Happy Towel Day!

towel
In addition to being “Geek Pride Day” today, it’s also “Towel Day,” which is a tribute to Douglas Adams that was started in 2001. If you haven’t read or are otherwise familiar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — I’m disappointed in you — but here’s why a towel is relevant to that story, as explained in Chapter 3:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

The idea is that on May 25, fans should openly carry a towel with them, in fact they want you to make “sure that the towel is conspicuous — use it as a talking point to encourage those who have never read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to go pick up a copy. Wrap it around your head, use it as a weapon, soak it in nutrients — whatever you want!”

But since this is beer-focused place, and I don’t want to shortchange you, here are some beer towels that are educational as well as useful as any towel would be. So hopefully, you carried your towel with you today. If not, there’s always next year.

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This beer towel is available from the Baltic Shop.

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This one on beer and food pairing is likewise from the Baltic Shop.

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And so is this one on beers of the world.

Beer In Ads #1868: Visiting The Grandparents


Friday’s ad is a parody or spoof ad from Mad Magazine, which seems appropriate for April Fool’s Day. The artist was William or Will Elder and what it was making fun of was the Beer Belongs series of ads by the United States Brewers Foundation that ran from 1945 to 1956. In the ad, everyone from the baby to the family pets are drinking a beer.

Visiting the Grandparents by William Elder, a Mad Magazine spoof

Make American Beer Drumpf Again

dock-street-new
I really hope this isn’t an April Fool’s Day prank. But even though I just saw it today, it was originally posted March 22, and it’s by a brewery that actually went through with making a beer using goat’s brains in an homage to zombies for a Walking Dead-themed beer, which in my mind increases its chances of being legitimate. Anyway, Dock Street Brewery of Philadelphia announced that they’re launching a new line of political beers to be known as the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Drumpf” series. First up will be Short-Fingered Stout, which is described as “a bitter and delusional stout with an airy, light-colored head atop a so-so body.” Sadly there’s no timetable yet for its release. With many beer folks converging on the City of Brotherly Beer early next month, we can only hope it will be available to coincide with the Craft Brewers Conference, so we can all have a chance to “Make American Beer Drumpf Again.”

Here’s Dock Street’s press release:

Is it just us, or does this particular celebridential candidate always sound like he’s had a few too many? In his (dis)honor, Dock Street Brewery is brewing up a series of quaffable reminders to exercise your suffrage, and just dump Drumpf.

Beer has always, throughout history, been a key ingredient in the recipe for revolutionary ideas. In that spirit, we’re brewing this series to declare our disdain for Drumpf, and to extend a little nod of solidarity to our friends, fans and neighbors that also believe the country deserves better representation – on a national and international platform – in the race to be Commander in Chief. We just can’t wrap our well-coiffed heads around a candidate who encourages his supporters to attack protesters at his rallies, wants to limit access to the U.S. based on religion, and flagrantly manipulates facts and data. Oh yeah, and that ridiculous wall idea? Come on.

The first in the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Drumpf” series will be Short-Fingered Stout, a bitter and delusional stout with an airy, light-colored head atop a so-so body. Don’t worry, its bark is worse than its bite; this big baby comes in at a somewhat conservative 4.5% ABV.

Release date will be announced soon, during which we’ll host a meeting of the minds and palates at our brewpub where guests are encouraged to debate, discuss, and toast to free speech and democracy.

All are invited and welcomed, no matter what your political views are. Except one person…

Go home man, you’re Drumpf.

drumpf
Artwork: Alexis Anne Grant for Dock Street Brewery

Craft Beer & Ale: A Parody of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham

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Today, of course, is the birthday of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. Almost seven years ago my kids were on a Dr. Seuss kick and we read quite a few of his books multiple times, with Green Eggs & Ham emerging as the family favorite. I was playing around with the words one night, as I often do, and decided to see if I could come up with a beer-themed parody of the book. I originally posted the results six years ago, and here they are once again; Craft Beer & Ale, by Dr. J. Enjoy!

CRAFT BEER & ALE

Sam I am

I am Sam

Sam I am

That Sam’s upscale.
That Sam regales.
I do not like that Sam wholesale!

Do you drink
craft beer & ale?
Seuss-2

I do not drink them, Sam, they’re stale.
I do not drink
craft beer & ale.

Would you drink them
weak or strong?

I would not drink them
weak or strong.
I would not drink them, it is wrong.

I do not drink
craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them, Sam, curtail.

Would you drink them with more hops?
Would you drink them chased with schnapps?

I do not drink them
with more hops.
I do not drink them
chased with schnapps.
I do not drink them
weak or strong.
I do not drink them
all night long.
I do not drink
craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them,
Sam, you’re off the trail.

