someone who lived (happily!) the last two years in a vegetarian co-op, but - stuff like this makes me understand why Anthony Bourdain hates hippies.