Saturday, October 09, 2010

Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale: Subtlety is Lost on Many



Graphic from enochbolles.blospot.com, a website dedicated to the art of Enoch Bolles

When I popped the top on the bottle of Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale, I had no idea what to expect. It had been only a week since I made a phone call to Gomer's North to secure my 6-pack, after reading about it's release on KC Beer Blog. Then, I purposely avoided doing any research on the beer. I wanted my first impression to be untainted by any hype or prejudice.

Of course, untainted by prejudice is a tall order for me when it comes to Bell's Brewery Inc. My experience is one of a long unbroken streak of excellent tasting beers from Bell's, so I will always give them the benefit of the doubt. Which is why I had no qualms about plunking down whatever Gomer's wanted to charge me for the six-pack, which ended up being north of $15. So yea, my expectations were very high.

I poured it into the perfect beer glass: the ones Jim Koch reportedly spent $100,000 to design and produce.





(Pardon the aside, but the SA glass is perfect because it makes it so easy to pour the beer slowly down the side to suppress excess foam, but when you bring the glass upright for the final pour, straight into the glass, a healthy head will form and not spill over: because of the brilliant design!) (Pardon a second aside: for those addicted to glassware, here is some porn.)

The perfect pour revealed a healthy, but not overpowering head. The beer had a clear and beautiful amber hue. My first impression of the aroma was traditional American hops, but I have have learned not to trust the initial aroma of a just poured beer. The smell you get while the head is spraying microscopic droplets can be deceiving. As the sprites calmed down, the aroma changed. Was that orange? Orange and, and, was that vanilla? I took a sip and was rewarded with a nice creamy mouthfeel, the sweetness of toffee, followed by a bit of alcohol warmth mixed with subtle floral hops in the finish.

The head quickly settled down to a thin foam on top with very little lacing. The warm, rich malt flavor lingered and mixed with the tingle of the hops. I went in nose first to hoover up more aroma and found the orange/vanilla combination oddly familiar. Apricot? Yes, definitely apricot, which lasted throughout the rest of the session. The flavor of the toffee became more complex with bready malts coming to the fore. Hints of dark fruity plum and dates would rise and fall only to give way to the apricot blossom and piney counterpoint of the hops. This has a strong English ale character. A very complex and subtle interplay of many elements. A symphony of flavors and aroma.

About 3/4 of the way through the glass, I started checking the reviews on Beer Advocate. There were 136 reviews with an overall rating of B+. BA lists the style as American Strong Ale (which puts it in the same class as Sam Adam's Utopia). The ABV is listed at 8.5%.

Some of the comments:
  • Overall, this is a very smooth and mellow beer; a little too mellow actually, as it just never takes off.

  • Aroma is mild, and unfortunately pretty standard for an American strong ale. Nothing out of the ordinary

  • Flavor is pretty good...but not great. I guess I expected a lot considering Bells brews some great solid beers!

  • I expected to be really blown away, which unfortunately I wasn't, not in a "once every 25 years" way


  • I looked at the top five rated American Strong Ales on Beer Advocate and their ABV:
    Double Bastard Ale: 10.5%
    Firestone 13 Anniversary Ale: 12%
    SA Utopia: 27%
    The Angels Share-Bourbon Barrel Aged: 12%
    The Angels Share Grand Cru: 12%


    Bell's 25th is currently ranked #30. Out of the top 25 beers, all but 6 carried an ABV of over 9%, twelve of them exceeded 10%. The ABV "tale of the tape" is firmly entrenched in the online beer rankings.

    Admittedly, I've only tried one of the top 25 beers in this category, which is Lagunitas' Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ranked #21 with 361 reviews. I like WTF, WTF is a good beer, but WTF is no Bell's 25th Anniversary.

    Land of Beige





    Drunk Monkey's foray into the Land of Beige inspired me to dredge up a post from the Muddy archives. It is sort of an ode to Beigians.

    While you read, think of Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen"

    Way back when,
    In ninety-three.
    You were the dandy,
    Of gamma chee.
    Sweet things from KC,
    So young and willing,
    All pledged at the Sororities.
    Hell yea, cha ching!
    Hey 662 nineteen,
    Didn't need to dance together.
    Didn't need to talk at all.
    Just took them along,
    Once you knew they would slide on down.

    Hey 662 eighteen,
    That's Monkey Ward
    You don't remember,
    The king of retail.
    You can't believe how hard
    it is to travel without the perpetual Blockbuster, Target, PetSmart, Chipotle,
    market-tested spiel.

