Welcome to the first round of the 2009 KFIT. The first round matchups will be scored in four categories:

1. Size – Simply how big is the kolache. We all know that size does matter... sometimes.
2. Aesthetics – The physiological connection of the senses and taste are well documented. If you aren't into science... think food porn.
3. Namesake – Aside from the fruits, these kolaches all look like a ball of bread. This category will compare the name of the kolache with the actual contents of the filling. Does the kolache live up to the expectation of what was ordered?
4. Taste – When food molecules come in contact with the papilla on the tongue, they are recognized by taste receptor molecules... heh, just kidding. This category is subjective, but it will pit two kolaches in a head-to-head flavor throwdown.

The winner will not necessarily be an average of the four categories.

Matchups will be added below (newest at the top) as they are completed. Check back often or follow The Ferm's twitter feed for updates. Click below to enlarge the current bracket.
(updated 7/29/09 3:50PM)

(check out the 1st round summary following the bracket)

2009 KFIT Round 1 Summary

Game 1: 1) Potato Egg & Cheese vs. 4) Sausage & Gravy
Recap - The starch-in-starch P-E-C uses hidden ingredients to beat the unorthodox Sausage & Gravy.

Game 2: 2) Bacon Egg & Cheese vs. 3) Ham & Cheese
Recap - B-E-C has the fairy dust of foods, but undersized H&C wins the duel. Bippity, Boppity, Bacon!

Game 3: 2) Italian Chicken vs. 3) BBQ Beef
Recap - What is Italian Chicken? Uhh, delicious.

Game 4: 2) Cream Cheese vs. 3) Lemon
Recap - An odd and underwhelming match produces a small upset.

Game 5: 1) Ranchero vs. 4) Jalapeno & Cheese
The hottest matchup occurs in the Border Regional and the cooler kolache prevails.

Game 6: 1) Sausage & Cheese vs. 4) Pepperoni & Mushroom
Epic battle has controversial call... Sausage & Cheese goes down in the 1st round!

Game 7: 2) Jalapeño Popper vs. 3) Philly Cheese Steak
July's Kolache of the Month survives to live another day, at least in the KFIT.

Game 8: 1) Cherry vs. 4) Apple
A delightfully cheery battle concludes with Warrant taking Jason Biggs.

The Matchup: 1) Cherry vs. 4) Apple

These are fruit kolaches, so they come in an almost-a-square shape with the goo visible from the top. Although Cherry actually measured a little bigger than Apple, I’m going to chalk up the differences as an anomaly.
EDGE: Even

Cherry was created with more love

Both of the competitors are pretty good looking fruit kolaches. Apple has cinnamon bits in the goo along with real fruit chunks. Cherry is deep red and also has real fruit. Judging these kolaches on looks alone is tough, since their beauty is probably in the eye of the beholder. I chose to score these based on the images they conjure up in my mind as I tasted then gazed at them on the plate. When I see the Apple, I think apple pie, which makes me think about Jason Biggs. When I see the Cherry, I think about cherry pie, which makes me think about that Warrant video.
EDGE: Cherry

"Tastes so good Make a grown man cry"

Apple and Cherry both have similar levels of goo and fruit pieces. I found myself wishing there were a few more pieces in each. While tasting Cherry, I had to be careful not to gobble up more than one fruit piece in any bite, because the kolache contained only about 3½ cherries. Overall, they both delivered on their name’s promise.
EDGE: Even

One of these is "apple" and one of these is "cherry"

Apple tasted like apple pie. Cherry tasted like cherry pie… a very tart one. At first the tartness was a little shocking, but swapping bites between the two kolaches revealed that the tartness worked really well with the bread. In fact by the end, I was surprised by how bland Apple was *compared* to the Cherry. These were both good kolaches. It was interesting that the bread played a role in the outcome for the first time in the KFIT.
EDGE: Cherry

Since the Cream Cheese/Lemon matchup was rather underwhelming, this #1 vs. #4 matchup was a welcome surprise. In a time in America when the word "apple" makes you think iPod before you think pie, Apple came into the competition as a big underdog. There were some days where it could have pulled off the upset win, but today it fell short by the tiniest of margins.
WINNER: Cherry

The Matchup: 2) Jalapeño Popper vs. 3) Philly Cheese Steak

Both kolaches enter the contest in the slightly undersized kolache form. In my opinion, the Philly Cheese Steak looked a little larger than normal… I don’t want to say steroids, but it appeared a little beefier. However, performance in the other categories will be the key in this matchup, because neither kolache wins the size battle.
EDGE: Even

Philly Cheesesteak is a little beefy

A peek underneath the jersey shows the Steak is a bit doughy and not as beefy as it looked in warm-ups. Let’s face it, Philadelphia is not necessarily known for its beauty, and the cheese steak, with its frizzled beef, is somewhat of a street food item. The Popper, on the other hand, is a sexy beast. The bacon pieces are huge and the ingredients are beautifully distributed. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve got the hots for the Popper.
EDGE: Jalapeño Popper

