Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

31 October, 2013

Haunted UW

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30 October, 2013


This book looks to be a must-read.

I can definitely relate to Kissenkühlelabsal.

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Charlemagne to Stewards: Hire Good Brewers (And Other Beer Notes)

I recently read the Carolingian capitulary called De Villis. Written around 800, it's a set of administrative rules for the stewards of estates in the kingdom. Number 61 is especially important:

During the time the steward performs his service, he should have his malt delivered to the palace. Similarly, let masters come who know how to make good beer there.

Charlemagne not only oversaw the Carolingian Renaissance but he also directed that estates have good beer. A very wise ruler was he.

Some new beers:

I've seen the Potosi doppelbock at Jenifer Street Market and I believe the Geneva Lake brew is there as well. So, Central Waters is making a chili beer. Is this the new trend in craft beer? Great Dane recently released three chili beers and Capital has eschewed the doppelbock and turned Eternal Flame into a Chocolate Habanero Stout.

I'll be in the Chicago area next month to celebrate Doctor Who's 50th anniversary and am looking forward to my annual trek to Binny's. Metropolitan's new brews are definitely on my list:

Oktoberfests are very tasty indeed but schwarzbier is the nektar of the gods. Well, one of them, anyway. Notice how there's no barrel aging, no brett, no chilies - just malty goodness. If Wisconsin could only have a craft lager brewery.

Also coming soon is Lakefront's latest in their My Turn series, John, a sour cherry dark lager. Sounds very tasty.

In other good news, Schell's Chimney Sweep, a dunkles rauch, returns this winter. My review is here. In short, it's great stuff. It is nice to see a rauch beer get something more than a super-limited Brigadoon-like release. Speaking of which, Lakefront's Luther, a helles rauch, is still on shelves even though it was released last fall. (Review here.) If I made a top 10 list for best beers I drank this year, it would surely be near the top, if not at it. A fantastic brew. Why does the craft community show so little love to rauchbiers?

I had a glass of this year's Pumpkinataur by Capital. Last year's batch was much better. The stuff out now in bottles doesn't have the velvety mouthfeel like it did last fall and the nutmeg is much more prominent. Pumpkinataur came in first in a tasting of spiced beers featured in the latest issue of Grain & Grape but it reminded me of why I generally avoid any beer that has the word "pumpkin" on the label. And while I'm at it:

Dear Brewers, Jenifer Street Market, et al,

Nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger, and cinnamon are spices, not "pumpkin spices" in the same way that cayenne peppers are not Buffalo wing spice. They have a long culinary history that pre-dates Europeans setting foot in North America. Medieval chefs were spicing meat dishes with duke's powder, a spice blend that includes nutmeg, clove, ginger, and cinnamon, long before any white man ever tripped over a squash.

Has anyone tried these?

I suppose it was only a matter of time that mead and cider would have hops added to them after the introduction of hop whiskey and hop vodka. Madison Sourdough even has a bread with hops in it. Hop-flavored breakfast cereals can't be far behind. Why must everything be made to smell and/or taste like a West Coast IPA? This trend can die now.

I heard a rumor that a certain Madison homebrewer is looking to open a brewpub in Middleton in an empty storefront on University Avenue. I've had some of this person's beer and heartily endorse the idea.

Vintage is expanding into Sauk City with the Woodshed Ale House. There will be no brewing on the premises. From Robin Shepard:

As for the beers to be served the Woodshed Ale House, Manning's Woodshed IPA will be an obvious signature brew. The Sauk City tavern will not have its own brewing operation, but Manning will use his Vintage brewhouse to make special brews for its taps. He'll also serve a wide range of craft beers and a few Vintage brewing standards that include a golden lager, coffee stout and rye pale ale. "It'll be interesting to see what people want from us and what we can develop just for them," says Manning.