    Hey 662 fifteen,
    Have we got anything in common?
    Can we can talk at all?
    Why don't you invite me along,
    As you head south on US 69?

    The patrol cars trimmed in gold
    The undocumented Columbians.
    Still don't get why 95th and Nall's such a wonderful thing.

    No you can't chance us being seen together.
    No we can't talk at all.


    Wednesday, October 06, 2010

    Europa Rising




    From Michael Benson's Beyond: Visions of Our Solar System

    Breathtaking slideshow.

    welcome to my 19th nervous breakdown



    I'd like my future thin-sliced with a side of digital immortality, please.




    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Mild Consternation






    The Hartlepool Right Mild has been bottled and party pigged. Hurray!

    But for me this is the worst part of the home brewing experience. I can't know for sure if the result will be worth all the expense and effort; and I won't know for three more weeks.

    I always have concerns about carbonation and there are numerous issues with this batch that could lead down the path of disaster:

  • I only pitched one packet of dry yeast, it should have been two. I ended up pitching the second packer 24 hours later.

  • The krausen dropped after only 24 hours of active fermentation.

  • After 8 days in the primary, it was still only half way to the final gravity target.

  • After racking to the secondary fermentation vessel and waiting another 7 days, the gravity reading never budged.


  • So, I could either end up with bottle bombs from the excess sugar that never fermented before I firmly sealed it up it in small glass containers,



    Or a keg of beer that only dispenses glasses full of foam,



    Or, if there isn't enough viable yeast left, flat beer!



    The good news is, I am enjoying my first taste of Sierra Nevada's fall seasonal brown ale, Tumbler. It is really, really good.







    Friday, July 02, 2010

    Hartlepool Right Mild







    Andy Capp might enjoy a couple or twelve pints of these during an extended night of snooker at the pub in Hartlepool.


    Based on Joe Walt's recipe posted at OshKosh Beer

    Thursday, July 01, 2010

    Neglected Blog





    Poor Blog. I will make up for it in July.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Paradoxically Quintessential: Organic English Ale



    Samuel Smith Brewery. Tadcaster, England. Two hundred plus years of traditional brewing with a Yorkshire Square.


    Photo by andrewhammond


    Two hundred plus years of using dray horses to deliver beer.





    For some, it might seem odd for such a traditional British enterprise to place emphasis on a line of "organically produced" products.



    Photo by Josua Lurie at Food GPS


    Whether you subscribe to the benefits of organically produced food products or not, that method of production is the traditional way of producing crops, not the Monsanto-dominated, "Roundup Ready" method which is leading to the oh, so unexpected rise of herbicide resistant superweeds.


    But here in the buckle of the bible belt, products sporting an "organic" label and the people who purchase them are often stereotypically lampooned as wacky, new age, over the hill hippies and lefties and seen as suspect by self-appointed torch bearers for traditional American values. As the quintessential British Chef Gordon Ramsey might say, "Unbelievable. Absolutely effing moronic. No?"

    I gave Samuel Smiths Organically Produced Ale an A- rating on Beer Advocate. More and more I find myself drawn to these English style beers: Low ABV, caramel and biscuit malts, English ale yeast adding fruity esters, low hop aroma and bitterness. Nice and affordable, for all-grain home brewing!

    Sunday, April 25, 2010

    The Saint is Back



    Anytime is a good time to post photos of Elisabeth Shue. I like to call her "Lizzie", she doesn't mind, just ask her.








    Since Lizzie co-starred with Val Kilmer in the "The Saint" and Odell Brewing has announced the 2010 release of St. Lupulin extra pale ale, the occasion couldn't be more appropriate.










    From the press release:
    A dry-hopped extra pale ale, St. Lupulin is light in color, but offers a vibrant hop character. Cascade, Perle, and Centennial hops create a citrusy floral aroma and balance the slightly sweet malt character. At 6.5% ABV, the beer has a crisp and clean finish.
    St. Lupulin was named one of the best new beers of 2009 by Modern Brewery Age: "Fresh, bright and lively," said Gregg Glaser, contributing editor. "Grapefruit in the nose carries into the flavor."

    Thursday, April 01, 2010

    Overbearing Scotsman



    "Ahhh, 'rrrruff!' that's the way your mother likes it, Trebeck." Ahhh, Hah, Hah Hah, Hah!


