Bea Arthur: A Tribute

Posted by Leslie | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That commanding bravado and furrowed brow. Those quarterback-tailored pantsuits and withering put-downs. Bea Arthur was quite possibly Chuck Norris’s alter lady-ego. Her career was packed full of geeky gems like Airheads, The Star Wars Holiday Special, and Futurama. She’s even the namesake for one ultra-classy mixed drink:

Bea Arthur's Underpants
10 oz. Mountain Dew
2 oz. Vodka
1 can Beer
dash Honey

Bea, on account of endless late-night syndicated Golden Girl episodes, you shall be remembered for generations. Thank you for being a friend.

Editor's note: Be sure to check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this investigation

I considered doing a full investigation before going to print, but thought some blog-o-sphere, I mean fan interaction might give me some ideas into my next pursuit.

TheFerm enjoys a ballgame at Minute Maid park as much if not more than the next baseball fan. TheFerm is also aware the beer prices are exorbitant at ball parks, but it's just part of the experience. It didn't take me long to do the math and realize that my ticket is usually around $20, my beer tab, should I go for round 3, will almost always exceed that.

Because the beer price can be so high at ballparks, many of the beer loving crowd are forced to do a little more math than usual to find the best deal. It's not completely dissimilar to the economy...when things are a bit out of whack, time to think before we spend.

It started on Opening Day of this year. Three "partners" of "TheFerm" wandered into the ballpark, and were excited that the largest Houston Craft Brew (St. Arnold) was rumored to be more prevalent throughout the ballpark. While I personally partook of a pregame special at Larry's Big Bamboo (more in a minute), one of our crew grabbed a St. Arnold in the upper level (only stand up there). For $10, he received a pretty tall pour of St. Arnold Amber. Seemed steep, but it was a National Holiday (Opening Day should be a National Holiday).

At a future game, it was realized that there are $8 St. Arnold DRAFT pours in the lower level, but in another (specialized w/ St. Arnold on the side) sized cup. It was not immediately clear which size was bigger. Hmmm. I absconded with various cups to my personal research lab for further testing.

It was discovered that the $10 was 23 ounces, the $8 was 20 oz. As a point of reference, the 23 ounce size UPSTAIRS appears to be $9 for Shock Top, Drop Top, and Landshark (these brews explicitly boycotted by The Ferm, FYI). Two Ferm partners also recall that last year St. Arnold was $6.75 for a 12 oz. bottle pour, and it has been reported that a draft pour of Bud/Miller is $7.50 for what is believed to be the 23 ounce size. In what is also a shocker, I later received a 23 oz. pour of Sam Adams (cup actually used to verify draft size), which was next to the Shock Top and Drop Top (DOWNSTAIRS) for only $8. At this point, I believe Minute Maid park as a direct price discrepancy b/w the upper deck and lower deck (Various Tops = $8 down, $9 up). Bottles run $7.75, I do not recall if they are 16 ounce or 20 ounce. I believe 16 oz. Upstairs for $9, a 24 oz. Bud can was also being purchase, assume Miller/Coors the same.

The aforementioned Larry's Big Bamboo runs a $3.75 pregame special, again the cup size is in question, but it is believed to be 12 oz. (keg cup, but not those really puny ones). During the 2005 World Series, there was a mug special for $10, turns out to be a measured 24 oz.

So how does all this stack up? Let's measure all beer in CPMMO, Cents per Minute Maid Ounce.

Italics = No longer available

31 CPMMO: Ziegenbock/Bud/Miller at Larry's Big Bamboo if 12 oz. cup - pregame only
32 CPMMO: Bud/Miller draft (all concession stands)
35 CPMMO: Sam/Shock/Drop Top/Shiner(?) downstairs
38 CPMMO: Bud/Miller 24 oz. cans (at Larry's Little Bamboo upstairs, maybe other places)
38 CPMMO: Ziegenbock/Bud/Miller at Larry's Big Bamboo if 10 oz. cup - pregame only
39 CPMMO: Bud/Miller/Coors plastic bottles if 20 oz.
40 CPMMO: St. Arnold in 20 oz cup
42 CPMMO: 2005 World Series Mug* (Bud/Miller draft)
43 CPMMO: St. Arnold in 23 oz. cup
48 CPMMO: Bud/Miller/Coors plastic bottles if 16 oz.
56 CPMMO:: St. Arnold in 12 oz. bottle poured into cup

* Mug was collectable, retail value at least $2, knocking price down to 33 CPMMO.

Top Secret photos from J.R. Ewing's Lab:

L. to R.: 23 oz, 20 oz (St. Arnold only), 2005 World Series special 24 oz.

Further research to take place.
Top 5 list of things to be determined:
1) Size of pregame special draft at Larry's Big Bamboo.
2) Size of $7.75 bottles distributed by beer guys around stadium (might be 16 oz, making it one of the worst values in the stadium).
3) Verification of upstairs vs. downstairs pricing scheme
4) Any different deals in Lefty's Pub
5) Investigation of beer options not discovered as of yet.

In other shenanigan news, during this investigation, there was a large, dare I say HUGE discrepancy in line length for beer. The one and only premium beer stand upstairs (Larry's Little Bamboo) had a constant line of 1+ innings. I was frustrated to wait and only find people ordering Bud 24 ouncers (at one point the lady ran out and the whole line was stuck until she could get more Bud to the people). After two passes on this line, I went downstairs and realized that the special Bud stands down there were overrun BUT the premium stands were walk right up. A few snapshots (none of these staged, it was like this the whole game).

If anyone can see what I'm waiting for in this line let me know!

Ahhh, this is a line more my speed

I encourage TheFerm followers to post suggestions for follow up work. Also, if you live in another baseball market, please offer some price comps. Is the Minute Maid ~$8 average price as ridiculous as we think? What about Wrigley? Yankee? Fenway? Or how about the smaller markets (come on, can KC charge more than $6 with a straight face to the 8K fans that bother to show up)? I have been constantly frustrated that the Houston Aeros minor league hockey club seems to have the same pricing scheme of the Houston Rockets very major league basketball club...come one, I'm not paying $8 for a beer at a minor league hockey game. But that's another blog for another day.