One hot, one not

I don’t want to sound biased, but the Popper was (probably) created by kolache gods and sent to Earth’s Kolache Factory stores just for me. An actual “jalapeño popper” consists of a hollowed out jalapeño that is stuffed with cheese (usually cream cheese), wrapped in bacon, and grilled or baked. The Popper imitates this well by simply combining cream cheese, jalapeños, and bacon and stuffing it in the kolache bread. As for the cheese steak, anyone who knows the story of Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks knows that the origin and contents of the cheese steak are not even agreed upon in Philadelphia itself. Geno’s maintains provolone or American cheese is authentic. Pat’s, who originally prepared the sandwich without cheese at all, uses Cheese Whiz. Houston, TX has its own “authentic” (and um, awesome) cheese steak joint, Jake’s Philly Steaks. I enjoy mine at Jake’s with provolone and whiz wit (cheese whiz and onions). Hungry for a cheese steak yet? At kolache factory, the only option is wit onions and some unknown white cheese. Authentic? I suppose. Tasty? You’ll find out next.
EDGE: Even

I bet you want a piece of that, Philly fan

According to Wikipedia (so it has to be true), “the first cream cheese was made in New York in 1872 by an American dairyman William Lawrence. In 1880, ‘Philadelphia’ was adopted as the brand name, after the city that was considered at the time to be the home of top quality food.” Therefore despite being situated in the Border Region, this is at its core a Philly battle. The Philly Cheese Steak is a solid contender. The steak, cheese, and onions seem authentic. It is a classic flavor combination, although I found myself wishing it had the Whiz. The Popper is jam packed with each of its three ingredients. [Tasting note: the cream cheese used in the Popper does not appear to be the same as in the Cream Cheese kolache. If it is the same, then something went terribly wrong with that kolache.] The Philly Cheese Steak was tasty, but the Popper gets a team contribution from each of the ingredients. Quite frankly, bacon is better than frizzled beef.
EDGE: Jalapeño Popper

Head-to-head Philly battle

The Jalapeño Popper is the trendy pick in KFIT tourney, but the first round matchup was no walk in the park. It was a Philly vs. Philly battle, but the Philly steak was not good enough to beat the Philly cream cheese. Philly fans still have a contender to pull for in the tournament, but Philly purists will wake up tomorrow with a dose of reality: Bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeños are simply better inside of bread.
WINNER: Jalapeño Popper

Sent down from the gods

The Matchup: 1) Sausage & Cheese vs. 4) Pepperoni & Mushroom
After each kolache spent 30 seconds in the microwave warming up, they hit the plate for pre-competition introductions. S&C stayed composed while P&M’s leakage suggested a bit of premature excitement. P&M may appear to have a slight edge with its round presentation. S&C assumes the traditional oblong shape of the mini-sausage.
EDGE: Even

P&M come in as a pretty large underdog

The two stared each other down intensely. At the core of each were two robust spiced meat logs. S&C packs a 1-2 punch of cheese on the outside AND cheese in the weenie. P&M competes in the sliced form (medium thickness) with mozzarella, (canned?) mushrooms, and a little sauce to stay hydrated. P&M made good use of space inside the bread, while S&C seemed a little bread-heavy.
EDGE: Pepperoni & Mushroom

Mmmm... pizza

Both kolaches deliver on their promises, with S&C bringing both the sausage and the cheese and P&M bringing both pepperonis and mushrooms. P&M sneaks in a few extra ingredients that would suggest its name should be Pepperoni & Mushroom Pizza, which gives S&C a slight victory in this category.
EDGE: Sausage & Cheese

S&C performed as expected, involving the senses in a Montell Jordan-like “This Is How We Do It” kolache food-gasm. But the pizza inspired P&M knows how to get its teammates involved, running well crafted flavor plays on each bite. Pepperoni was the star in this battle, outmatching (with its teammates) the sausage link and ultimately winning the flavor battle.
EDGE: Pepperoni & Mushroom

If there was a matchup on the schedule that I immediately circled when the bracket was released, it was #1 S&C v. #4 P&M. This epic battle, containing probably the best known kolache in the biz, solidified its place in KFIT folklore. The performances were inspiring, and a matchup this fierce was destined to come down to the wire. There were too many lead changes to count, and an additional judge was brought in help determine the winner: Google. According to a Harris Public Opinion Poll, hamburgers were cited as the food most thought of as American (29%, followed by apple pie with 20%, and hot dogs with 13%). Pizza, however, is more often named as a favorite food. This matchup would be decided underneath the bread, and one kolache capitalized on the preferences of the typical American palate...
WINNER: Pepperoni & Mushroom

While the judges chose the dog, the kids had a clear preference for the Sausage & Cheese. Below is a collage of photos (a highlight retrospective, so to speak) taken after the matchup when I let them go at the plate of S&C kolaches.

The Matchup: 1) Ranchero vs. 4) Jalapeno & Cheese

The Ranchero, while competing in the Border Regional, is the spicy Mexican half brother of the egg kolaches. J&C is a bit of a runt, but packs a big punch. This one was no contest.
EDGE: Ranchero

Forgive the wrinkles. Apparently one human day is equal to about 25 kolache days...
making these somewhere in their 50s.