    Photo by Stuart Crawford at http://flickr.com/photos/potatojunkie


    Founder's Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale


    It is plain to see Founder's is the current "It" brewery by the product ratings handed out for offerings that are not all that remarkable. The ruby hue is visually appealing and the nutty, oak and molasses aroma is intriguing, but the flavor does not live up to the hype. You've got your familiar Scotch Ale notes and a hint of hop bite, but it all gets washed away by the boozy finish. This is doubly disappointing because I could have gone with a sixer of Schlafly Scotch Ale or Odell 90 Shilling, and saved $2.00.

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    Boss Muddy's Special Double Creamy Beer Reviews & Koch's Oligarchapalooza



    I'm all in on this post to commemorate having accomplished my goal of posting each and every day in the month of March.

    Boss Tom's Golden Bock

    I am a bit chagrined that I am just now getting around to trying my hometown brewer's most recent 6 pack offering. In my defense, the last six pack I purchased was for Saint Patrick's Day and that, of course, was Boulevard Irish Ale. So, when it came time to purchase another sixer, Founders Dirty Bastard caught my eye and I confess I fondled the Left Hand Milk Stout, but I came back home for the Golden Bock.

    Show-Me Beer did a great review of BTGB. In fact, it earned a link from Pitch blogs. I mention this because I want to post Drunk-Monkey's gorgeous picture, which puts my picture to shame.


    Drunk-Monkey was also spot on when he said this beer would be great with a heavy meal. I had it with my dinner of Chicken Alfredo Florentine; it was the perfect compliment.

    In general, I find the Maibock style of beer somewhat of an enigma, and Boss Tom was no different. Visually, the beer is stunning. The deep golden color and robust carbonation provides the classic beer image. But the aroma is muted and the initial taste not all that inspiring. Then, as I enjoyed the creamy pasta dinner dish, I found myself very much looking forward to each sip. The carbonation gives it a nice bite on the front end, followed by a slight caramel sweetness, then a nice warming finish from the +6% ABV. As I finished the beer I came to the conclusion that this is a damn good beverage.

    Bell's Special Double Cream Stout


    The picture is crappy, but the beer is good, even though it was not what I expected. It pours absolutely black with no translucence and topped by a dark brown foam that dissipates quickly. Strong chocolate and coffee aroma. Bell's web site refers to it as a dessert beer, so I was expecting something similar to Left Hand's Milk Stout. This was NOT sweet, this was more like unsweetened chocolate with a slight bitter hop finish. But the body is silky smooth and I enjoyed it very much.

    Koch (pronounced "coke") Industries = Vomitous Disinformation PR Machine (AKA "Have Cocksuckers. Will Travel")

    GreenPeace: Koch Industries Secretly Funding Climate Denial Machine

    Via DeSmogBlog.com

    • The company’s founder, Fred Koch, once earned $5 million building oil refineries in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s reign.
    • Fred Koch was a co-founder of the John Birch Society.
    • Charles G. and David H. Koch, two of Fred’s four sons, each now own 42% of the company’s stock. According to 2009 Forbes rankings, the Koch brothers are tied for the 19th richest person in the world, and for ninth richest American, each worth between $14 and $16 billion
    • Koch Industries has bankrolled Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to the tune of over $5 million since 2005.
    • AFP – known primarily for its role in organizing the tea party movement in the U.S. – brought notorious climate denier Lord Christopher Monckton to the Copenhagen climate summit as its guest speaker. Despite Lord Monckton’s reprehensible behavior in Copenhagen – where he repeatedly compared college students advocating for a clean energy future to “Hitler Youth” and “Nazis” – Americans for Prosperity continues to host Monckton at its events in the United States, including a recent appearance in Wisconsin.
    • While in Wisconsin on AFP’s dime, Monckton booked a side gig at a GOP fundraiser where he described President Barack Obama as a “monster.”
    • Koch was also one of the funders of the 2007 polar bear junk science “study” authored by prominent climate deniers (including Sallie Baliunas, David Legates and Tim Ball) that claimed to prove that polar bear populations were not affected by anthropogenic climate disruption in the Arctic.
    • Funded the Institute for Energy Research, which was behind the Danish study that attacked the viability of wind power.