Raise Your Pints to Chuck!

Posted by TwoPints | Monday, April 27, 2009

So I'm hoping that everyone will go out, buy a Subway sandwich, pour a pint of their favorite beer, and watch the Chuck season finale tonight. If you are a fan, then I don’t need to tell you how important it is to support this really kick-butt show. I know SirRon and I plan to do what we can to support Chuck.

We’ve been told that NBC hasn’t outright canceled the show but it is on the bubble. If you do go to Subway anytime today please drop a comment card saying you support the show and you hope to see another season (why Subway? they are a major sponsor of the show). Can't find a comment card, no worries... everything is online these days.

This is what I propose: Tonight while eating your sandwich, right when the first commercial break starts, let us all toast Chuck!

While you are at it, grab your laptop and follow the cause on Twitter (@savechuck) and sign the petition.


Clear as Mash

Posted by SirRon | Monday, April 27, 2009

Regardless of political affiliation, you *have* to agree that global warming is actually happening. Al Gore said so in that movie that was based loosely on his book that was actually the result of his work as a young college researcher.

United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also issued a *huge* scientific report summarizing climate change a few years back.

Key findings included:

  • "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal."
  • "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."
And this:
  • It is "likely" -- "more likely than not" in some cases -- that man made greenhouse gases have contributed to hotter days and nights, and more of them; more killer heat waves than before; heavier rainfall more often, major droughts in more regions, stronger and more frequent cyclones and "increased incidence" of extremely high sea levels.
Well if it is perhaps pretty much maybe possibly happening or not happening, I think we all know what we need to do.

Drink more Sierra Nevada and wait for our government to figure all this stuff out for us.
(I read today that Sierra Nevada has installed charging stations for plug-in vehicles. Sweet! Where do I plug in my Tahoe?)

Personally, I like driving sports cars and SUV's, my house to be 70F and dry, I watch three TVs simultaneously, and I own 4 refrigerators. But I'm glad our elected leaders are working on saving the environment despite my enormous footprint.

An Inconvenient Brew-th

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are currently drafting a bill for people like me... oh and to meet President Obama's environmental agenda. The aptly named Waxman-Markey bill is being vigorously negotiated at the moment around Washington. And although Waxman and Markey probably are burning the midnight oil to save our Earth in the name of the U S of A, everyone has to take a day of rest every once and a while. While I appreciate the man's work, I think Markey might have hit the sauce a little hard the night before giving this quote to the media:

"It's difficult to measure the impact such an educational set of hearings can have on the cerebral mechanisms of open-minded members of Congress, so I just think it would be premature to have a whipping system be put in place as all the fermentation of these new ideas are now percolating, especially through the staffs as they over the weekend begin to digest the new ideas."

What do *you* think was on Markey's mind besides ending global warming? Sounds to me like he may have given that quote with that morning hangover where you are still a bit buzzed from the previous night. As a cover, he just overcompensates with some psuedo-intellectual word muddles. Don't worry man, I understand it's hard to find a good menudo in DC. Maybe he was just feeling a little tipsy after reading K-dub's blog and Twitter posts here at The Ferm.

Mr. Officer, it is "likely" -- "more likely than not" in some cases -- that I may or may not have had 1 or 15 drinks, which contributed to the knotty vehicular administration and unintentional curbulation and possibly more of them.

Just sayin'.

Toast and Jam

Posted by Leslie | Friday, April 24, 2009

Toasting. It marks the best part of any drink -- a full glass. It’s what sets happy hour apart from a coffee break. It’s been practiced since the beginning of time. And, you can’t argue with that kind of tradition.

The guys at The Ferm are notorious toast’ers. These toasts tend to be a bit long-winded, but always unforgettable. Riddled with inside jokes and Nintendo references and even a rap –- the bar for these pseudo-planned, man-love declarations has been set pret-ty pret-ty pret-ty* high.

My dad’s got one solid toast for all occasions –- “To us.” This European guy at work prefers “Cin Cin.” But, neither felt right for the blog. So, here’s to cellar temperature wine, beer out of the tap, and short blog posts. Cheers!

*Curb Your Enthusiasm, silly. I bet Larry David gives a wicked toast.

Countdown is a list of news items, videos, or just ruminations that involve imbibing or are just more entertaining with an adult beverage. After all, life is life, but talking about it with a drink makes it more interesting. Feel free to sound off on any of the topics in the comment section.

5) Get busy, It's Your Earth Day!
Yesterday was El Dia de la Tierra folks, which means it's either time to recycle for one day or contend that global warming is a hoax. I'd rather sit back and watch the debate with a cold beer (it's hotter than ever outside!).

But what is that beer's footprint? According to an article in The Daily Campus not listing its source (but if it comes from The Daily Campus, you know it has to be true), "the amount of water required to brew one keg of beer can be as much as 232 gallons." Now I don't have a calculator, but if 15.5 gallons are in a keg, then that is like 14.967742 times the amount of water in the final product! Shocked yet? Relax... breathe... and drink up... Wine is worse, but even wine is not as big of a water hog as beef, apples, or soybeans.

If you are asking, "SirRon, I'm a yuppie Smart Car driving suburbanite. What should I drink?" I suggest having a Fat Tire. The employee owned New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO has been wind powered since 1999. The brewery also collects its wastewater instead of sending it down the drain and off to the local wastewater plant. Instead, they add an anaerobic digester to the wastewater, which breaks down the organic matter and gives off methane. That methane is then captured and used to fuel an engine that creates electricity for the brewery. But wait, there is more! The waste heat from turning methane to electricity is then captured to make hot water that is used as heating in brewery. How about *that* for being miles from ordinary? That's cogeneration folks. Take that Corona!

I can brag on New Belgium because I got a chance to visit on a detour from GABF. As innovative as they are, NB has nothing on craft beer pioneer Sierra Nevada's green efforts... but enough nerd talk.