Manning is currently brewing the first house beer for Woodshed Ale House. Named "Sauk Hop," it's an American pale ale and features all locally harvested hops (Cascade, Nugget and Mount Hood) grown on a farm just outside Sauk City.

Earlier this year I asked Scott to brew a Baltic porter and he did. But not just your run-of-the-mill Baltic porter. He made his with smoked wheat. And he called it "Ulfberht" after a Viking sword featured in an episode of NOVA. The folks at NOVA got wind of this and interviewed Scott. I second his idea for a "NOVA special on fermentation and human culture".

The biggest news in the local brewing scene is the impending opening of the Wisconsin Brewing Company. They threw an invite-only soiree last weekend which you can read about at The Daily Page and the Wisconsin State Journal profiled the company the next day.

On Friday the taproom opens as does distribution in Verona. The brews will make their way to the rest of the Madison area on Monday. Their line-up will be an IPA, a session IPA, a porter, and an amber lager. I tried the porter when it was on tap at Vintage and enjoyed it quite a bit. Still, it is a bit disheartening to see Kirby, a man whose love of German lagers is well-known, now spending his time brewing IPAs. But the plan is to max out the shiny new brewery's 100,000 barrel a year capacity ASAP and expand to one and half times that output in short order. You can't do that with dunkels and pilsners. Hopefully this drive for quantity won't discourage Kirby from trying out new recipes.

To that end, allow me to offer some suggestions which would be more in line with German brewing traditions yet also differentiate WBC from every other Tom, Dick, and Harry with their IPAs:

-- Rauchesha - a fine helles rauch. Tagline: "The only rauchesha in the world."

-- Maibier - a Kölsch-syle beer with woodruff. Served in the taproom by dirndl-clad maidens with floral crowns.

-- Roggen Roll - a rye amber lager.

-- Manoomator - a wild rice doppelbock. Oh wait. That's been done. Still, how can a brewery with Kirby as brewmaster not have a wild rice beer?

-- Traubenator - blonde doppelbock aged in Riesling barrels.

-- Curse of the Mumme - a Schiff-Mumme. Could be a fine fall seasonal.

-- Verona Weisse - a Berliner Weisse with cranberry. You don't get more Wisconsin.

-- Hölle Hefeweizen - a hefeweizen with habeneros.

See, these beers are guaranteed to make your brewery stand out. They combine Teutonic tradition with New World flare plus they cover most of the craft beer trends. You've got barrel aging, a sour, an extinct style resurrected, and a chili beer.

Did you catch Triumph at the Great American Beer Festival?

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29 October, 2013

NIMBYism in Lake Edge

The Cap Times published an article today by Mike Ivey called "Royster Corners fights perception about density of low-income housing" which was prompted by a recent meeting between the developers and the neighborhood. The project replaces the Royster-Clark fertilizer factory which was torn down a couple of years ago and will feature apartments, single family homes, and retail space. According to Ivey's account of the meeting, "some neighbors were focused solely on the apartment being built with Section 42 affordable housing tax credits." Ivey then adds:

The apartments in question are billed as “workforce housing” priced for households at 60 or 80 percent of the Dane County Area Median Income ("AMI"). For a one-person household, 80 percent of the AMI works out to $45,100. For a family of four, it's $64,400.

Ahrens notes that most of the 60 percent units are aimed at people with disabilities or families with a disabled family member.

The whole situation comes across as whites in the neighborhood expressing dismay at an influx of people of color while the neighborhood's alderman, David Ahrens, tries to quell those fears by noting that the lowest-income housing in this project will mostly be populated by disabled people and their families with "disabled" being a code word for nice, quiet, and white. I was not at the meeting in question nor do I pretend to know what's in the hearts of those neighbors who were focused on the "workforce housing". But I do know that this country is no stranger to housing segregation and that subsidized housing is often associated with people of color. What concerns of people focused on the subsidized housing alone are addressed by noting that much of it will be going to disabled people and their families?