For two kolaches that have two common ingredients, their composition could not be more different. J&C employs the sliced jalapeños, which give it an incredibly intimidating appearance. It also sneaks in some onions and some secret red ingredient. Ranchero could be a part time model, with its sexy Latin flare... I bet it even has a cool accent.
EDGE: Ranchero

J&C is all fired up and ready to go

The "Ranchero" style has many interpretations, but the Ranchero kolache tosses aside the subtleties of a tomato-chili sauce and goes straight for the heat of chopped jalapeños. What makes for a good tasting and easily constructable kolache often means taking a few liberties in the recipe. J&C, despite the few onion pieces I found and the mystery "red," is primarily jalapeños and cheese.
EDGE: Jalapeño & Cheese

Just looking at this picture gives me heartburn

J&C has a simple approach: Bring the heat and round out that tangy spiciness with the sharpness of cheese. Ranchero takes a more stylistic approach by imitating a classic Mexican breakfast, but with ham. Maybe it is my secret food affair, but I wished bacon would have replaced the ham (this is the same chopped ham that makes an appearance in the Ham & Cheese). While the J&C was all about the heat (and addictively delicious), Ranchero packed the heat (this puppy was hot too) in a piñata of flavors.
EDGE: Ranchero

The hottest battle of the first round could have been in this Border Regional. Without a doubt, something was going to burning after the Ranchero v. Jalapeño & Cheese matchup. But in the end, J&C couldn't keep up with the #1 seeded Ranchero. I'll take two Titralac and the Mexican breakfast wrapped in bread please.
WINNER: Ranchero

The Matchup: 2) Cream Cheese vs. 3) Lemon

The fruit kolaches are homogeneous with a the standard square-ish shape and your favorite flavor's goo in the middle. Cream Cheese is a bit of an ugly duckling. While not a meat either, it chooses to hang with the fruits... possibly to attempt to coast to the KFIT semi-finals.
EDGE: Even

Meat is overrated

Both kolaches are pretty boys that like to show off their fillings, if you know what I mean. Lemon had an unnatural amount of goo, that while tasty, gushed out after the first bite. Cream cheese had no problems keeping its composure during the tasting. However, a look underneath that smooth cream cheesy crust exterior revealed a relatively unsightly cottage cheese-like texture. This one was close.
EDGE: Cream Cheese

Where did all that lemon goo come from?

Unless the Kolache Factory is pulling one over on me, Cream Cheese contained... cream cheese. Lemon is a bit trickier. In the middle of Lemon you won't find an actual lemon, nor would I want to. However, some bits or something would have been able to score Lemon some points in the Namesake category, which is a category that I'm sure Lemon will just concede without protest.
EDGE: Cream Cheese


Cream Cheese was the favorite going into this matchup. Its soft creamy texture with pleasing sweet and slightly tangy flavor... Mmmm. But BAM, Lemon dunks one to open the competition and wakes me out of my foodie dream. The goo was strong, and the cheese lost points in the end for its odd un-creamy texture in the finished kolache.
EDGE: Lemon

Overall, Cream Cheese couldn't pull off a win on concept alone. Lemon was not as in-your-face as I thought it may be, but this served it well in the competition. However, as you'll see in the picture below, Lemon didn't hold back when finding out the results.

I'll buy a kolache of your choice if you submit a winning caption for this photo

The Matchup: 2) Italian Chicken vs. 3) BBQ Beef

Both Kolaches showed up somewhere between a Sausage & Gravy and Blank Egg & Cheese in size, although I've had some tiny BBQ kolaches in the past. This category is a push.
EDGE: Even

The beef had some leakage

Stripped down, choosing between these kolaches is like choosing your favorite porn star... it probably comes down to personal preference. I like cheesy Italians apparently.
EDGE: Italian Chicken

Food Porn: Brown Chicken Brown Cow

The term "Italian Chicken" does not really conjure up any particular type of food for me, although I think I'm programmed to equate "Italian" with "marinara." I won't appologize for that. BBQ Beef came in just as expected, if not a little on the sticky-sweet side. However, this condition worked perfectly for a kolache.


It was a beef vs. chicken matchup. A bbq sauce vs. cheese matchup. A treat for the judges type of matchup. Let me tell you, the spit bucket was dry during this battle. BBQ and bread go together like a horse and a carriage... or something like that. But there is a new franchise in town, and it is Italian Chicken. The chicken pieces are large enough to be taken seriously and the kolache has the type of cheesiness that is frankly missing from the egg and cheese kolaches.
EDGE: Italian Chicken

Before the tourney started, the Meat Regional was branded as an unfairly difficult path to a championship. The regional is kind of like trying to make the College World Series from a regional west of the Mississippi River. Sure some fruit (or NCAA baseball team east of the Mississippi) may make it deep in the tourney, but they will most likely find themselves overmatched in the championship. On any given day, either BBQ Beef or Italian Chicken could have pulled out a victory. Someone had to lose today, and the win was decided in double OT with a half court shot in the final seconds.
WINNER: Italian Chicken

Seriously, what the heck *is* "Italian Chicken"?!

