Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Brew

The fire was put to the mash tun at 0700. The backyard was quiet and still, without a breeze of any kind. The sun was already hot, making the heat of the propane cooker insanely oppressive for an early morning in May. Forty feet away in the pond, a mallard hen and her new babies swam quietly away, having noticed my intrusion into their breakfast swim. A short time later, as the temperature climbed steadily in the strike water, the dog walked near the side yard fence and a wild turkey flushed, not fifteen feet away from me. I watched as it flew high across the pond and lit in a tree a couple of hundred yards away. A peaceful and pastoral setting for a fine Memorial Day.

I love Michigan.

I decided to brew a special beer for this holiday. It's a Belgian Golden Ale. This style of beer began about a hundred years ago, when Belgian brewers were trying to compete with the newly successful Pilsners. They came up with a golden ale, fermented at ale temps and cooled for the secondary fermenation, then stored (lagered) for a month and a half for a smooth and highly drinkable beer that was light in color, like the pilsners, but big in taste and alcohol content. Perhaps the most famous commercial version of this style is the wonderful Duvel, brewed by Moortgat Brewery, though there are many Belgian and American versions to speak of.

The Belgians were doomed in their attempts to stem the tide of the popular Pilsners. As anyone knows today, the Pilsner lager is the most popular beer in the world, by far, and has been since the late nineteenth century. Beer afficionados, however, wouldn't trade a common pilsner-or even a fine Czech or German example-for any of the wonderful Belgian Golden Ales. These beers are a party in your mouth. The light, highly quaffable taste belies the 6% to 11% ABV, while a feast of subtle flavors delight the taste buds. I can't wait until I crack one of these babies in a couple of months!

Here's the grain bill:
21 Lbs. of Belgian Pilsner malt (Dingemans)
2.5 Lbs of Belgian Carapils (Dingemans)
1 Lb. of cane sugar
1/2 Lb. of light D.M.E. ('cause I had some left over from the starters)
2.5 Oz. Styrian Goldings (60 Min.)
2 Oz. Czech Saaz (20 Min.)
2 Oz. Czech Saaz (0 Min.)

2 Tbls. Irish Moss (finings)

Corn sugar to prime at bottling

Split ten gallons into two five gallon batches and ferment with two different Belgian yeasts: Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale and WLP570 Belgian Golden.

A barbeque is scheduled for 3:00 PM at the Beerme residence in honor of our veterans. I can't think of a finer beer to celebrate the occasion than this one. Makes me think of the poppies at Flanders field in Ypres, Belgium, celebrated in the poem by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McRae in 1915. Too bad it won't be available until after July Fourth. Well, I might cheat and try one around that time...just for evaluation purposes, you understand.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Great Democrat Wagon Race

Politics of every stripe seems little more than a big confidence game, but Democratic politics in particular lends itself to this rendering. It is this party that has taken to huckstering and scamming to get what they want. What do they want? Your vote. For this they will promise you anything. And if that doesn't work (mainly because the Republicans are promising you everything, too) they will take to pandering to your hatreds, your weaknesses, your social standing or just about anything else that might make you believe they are the team to help you get what you want, whatever that is.

Find a weakness, any weakness. In the Seventies, two of my brothers were in trouble with the law, my older sister was having the problems that many young mothers are saddled with, my mother was working at home and at a difficult and dirty factory job to help dad pay the bills and we were living in an increasingly crime-ridden and depressing inner-city neigborhood in Detroit. My mother, in order to help save her beloved family from all the world's pressures, turned to religion. Not just any religion, but in keeping with our fundamentalist Christian upbringing, she turned to a southern evangelist.

This in itself was certainly not a bad thing. Many southern evangelists are honorable men of God. I personally find Billy Graham to have been the example to which all others might aspire; being an honest and Godly man all of his life and career, never stooping to low behavior to increase his power or wealth. Oral Roberts was another story, however, and I came to hate that man as I hated no other.

My mother decided (with the help of dozens of pamphlets and mailings from Oral Roberts and his "organization") that Oral Roberts could help her poor family to overcome the trials and tribulations that this cruel world had foist upon them (crime, drug and alcohol problems, poverty and promiscuity, among the most recognizable). Oral Roberts slickly sent out mailings that asked his readers if they were having problems with any and all of these afflictions. If the answer was "yes" to these questions, he replied that the answer was God. Oh, but not JUST God. No, the answer was God, as revealed to His favorite minister, Oral Roberts!

In this way, my mother was persuaded to send her hard-earned money (and there was precious little of that around!)to Mr. Roberts, so he could take her prayers to his newly constructed Prayer Tower, where presumably his voice would be heard above all others in prayer, because he was soooo high up in that tower, you see (wink-wink).
Of course, there was little positive result from these petitions ("You cannot petition the Lord in prayer"!-Jim Morrison). Still, it was the only thing my mom had going for her at the time, so she gave it a whirl anyway and prayed and sweated and hoped that her sons and daughters would come out of all of this in good shape.

Well, the truth is almost all of them did, in time. But it was probably helped more by a righteous woman who loved God and her family that helped these children, and I submit that Oral Roberts had nothing to do with it at all. My mother died at the age of fifty-six, of lung cancer. She did live to see her troubled sons get their act together and even to see a few of her grandchildren born and grow. She died far too soon and received far less in her short life, than she deserved. She certainly did not deserve to be swindled by a huckster like Oral Roberts. God, I miss her!

This example is displayed to show how a con man will look for your weakness and use it to his benefit. Oral Roberts knew that the poor and inferm, those in trouble with the law and struggling with all manner of troubles, are ready to seize on any scheme to help themselves out of their predicaments. It isn't limited to unscrupulous religious leaders. The Socialists and Communists have long been overly concerned with class and race conflict: the Put-Upons with which to wage their war against Capitalism/Imperialism. In this manner, the Democrat Party looks for an aggrieved subset of humanity, from which to draw their lucre (and their soldiers).

Historically, it was the southern whites of the reconstruction on whom they preyed. Seizing on this group's perceived (and actual) grievances, the Democrats promised the usual in return for the votes that would bring them power and money. The baton in this Democrat wagon race was passed to the populists, with their long-suffering troubles at the hand of the rich, northeast business establishment. Then the famous donkey passed the baton to the poor, suffering through the decades-long depression, so that they would have the hopes and dreams that the WPA offered. The donkey passed the baton along to many other poor, Put-Upon peoples over the years, until it rested, very comfortably in the hands of the African Americans (of course when they were orginally passed the baton, they were still called Negroes, but Muhammed Ali was still calling himself Cassius Clay at the time...).

The Democrats have earned their votes and power for decades by pandering to the fears and grievances (real and imagined) of this demographic. But now, the donkey is fixin' to pass the baton again. Yes, folks the new Put-Upons are the illegal immigrants, or as the Dems put it, Undocumented Laborers. It is this group of malcontents who hold the most promise, since they are the fastest growing demographic in the nation (of course the demographic includes most of the hispanic population in the country, illegal or not). Democrats are offering the same "everything" to this group as was offered and never delivered to all of the others.

It is to these "Undocumented Laborers" who now pull the wagon and carry high, the baton of the Donkey, that I offer the following words of advice, specifically relevant to this Democrat Con Game:

"You can't cheat an honest man"