Friday, April 8, 2011

Standard American Lager

It's time for me to ramp up my studying for the BJCP exam in August. As with most things in my life, I have decided to wait until the last possible minute to begin this task. I suspect my encounter with Lite (their spelling!) American Lagers turned me off enough that I haven't studied for months. Today's offering won't help put me back on the road to being interested in a beer exam, but I guess if you want to get out of something, you have to get into it. Here goes. Standard American Lager.

Martin Luther once said that a true theologian calls a thing what it actually is. I will apply his logic to the task of beer judging and call Standard American Lager what it really is. It's basically liquified manure, put in a can and sold to children. Well, maybe I'm overstating my point. I don't think the people who buy Standard American Lagers are all underaged cheerleaders. (BTW, buying alcohol for underaged kids is a crime. Don't do it. And stay in school.) But I'm standing by the rest on my description.

If that language isn't techincal enough for you I'll just comment that if you take a Lite American Lager, add a bit more alcohol and a few more calories, you'll have a Standard American Lager. It's basically the difference between a Republican and a Democrat.

The appearance is predictably pale straw to medium yellow in color (sound familiar?) and you shouldn't be suprised if the head fades quickly. No hop flavor will interrupt you ability to toss these down your throat without thought to taste or substance, and the light drainkability is a result of the large amount of corn and other adjuncts added during the brewing process. They are made with 2 or 6 row barley with tons (up to 40%) of corn.

For you beer nerds, here's the numbers:
IBUs (presence of hop flavors and aroma) 8-15
SRMs (measuring color) 2-4
OG (original gravity) 1.040-1.050
FG (final gravity) 1.004-1.010
ABV 4.2-5.3%

So, next time you open a PBR, Bud, or the Queen of Standard American Lager, Grainbelt Premium, hold your nose and prepare to be punished. And remember, whoever served you this beer is trying to tell you he hates you!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heresy is beautiful

One common misconception about religious people is that they are shackled by doctrines. That may be true of some. It may even be true about me at times. But I also believe that many folks who are drawn to religion are drawn to the idea of mystery. Religion (at least the religion that has captured my own soul) is about liberation from the shackles of falsehood. It is about freedom and new ways of understanding what it means to be human. It is light in the midst of darkness.

The same is true about art. Art is most profound when we concentrate on the experience of its creation and as a result our notions of reality are changed. I believe BBQ is an art. It makes no difference to me whether someone cooks a brisket on an Ugly Drum Smoker or in the oven. Either way something profoundly unique is happening, a reality is changing, and it doesn't matter to me whether people think the method is pure. What matters is that the experience has revealed something about existence that is worth knowing.

O.K., now I'm pontificating. My wife hates it when I ramble like this, and I suspect you do too. But I had to try and find some words to capture my reaction to a video I recently watched on Youtube. It is a short video of a Japanese man sharpening a knife in a way that is totally new to me. I was awestruck watching him do something I have done, in a way I would never have imagined. He has moved me beyond my fixed understanding of "how it's done" and I am a better person for it. He has taken me beyond the "doctrine" of how one sharpens a knife and revealed the art in the craft. It doesn't matter how he developed this technique. What matters is that, at least to me, something profoundly unique was captured on film and I got a chance to see it. The least I could do is post it for you to see, too.

Granted, perhaps some of you have seen this technique before. Maybe it's not all that revolutionary. Fine. Keep that to yourself. I'm grooving on this guy so give me a chance to be in awe.