The Matchup: 2) Bacon Egg & Cheese vs. 3) Ham & Cheese

Size: These two kolaches have cheese and pig in common, but $0.80 extra will get you some baby chicken. The B-E-C next to the H&C is like a University of Texas offensive lineman next to a southwest technical state lineman.
EDGE: Bacon Egg & Cheese

One has egg up in there

Ham and cheese is a classic combination. However, inside the bread of the H&C you’ll find something that looks like chopped Spam with a translucent coating. B-E-C presents itself in a much more traditional and straightforward manner. Bacon is just sexier than ham, so this would have been an uphill battle for H&C regardless of how it was prepared.
EDGE: Bacon Egg & Cheese

Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon
Neither competitor sailed to a victory in this category. Both kolaches had cheesy issues with the judges. While H&C does in fact have both ham and cheese, Ham and Swiss might have been a better name. B-E-C could have been named Eggs with some bacon and probably cheese somewhere.
EDGE: Ham & Cheese


The keys to victory for a bi-ingredient kolache verses a larger multi-ingredient one is to find a flaw and exploit it. For H&C, the flaw was cheese. The cheese failed to show up for B-E-C. In fact, it was more like an egg kolache… a very good (bacon flavored) egg kolache, but an egg kolache none-the-less. Despite its weird mouthfeel, the chopped H&C overcame the appeal of the bacon.
EDGE: Ham & Cheese

Egg kolache

B-E-C came in a very confident #2 seed in the Breakfast Region, and this attitude may have cost them a chance at a title. H&C, somewhat of a mismatch in the egg heavy region, made the most of this matchup and was a surprise unanimous decision for overall winner.
WINNER: Ham & Cheese

The baby chose the H&C as well

The Matchup: 1) Potato Egg & Cheese vs. 4) Sausage & Gravy

The P-E-C is a round mound of starch in starch. It's size is intimidating, especially compared to the undersized S&G. You will have to lay down an extra $0.70 for the size, but it is easy to see where the dough is going.
EDGE: Potato Egg & Cheese

hmm... what is inside?

The S&G doesn't really have a lot going on for it under the hood. The tiny sausage bits stay glued together by the congealed gravy. One hopes this is a "tastes better than it looks" kolache. The P-E-C on the other hand looks like a morning Mexican fiesta. Potato chunks are large and the kolache even has a few surprise ingredients: Green peppers and tomatoes.
EDGE: Potato Egg & Cheese

Pictures say 1000 words


While the S&G does not resemble any sausage and gravy I've ever had (and I admit, my experience extends no further than a Holiday Inn Express breakfast buffet), it does in fact contain both sausage and something resembling gravy. The P-E-C would have been more aptly named the Potato Egg Tomato and Peppers, so by definition it loses points here. Even though I wish the sausage bits were much larger and the gravy more gravy-er, the S&G gets the nod.
EDGE: Sausage & Gravy


With a nearly flawless showing going in to the taste portion of the competition, P-E-C stayed composed and did not disappoint. S&G made an admirable showing, and proved that it definitely tasted better than it looked. In the end, the secret (controversial?) ingredients in the starch-in-starch competitor were too much for a bi-flavored kolache.
EDGE: Potato Egg & Cheese

S&G was simply outmatched by the well rounded P-E-C, who wore the wheat jersey for the first round of the competition. The strange mouthfeel and unorthodox filling preparation of the S&G worked against what was actually a respectable kolache.
WINNER: Potato Egg & Cheese

P-E-C beat the stuffin' out of S&G

I've gone on record that the Jalapeño Popper, July's Kolache of the Month at Kolache Factory, is the best kolache since people started stuffing things in and on top of bread. It is a bold claim, and I know this.

My pigs-in-the-blanket statement screams for a throwdown... a taste off... a tournament of kolaches!

Will the short-lived menu item reign supreme or will perennial favorites "Sausage and Cheese" or "Potato Egg & Cheese" show why they are the pantheon of kolache flavors? Sixteen kolaches will compete for the championship in the single elimination Kolache Factory Invitational Tournament (KFIT).

The tournament committee (Myself, Two Pints, and some random people that did not know they were part of my tournament research) have seeded the kolaches based on perceived popularity* and previous flavor performance. Without further ado, the four regions and the #1 seeds are unveiled below:

Meat Regional
1. Sausage & Cheese – This is the #1 overall kolache in the tournament. The sausage and cheese is one of the top selling kolaches at KF. It also is the official kolache of the World Kolache Eating Championship, which is held in Houston, TX. Joey Chestnut, of Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest fame, became the current champion and world record holder when he downed 56 of these a few years ago (that's $43.76+tax worth of kolaches!).

Border Regional
1. Ranchero – This may seem like a controversial pick, but the Ranchero won its conference tournament and earned this #1 seed. Many kolaches have a hard time matching up Ranchero's killer combination of ham, eggs, cheese, and jalapeños.