Would you drink them
in a pub?
Would you drink them
at a club?

Not in a pub.
Not at a club.
Not with more hops.
Not chased with schnapps.
I would not drink them
weak or strong.
I would not drink them, it is wrong.
I would not drink craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them, Sam — no sale.

Would you? Could you? In a bar?
Drink them! Drink them! Here they are.

I would not, could not, in a bar.

You may like them. You will see.
You may like them with some cheese!
cheese

I would not, could not with some cheese.
Not in a bar! You let me be.

I do not like them in a pub.
I do not like them at a club.
I do not like them with more hops.
I do not like them chased with schnapps.
I do not like them weak or strong.
I do not like them all night long.
I do not like craft beer & ale.
I do not like them, Sam, you’re beyond the pale.

A stein! A stein!
A stein! A stein!
Could you, would you,
in a stein?

Not in a stein! Not in a stein!
Not with some cheese! Sam! Let me be!
stein

I would not, could not, in a pub.
I could not, would not, at a club.
I will not drink them with more hops.
I will not drink them chased with schnapps.
I will not drink them weak or strong.
I will not drink them, it is wrong.
I do not like craft beer & ale.
I do not like them, Sam, you’ve gone off the rail.

Say! In a glass?
Here in a glass!
Would you, could you,
in a glass?

I would not, could not, in a glass.
glass

Would you, could you, while you dine?

I would not, could not, while I dine.
Not in a glass. Not in a stein.
Not in a bar. Not with some cheese.
I do not drink them, Sam, you see.
Not with more hops. Not in a pub.
Not chased with schnapps. Not in a club.
I will not drink them weak or strong.
I will not drink them all night long.

You do not drink
craft beer & ale?

I do not drink them,
Sam, you make me wail.

Could you, would you,
drink with Charlie?

I would not, could not,
drink with Charlie.

Would you, could you,
with more barley?

I could not, would not,
with more barley,
I will not, will not,
drink with Charlie.

I will not drink them while I dine.
I will not drink them in a stein.
Not in a glass! Not with some cheese.
Not in a bar! You let me be!
I do not drink them in a pub.
I do not drink them at a club.
I do not drink them with more hops.
I do not drink them chased with schnapps.
I do not drink them weak or strong.
I do not drink them IT IS WRONG!

I do not drink craft beer & ale!
I do not drink them, Sam — you fail.

You do not drink them. So you say.
Try them! Try them! And you may.
Try them and you may, I say.

Sam! If you will let me be,
I will try them. You will see.

Seuss-1

Say! I like craft beer & ale!
I do! I like them, Sam, you prevail!
And I would drink them with more barley.
And I would drink with homebrew Charlie…

And I will drink them while I dine.
And in a glass. And in a stein.
And in a bar. And with some cheese.
They are so good, so good, you see!

So I will drink them in a pub.
And I will drink them at a club.
And I will drink them with more hops.
And I will drink them chased with schnapps.
And I will drink them weak or strong.
Say! I will drink them ALL NIGHT LONG!

I do so love
craft beer at home!
Thank you!
Thank you, Sam-Cala-Gione!

ILikeit


All artwork by Rob Davis. Thanks, Rob! All words after Theodore Seuss Geisel by Dr. J. If you’re so inclined, you can also see the original text side by side with my parody at Craft Beer & Ale Compared.

They Liked A Pint

camra-newark
This is a fun little find. In 2003, longtime graphic designer Harry Constantine retired from a career in London, and moved back to his home town of Nottinghamshire. His son was involved in starting up the Newark CAMRA chapter, and he joined him at one of their meetings. He was asked to help out with their newsletter, and ended up as the editor of the Beer Gutter Press, increasing its size from 8 to 20 pages during his tenure. There was a whole in the text one issue, and Constantine on the fly created a cartoon of Mother Theresa, titling it “They Liked A Pint” as a throwaway to fill it.

The cartoons proved to be a hit, and he continued doing them in each issue from then on, initially in black and white, but adding color later when the newsletter also added color. Since retiring from Beer Gutter Press, Constantine reminisced that only two of his cartoons drew objections, Jesus Christ and Abu Hamza, though they decided not to run the Hamza cartoon for fear of offending fundamentalist Muslims. I confess I don’t know who all the people are, and I suspect some of them are locals or at least Brits I’m unfamiliar with. But the ones I do know, and that’s about two-dozen of the forty cartoons, are pretty funny.

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Alice Cooper And Chicken And Beer, Oh My!

chicken
Today is the birthday of American rock singer and songwriter Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948- ). Apparently early in Alice Cooper’s career, there was an incident at a 1969 show in Toronto that helped to create his bad boy persona and get him noticed in the world of rock and roll. That became known as the Chicken Incident, and there are different versions of it that have been told, with this one coming from Wikipedia.