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24 October, 2013

America's Future Is In Good Hands

There are some sorority gals on Bascom Hill trying to put up a banner. They brought it along with a couple fence posts but apparently neglected to bring an implement to pound the posts into the ground. One seems to have borrowed a hammer from the construction crew on Park Street and was trying to pound the post into the ground. Of course she was shorter than the post and was standing downhill from it making it very hard going.


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23 October, 2013

The Cabal Strikes Back: The Dark Volume by Gordon Dahlquist

I so thoroughly enjoyed Gordon Dahlquist's Glass Books of the Dream Easters that I'm not quite sure why it took me so long to read the follow-up, The Dark Volume.

As the title implies, a pall hangs over the proceedings here. This would seem to be The Empire Strikes Back for the series. There is still plenty of action featuring our heroes squeezing out of perilous situations just in the nick of time, but there's also more introversion on their parts with each of them mining their souls and finding sadness.

Just as in the opening of the first book, The Dark Volume begins with Miss Temple finding herself abandoned. Instead of a husband gone AWOL, she awakens in a strange room in a strange house with neither Doctor Svenson nor Cardinal Chang present. She discovers that the three of them along with Elöise Dujong, tutor to the children of cabal member Arthur Trapping, all washed ashore on the Iron Coast after the events on the dirigible which closed out the first volume. Although Miss Temple survived the sea, she fell ill and came ashore unconscious.

The party was taken in by local villagers and they bided their time until Miss Temple awoke and was in good enough health to move. During this time the village was beset by a series of ghastly murders. Chang investigates but discovers soldiers who were likely sent by whomever in the government remains that is in league with the cabal. However, his unconventional appearance draws suspicion from the locals and he is forced to flee. Svenson also investigates and discovers traces of the indigo clay at the murder scenes and on the victims as well. It would seem that some members of the cabal had survived the dirigible crash as well. He pursues the killer trusting that Elöise will care for Miss Temple.

The book proceeds in chapters which alternately focus on one of the three main characters. Eventually everyone makes there way to a town where they can catch a train back to the city. Along the way Miss Temple runs into the Contessa and we discover that Francis Xonck is alive though decidedly not well. He used some of the blue glass to deal with the bullet to the chest delivered by Doctor Svenson. The glass saved his life but it has sickened him and he is obviously not long of the earth.

As I noted earlier, The Dark Volume delves inside the heads of our protagonists much more than did The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. For her part, Miss Temple is plagued by salacious visions and urges that she received after an encounter with a glass book and which she, at times, cannot contain. She is disturbed at how she has been transformed from a proper lady who enjoyed, nay, demanded the finer things in life into a killer. At one point, however, she realizes that she cannot return to her former life no matter how much she wished to do so. In possession of a blue glass book that survived the dirigible wreckers and which the surviving members of the cabal seek, she plunges her hand into it and absorbs even more memories.

Doctor Svenson finds himself a wanted man by the authorities in his home of Mecklenburg as well as by those in the home country of the cabal which he visited as attendant to the prince. He has feelings for Elöise but she is not wholly able to return them. She had some of her memories drained away by a glass book and, like Miss Temple, is in the midst of an identity crisis. In addition, it would seem that she was in a relationship with another which drives Svenson away despite his attraction to her.

Cardinal Chang is still bogged down by his unrequited feelings for Angelique. Previously she had been turned to blue glass by the Comte and there is a rather doleful scene here in which Chang returns to Harschmort House and walks over her shattered remains. He makes his way back to the city and contemplates escaping to his old ways of being a denizen of the night who lives on the fringe of society. But a run-in with two old enemies from the streets convinces him that he cannot just melt back into the shadows and that he has no choice but to see his campaign against the cabal through to its end.

Indeed, this realization comes to Miss Temple and Doctor Svenson as well. Eventually everyone is back in the city, including the Contessa and Xonck. There it is discovered that the machinations of the cabal did not come to an end that fateful day out on the sea but rather that they continue. The Comte's machinery was taken from Harschmort House destined for a new home and the powers of the indigo clay to be harnessed by a new villain.