4) Nice Lamp Stamp
Just kidding on the nerd talk. Want a reminder that there are people working on things much cooler than your work? The folks at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York are developing nanotubes that are flexible and thin enough to be placed under the skin. The "nano skins" are low power and can receive data wirelessly (can you say endless tattoo possibilities?). Somewhere there is a girl who got a drunk tat of "Klye" on her lower back who now realizes her children will not have to go through the same embarrassment as their mother.

After you are done reading everything on at, swing on over to the Philips website to see a super creepy video of electronic tattoo possibilities.

Hey, I said *after* you finished reading everything!

3) Long Island Iced Tea Party
Your drinking habits are going to probably cost you a little extra in the future. Several states are simultaneously jumping on the bandwagon and raising taxes on alcoholic beverages. New York is raising taxes fairly modestly, amounting to just pennies more per bottle of wine or six pack of beer. However, this "floor tax" will be applied to the stocks of wholesalers and retailer. Expect your liquor store to start carrying a lot less in the future... and New Joisey liquor stores to start getting more business. Nice one yanks.

Oregon is also looking to raise beer their taxes. Recent legislation will tax beer sold in Oregon from effectively less than a penny a glass to $0.15 (hey, that better be a fair pint pour!). The state expects $165M per year to be collected from the 1,900% tax hike. Why do 61% of Oregonians favor the tax? Because the tax will allow the funding of alcohol, drug crisis, and suicide prevention programs... how can you say no to that? I have no official comment, if you know what I'm sayin'.

The Oregon Partnership (whoever they are), recently circulated a news release with their propaganda. I found the quote below rather interesting:

"It's about time the national and international companies that sell their beer in Oregon need to pay their fair share of the $3 billion a year for alcohol-related crime, violence, lost productivity and health costs," says Pete Schulberg. Communications Director of Oregon Partnership. "Guess who's been paying for it up to now? Oregon Taxpayers, that's who."

$3 billion dollars!? Is it too much to ask for a list of data and/or assumptions for that calculation? Since, according to the OP, 90% of the tax will be coming from breweries outside Oregon, I guess the B-M-C evil empire will be the ones saving the lives of troubled Oregonians (since they control most of the beer market anyway). I suppose I can live with that.

2) Do These Beer Goggles Make My Face Look Fat?
In "I'm glad my tax dollars didn't pay for that" news, a recent UK study discredits the beer goggle defense... at least when it comes to underage and "mature" faces (I saying guess "old" is passé). Thank you Professor Vince Egan of the University of Leicester for your dedicated research.

"We found that while alcohol consumption significantly inflated attractiveness ratings for participants looking at sexually mature faces with high levels of make-up, greater alcohol consumption itself did not lead to overestimation of age," said professor Egan. "Consumed alcohol had no effect on men estimating the age of either mature or immature faces."

I thought the beer goggle hypothesis had already become a theory or a law based on a thorough study in 2003 by some other bleeding edge researcher.

I'm happily married so I'll just roll with whatever the expert-o-the-day is saying. My problem has always been how attractive those shots look after 6 pints.

1) I Got My Mind on My Vino and My Vino on My Mind
Maureen Ogle, please read this! Having trouble understanding the fundamental differences in artisanal cheese maker and Velveeta? Certainly Velveeta could make artisanal cheeses, but why don't they? Conversely, doesn't Jane Cheesemaker want to be Velveeta? I had to listen to you and Ben Stein derail a near dream team beer panel during Beer Wars, so you should have to commit a few minutes to The Ferm's thoughts.

The intra-industry Little Guy/Big Guy dynamic can be seen in a recent NYT piece. Eric Asimov recently posted a great profile of Randall Grahm, owner of Bonny Doon Vineyards. Mr. Grahm started small in 1983, but quickly grew his business by making mass market wines. Being a true winemaker who appreciates the craft of both growing grapes and crafting wines, he recently took a sharp detour on the road to become "The Man." Rather than follow the dollar at the expense of the product, he chose to sell significant parts of his company and scale back. "Instead of being a great marketer," he wants to make wines that are distinctive and unusual. Bravo!

Sorry to pile on Beer Wars again, but this point was misrepresented in the portrayals of Sam Calagione and Greg Koch in the movie and live panel. These guys are brewers first... marketers second. Ugh, don't get me started.

While I rant (off keyboard), be sure to read NYT's curiously wine-centric "drinking blog" for the great profile piece on Randall Grahm. It's a good read on an important figure, but unknown face to most of the public, in the wine making industry.

So there I was, in Austin loading up on a bus getting ready to roll out to Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas for the annual Jerry Jeff Walker Birthday Bash. So I knew I was up against the wall redneck mother when it came to a better beer selection in Gruene. Pretty much what you get is the generic BMC products, Lone Star and Shiner.

I knew that I was in for a Shiner and Miller kind of night, especially since my consumption day began at 11am. Not to mention that Bud Light sucks and excessive Budweiser results in a super bad hangover. Jerry Jeff's B-day bash day would result in a 15 beer kind of day, and I knew that going in.

I often find myself in these kind of situations and wonder if other who have a taste for finer fermented beverages live through this as well. It has to happen, I can't be alone, but I feel like it sometimes.

A primary reason that I tolerate these types of situations is because I want to have a good time with friends and family. A secondary reason is that if I have crappy beers I can pretty much drink for a long time, if I drink good beers it's only for a few hours. Those craft, full-flavored brews pack a punch and can result in a buzz that results in me passing out very quickly.

So what's your take, what would you do? Holla at cha boy.

Beverage consumption choices are many, and sometimes you just have to drink bottled horse urine because of poor selection. Fear not though, hopefully no one will judge you negatively.

If you haven't seen an NFL mock draft in the past few weeks, then your life has been void of news media (when did Mel Kiper turn into Tom Cruise in Minority Report?!). Every dude with access to Google and the "Ctrl", "C", and "V" keys on his keyboard can pretend to be an expert and post a mock draft.