Breakfast Regional
1. Potato Egg & Cheese – Eggs and Cheese are a solid combination, and while the traditional pairing with a meat will win you games, the less orthodox potato is like running the spread offense instead of an I-formation. Stuffing a starch inside a starch is pirate-like genius, but will this lineup ultimately catch up with the P-E-C?

Fruit Regional
1. Cherry – The Cherry is deeply rooted in tradition within the fruit flavorings, so much so that the fruit itself is typically taken for granted. I've seen apple and lemon trees. I've picked a strawberry. I've been to the Atlanta area and drove hundreds of streets with slight variations of the words "Peach" and "Tree." I know not to lie if I cut one down, but I have never even seen a cherry tree. Yet I buy cherry flavored items weekly. Can the Cherry Kolache coast to a regional championship based on history and tradition alone?

The regional brackets were filled out with a preference for region type, but some kolaches were seeded in regions not exactly suited to their type in order to balance their Kolache Rating Percentage Index (KRPI) numbers, which inevitably created some controversial matchups. A guy with feathered mullet hair and the sleeves cut off his shirt even commented, "Bring it tourney committee morons! Our cheesesteaks will beat a jalapeño cheese wit or witout!"

Pepperoni & Mushroom commented on it's matchup with the #1 seeded Sausage & Cheese: "#1 will probably get knocked off someday... why can't it be today by us." When asked about its seeding in the tournament, Pepperoni & Mushroom added, "Look, we could easily have coasted to the final four as a fruit pizza, but the idea of competing with Lemons and Cherries is unsavory."

The 2009 KFIT bracket is below.

The first round matchups will commence this weekend. Stay tuned...

Click to enlarge

*The KFIT is in no way affiliated with the Kolache Factory, but at the minimum, they sold a crap load of kolaches to me in order for me to complete the tournament.

I Am A Home Brewer (IAAHB)

Posted by SirRon | Sunday, July 19, 2009

Homebrewers step up with a complementary video to Greg Koch's excellent I Am A Craft Brewer.


It started with an email that Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey was hitting the shelves in Texas. The excitement of this announcement became the brainchild something much bigger. Where can friends take information only relatable or interesting among their circle and publish it for the whole world to access via Google search? The Weblog.

Blogs, as my five minute internet research uncovered, began sometime in the mid-nineties and numbered only in the few dozen by the end of the century. The term "Blog" is often attributed to Jorn Barger of RobotWisdom.com, who is to blog invention as Al Gore is to the Internet. Fast forward another decade and everybody and their dog have a blog. While they are reviled by mainstream media and The Man for being unprofessional and pedestrian, the Internet is filled with good to great blogs written by people that have not chosen the career path of a journalist. By golly, I believe bloggers should be judged not by the signature on our paychecks, but rather the content and format of our respective hobbyhorses. This is not the dream, but the reality in 2009.

On April 6, 2009, TheFerm.org opened the proverbial door with the promise to be different that the conventional review or local happenings adult beverage-related blog. The honeymoon that followed the nebulous mission statement of our first post should prove to shape the course of The Ferm for years to come. It is on this day, July 14, 2009, we mark our One Hundred Day Anniversary.

In the face of the adversity of the Great Depression in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt used the first three months of his Presidency to lay the foundations of his New Deal. Since then, this artificial yardstick has been used to gauge the success of every President that followed. To commemorate our first one hundred days, I would like to reflect on our accomplishments. During the first one hundred days, we delivered thirty-seven posts, which is about one post every 2.7 days. Our first month was our most prolific, with each month trailing off a bit. Maybe the decline can be attributed to a backlog of ideas... or maybe we are getting lazy. At any rate, critical to the long term success of a product is quality, not quantity. Posts such as "Pot? No But Close", "Minute Maid Park Shenanigans" (Parts 1, 2, and 3), and "1560 The Beer" no doubt made incalculable impressions visitors of all ages (over 21).

Aside from exhaustive statistics, there are other objective ways to evaluate our performance during the first one hundred days. Being that my first post walked the line between vagueness and specifics, let's revisit key promises in The Ferm's platform. We have provided easy access to our RSS, bookmarking tools, and our Twitter feed (tweets avg'ing about 1.7/day) via the homepage. We appropriately namedrop when we think it will make us sound cool (or to shamelessly optimize search engine traffic). We respectfully paid tribute to the under appreciated Bea Arthur while (for the moment) avoiding the overrated accomplishments of Farrah Fawcett (*ducks*). We recapped drinking events (Beer Wars, here and here... SAVOR) and even international breweries and wineries (seriously, do you *really* consider Hawaii part of the U.S.?). We live blogged a homebrewing day and a baseball telecast. We held an epic Anything Mock Draught. We delivered on our promise to write about mostly nothing. We even slipped in a little rhyme just to show off.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." If by "those who have too much" he meant The Man, by "provide" he meant write blog posts, and by "those who have too little" he meant people that surf the web at work, I personally believe that we are following through with the roadmap for America left by FDR. Every journey starts with a single step. Roosevelt got fifteen major bills through Congress in his first one hundred days. Not counting this recap, we got thirty-seven posts under our belt in our first one hundred days. I'll let the reader make his own open-minded comparisons, but I would like to place into evidence that many of FDR's programs were later undone. As of today, we have received no C & D orders for anything published. Just saying.