While the character development is most welcome The Dark Volume is, like its predecessor, just plain fun. Our heroes are frequently on the run as they learn the truth of the forces they face. They are captured and escape by the skin of their teeth. I liked how Dahlquist would present a scene from one character's point of view and then reveal in the next chapter that one of the other characters had been there as well. Plus he has a great talent for slowing down the action and ratcheting up the tension. For example, in one sequence Chang is chased from the Stropping train station into a tunnel which has a siding where rests the Comte's personal train car filled with his grim machinery for the Process. He takes refuge in the car and, when he hears people about to enter, hides in the coffin-like apparatus which transformed Angelique into a glass woman. Will they discover him or will Chang make a lucky escape?

A wholly different kind of tension is built up in a scene where Miss Temple and the Contessa are hiding out in a freight car on a train heading back to the city. We learn a bit more about the Contessa including that she is not totally without honor. However, this doesn't prevent her from toying with Miss Temple in a wonderful sexually-charged moment. Will Miss Temple be able to control the erotic urges spawned by the memories from the book that are trapped inside her mind? Or will she be able to release the tension?

The book ends with a clear setup for the third and, sadly, final volume The Chemickal Marriage. I, for one, will be sad to bid farewell to Miss Temple, Cardinal Chang, and Doctor Svenson.

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Another Side of World War II: The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang

Having read Iris Chang's The Chinese in America and found it quite engaging and enlightening, I was happy to find another of her books, The Rape of Nanking.

I was a bit perturbed while reading the introduction when I ran across this: “Yet the Rape of Nanking remains an obscure incident.” Chang goes on to list various well-known histories of World War II which mention the Japanese atrocities in Nanking only in passing, if at all. Having had a father who was a WWII history buff, I knew about the Rape of Nanking, so I am at somewhat of an advantage over many people regarding the conflict. Still, one would think the sheer cruelty on display those several weeks would have taken their place alongside other infamous acts of barbarity from the war.

The book addresses two broad aspects to the topic at hand. The first is a prelude to and then the Rape itself along with a diversion into the Japanese mentality that led to it. After this, Chang looks at the event as viewed from outside Asia as well as the aftermath on personal and geopolitical levels.

In July of 1937 Japanese troops stationed in the Chinese city of Tientsin took gunfire one night while training near the Marco Polo Bridge. The next morning of the soldiers was missing from roll call. This incident escalated and led to a full-scale invasion of China. Thus began the Second Sino-Japanese War. The battle for Shanghai lasted a few months before the Japanese ultimately retained control in November. From there the armies marched to Nanking, the capital of the Republic of China and home to 1+ million people. With the Japanese advancing, many fled the city but there were still some 600,000-700,000 people there when the Japanese assault started on 9 December. By the 13th, Nanking had fallen and the unthinkable began.

What the Japanese did to the people in Nanking would have made Genghis Khan proud. Prisoners of war could not be fed or housed so they were killed. Citizens were shot in the back indiscriminately. And this is just the beginning because the savagery of the Japanese army knew no bounds. Chinese men were strung up alive and used for bayonet practice. Some were nailed to boards and run over by tanks. Others were buried or burned alive, often after having had their noses and ears hacked off. A killing contest between two soldiers made it into at least one Japanese newspaper.

The women in Nanking suffered just as much as the men. It is estimated that some 20,000-80,000 females were raped. From young girls to old women, no age group was spared. Some of them were so brutally gang raped that they died from the assaults. Those who refused sex were often killed. And as the story of one Mrs. Hsia, illustrates, women were often killed after having been raped. Mrs. Hsia received a bayonet in the chest when the Japanese soldiers were done with her and a perfume bottle was shoved into her vagina. The same fate befell her teenage daughters while a baby was simply killed by bayonet.