    Via PublicIntegrity.org

    Bigger in size than either Microsoft or AT&T, Koch Industries tends to fly under the public radar screen. Yet as the Center has previously reported, Koch — which owns refineries that can process over 800,000 oil barrels a day, and operates some 4,000 miles of pipeline — is a prolific political donor. Today, Koch is the second-largest privately held company in America.

    While Koch has a long history of pushing libertarianism through its grant-making, more recently, the company has established itself as an aggressive opponent of climate legislation and a major funder of climate skeptics — including the libertarian Cato Institute.

    Co-founded by Charles Koch in 1977, in recent years, the Cato Institute has hosted numerous D.C.-based briefings featuring various climate skeptics. A briefing book Cato distributed among members of the 107th Congress dismissed the Kyoto protocol and further asked, “Is the way the planet warms something that we should even try to stop?”

    Though Cato’s funding has diversified since its early days, it’s thanks to Koch that the think-tank exists at all: According to Gregg Easterbrook, in its early years, the “largest portion” of the Cato Institute’s bills were paid by Charles Koch.

    While Cato takes the battle for public opinion on global warming to the pages of the Post, Koch has conducted a quieter scrimmage behind the scenes. Last year alone Koch Industries spent $7.4 million to lobby Congress on global warming and other issues. Meanwhile as the Center noted in September, in recent years, Koch has stepped up its funding of other global warming skeptic groups as well. From 2004-2006, the Koch Foundation increased such funding to $5.3 million, an increase of 93 percent in just those two years alone.


    Koch Industries, making the world safe for Oligarchs.

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Keeping the Faith...



    ...Separate from the Government.



    Blog Against Theocracy is April 2-4.

    Blog up and be counted.

    Details here.

    Thanks to Blue Gal for the reminder.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Bonus Beer Contest: We Have a Winner! WTF?



    In yesterday's "After-SMaSH" post I offered bonus points to anyone who could name the beer in the foreground of the posted picture.
    ~J offered "WTF is that?"

    Winnah!


    It was a bottle of Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot. I snagged the last two at Gomers in Parkville last Saturday. WTF is a malty +7% concoction that RateBeer places in the American Strong Ale category:
    Not a style, per se, but the only logical category to incorporate the plethora of strong, stylistically vague beers coming from American micros these days. Some are related to English Strong Ales, but with more hop, while others are ultra-strong variants on the IPA theme. But no matter how varied their origins or characters might be, all are intense, potent, with generous quantities of hops and malt.

    KC Beer Blog did an excellent review of this brew last February.

    So Jay, tell us, what does ~J win?

    Choice of any one of the following beers to be delivered at ~J's specified location.



    But Wait! I just remembered I have a bottle of this stuff. It's kind of old though, so I don't know if ~J would be interested.

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Simcoe, Bloody Simcoe: The After-SMaSH




    Aftermath of Simcoe, Bloody Simcoe brewday. (bonus points if you can name the bottle of beer in the foreground)


    Simcoe, Bloody Simcoe is in the carboy. Brother DJ and I had a wild ride while hitting some important milestones.

    Brewday Firsts:

    • Used 24 qt kettle (no H2O "top up" for our SMaSH beer's wort!)
    • Used No Malt Extract (couldn't call it SMaSH beer if we had)
    • Used Maris Otter pale malt (the Single Malt in SMaSH)
    • Used Maris Otter crystal malt (still M.O., so still SMaSH beer, ha!)
    • Used Flaked Barley (this is not malt, so still SMaSH beer, ha ha!)
    • Used Simcoe hops (the Single Hops in SMaSH)
    • Used bottling bucket for sparging
    • Used FermCapS foam control in the boil
    • Used Whirlfloc tabs instead of Irish Moss to help with cold break
    • Eliminated back-breaking "pour & funnel" method for wort transfer


    As expected, things didn't go quite as expected. This time we had to shut off the water for the guy who was putting down linoleum in the bathroom. This with 20 minutes left for the mash to finish!

    Our efficiency was about 65% which is ok, but even after adding a pound of corn sugar, the starting gravity was only 1.055, so the ABV won't be any greater than 5.7%.

    6% ABV would have been better. With the IBU's this beer is sporting, higher alcohol means friends and family who try it get a quick buzz, which helps take their minds off the hop assault.

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    It's Billmon, Baby



    Billmon, the greatest political blogger ever, whose self-imposed exile I still have not recovered from, on occasion posts to his diary at Daily Kos, which is one of the few reasons I visit that site.