While I am certainly no beer flavor pairing expert like our resident bloggers SirRon & TwoPints, but I do believe that not all beers can be drunk in any random order and be enjoyed equally. Now I'm not expecting a national gathering of beer pairings any time soon, but it's worth exploring what works and doesn't work, at least for me. Before I outlay my strategy, I thought I'd explore a few of the more famous beer drinkers in history to see if anything can be gained:

Wade Boggs - Miller Lite, then Miller Lite, then...you get the idea. Repeat 62 more times and thus legends and blogs are made. Hmm, I do like Miller Lite and when I am in a situation where it's going to be a long drinking day, it is a mainstay. But not much help in deciding how to combine.

The Most Interesting Man in the World - now while he doesn't always drink beer, when he does, he makes sure it's Dos Equis. Likewise, XX is one of my favorites. TMIMitW is probably too busy wrestling sharks, unhooking bears from traps, and diving for treasure to put too much thought into pairing XX with anything else, so again, no help.

George Washington loved a beer as much as anyone, but probably can't gain much insight into whether he would recommend a Indian Pale Ale before or after a Bud Lime. He probably just stuck with his own recipe to avoid paying too much taxes to the British. And he liked his whiskey, too.

Norm Peterson definitely likes beer. A lot. On his never-settled tab. While certain Hall of Fame material for beer drinking in general, he never did seem to grasp that Cheers swill was not necessarily all there was out there. Yes, sometimes he'd go to Gary's Olde Town Tavern when Sam wasn't looking, but he doesn't seem to be THE guy to go to here.

I think my point is that in pop culture, you never see people discuss how to combine beers of different flavors to make it "work". Commercials will only talk about their one product, TV Shows and movies are similar, what with product placement and all. But I seldom start a night on one type/flavor/brand of beer and then finish in the same place. So here is J.R. Ewing's guide to combining beer. This is not to be attempted by amateurs, please consult your local physician.
Doogie says "Beer? Never had it..."

Guideline #1: I seldom go with a beer for one and only one. Unless it's > 20 oz. If I'm going to visit a flavor, I need to exceed the 20 oz. threshold. There are exceptions, but in an average night of throwing them down, it's a couple to a few, but...

Guideline #2: If I am rotating beers in, I avoid going more then 3 (~40 oz.), with the exception of the end of the evening that will be covered later. I violated this myself last weekend on a Fireman #4 binge, it had been too long since I had the superior tap version, and friends were buying rounds so I stuck with what they could remember. The exception that proves the rule.

Guideline #3: Load flavor up at the top. The flavor of a rich flavored beer (St. Arnold Christmas Ale or Kona Wailua Wheat) is going to be compromised if it is rotated in after two Shiners, a Miller Lite that your date didn't finish, then a few Buds that the drunk at the end of the bar bought you.

Barney says "This Bud's for You"

Guideline #4: If food is going to be a central part of your evening, start with the beer paired there, then build around it. Example, I like Shiner with BBQ, the Bock flavor seems to blend will with the sweet sauces therein. So if I'm going to Salt Lick and bringing Shiner with me, I'm making sure I load up the top of my beer drinking evening with something that flows to Shiner, then layer the later part of the evening with something that chases it well.

Shiner and Stubbs...made for each other

Guideline #5: Lighten up at the end. After I've saturated my taste buds with flavors early, food paired ones in the middle, it's time to get lighter as the evening gets later. Here's where you might exceed the 40 oz. guideline. There are times when the tailgating goes on and on and you want to keep going. The lighter beers (even Ferm banned ones like Miller Lite, Milwaukee's Best Light, Olympia) can be safely consumed ad infinitum. As they are more water-laden, it won't hurt your hangover situation either. So maybe Wade Boggs in onto something, I mean if you're going to go 64 deep, you'd better lighten up.

Guideline #6: Shiner for me goes really well after just about anything, but can ruin my taste buds for just about anything else after it. Except lighter beers, Shiner leads to lights okay.

Guideline #7: A water between beers (every 3-6) can help in a lot of ways. Hangover of course, clearing the palate a bit.

Guideline #8: Beer specials (such as Singha on Astros opening day) can be enjoyed in more than 40 oz. limits on principle. Somewhat similar to my Fireman #4 reference, if something is working for you that day, go with it, and it goes with Guideline #5.

Guideline #9: Beer samplers should only be tested before everything else. Above guidelines don't apply Great way to start the evening, trying a flute of everything, then settling in for your 20 oz - 40 oz. for what you like going forward.

Guideline #10: Audibles can be called at any time. Go with your gut, but remember the above, and your beer enjoyment will go much further than otherwise.