While I knew of the Rape, one thing I didn't know was that, amidst the carnage, there was a safety zone set up by Western businessmen, clergy, et al in the center of Nanking. It sheltered tens of thousands of Chinese and the book profiles a trio of Westerners who bravely helped whomever they could. Surprisingly, one of them, John Rabe, was a Nazi. Also profiled are two Americans, surgeon Robert Wilson and Wilhelmina Vautrin, a missionary. Their stories have them confronting Japanese soldiers to save the lives of the Chinese who sought shelter in the zone. Wilson worked for hours on end to administer care to the wounded. Their diaries chronicle the horrors they witnessed and became important tools to counter Japanese claims that Rape never happened or was greatly exaggerated.

Almost as soon as the Rape had petered out, reports of it began to leak to the West and the Japanese began a propaganda campaign to cover up what they had done. Reporter George Fitch risked his life to smuggle out 16mm film of the Rape while the Japanese gussied up small sections of the city and held it up as an example of how well they had treated the Chinese and the city.

After the war ended the Tokyo War Crimes Trial began in 1946 and, while it would bring a measure of justice to the survivors in Nanking, it was not a complete victory. Guilty verdicts were handed down for some military officers and they paid the ultimate price, but the terms of surrender for Japan with the United States meant that neither Emperor Hirohito nor any of the royal family would be tried for war crimes.

The final chapters show the further indignities foisted on the survivors of the Rape of Nanking. Many of the Chinese survivors fell into poverty and never got out of it. The Westerners who are profiled suffered from extreme mental anguish and had to deal with an incredulous public. Rabe, for his part, fell out of favor with the Nazis and died a pauper. But perhaps the greatest indignity comes from the many Japanese people, from politicians and academics on down the line, who deny that the Rape of Nanking ever happened. The book was published in 1997 and at that time there were still men in power in Japan who would gainsay despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

The Rape of Nanking was a subject near and dear to Iris Chang's heart. (She died in 2004.) This certainly doesn't make this book unreliable but she does tend to favor the larger estimates of death tolls and the like. She also advocates the idea that the Emperor and other royalty knew of the atrocities but did nothing to stop them. This would seem to be little more than guesswork. While I'll leave it to historians to argue the numbers and lay odds on whether Hirohito knew about what his armies were doing in Nanking, Chang surely did a great service by writing a book for the layreader on this topic.

I appreciated how she asks her readers to enlarge their understanding of World War II. In the opening paragraph Chang addresses the notion of exactly when the war began. For Americans, she says, it was with Pearl Harbor. For Europeans, it was the German invasion of Poland. But to Asians it was the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. This is a very simple yet effective way to introduce the idea of differing perspectives which is so important in the story here. The Japanese felt themselves to be a master race while the Chinese were sub-human; Americans had to deal with political vs. moral perspectives; many Americans couldn't believe that the Rape had occurred which spurred the organizers of the safety zone to act, etc.

So why did the Rape of Nanking fade into relative obscurity? It's a tough question and Chang offers various answers. For one, the American government tried to juggle moral outrage for the crimes and a desire to rehabilitate Japan after the war. The Tokyo War Crimes Trials were low-key when contrasted with the Nuremberg Trials. The U.S. kept Hirohito in power and shielded him from prosecution in order to get Japan on its feet more quickly. Another reason was the communist takeover of China which cut off the survivors of Nanking from the outside world and the outside world from any historical documentation regarding the events. Books have been written about the incident, Japanese officers were tried and found guilty but there were perhaps too few books and too little attention paid to the trials for the Rape of Nanking to enter American consciousness the way something like the Holocaust did. Chang doesn't explain why Winston Churchill and others gloss over or omit the Rape from their histories of World War II. Perhaps they don't consider the event to have been a part of the war – it was part of an intra-Asian conflict that is more of a prelude than an actual battle in the war itself. I wouldn't doubt that recognition of it faded in America because it did not involve many Americans and pre-dated America's entry into the conflict.

