In keeping with the season, I recently picked up a bottle of what I hoped would be a nice barrel-aged porter. Knowing nothing of the brewer and somewhat skeptical of the "aged in Aquavit barrels" note on the bottle, I decided to role the dice and give it a try. Afterall, why would you not want to stumble upon an aquavit barrel-aged beer that you love? Every once in a while it pays to roll the dice. This time, however, I'm not so sure.
Barrel aging – it's a wonderful addition to the world of beer when speaking of bourbon, rye and scotch barrels. Unfortunately, I'm not too sure that aquavit barrels help this beer. It's a fine porter. A little heavy but not unreasonable. The one thing it lacks is, sadly, something listed on the label. Where is the aquavit? It's absent from both the aroma and the taste. If barrel aging doesn't impart one of those two characteristics, then it's pretty much not barrel aged. Sure, it might be that the aquavit imparted an immeasurable level of smoothness to this beer – something, by the way, I'm not sure aquavit could do. While I've not had it, I understand it to be somewhere between "wonderfully spiced" and "fire water." Not necessarily the makings of a "smoothener" (if that wasn't a word, now it is).
So in your winter beer drinking days, I can only suggest that you pass on this one. Or at least, don't go into it thinking that you are going to be having a barrel-aged beer. Instead, just look at it as a strong porter of okay quality and move on (move on to, say, the Alaskan Smoked Porter or the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale!)
For more on the Haand Bryggeriet Aquavit Barrel-aged Porter, see Beer Advocate.
An illustration of a black hole the size of nearly 10 billion Suns. Inside it, where gravity is so intense that not even light can escape, our solar system is shown to scale — the black hole actually might be 75 (area of a circle = πr2) or 500 times (volume of a sphere = 4/3 πr3) the size of our solar system, itself unfathomable in scope by Earthly measures. (from www.bookofjoe.com)
Hard to believe it but we, and even our problems, really are this small. 2012 resolution? Don't sweat the small stuff because it's actually that mind blowingly small.
On Saturday night I joined a couple friends at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium to see what was a pretty massive billing in themy world of indie rock. Wye Oak opening for Local Natives opening for The National. We missed Wye Oak but I was still happy to see Local Natives and The National. What I wasn't stoked about was, sadly, that Local Natives are still playing roughly the same set they've been playing for their past three visits to San Francisco. Yes, I saw them at the Rickshaw Stop, Bottom of the Hill and The Fillmore. Yes it's a little obsessive, but they're that good. Let's move on!
Part of the problem, of course, is that Local Natives only has one album. To their credit, they did slip in a couple new songs. Songs that I really liked. But we heard back in May at the Sasquatch Festival that they were, "going back to Los Angeles to make another record." I know things take time but how about dropping a few more new songs into the set?
The National took the stage and didn't disappoint but still left me wanting for more. It's a feeling I've often felt at National shows. Their performances are always heartfelt – this one, strangely upbeat – but their sound just isn't that varied. It can make for a night of "That was great! Didn't they play this already?"
But would I go it again? For sure - I'll do it every time they come to town. Now let's just hope that they start playing smaller venues again and peppering their sets with some more variety.
The first beer I truly fell in love with was a Stone Vertical Epic. Since 2002, Stone Brewery has been putting out one really interesting beer per year. Well, they've put out many interesting beers per year but they put out one interesting beer in their Vertical series per year. A vertical in the world of beer is akin to a vertical in the world of wine. It typically zeroes in on a single beer and allows you sample the beer through many vintages. It's a wonderful way to see how beers age through the years.
Stone takes a slightly different approach to verticals. Every year they put out a new beer in their vertical series. Always slightly different than previous years. Always interesting. Always something that makes you eager for next year when you can see how the beer has aged.
This year's Vertical Epic (released, as is tradition, on 11.11.11) is a really interesting beer. It's a rich and flavorful departure from 10.10.10, 09.09.09 and all other Vertical Epics. Brewed with anaheim chile and cinnamon, this beer has a bite. The warmer it gets the more greenness you get from the chile. The cinnamon is more subdued but there as one of a few notes of spice. It's a great beer for the price and definitely something to stock up on for future years.
CEO Thierry Breton of the French information technology company said only 10 percent of the 200 messages employees receive per day are useful and 18 percent is spam. That’s why he hopes the company can eradicate internal emails in 18 months, forcing the company’s 74,000 employees to communicate with each other via instant messaging and a Facebook-style interface.
I applaud Thierry Breton for his no-email policy. It's an ambitious goal and is a way to mobilize his teams to make progress in forging face-to-face and chat relationships with each other. That's always a good thing. But as the article later explains, his plan also includes getting employees to move more communication onto their wiki. I don't know about you but I have yet to work somewhere that has a wiki that is any of the following:
Effective for asynchronous communication (especially when speaking of remote teams)
Up to date with a fully trusted, canonical view of topics (one that doesn't prompt you to email or IM your co-worker to ask, "is this the latest?")
Deeply baked into a company's ethos such that it's the first place people look for any information.
I fear for Atos, but I hope they will be open in sharing their successes and failures with eradicating email. If they can crack the problem at a company that has 74,000 employees, we all could stand to benefit from their approach.