So a few examples, these are Texas beer centric, but you can fill in your own favorite local brew:

Start with two St. Arnold Summer Pils, lean toward 2 or 3 Shiners, then finish with Miller Lites at the cousin's wedding when that's all that's available.

Go with a St. Arnold Texas Wheat (or any other wheat/Hefe) with squeezed Lemon, move on to St. Arnold Amber, finish with a few Shiners

Feeling like a Guinness. Stick there for two pints, then over to a Stella Artois for a couple, then finish with a blonde of any sort.

Go with one uber-flavor beer (St. Arnold Divine Reserve, any of the heavier beers SirRon and TWoPints reviewed during craft beer week). But only one if it's too heavy. Then go with something a little bit lighter to clear the palate, then delve into your favorite Amber, Wheat, etc.

I look forward to SirRon, TwoPints, and anyone else's thought and opinions!



Houston is ALL SYSTEMS GO!

Cracked a bottle of Firemans #4...B'd up hours ago. Got a plate of extremely tasty, leftover brisket-tacos in front of me. Thanks, Mrs. Smokeypants!

Did'ya know J.R. Ewing has his own twitter page (www.twitter.com/longhorndave) and he tweets with Ms. Footer of Astros Footnotes fame...must be nice...

Bottom of the 2nd:

Nice timing...finally get on the blogosphere to live-blog the 'stros vs. the fat friars and some no-name male nun (Alphonzo) goes yard. WTF?!

Inning over...why does Keystone Lite spend money on commercials...although I think they did give us the Mr. Dumass commercial...moving on, why is Natural Lite blowing up my tv with ads lately...seriously, no one buys that swill based on the commercials

Top of the 3rd:

drink! Brownie said "Cheo"...drink! JD said "Brownie"
Why drink, you ask, because nicknames in baseball are one of its great contributions to Americana. And this is my game, so I makes the rules

Oh, I should probably watch the game and report instead of focusing on the commentary...hard to type, watch, and listen...

Mr. Outback (32 yr old rookie Pad pitcher Silva, only weeks from serving bloomin onions and pitching in the Mexican league to the likes of Julio Franco) has set down 9 in a row (with 2K's). Yuck. Looks like 'stros are back to being spellbound by pitchers they've never seen before

Bottom of the 3rd:

drink! JD made an Outback reference

Moehler strikes out Mr. Outback...way to go...do you want a cookie...

Tony Gwynn's son is up...looks like a replica of Gary Matthews son -- who somehow got a $50M contract from the halos for being over 30 yrs old and mediocre
drink! another "Brownie." Okay...real props to Moehler this time...another K...
sit down Junior

Eckstein up...why can't this guy stick with a team...he's like Scrappy Doo...definitely a keeper...WHOA...Eck beaned...almost square in the noggin...
lucky he raised that shoulder

Flip...Hairston (another son of a former MLBr) sinlges...Moehler might be rattled after nearly taking off Scrappy Doo's head

Two on. Adrian Gonzalez up...grrrrrrrreat, their only dangerous bomber. Whew...ground out to Kaz

drink! JD dropped a "Chulo Vista" (AG's hometown)...just sounds cool

Inning over:

drink! Taco Bell pot-munchies commercial
drink! Most Interesting Man in the World makes his first appearance...
I hope I have his hairdo in thirty years...including badass beard

Trivia time: 1965 NL Rookie of the Year? (cue Jeopardy music)
Brownie can't help but give hints...Padre coach...still don't know it...Jim Lefebvre...
Who does he think he is, Brett Favre?!

Top of the 4th:

Bourn...out...can't complain...he's having a decent year

Tejada...single...big surprise...he's Mr. Slappy since he got off the B-vitamins...have to say I am impressed with his doubles total thus far though

Berkman nails one through the shortstop's glove...nawice...
Big Puma is really gettin on a roll lately

drink! JD picks on shortstop [insert your Cabrera here] for not spitting like a real baller

The General Lee whaps a long single...Miggy scores...I'll drink to that...game tied 1-1
drink! "Caballito" spotted by JD in the stands...
Way to represent on the road, H-town fans
drink! another "Cheo"

Blum up...uh oh...0-13 against the Padres
drink! Brownie dropped a "Blummer"
JD mentioned something about Harry Smith and "the black darter"...don't know what to do with that
drink! JD tells a story about catcher Joe Mauer on the Twins...my favorite AL team
Wow! Another hard hit ball gets through the infield...Yo Adrian got a glove on it but can't stop it or contain it. Geof (I disagree with his spelling) ends his 0-fer against this sad sack team. Puma scores. You know what that means...drink! Score now 2-1 'stros
another "Blummer"...not drinking...that nickname isn't creative

Pudge up...no drinking to that nickname...it was stolen from Carlton Fisk...
nice line out to right, old man

Erstad up...walked...Mr. Outback is not long for this world...
sure enough, bully getting warm

Matsui up...0-1 with bases loaded this year...did we really need that stat? Single up the middle, shortstop [insert your Cabrera here] can't handle it AGAIN. His deseparate attempt to flip the ball to second is a hilarious lame duck...quack quack...bang...sorry buddy, Fatty Lee scores. 3-1