The Rape of Nanking may have its flaws as a history but it does tell the story of a rather forgotten episode of World War II. I can imagine that, at the time of its publication, it must have stood out in contrast to Stephen Ambrose's barrage of books as a stark reminder that there was more to WWII than D-Day. And this, I think, is the book's real triumph. It tells a story about World War II for the layreader that isn't about the "Greatest Generation" fighting evil on a battlefield. It's not Anglo-centric and the heroes aren't trained soldiers dying for their country but civilians taking a stand for humanity.

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15 October, 2013

That BBQ Joint: First Impression

That BBQ Joint opened on Willy Street last week so I stopped in after work to sample the smoky comestibles. The place was empty but the garbage cans were full. The decor was rather utilitarian. There were a few small tables with stools against the windows but that's about it. Take away is the order of the day.

I purchased a rack of ribs, which came with garlic bread, and some vinegar coleslaw. In addition, I brought home some of their regular BBQ sauce. The ribs were tender but not falling off the bone. When you rip off the meat, you can see the smoke ring. Curiously enough, the rib tips were still attached which methinks disqualifies them as St. Louis-style. They had a wonderful smoky flavor. The sauce, which came on the side, was tomato-based and had a nice sweet-tangy balance.

The garlic bread was fine while the coleslaw was a bit too sweet for me. I prefer slaw in a vinegar-based dressing to emphasize the tartness of the vinegar. Sugar shouldn't neutralize the vinegar, just take the edge off.

As I was getting the bill settled, a gentleman came in and took his place in line behind me. We chatted briefly and he noted that this was his second go-round of the day. Earlier he had tried out the pork shoulder and was so smitten that he had returned to try the ribs.

So far, so good for That BBQ Joint. Hopefully the neighborhood embraces them, although I was not present during any breast-feeding so we shall see. Personally, I still give Papa Bear's sauce an edge, but TBBQJ has the advantage of being closer to home. As a bonus, TBBQJ doesn't have a stupid, sexist drink menu like it's nearest competitor.

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The German Love of Beer Has Ancient Roots

I've been reading of bit of Tacitus lately, specifically Germania which dates from the first century C.E. In it the historian describes the Germanic tribes encountered by the Romans. This passage stood out:

A liquor for drinking bearing a certain resemblance to wine is made by the process of fermentation from barley or other grain.

And people thought of them as barbarians. It is surely a sign of an advanced and highly civilized culture that they brewed beer.

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08 October, 2013

That BBQ Joint Opens Tomorrow

That BBQ Joint was supposed to have opened last week on the 1st but the new opening date is apparently tomorrow. A friend of mine, who travels to St. Louis to eat BBQ, stopped there on the 1st and discovered that they were not yet open for business due to ventilation issues but was given some samples. His thoughts:

The pork? "Scrumptious." He enjoyed the brisket too: "...best brisket I've had north of the Mason-Dixon." The ribs were "very good" and an "excellent example of St Louis rib."

That BBQ Joint is at 1511 Williamson Street, the former home of Batch Bakery and Pavlov's Pizza. (R.I.P.)

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Where's Evan Rail When You Need Him? Lazy Monk Brewing's Bohemian Dark Lager

Eau Claire's Lazy Monk Brewing is the brainchild of Leos Frank, who emigrated from Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s. His distaste for American beer led him into homebrewing and from there he took the leap into commercial brewing a few years ago. His brews are traditional styles from his homeland and nearby Bavaria which makes for a beer list which is, to my taste, pleasantly devoid of any iteration of pale ale. Indeed, there are no ales at all to be found.

A recent trek to Eau Claire led me to the wonderful Just Local Food Co-op which had Lazy Monk growlers as well as recently-introduced cans. I bought one of the former filled with Frank's Bohemian Dark Lager. My knowledge of Czech beer styles is very, very limited but I gather this brew would be considered a Černé Pivo. How does this style differ from the Munich dunkles or a schwarzbier? Not sure about that...