    The most recent event of sufficient interest to warrant Billmon's comment was how Eric Cantor's responded to violent acts and threats against Democrats by saying, well who knows what the hell he said, it was complete gibberish.

    However, if you are so inclined, pull up a stool and sidle up to the bar, while a consummate connoisseur of right wing distillations recites the recipe for Cantor's little concoction. Something Billmon likes to call, Spock with a Beard.



    Here is Cantor's statement as reported by the Atlantic.

    There've been a lot of reports and the potential for violence against members of Congress over the past several days. Let me be clear: I do not condone violence, there are no leaders in this building, no rank and file members in this building that condone violence, period...

    I've received threats...not only for my positions, but also because I'm Jewish...

    Just recently I have been directly threatened. A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week...

    I want to stress this, and it's very important. Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials. It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain. That is why I have deep concerns DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon. Security threats against members of Congress is not a partisan issue, and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible. I'm not naive enough to think that letters, statements, or press releases will prevent anyone disturbed enough to commit violence from acting. But I do know that such letters, statements and press releases can very easily fan the flames by ratcheting up the rhetoric. Some will only inflame these situations to dangerous levels. Enough is enough, it has to sop. We need to move forward and get back to addressing the important issues facing our nation and let law enforcement handle these situations.

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    To: emawkc & Bull E. Vard




    A hairball from a Maine Coon cat (about 4 in/10 cm long).
    Photo by Derek Jensen (Tysto), 2005-December-22




    In response to yesterday's post, the indomitable emawkc and unflappable Bull E. Vard responded with some excellent arguments.

    emawkc:
    "The cost part of the equation has been ignored"


    Because everyone knows it and no one wants to talk about it. A good way for a politician to become marginalized during this debate would have been to complain about how Doctors and Hospitals charge too damn much money.

    It's a Hairball.

    But it was in the subtext when Obama used the phrase, "bending the cost curve" and when Republicans suddenly became champions of Medicare and wrung their hands about draconian reductions in physician reimbursements. And my central argument was that people like Mr. Freedom Lover drive costs up when they consume vast amounts of trauma care services and never pay for them.

    Bull E. Vard:
    "Good work, you've successfully made an argument for the health police."


    A bit of a stretch, I think. Mr. Freedom Lover indicts people who support HCR as just a bunch of freeloaders, while channeling some Randian Hero fantasy and pounding his chest about being no teat sucker he,

    "Anybody who knows me and my convictions knows I practice what I preach."


    So I held his hypocrisy up to the light, then dipped it in some gruesome detail for dramatic effect.

    I understand our political landscape and the state of our society doesn't preclude the potential for Health Police. But barring some catastrophic collapse of Western Civilization, we won't have a society where people like Mr. Freedom Lover are denied emergency medical treatment and those people do drive up costs and I don't have to explain to you the economics of insurance and the diffusion of risk and the fact that a majority of our fellow citizens don't want to live in a society where children with treatable leukemia are allowed to live or die based on the size of their parent's bank account.

    It's a Hairball.

    The approach taken with the HCR legislation is based on a not unreasonable calculus, and is the kind of compromise we get in a representative democracy largely co-opted by powerful economic interests who now have full citizenship after Citizens United v.

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Mr. Freedom Lover


    Over at Logtar's Blog, his post about the recently passed Health Care Legislation, Privilege Vs Right has touched off a heated debate.

    A commenter who strongly dislikes the legislation started his first reply with the statement, "The problem is that it's easy to spend someone else's money." Then went on to argue passionately that this policy is wrong because it is impinging on his freedom. He reveals his bent that justice should be of little concern for our society when he states, "I’d rather just be free to make the choices that lead to my success or failure." He confirms one of his choices by stating, "I waive health insurance and I do not want it. Up until yesterday I had the freedom to choose."

    All very well and good, I suppose, except in a later comment, while trying to refute Logtar's contention that the government has a valid interest in curtailing citizen's freedom through traffic regulations, this freedom loving individual wrote, "choosing to speed can be enforced with a fine because [..] I am putting society in danger by doing so. [...] not having health care [insurance] does not put society in danger."

    Really?

    This commenter seems to share a blind spot with many individuals I meet who bitterly complain about having to pay taxes and having their freedom taken away, while simultaneously behaving in ways that threaten society and cause our taxes to be higher and requiring more regulations. Not having health insurance absolutely puts society in danger, by causing medical expenses and insurance premium increases to absorb the costs of treating uninsured individuals who can't pay for their treatment.