While we have some serious football fans at The Ferm, we have no interest in joining the NFL mock draft industry. Instead, we are going to do our own spin on the mock draft and hold an anything drinking-related draft.

Ever wanted to hold the rights to a brew kettle, the wine cork, or beechwood aging? Your board of prospects could be nearly endless.

Below are some ground rules:

  • The draft will be three rounds (format is top to bottom, top to bottom -- not snake).
  • You can draft anything drinking related, regardless how obvious or obscure.
  • Anything you draft will be off the board for the following 2 drafts (assuming we keep this up in the future).
  • The draft order will be determined at random at a future date.
At the moment, we have six members of The Ferm. I am willing to open up at least another six spots for guest picks. The first six guests to leave a comment on this post will claim a spot. We may add a few more spots before the draft date, but we'll see how it goes. Picks will be made via email or twitter. I'll send the plan to the participants before the draft.

In the interim, firm up your draft boards by bringing some things for private workouts. I've shuffled my board several times already. Some things that I thought were high prospects lost their 1st round grade after the workout.

If you have an question or suggestion, leave it in the comment section.

Disclaimer: I'm afriad can't take total credit for this idea. I totally ripped it from 1560 The Game's genius spur of the moment Seinfeldian mock draft held last year. *sigh* I should also mention that The Ferm's version wasn't my idea either... that is credited to TwoPints. Well done guys... I owe you a beer.

I'll be the first to admit, I'm a wine novice. I like it, but I have trouble categorizing exactly what I like. I don't like Sauvignon Blanc, it gave me a hangover once. White Zins bore me. Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit too red. But other than that, I'm game. I play it by the book when it comes to wine/food pairings.

In my naivety, I like wines from all over the world...Francie, Italy, Cali, Chile, Aussie,...and Maui. Took a trip to Maui (for obvious reasons) a few years ago, and per a coworker recommendation, stopped by a local winery for the daily tour. What kind of grapes to they grow there? None. It's pineapple wine. Why not?

The winery is everything you'd want in term of experience. It's 2000 feet up toward Haleakala National Park. You might think of Hawaii's beaches as the signature terrain, but at 10,000 feet, Haleakala stretches 1000+ feet higher than the highest point in Texas (peak usually not visible from shore b/c of clouds). But the drive up is picturesque to say the least, not often you feel the need to pull over every mile or so for yet another breathtaking view of the shore. There's a nice grocery store nearby to grab some lunch, it came highly recommended to grab something for the winery on-site picnic tables to enjoy with some of the wine samples. More on that in a minute.

The layout of the winery was as beautiful (as one would expect in the foothills of an isle like Maui) and the tour was appropriate in length and detail.

Random winery tank

Unfortunately, the tasting room was a distance from the picnic tables and it wasn't exactly easy to enjoy a shotglass sample with the box lunch. We should have popped our purchased wine on site (can't remember if that was legally an option) but in any event, it seemed anticlimactic to enjoy a nice sandwich lunch in the garden under the oak tree at a beautiful winery with a breathtaking view of the southeast shore with everything rain-kissed green in every direction you looked (in the perpetual 80 degree weather) without sipping on a glass of the Maui wine!

The view from the winery ain't bad

As for a wine review, we stuck with a white, the Maui Blanc. All samples were good, we just weren't enough of wine people to go past the samples on the rest. The Blanc was fruity and tasty and not too dry. While buying wine from the winery is a nice gesture and in the spirit of free tours, the bottles are widely available for a more competitive price at any local grocery store on the island.

As an aside, there is a beautiful Botanical Garden (Kula) on the drive up or back depending on your route. A well spent small fee for a great sample of local flora.

I entered the theater tonight hoping to see an attack on The Man during the groundbreaking mega-event, Beer Wars: Brewed in America. What did I learn? 1. It turns out I did not need to get out to the theater early, 2. The film was centered on a non-brewer trying to market a light beer with caffeine, and most importantly 3. Marketing *is* everything.

Beer Wars? More Like Beer Snores!
Biiiieeeeeeetshh Pleeease.

I'll avoid hitting the obvious gripes in detail (film shown as a live event only, film shown in big theaters only... hello, The Man!, film hardly touched on small brewers, film was a pricey $15, Ben Stein was kind of ill-mannered and ignorant of craft brewing). Not that these gripes are not without merit, I just think they will start to seem repetitive. In fact, after the movie I dropped by the Beer Wars official website and noticed that filmmaker Anat Baron had made a preemptive strike on these common gripes before this event even happened. hrrrmmmm...

This is a movie that needed to be made. Someone needed to champion the small guys in the brewing business and expose the gangster-like distributors (if I hear "3 tier system" one more time though!) and the evil Anheuser Busch. Seriously, I do not want to ever drink an A-B related beverage again. If The Man had a Man, A-B would be The Man's Man.

I hereby announce TheFerm's boycott of the following products:

(begin section that you will probably want to just scroll past)
Budweiser, Bud Light, Budweiser Select, Budweiser American Ale, Bud Dry, Bud Ice, Bud Ice Light, Budweiser Brewmaster's Private Reserve, Bud Light Lime, Budweiser & Clamato Chelada, Bud Light & Clamato Chelada, Bud Extra, Michelob, Michelob Light, Michelob Honey Lager, Michelob AmberBock, Michelob Golden Draft, Michelob Golden Draft Light, Michelob Bavarian Wheat, Michelob Porter, Michelob Pale Ale, Michelob Dunkel Weisse, Michelob Ultra, Michelob Ultra Amber, Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus, Michelob Ultra Pomegranate Raspberry, Michelob Ultra Tuscan Orange Grapefruit, Busch, Busch Light, Busch Ice, Rolling Rock, Rolling Rock Green Light, Rock Light, Natural Light, Natural Ice, Bud Extra, Bare Knuckle Stout, Anheuser World Lager, ZiegenBock, Ascent 54, Redbridge, Landshark Lager, Shock Top, Skipjack Amber Lager, Wild Blue, Sun Dog, Beach Bum Blonde Ale, Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale, Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale, O'Doul's, O'Doul's Amber, Busch NA, Budweiser NA, Budweiser NA Green Apple, 180 Blue, 180 Sport Drink, 180 Energy, 180 Red, 180 Blue Low Calorie, 180 Sugar Free, Stone Mill Pale Ale, Wild Hop Lager, Bacardi SilverPeels, Tequiza, Tilt, Jekyll & Hyde, Bluecoat Vodka, Cape North, Hammer and Sickle Vodka, Ku Soju, Margarittaville Tequila, Purus Organic Wheat Vodka, Vermont Spirits, Hurricane malt liquor, Hurricane Ice, King Cobra, Red Hook Brewing, Widmer Bros Brewing, Goose Island Beer Co., Kona Brewing Company, Ray Hill American Pilsner, Starr Hill Brewing, Fordham Brewing, Dominion Brewing, Harbin Lager, Tiger Beer, Kirin, Bass Ale, Boddingtons, Beck's, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Stella Artois, Löwenbräu, Tennent's Ale, Budvar Czechvar, Borba Skin Balance Water, Monster Energy, Lost Energy, Rumba Energy, Icelandic Glacial Spring Water
(end section that you will probably want to scroll past)