JD drops "acrobatic play," "hand grenade throw," and "backdoor" in one sentence...
that trifecta of verbal artistry deserves a drink

Thankfully we're getting to Mr. Outback somewhat, even though we've never seen him before. Still no extra-base hits...welcome to the 2009 Astros offense

Moehler up with the bases still bloated...hits a chopper to third...Fielded...that's an upgrade compared to earlier efforts this inning...but...OH NO! Padres are kicking the ball around the stadium...third sacker misses first bagger...then 1B misses home plate by a country mile...that's two big errors...3 runs score on the pitcher's grounder....ouch. We got 6 runs...Ho-lee Cow! Game is now 6-1. This is unheard of. I don't know what to do with myself...oh yeah, I know -- drinkX3!

JD's "big can of ugly" describing the abortion that is the Padre infield does not deserve a drink

Bourn out again...somehow they managed not to boot his groundie

Bottom of the 4th: BREAK (getting another Fireman), Moehler surprisingly unphased

Top of the 5th: new no-name pitcher for the priests

Miggy grounds out to third...two grounders fielded in a row....Way to go Pads! Except for Yo Adrian, this is a minor league team...
I can't believe we coughed up the booty last night

Lancy Pants...I can call him that because his AVG is so bad..but his stats in this park are nasty...he attributes that to the nice hitting background...huh, whatever, I get it, but I'm not buying it...Puma launches a rocket to left...Hairston robs him of a homer...dagnabbit

Lee flies out to Hairston too...he's so fat

Bottom of the 5th:

Tony Gwynn's son grounds out

The Big Puma snares Scrappy Doo's soft, funky liner on a full-out dive.
Reflexes like a cat...sh*t...

JD notes that the Padres are sporting an all son-of-former-major-leaguer outfield...sweet...I didn't know about Venable (the ou D-coordinator?).
drink! that's just kewl...
goes back to another great contribution of baseball to Americana: father/son moments

Hairston walks...blah

AG up...Hairston steals on I-Rod easily...ugh...we should just put AG on -- now that there's an empty bag...Moehler obliges (not intentionally) to JD's loud dismay ("WOW!")...don't worry, be happy...we've got this in the bag

Headley (who?) flies out. Kaz earns his paycheck for once with a reverse basket-catch

Inning over: FSN wonders what's on Puma ipod -- country...big surprise...no problem here. Respect. I'm down with that

Break: Mrs. Smokeypants calling from A-town, kid is kicking like a Brazilian futboller...by the way, nice going on Sunday, USA Soccer...choke job

Top of the 6th:

Blow-U's D-coordinator flies out to the left fatso

Longhorn spotted in the outfield...drink!

Alphonzo doubles...dang...he's got Moehler's number

Insert-your-Cabrera-here is finally up...K! very nice.
Moehler's got 8K's through 5 and 1/3...Say what?!

Insert-your-Rodriguez-here is up for their no-name middle reliever...drink to boredom...JD remarks on the "slow-moving ballgame"...grounder to Puma...third out

Inning over: by the way, big thanks to the 'stros on-line peeps...you are the only MLB team that did not post its press notes for the public today...I was trying to do some research, guys...come on...help a brother out...and big ups to you, Alyson Footer -- Astro's red-haired hotty, you haven't blogged for days...I forgot what's your new job-title...oh yeah, professional blogger...try logging on while you're in the Gas Lamp District

Top of the 7th: need another #4...enough with this game for a while

Got beer. Scarfed down rest of tacos and spicy rice...yummm!

Bottom of the 8th: still 6-1 'stros...yawn...this Fulchino character the 'stros have in middle-relief seems pretty good. Got us out of the 7th, after Moehler's impressive 6 innings, and still effective

No Seinfeld references from JD yet. Disappointing. That would've been a shot --
a la Iron Chef''s "man alive"

JD wonders "anything exciting going on out there." I'm feelin ya

Under-rated baseball movie: Ferris Buehler's Day Off. The scenes at Wrigley are great. Cameron: "Hey batter...hey batter...hey batter..." Too bad Mia Sara is a beatch, at least according to Sean and John at 1560AM The Game

Top of the 9th: 'stros are lucky this is a laugher...6 runs were in one inning...only singles and errors...typical of the 'stros offense this year

Bottom of the 9th: Hawk in to close. How does this old dog still throw mid-90s!?!
ASTROS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post-game show:

What's the opposite of "drink!"? Someone just said "boo boo"...that'll make you throw up in your mouth a little bit

Everybody is killing this game for being boring...whaddya expect...it's baseball...
that's why I luv it...they don't call it a pastime for nothin

Kevin E. accidentally lets slip a "San Diahhhgo" (Ron Burgundy-style)..."Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's vagina."

On that note...virgin venture into The Ferm's blogosphere by Mr. Smokeypants done. Over and out. Tune in next time for more-researched takes, Astros memories, and stories on Tom Glavine, Mark Grace, baseball groupies, and slumpbusting. Goodnight teenagers