    But I suppose I could be wrong. I suppose if we lived in a society that let everyone have the freedom to succeed or fail, no matter what, and the commenter were involved in some mishap and sustained life threatening injuries and an ambulance arrived, but the EMT refused to treat him because Mr. Freedom Lover chose not to carry health insurance, I suppose as the EMT snapped the laryngoscope back into its protective case, if the EMT were observant, he might see a hint of a smile at the corners of Mr. Freedom Lover's blood covered mouth, as Mr. Freedom Lover aspirated his own blood, a hint of a smile from the satisfaction Mr. Freedom Lover felt knowing he was living in a society where he had the freedom to suffocate on his own blood because he chose not to carry health insurance.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    Big Question: What Did Tea Party Cowboy Say to African American Legislators?



    There is a video on YouTube posted by DefendGlenn titled, "Big Lie: Video Shows Black Lawmakers Lied about 'Racist' Assault".

    At about the 27 second mark, some curious action occurs. A fellow wearing a white cowboy hat comes into the frame. He lifts a cupped hand to his mouth and just as the individual closest to him walks by, leans in and spouts something.

    The audio quality is too poor to pinpoint exactly what was said, but if you have headphones you can tell it was short, quick and spoken just loud enough that only the people directly in front of him would have a chance to hear the message. When I watch the video, his body language pretty much telegraphs what kind of message he delivered.












    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Legislator Snapshot: Jo Ann Emerson R-Cape Girardeau





    There is a post on Gone Mild about the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Eighth District, Jo Ann Emerson, and her antics last weekend during the debate on health care reform legislation. When I reached the end of the post, I noticed that Dan had failed to provide any links to support his opinion, which is not like him, so I decided to see what I could find.

    The Perry Bacon, Jr. piece at WaPo is is probably the most widely circulated report on Rep. Emerson's role as an active cheerleader for the protesters. It includes the reports of the ugly incidents that occurred on Saturday. Bill Lambrecht's stltoday.com report confirms Rep. Emerson helped lead the crowd's chants of "Kill the Bill". While the picture at the top of this post does not include Rep. Emerson, it is likely the same vantage point from which she rallied the troops.

    After the reports on the ugliness that ensued on Saturday, there is no indication that Rep. Emerson publicly denounced those actions before going out help stoke the crowd further. Interestingly, Rep. Emerson generally communicates in measured tones and refrains from participating in the Republican's crazy reindeer games.



    Last summer, she participated in some events with Emanuel Cleaver.

    Back in March 2009, she praised Barack Obama for his "passion on the [health care reform] issue" and declared health care reform had been a passion of hers for 13 years.



    Back in 2007, she was one of four Republican members of the House who supported legislation that would have required U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq within one year.

    Her criticism of the HCR legislation has generally been specific to the policies, if not always accurate. In this audio interview she gives these objections to the HCR legislation:

  • $500 Million in Cuts in Medicare

  • Insufficient reimbursements for Doctors in rural areas

  • Sweetheart deal for Big Pharma

  • Boon for Insurance Companies

  • Prefers a Bi-Partisan approach: Claims Republicans not included whatsoever.


  • I share Rep. Emerson's objections to bullet points three and four. I am ignorant about physician reimbursements in rural areas. That leaves the first and last points. The first one is accurate but misleading, since the plan reduces the payments to private insurers providing Medicare Advantage coverage which is subsidized by regular Medicare recipients. If Rep. Emerson really doesn't like government policies that are a "boon for insurance companies" she should support this aspect of the HCR legislation.

    The last bullet point is balderdash. From the the web site of the Republicans on the House Energy Committee, which crafted the initial legislation, here is a list of Republican amendments that were approved by the committee (including one from Rep. Greg Walden which would benefit her rural constituents):