That was painful.

So as a beer lover, homebrewer, small brewery investor, and beer blogger, who do I want as the champion of my cause? No freakin' brainer. A Canadian ex-corporate-type, TV filmmaker, and previous General Manager for Mike's Hard Lemonade... of course. Who were *you* thinking? Our filmmaker also happens to be allergic to alcohol. Great.

Beer Wars may be Anat Baron's first documentary film, but that shouldn't be cause for concern. Ms. Baron has a lot of passion, and the film did a very good job of exposing her passion... that passion being Michael Moore films. In fact, the film played out EXACTLY like every Michael Moore film, even down to the inflections during her voice-over commentary... weird. Ms. Baron anchored the film around another female character just like herself... you know, another non-brewer pushing a gimmicky alcoholic beverage (not exactly a craft brewer or a craft beer). The movie let us in on the struggles of poor Rhonda Kallman, who we got to see leave her husband and crying children at home while she went out to bars with glow sticks and flirted with men at bars while pimping her light beer with an energy boost (recently reformulated to have 69 mgs of caffeine... haha... get it immature male light beer drinkers? 69! here have two of these glowy things... oh man, the kids are gonna *love* this!).

Moonshot? More like Moonsh!t!
Craft beer? More like Crap beer!
Beeeiiiiieeeeiiiiieeeeiiiieeeeshh Pleeee.

I should mention that Sam Calagione also got some serious face time in the movie. Not only did Sam give the film some actual craft brewing street cred, he also doubles as eye candy for all the ladies in the audience. Sam is a serious talent and is a great (even if controversial in the brewing circle) ambassador for the craft beer movement in the United States. He also happens to be in the out clause of my marriage agreement, along with Rob Thomas and that chotchy guy from Maroon 5, as people my wife could leave me for without my protest. TwoPints probably gushed about him in her post, so he'll only get a small paragraph here. Don't feel bad for me about the out clause thing... I'm allowed to leave her for the smell of fresh corn tortillas bathing in hot oil, melted cheese, or bacon.

Does it kind of feel like I'm getting off topic? Yeah, the movie felt like that too. Where was I? Yes, the struggling "little guy" theme. The sympathy for the lady failing with her caffeinated light beer was just a setup for Ms. Baron's hackneyed Michael Moore-like hob-nobbing with "The Man" and semi-guerrilla-style interviews. My favorite, and when I say favorite I mean Satan will have a new face in my nightmares, was David Rehr, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association. He came off looking so bad in this film I'm sure he is waking up wishing that he had been selected for a Sasha Baron Cohen movie instead of an Anat Baron movie.

A central theme in the film and live event that followed was the struggle of marketing vs product quality. This struggle is certainly not unique to the beer brewing business. Ms. Baron's movie ironically suffered from the same problem. There were no more than 20 people in the Cinemark with me, all of whom showed up within 5 minutes of the start time (uh oh). However, this was plenty of time to see Ms. Baron botch a simple thank you when her cue card man fell asleep, call him out on camera, and then compare herself to President Obama (nice one). This all hardly qualifies the showing as an "event." Maybe Ms. Baron underestimated the fanaticism of the craft beer drinkers in America. Maybe she should have asked herself WWMMD? (What Would Michael Moore Do?)

How do you get people to see a preachy documentary about a niche topic? You take it to the streets. You go to local Universities, screen it, and have a panel discussion after each showing. After you have created enough buzz, then you release the film to theaters. Take it from someone who has seen a lot of Michael Moore films. Take it from someone who has gone out to see a live Michael Moore screening. Take it from someone who disagrees with about 90% of everything Michael Moore says.

Overall, I think Beer Wars is an important film. Will I buy the DVD? Probably. Despite its flaws, it is a semi-compelling film that tells a story (albeit in a limited fashion) that needs to be told. The film itself will get people talking. I think Michael Moore would toast a Mike's Hard Lemonade to that.

Why The Craft Brewing Industry is to be Cherished and Celebrated

Have a picture of that represents why you love the craft beer? Send it to sirron at theferm dot org

Beer Wars: What I Thought

Posted by TwoPints | Thursday, April 16, 2009

Well we finally got home from watching Beer Wars and the panel interview afterward. Of course the first thing we had to do is pour a craft brew. Some thoughts I want to mention before I forget are as follows:

Is Sam the Golden Boy of craft beers or what?!? I've always thought Sam to be adorable, and tonight was a feast for the eyes. He was a major part of this movie and it was great to see that his ever growing business has not changed the man. He allowed the film crew access to the brewery AND his home. He was kind enough to share his thoughts, at length, on what looked like several occasions. I particularly loved that he answered the phone to talk to a random consumer who dialed the 1-800 number. As I was discussing with SirRon in the car on the way home, whether Sam wants to be or not he is becoming the face of the craft brewing industry. I think his fellow colleagues should embrace this because when Sam speaks, he is not only speaking about his product, he is endorsing craft brewing as a whole. One thing I heard him say during one of his brew dinners in the film was that the members of the audience should take any beer they like and drink it at room temp. He mentioned that at room temp you really get all the flavors of each ingredient that has gone into the beer. His point being, that craft beers have much better quality of ingredients than the larger brewing companies.

