Archive | December, 2010

Everyday Beer

28 Dec

If you open most refrigerators in the USA, on any given day, you’ll discover someone’s everyday beer. It’s not necessarily their favorite one, but it’s their reliable, go-to beer. Growing up in my family the everyday beer was always the one on sale. There was no serious brand preference given that a good deal from any decent brewer could change a purchase plan. To a point.

Even my coupon-cutting, penny- and pound-wise mother never drank jokey cans of Generic Beer; nor did she succumb to the limpid national lagers from St. Louis or Milwaukee. Instead, we grew up with the equally limpid local lagers from San Francisco’s Hamm’s and Burgermeister breweries in our family ‘frig. It’s little wonder, then, that I did not take a strong fancy to beer until I after I got out in the world and enjoyed good beer and ales not chosen primarily by price alone.

In the mid-1970s while living in Kentucky Pabst Blue Ribbon was popular among the people I met in the Bluegrass state. But I preferred my brewed tipple to come from regional beer makers such as Louisville’s Falls City or Little King’s Cream Ale out of Cincinnati. They had a bit more flavor and had the cachet to me of being local.

Later in the decade while in Germany I had the exact opposite experience. I enjoyed making the weekly run to the store to choose crates of beer to heft home despite literally living across the street from the Schlossquelle brewery in Heidelberg. We rarely bought the local stuff, choosing instead our pils and exports from the likes of Gilde, Dinkle Acker, Eichbaum, and others. Only when Schlossquelle was at rock bottom prices would we get it. But when you had the array of fabulous beer choices as we did then, it’s not surprising I learned to be a beer snob while there.

However, as luck would have it, we next moved to Nevada in the early 1980s, which might be dubbed my beer exile in the desert. There Budweiser became my everyday beer. It wasn’t as cheap or as bad as, say, Billy Beer nor as watery and tasteless as Coors. Even today if stuck in a bar that’s stuck in the 1970s for its selection of beer, I’ll choose Bud out of nostalgia not preference.

Now I still stock my own refrigerator with brews that are on sale for my everyday beer. To a point. My everyday beer is Full Sail Pale Ale, which is made in nearby Hood River, Oregon, and can usually be found at discount in my local markets. But I will easily substitute an India Pale Ale from Bridgeport or a Torpedo IPA from Sierra Nevada if the price is right or even a Mirror Pond Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewery.

All my everyday beers are more expensive than the regional and national brands. And while I am particularly keen on saving money in these hard times, I am only willing to sacrifice quality up to a point. That point being when the bottle opener touches the bottle cap.

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Bah! It’s All Humbug About the Grinch

21 Dec

It doesn’t take much each year for me to hate Christmas. Oh, not the religious angle of the holiday, of which I have no useful opinion. But the commercial and societal aspects of December 25 can elicit a particular bile in the back of my throat that, well, is, at best, distasteful.

First, take the festive colors. Green and red. Frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to combine two less complimentary or appealing hues than these. Then there’s the Santa character, a fat old man with a drunkard’s nose who likes to have kids sit on his lap, and whose name is, for those who track these things, also an anagram for Satan. Adding to the seasonal mess is that vast segments of society feel it’s necessary to pile into airport terminals, skid onto packed freeways, squeeze into rail stations and trains, all at once, all during the lousiest weather time in the Northern Hemisphere and expect a Christmas miracle in human transportation systems, then somehow act surprised and angry when it fails to materialize.

Even more dispiriting than the bad taste and bad travel is the mandate to shop. Spend. Buy. Give. Acquire. If you won’t, don’t, or even can’t, you’re dubbed a Scrooge or a grinch. Someone to be pitied or even hated because the manufactured joy rings hallow and cheap to you like all the gifts labeled “made in China” under the tree.

Admittedly, I greatly enjoy watching the scary scene of young children full of greedy anticipation as they rush to open their prettily wrapped Christmas booty. They tear apart one box after another with hungry glee like sharks in a feeding frenzy. Doting parents may attempt to calm them down with admonitions to stop ripping apart their packages long enough thank grandma or Uncle Albert for one present or another, but it’s as futile as asking Jaws not to nibble on a succulent surfer.

Given the choice, I’d rather abstain from the forced frivolity and be of good cheer at home with loved ones, appreciating them as I would any other day of the year. I don’t need to exchange gifts to show my love or get them to feel affection from others. And I do not need to set aside one day a year to contemplate the profound and clearly misunderstood message of the holiday: Peace.

That’s something this grinch strives for each and every day of the year.

Peace be with you, my friends.

Apple Does a “Doh!”

9 Dec

I wrote about my wonderful MacBook Air in an earlier post. I still can’t say enough positive things about the machine. I do, however, have one trenchant criticism. If Apple is going to design, build, market, and sell laptop computers without any removable media capabilities built into them, maybe, just maybe the company ought to consider not sending its new customers who purchase AppleCare compact discs. (See photo.)


The above shows what came in my mail after I purchased my MacBook Air and also signed up for AppleCare product protection. A CD that explains the ins and outs of AppleCare.

Yes, yes, I know that I can attach an external drive to read the CD. But it strikes me as even beyond the arrogance of Apple to assume that its new customers will automatically buy an external device for their new MacBook Air computers. I didn’t.

The units come equipped with USB connectors. That’s what I’d expect to receive, a USB stick, if Apple wanted me to read information from external media. Getting the CD makes me think Steve Jobs has let some Homer Simpson impersonator into his shipping department. Maybe someone should slap the fellow on the head to knock some sense into him.