    Cliff Stearns, R-FL., would prohibit the Government plan from receiving a 'bailout' from taxpayer funds.
    Anna Eshoo, D-CA., Jay Inslee, D-WA., and Joe Barton, R-TX., would create a pathway for non-pioneer drug companies to manufacture 'follow-on' biologics.
    Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., would prevent the new "Center for Quality Improvement" created under this bill from developing methodologies for rationing care.
    Phil Gingrey, R-GA.,would prevent government bureaucrats at the new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CCER)from dictating to physicians what treatments they can or can't offer.
    Rogers, R-MI., would prevent the Federal government and private insurers from using Federal comparative effectiveness research for care rationing or limiting reimbursement levels. T
    Tim Murphy, R-PA., would require the new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research and the new Health Choices Commission to consult with the specialty colleges and academies of medicine in determining any official recommendation or standards for best practices.
    John Sullivan, R-OK., would require the HHS Secretary to eliminate duplicative government programs, reducing waste and inefficiency in the realm of government healthcare.
    Michael Burgess, R-TX., would authorize States to create an option under Medicaid to allow individuals already on Medicaid that have annual prescription drug costs of over $200,000 to hold employment and be productive members of society.
    Anna Eshoo, D-CA., and Mike Rogers, R-MI., allows the primary physicians, under section 1301 of the bill, to be eligible regardless of specialty.
    Michael Burgess, R-TX., would ensure that all qualified health plans (including the public plan) under the bill will have a reasonable and accessible utilization review and appeals process so that insurance companies (or the public plan) aren't allowed to deny needed care and step in-between a patient and their doctor.
    Ed Whitfield, R-KY., would place a moratorium on the reimbursement cuts to 10 of the top 11 procedures performed by interventional pain physicians in an Ambulatory Surgical Setting.
    Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR., offered two amendments en bloc.
    The first amendment would help ensure that the demographics of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) more accurately represent the demographics of Medicare recipients.
    The second amendment would help ensure that the new "Health Benefits Advisory Committee" established in the Democratic legislation accurately represents the interests of rural Americans. Currently 21 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Mr. Walden's amendment would ensure that at least one quarter of the Committee's members be practitioners who have legitimate experience practicing in a rural area for at least a five-year period preceding their appointment. .
    Rep. Steve Buyer, R-IN., offered two amendments en bloc to protect veterans' access to health insurance
    One amendment would allow the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to retain sole authority over their respective health care systems.
    The other amendment would allow veterans enrolled in the VA health care system to obtain coverage through the new Health Insurance Exchange in addition to their VA coverage.
    Shimkus, R-IL., would add language to the bill ensuring that there is no religious discrimination for patients seeking spiritual care under plans in the new Health Insurance Exchange.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    The Vigilance of LimBeckelleMaklin




    When I saw this, I thought it might make a good blog post.

    I was overjoyed to see that Mr. Destructo was already on the case. Yea, he was feeling it. Like all good Americans, he knows we can depend on Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin to ferret out the bamboozlers, to tell us who loves freedom and who doesn't. When they sized up Marcelas, LimBeckelleMalkin found him lacking,

    "Raise your hand if you love freedom, Notice Your Dead Mom didn't move a muscle, kid."

    Clearly just another freeloader. And a whiny one at that.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Health Care Reform Legislation Enacted



    Just watched the historic vote in the US House of Representatives on health care reform. I am one of those people who would have told a pollster that I did not support this health care reform legislation. Not because I did not support health care reform, but because the legislation did include a robust public option.

    So, while being disappointed that it lacks provisions for a robust public option, I applaud the reforms that will end some of the most egregious practices of the private health insurance industry. I look forward to a time when I no longer have to worry about my family being denied coverage for pre-existing illness and no longer have to worry about having my insurance canceled or run out when I need it the most.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    SMaSH Beer Home Brew Recipe




    SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop. Most beer is made using a variety of malts and hops and commercial brewers rarely use this approach. Home brewers have popularized SMaSH beers as a way to experience the full flavor of each ingredient. This recipe uses 10 pounds of Maris Otter malt and 6 ounces of Simcoe hops.

    Maris Otter is a 2 Row English barley cultivar developed in 1996 at Cambridge. Maris Otter Pale Malt makes up 80% of the malt bill. The base malt contributes the sugars that will be converted to alcohol by the yeast. The other 20% of the malt bill is Crystal Maris Otter. Crystal malt is barley that has been roasted with a special process that partially caramelizes the sugars in the grain. The sugars from this grain add flavor and color to the beer, but are not converted to alcohol by the yeast.

    Simcoe is a cultivar bred in Yakima Washington and first released in 2000. It has a pine-like aroma and a taste with a slight hint of citrus.

    Technically, using crystal malt should disqualify this recipe from being considered a SMaSH beer, partly because it's rare for a home brewer to know what type of barley was used to create the a crystal malt. However, Simpson's recent introduction of Crystal Maris Otter now makes it possible to have a SMaSH beer sweetened by the caramelized sugars of a crystal malt.