One of my new favorites that I was introduced to tonight was Greg Koch of Stone. I've always enjoyed a good Arrogant Bastard but never really knew the face behind the company. I found him to be very pleasing to the eye and passionate about his product (aren't all craft brewers?). He was a new character to me as I've not spent much time with west coast breweries. I will say I'm a fan, and will look for those large Stone bottles once again to add to our collection.

Charlie, well what can you say about Charlie, he's awesome! I love to hear Charlie speak about the art of craft brewing and hear his stories about his own homebrews. Craft breweries are lucky to have Charlie in their corner.

Now this Moonshot business. I felt, and so did SirRon, that the filmmaker choose this beer not because it was a craft brewed beer (which it wasn't!!!! Well said Beer Advocate dude, "crap brew"), but because it was a women peddling the beer. Since our filmmaker likes to make us think that she's all about craft beers and she too is part of the business (you know having run Mike's Hard Lemonade for THREE years (Again NOT a craft beer)) I think she was, to quote Simon Cowell, "a bit over indulgent" following this lady around. I'm sorry I can't remember the lady's name, and there were times I felt bad for the poor girl. I mean she couldn't even get Busch to buy her stuff. But seriously, her storyline had little to do with the craft brewing industry. She has a product and she wants to market it, she doesn't make the product, she doesn't produce the product (from what I could tell) so what's the point? Oh right, she's a woman! Now I don't like to be cruel to my own kind, but this lady and her story really didn't have any business here. I was under the impression that this movie was about craft beers and their struggles with distributors. This lady took up way too much time of the movie. A movie that was promoted in the newspapers and on the internet as a story about the three tiered system.

So now I've covered some of the major players, let us talk about this panel situation. I don't know how many of you saw this but there were several frustrating parts to this for me. It really irritated me that Sam and Greg did not fight for the quality of their beers. Ben Stein (we'll get to him later) would ask questions about the concern they might have about BIG breweries looking like craft breweries with their new beers. Sam and Greg argued it well, but they left out the biggest point. Sam and Greg brew beers with quality ingredients. They don't mass produce and skimp on the ingredients. Ben also jabbed at Sam and Greg mentioning how much they have grown, and won't they be just like the big breweries only wanting to get bigger and wanting the money. I felt that this type of comment was rude to Dogfish Head and Stone. They are only growing in controlled amounts and they are not giving up the quality of their ingredients. Also during panel time I discovered that the lady that seemed so smart in the movie spouting off facts about percentages of craft beers and big beers being sold is actually stupid or has no real knowledge of craft breweries. When she was allowed to speak during panel time I wanted her to just shut up. She didn't know what she was saying and how rude it was to say those things about Sam and Greg. Again saying that they were just going to turn in to Anheuser-Busch because that's what EVERYONE wanted. She obviously didn't know a darn thing about Sam and Greg's philosophy. As they said in the movie, had she been paying any attention, Greg and Sam will not grow beyond what they feel they can do to keep quality high. I very much disliked this lady.

Ben Stein, oh Benny Benny Benny! How about do a little research before you are supposed to moderate a craft beer panel? How about watch the movie that preceded the panel discussion so that you don't ask questions that were already asked and answered in the movie? How about remember it is not about you, but about the panel and we don't care if you live in California? How about ask a clear question instead of just muttering the same words over and over? How about let the Beer Advocate guy speak since he is a freaken expert on the topic and you, BEN, have made it very clear are NOT?!? I hate to hate on Ben but there it is. He did a p-poor job (I must edit my cursing because after all I am a mother of two littles) tonight. I'm sure it's difficult to do a live show but, you know, prepare for it a bit. Act like you care.

One thing I noticed during panel time is that as often as possible the person filming tried to include Sam on screen. God Bless the film person!

Overall movie review from little ole me, informative in part and brought on a great discussion in the car on the way home. I wish that they would have had this playing more often so that others could see it. I'm afraid I won't have anyone to talk to about this movie except SirRon and I think we sort of talked this out.

Later Gang! Looking forward to the Mock Draught!

Ever go out with a few buddies, order a pitcher for the table, and have to tell the fourth friend that he can have the first pour of the next pitcher? What about trying to do the math on the value of a $16 pitcher after you have had three $5 pints (and hey, were those 16oz glasses or were they cheater pints!)?

How bad has the problem gotten? According to some Google searches, barware distributors are selling pitchers that range anywhere from 32 oz to 65 oz.

A 32oz beer pitcher?! Those are for
WATER you amoral establishmentarian.

I recently did some research for this piece at Hooters and was not only shocked by their tiny pitchers, but outraged to find out they also stick a huge ice bag inside your pitcher of beer! Thanks honey, but I will be drinking this before it gets cold anyway. How about you fill 'er up and leave out the space and carbonation stealing frozen sack?

Tiny pitchers and dishonest pours are not limited to establishments filled with distractions run by the man and franchised across America; chances are your local pub is a Purveyor of Incorrect Measurement Pitchers too.

My fellow blog readers, it is time to take a stand. A standard pitcher is 60 oz. By that measure, one of my three friends is going to get a small pour anyway. If the bartender stiffs us on the pour, that friend unwillingly becomes the designated driver! In many European countries, beer is served in glasses with a volume marker. We need this marker on our pitchers. This is America!

Pitcher pours that are less than the full 60 oz. are wrong, folks. P.I.M.P.'s need to be exposed. Establishments serving cheater pitchers or bartenders not skilled in the art of the full pour should be identified and either tarred and feathered or drawn and quartered (their choice, depending on available resources).

Cheater pitchers must be brought to justice!