Alice Cooper’s “shock rock” reputation apparently developed almost by accident at first. An unrehearsed stage routine involving Cooper, a feather pillow, and a live chicken garnered attention from the press; the band decided to capitalize on the tabloid sensationalism, creating in the process a new subgenre, shock rock. Cooper claims that the infamous “Chicken Incident” at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival concert in September 1969 was an accident. A chicken somehow made its way onto the stage into the feathers of a feather pillow they would open during Cooper’s performance, and not having any experience around farm animals, Cooper presumed that, because the chicken had wings, it would be able to fly. He picked it up and threw it out over the crowd, expecting it to fly away. The chicken instead plummeted into the first few rows occupied by wheelchair users, who reportedly proceeded to tear the bird to pieces. The next day the incident made the front page of national newspapers, and Zappa phoned Cooper and asked if the story, which reported that he had bitten off the chicken’s head and drunk its blood on stage, was true. Cooper denied the rumor, whereupon Zappa told him, “Well, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you didn’t do it.”

Blueiskewl also has another account, with some additional context. Stemming from the infamous chicken incident, at some time in the 1970s, Cooper managed to be in the same room as Colonel Sanders — Harland David Sanders — the founder and face of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a connection not lost on Cooper.

alice-cooper-kfc-1
A perplexed Colonel Sanders posing with Alice Cooper, who’s holding a beer, sometime in the 1970s.

During an interview which was taped for a showing of the film Super Duper Alice Cooper in 2014, Cooper answered a question about his meeting Colonel Sanders in the 1970s.

“Here comes this nice old man in a white suit,” said Cooper. “Suddenly I realize that this is the Hannibal Lecter of chickens. I have the death of exactly one chicken on my hands, and this guy has a score of 10 billion. Yet everyone loves this guy, and hates me for being a chicken killer! The irony of the two of us being in the same room at the same time was not lost on either me or the Colonel.”

And in yet another one by Interviewly, he talks about tying the two together.

What can you tell us about meeting Col. Sanders? Did he bring chicken?

There was an INCREDIBLE thing that happened in the early 70’s! Somebody threw a chicken onstage, I threw the chicken in the audience, the audience tore it to pieces, and then in the newspaper the next day the headline read “Alice Cooper tears chicken to pieces.” It’s the most notorious story about Alice Cooper that’s been going on forever. And I thought “it just one chicken and I didn’t even kill it, the audience killed it, so I thought why not take a picture with the mass murderer of chickens Colonel Sanders?” so to me it had a sense of humor to it. I mean, one chicken for me, seven BILLION chickens for Colonel Sanders. And yet I’m the villain. I would say if you interviewed the chickens they would be more terrified of him than me.

Unfortunately, I can find no specifics about exactly when or where this meeting took place. It looks like it was in someone’s house, or maybe a hotel, but no one seems to know for sure. Perhaps it’s better to leave it mysterious and enigmatic. If it weren’t for the photos, we may not believe it every actually happened.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what beer it was? 19702 and with a foil neck and probably label. It’s not Michelob and it doesn’t strike me as a Lowenbrau. It might be something more local or regional, but given that we don’t know the location that’s not much help. It doesn’t look like the Colonel joined Cooper for a beer.

alice-cooper-kfc-2

DWB: Driving While A Brewery

auto-brewery-syndrome
Late last year, a judge in Buffalo, New York, dismissed a case against a 35-year old teacher who was stopped and charged with a DWI. When Hamburg Town Police originally arrested the teacher, her blood alcohol was measured to be .33 percent, more than four times higher than the state’s legal limit. The first question is how on earth was she still alive? The second, is how is that possible? It turns out she suffers from a rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome, or gut fermentation syndrome. The condition manifests itself “in which intoxicating quantities of ethanol are produced through endogenous fermentation within the digestive system. One gastrointestinal organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a type of yeast, has been identified as a pathogen for this condition.” It can also give a false positive for being drunk, and has been used several times as a defense in drunk driving cases.

And that’s exactly what happened in this case, as reported by the Buffalo News reported in late December, Woman’s body acts as ‘brewery,’ so judge dismisses DWI. If that sounds about as realistic as a pregnant woman trying to get out of a fine for driving in the commuter lane (which has actually happened) it’s apparently a real thing, though is extremely rare. So don’t get any ideas.

This Guy Brewed Beer in His Stomach and the Mad Science Blog also tackled Auto-Brewery Syndrome. And even NPR has reported on the phenomenon. According to a report on CNN:

Also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, this rare medical condition can occur when abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol. The process is believed to take place in the small bowel, and is vastly different from the normal gut fermentation in the large bowel that gives our bodies energy.