Bohemian Dark Lager pours a luscious deep amber and is very clear once you put your glass up to the light. I got a pretty decent head that stuck around for a while but there wasn't much Schaumhaftvermoegen to speak of as it immediately fell back into the beer. Much to my shame, I had a bit of a stuffy nose when I drank this and so all I could catch were the wonderful roasted grains and a bit of stone fruit.

The beer had a medium-light mouthfeel and I tasted primarily those darker malts which reminded me of well-done toast. There was also a bit of plum-like flavor as well just like in the nose. The real difference between this brew and the dunkels and schwarzbiers I've had is that this was much less sweet than a Bavarian dunkles and much more dry than either of the German styles. Indeed, this is one of the driest beers I've ever had. I think it was due to, not only having the yeast deal with most of the sugars but also because of the carbonation and hops. Of the latter, I didn't taste a whole lot as I was expecting. There was a bit of that spiciness but it didn't pop out at me like Saaz does in a Bohemian pilsner.

The finish continued the dry theme along with some mild grassiness.

Bohemian Dark Lager was a thoroughly enjoyable brew and unlike any dark lager that I've ever had. I can't say much in terms of how it adheres to the style as found in the Czech Republic today but it definitely fits in with the descriptions of the style that Evan Rail and Ron Pattinson give.

Junk food pairing: Bohemian Dark lager pairs well with meat flavored snacks like Ruffles Flame Grilled Steak potato chips or Snyder's Cheeseburger Pretzel Pieces.

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07 October, 2013

Don't Move Your Lips - Hips Don't Lie from Lucette Brewing

Lucette Brewing up in Menomonie have a generally good reputation as near as I can tell and I found myself intrigued by Hips Don't Lie, a weissbier with honey and rose hips. This, their first German-style brew to my knowledge, sounded like a good combination of flavors. I found myself in Eau Claire recently and purchased a six-pack at the Just Local food co-op which had what I thought of as being very reasonable beer prices and a nice selection of brews from the northern part of our fair state.

Hips Don't Lie pours a beautiful gold and is clear making it a kristallweizen. There was a goodly amount of bubbles in my glass making their way up. I got a nice fluffy head which lasted a fair amount of time. The smell was wonderful. I caught mostly that wonderful estery banana goodness but I also discerned a bit of phenol in there with a moderate bit of close in there. The aroma also had an earthy sweetness which I presume comes from the honey as well as a faint floral aspect which was probably the rose hips peeking through. My experience with rose hips comes mostly from jelly which means I am no expert.

The taste is mostly like you'd expect from a weissbier. I found those banana esters to very prominent and really couldn't taste the more clove-like elements which were present in the aroma. The honey was easy to taste and added a mellow sweetness which complemented the fruity aspect of the bier plus the carbonation gave it a slight dryness that made a nice foil to all the fruitiness. All of this came in a brew that had a medium-light mouthfeel. It was very tasty and refreshing up to this point. Things took a turn for the worse as the beer made its way back on my tongue. An off taste began as an overdose of noble hops but quickly became a very prominent astringent taste took over as we neared the finish. It's was a bit like the taste of very cheap, very potent hooch. I presume the flavor came from fusel alcohols. Whatever they were, this taste ruined the whole beer. It finished with a bit of dryness, a bit of lingering banana, some of the floral essence first encountered in the nose, and astringency.

What a disappointment. Had the astringent flavor not been present, it would have been a wonderful bier. Hips Don't Lie is 6.2% ABV, which is a bit high, but it's fall so I can't complain. It's fairly intense banana flavor melded with the honey very well and the rose hips made a pleasant addition to the aroma and finish. Unfortunately, the off flavor consigned this bier to the drain.

Junk food pairing: If you can look past the paint stripper flavor, then pair Hips Don't Lie with Snyder's Buttermilk Ranch pretzel pieces.

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