The Coalition for Open Pitcher Pours is not only about punishment and humiliation, but about clearness, precision, accountability, and honesty. There is absolutely no place for haziness and uncertainty in a drinking establishment. Who is with me?

Join our grassroots effort by sounding off in the comments section or sending an email to bigstick at theferm dot org… and next time you are at a bar and order a pitcher, tell them you are down with O. P. P.!

The Coalition for Open Pitcher Pours (Coalition for O.P.P.) and its fight against Purveyors of Incorrect Measurement Pitchers (P.I.M.P.'s) is in no way affiliated with the Honest Pint Project spearheaded by fellow beer blogger Jeff Alworth or the political buffoonery that is the Honest Pint Bill (Oregon HB 3122) introduced by Representative Jules Bailey, D-Portland... because that is just silly.

Pot? No, but Close!

Posted by K Dub | Monday, April 13, 2009

Ok, Ok, so I'm not best 'blogger' or 'husband' or 'engineer', but I know how, how much (sometimes), when and what to drink. And sometimes I know how to grow things, like hops. I've currently got eight hops plants starting to sprout in my backyard, and if you've ever seen my backyard, you might be impressed.

I've got two Cascades, two Chinooks, one Willamette, one Magnum, one Liberty and one Centennial. Last year was the first year in the ground for the Magnum, Liberty and Centennial so I might see some yield from them this year. I had bought these for the in-laws a few years back and they've been in pots up until last year. Funny, these three are actually doing better than my others that have been in the ground for three years.

So as I'm stringing up the hemp rope for the hops to grow on I realize that I'm standing on an old metal chair that's on a an uneven rock path. I'm glad I didn't fall, I'd be screwed, the wife is out of town and the dog can't pick up the phone to dial 911. He lacks the thumbs you know, and his English is terrible.

Growing a hop plant is probably as easy as growing tomatoes, basil or a chia pet. All you need is dirt that gets sun, water and a hop rhizome. They'll grow like weeds and require a little maintenance throughout their growing season and they'll have to be trimmed back at the end of the year, circa November. If you're a homebrewer, you'll end up with a buttload of hops to make an interesting beer and if you're a normal person you'll be a homebrewers best friend.

So give it a shot if you're the growing type, it's super easy and you're almost guaranteed to be the only one at work growing hops. Weirdo.

Free Beer

Posted by J.R. Ewing | Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I think I can safely say that there is little better in life than free beer. Of all things, it might be less difficult to find than free food. Or free clothes. Or free shelter. Or even a free hug.

Now there are times hidden costs for each, but those costs are usually what we call "sunk cost". And I'm not talking about your good buddy picking up a round, I mean beer offered with no strings attached (or sunk cost done left the barn).


Tomorrow afternoon my contract will be providing free beer at a park-pavilion near to our office. The cost is something like 40 hours of my time every week...but that was already spent and I've been compensated. Similar gig next week, this time my company and all free beer comes with free crawfish.

Speaking of, Friday I will be going to a crawfish party at a friends house. Cost to them, not to me.

This past Monday, I was able to turn in a worthless Astros ticket stub at The Stag's Head for...a free pint. Sure, the ticket ran $45, but that was already spent on watching Roy O serve up gopher balls.

Same day, before the game, relatively attractive girls were passing out samples of Singha beer. Now they were shots, but I take my free beer when offered, thankyouverymuch. Indeed I did drop another $3 on a Singha shortly was the best deal going even if the longneck was short of 12 oz.

Two Saturday's ago, I ran an 8K race in downtown Houston. Cost me $18 to sign up (which I was going to do anyway), but all the Heinie I could drink afterward (which was enough that the guy behind the table noticed when I got my fourth...noteworthy as it was about 49 degrees and 9 a.m.).

Some international airlines still offer free booze on transatlantic flights. Last taken advantage of by J.R. here about 4 years ago. But it was free flowing, they even came around with Bailey's/Cognac after each meal. Cost of flight was absorbed by my company.

And of course most beer-loving Houstonians know that St. Arnold Brewery offers free beer at the tour costs $5 UNLESS you bring in 10 formerly purchased six pack holders of St. Arnold. Again, that has already been purchased and drank, so free for the average beer lover (and you get a mini-taste glass for the $5).

Beer always tastes a bit better and colder when no payment is required


Posted by TwoPints | Monday, April 06, 2009

So, I've just joined and I'm taking the new Ferm for a spin. As I'm having my first glass of wine for the evening and listening to SirRon tell me how this website works, I'm just trying my hand at this posting thing. I think I could be good at this blogging stuff. Well I've got to run, pasta is on! My little girl is ready for her second dinner of the night, this is AFTER she's had two snacks! To have that metabolism would be AWESOME!

Countdown is a list of news items, videos, or just ruminations that involve imbibing or are just more entertaining with an adult beverage. After all, life is life, but talking about it with a drink makes it more interesting. Feel free to sound off on any of the topics in the comment section.

5) Yiiiiiiii-haaaaaw!!
The Academy of Country Music Awards aired last night. Artists like George Strait, Rascal Flatts, and Trace Adkins probably won awards for recording music that is decades behind musical trends with ridiculously exaggerated accents that was only marginally better than the other nominees. Woo! Congrats.

I saw that American Idol winner Carrie Underwood (who performed at the show in the Jabba the Hutt costume as seen on the right) won Entertainer of the Year and thanked the fans with this treat: "I've had a lot of good moments over the past four years. This one takes the cake. ... I never thought I'd be nominated, and I never thought I'd win. I don't know what to say. I've got nothing!" Really Carrie? You've sold like 10 million albums during that span and you haven't practiced a "thank you" for the "wow, that sounds like pop music" starved country music fans out there? And to the country music nation, Carrie won a TV show and she's your brightest star? Have you heard that Kellie Pickler chick? You have? Ain't she just the best little thing to come out of the Sonic Drive-In since those fried macaroni and cheese balls?

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad there is an "Academy of Country Music" and they hold their own award show. It just gives me hope that there may one day be an "Academy of Drinking Blogs" so we can pad our trophy cases here at The Ferm.