First described in 1912 as “germ carbohydrate fermentation,” it was studied in the 1930s and ’40s as a contributing factor to vitamin deficiencies and irritable bowel syndrome. Cases involving the yeast Candida albicans and Candida krusei have popped up in Japan, and in 2013 Cordell documented the case of a 61-year-old man who had frequent bouts of unexplained drunkenness for years before being diagnosed with an intestinal overabundance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or brewer’s yeast, the same yeast used to make beer.

So while you may laugh — or I might at least — it’s apparently no fun for ABS sufferers. Better to raise your blood alcohol via the traditional way, ingesting beer brewed by a professional.

stomach-brewery

Weird History: Russian Army’s Beer Rescue

russia
Here’s an odd one from recent history. On January 20, 2004, the BBC had a headline that read: Russian army rescues kegs of beer. Subtitled “Russian troops have retrieved 10 tonnes of beer trapped under the Siberian ice after a week-long operation,” you know you’re in for something special. Here’s the story:

A lorry carrying the beer was lost while crossing the frozen River Irtysh, near the city of Omsk, about 2,200 kilometres (1400 miles) from Moscow.

The driver managed to jump out after the ice gave way, but the lorry and its cargo sank.

Six divers, 10 men with electric saws and a tank pulled the beer kegs – but not the truck – to safety.

russia_omsk_map203

Beer going cheap

With temperatures reaching -27C, the rescue mission was fraught with problems.

Russia’s Tass news agency reported that the recovery team eventually managed to pull the vehicle through a hole in the ice.

They retrieved the kegs of beer but the rope snapped and the truck slipped back under the water.

The Rosar brewery in Omsk said the freezing temperatures probably kept the quality of the beer from deteriorating and said it will still take the delivery.

It plans to sell the beer at a discount.

As many people commented at the time, at least the Russian Army had their priorities straight.

The Tass News Agency added the same day:

Russia has sent in the army to bolster a week-long struggle to rescue 10 tons of beer trapped under Siberian ice, Itar-Tass news agency said Tuesday. A lorry carrying the beer sank when trying to cross the frozen Irtysh river, and a rescue team of six divers, 10 workers and a modified T-72 tank from the emergencies ministry have so far failed to save the load.

“The situation hasn’t developed according to our ideal scenario,” the deputy head of the Cherlaksky region, told the agency. Temperatures were around minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit) in the region, near the Siberian city of Omsk and around 1,400 miles from Moscow.

A week-long effort to cut a 100 yard corridor to the river bank to pull the truck to dry land failed when the vehicle was swept away from the rescue site, Tass said.

But it said the soldiers were confident it would take them just a day to retrieve the beer.

Russian-army

It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Drink Beer

seef
I first made Johann, the founder of Seef Bier, in San Francisco, when he was here to do a presentation with his importer and the Belgian Trade Delegation as he was beginning to import his beer to the U.S. And I quite like Seef, and have since I first tried it. I saw him most recently last month in Belgium, when he was on hand to pick up the gold medal for Seef he received at the Brussels Beer Challenge. At any rate, this morning he sent me this fun video of Christmas Wishes from Seefbier, a spoof of the popular Christmas carol recorded by Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It really is the most wonderful time to drink beer. Enjoy.

Felix The Cat (& Beer Drinker)

felix
As if you needed further proof that cartoons weren’t always for kids — and still aren’t — here’s an interesting one from 1930. Today was the debut in 1919 of the popular cartoon character Felix the Cat. It was actually the third film using a similar-looking cat, but the Adventures of Felix, released today in 1919, was the first time the name Felix was attached to the character. Felix became very popular and remained so until sound was introduced, when he fell into cartoon obscurity when his transition to sound tanked. There was a much later cartoon version, from when I was a kid, that began in 1958 and was shown in television through at least the 1960s and 70s, and that’s probably the one you’re more familiar with.

But the earlier Felix was darker and less kid-friendly, for the simple reason they were aimed at adults going to see a movie in a theater.

felixthecat

Woos Whoopee was one of Felix’s later cartoons (at least of the earlier black and white and largely silent ones), and takes place in a speakeasy (it was still Prohibition after all).

Felix-drinks

Felix stays out late, drinking and dancing, while his wife paces at home angrily, watching the clock with a rolling pin in her hand. Finally, well after 3 AM, Felix begins to stumble home and begins to hallucinate. Finally, after a surreal journey, he makes it home around 6 AM. I thought sure he’d be in more trouble, but besides shooting the cuckoo in the clock, not much happens to him after he gets home. Oh, well, at least he had a few laughs and drank a few beers.