4) Now There is More in that Pour
Oregon is awesome... maybe so awesome that their lawmakers have enough time to draft up a bill to ensure the Oregon beer drinker gets a full 16 ounces when he orders a pint. Upon further review, it turns out the Honest Pint Bill movement is really about transparency in glassware and unfortunately violators won't be fined, jailed, or publicly humiliated.

I wonder if the non-regulation sized glassware exists intentionally in the bars serving them as a money saver or if this just points to the lack of appreciation and craft by the glass making industry. If it's the former, then expect the price for that pint to go up Oregonians. Your bar has been trying to stiff you, but remember to tip your waitstaff!

Personally, I wish I could drink in using the metric system. If my beer servings were in multiples of 10, after a long session I'd have a much easier time counting up my consumption...... or being able to brag about it the next day.

3) Poor at the Park
I just read that a draft beer at Minute Maid Park will now cost $7.50 during Houston Astros games. That is $0.25 more than last year and about $5.00 north of a reasonable price. You will NEVER see me pay $7.50 for a beer! Not a chance... mostly because it's that fizzy potty water being offered at that price point. It looks like I'll be dropping $8.00 for a ball park "premium" draft. All I'm saying is that I better get an honest pour! In related ballpark concession news, a Sheriff Blaylock's nacho now pays for an entire year of Carlos Lee's contract.

2) Why I Don't Work Out Anymore
An Australian study on the effects of drinking beer after training has revealed shocking results... it's not good for you. According to an article (I was too lazy to read the actual study) it could take 60-72 hours to recover after drinking beer. How much beer did they give the athletes during this study and where can I sign up for such a thing? On second thought, a three day hangover in a clinic is probably not an ideal situation. I hear this team of scientists is now looking into the effects of athletes throwing a shrimp on the barbie. Stay tuned, mates.

1) March Madness < January Sadness
Tonight is the NCAA Div 1 Basketball Championship, which marks the end of March/April Madness. The tourney is great for TV, great for radio, great for newspapers, and great for drinking. But as great as the 2-4 action packed days of excitement that March Madness hands us, are any of these tournament days as good as a single regular season Saturday in college football? Just the fact that there is a legitimate argument here makes a big statement about the power of college football. I pose the following question: Would a college football playoff (and stop right there all you playoff haters, I'm not taking about a 64 team playoff) ruin any of the regular season days? I can't see how it'll ruin it for the fans, and given the huge moneymaker the weaker product that is college basketball provides, why isn't "The Man" all over a playoff?

Say what you want about President Obama, but the man wants a playoff. Last time I checked, the White House > NCAA. Let's get this done. Now that is change I need.

Welcome to The Ferm

Posted by SirRon | Sunday, April 05, 2009

This post officially pops the cork, pulls the tab, or cracks open that bottle on our new drinking related blog, The Ferm. If you googled us and expected to see expert reviews, hosted events, or even speel checkd material, well... uhh... stick around anyway! Sign up for our feed, comment on a post, send us a tweet, or just enjoy our blatherings silently like the internet troll you are because we are glad to have you. If you enjoy drinking, or even fashion yourself as somewhat of a connoisseur (no matter how pedestrian), I think you will find us worthy of a bookmark or an RSS subscription.

This post is not meant to be a blueprint or mission statement for The Ferm (we will have exactly zero point zero readers when this post goes live). The future of The Ferm probably includes information on various adult beverages. You will probably find thoughts on wineries, breweries, distilleries, or bars that we've encountered and thought noteworthy. The core of The Ferm will probably cover the minutiae of life and/or adult beveraging (and hopefully a few made up words along the way). Still on the fence? How about... The Ferm is a Seinfeldian blog with drinking being our Tom's Restaurant.

Since this is the first post, I suppose a quick introduction of the cast of characters is in order. I think you will find that what we lack in smarmy know-it-alls, we excel in diverse expertise and cyber-personality. This is a blog on the interwebs, so I don't feel the need to do any formal introductions of the cast of characters. In fact, one's internet alter-ego is much better described by one's self anyway... wouldn't one say? In the interim, here are some almost maybe factual descriptions of the bloggers that you may see at The Ferm from time to time.

SirRon - When I'm not out curing cancer, saving the environment, or watching my wife take care of him or her, you'll often find me in front of the TV drinking researching. I'll be dropping that knowledge somewhere between the title and the comment section of my posts.

K-Dub - Have you ever had a cousin that you would sleep with if it wouldn't be frowned upon by quote, unquote, society? Kyle is that cousin.

Kirby - We were childhood friends who were serendipitously reunited just before finishing college. I hope I'm not wrong about this statement, but I'm pretty sure either of us would take a bullet for the other. Now that I think about it, I'm much more likely to be in a situation where a bullet would need to be taken when I'm hanging out with him, but I think he'd take one for me nonetheless.

J.R. Ewing - Hands down the smartest rocket scientist I know. He also happens to be a walking sports almanac. Let's just hope he has as much about NASA up in his dome as he does facts about how many losses the Longhorns had in 1987.

Leslie - I met Leslie when I was seven years old. We've been hanging out ever since.

TwoPints - A day in the life: Wake up, get ready before the kids get up, get the kids ready, take the kids to day care, go to work... think about the kids... pull the kids pictures up on the computer, pick up the kids, get the kids ready for bed, put the kids to bed, drink, sleep and dream about the kids. She loves those little meximelts.

I am going to tie a bow on this first post by giving Joe blog reader a little taste of what he may find here at The Ferm.

What you will not find at The Ferm: The phase "Here in the blogosphere"
What you will find at The Ferm: An occasional rhyme
What you will not find at The Ferm: Posts that will change your world
What you will find at The Ferm: Posts about mostly nothing
What you will not find at The Ferm: Complicated metaphors
What you will find at The Ferm: Like... similes
What you will not find at The Ferm: Boring, stuffy, elitist posts
What you will find at The Ferm: Content concepts that didn't really pan out

Now I'm not a betting man, but I think the odds are pretty good that our readers grow after this post. I'm just saying.