Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beautiful

There aren't all "representing" RCR, but there's a bunch of them represented in this picture.  Nice work!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vacation Week

Instead of coming out of a three-day weekend rested and ready, somehow the process misfired and at least seven deadly diseases have manifested in my being.  This results in a number of symptoms, most of which might have killed lesser persons, but instead, I am battling on with the business of making great beer.  I am, however, going to take the rest of the week off of blogging and commentating, assuming my world-renowned regenerative powers will not only restore my health, but also bring to mind a wealth of entertaining and interesting commentary on beer and the world around us. 

Keep an eye out for Saturday Music and for a return to regular blogging on Monday, June 3.  Until then, drink local, eat local, have fun and think of a few kind words to say at my memorial service if I don't make it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Music - "The" Queen

There is only one Queen of Soul.  Next time you are watching someone sing in one of those ubiquitous singing competitions on television, consider how utterly effortless the sound coming from Aretha Franklin is in these videos.  It's simply beautiful.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Riverside State Park Raffle

River City Red Cycling Team member and all-around good guy, Dan DeRuyter (don't let the fact that he is an attorney deter you from believing this, I mean not "every" lawyer has to be a prick, right?), has worked with Eric Barrett (Mountain Gear - yeah, local!) to put together a raffle to support the Riverside State Park Foundation.  What, you say, there is a RSP Foundation?  Why, yes, there is, and not surprisingly it helps keep that great local asset in good shape in an age of plummeting public funding for parks.

So, combining a couple of Dan's (and Eric's) favorite things, mountain biking and beer, they came up with a raffle of a stainless steel, insulated growler and 10 growler fills.  The tickets are $5 each and they are only selling 100 tickets total.  Seems like good odds and a great prize, but here is the only catch - Dan and friends have already sold most of the tickets but if you find the campsite for Team Da Rider (which is alongside Team Little Ring, Team Mountain Gear and Team Hoptimizers) on the first turn of the 24 Hour Course (in Riverside State Park - see how this works), then you can snag a remaining ticket and have a chance to win when the prices are drawn at the finishing ceremony for the 24 Hour race.

With this deal, you get growler fills from Flying Goat (2), River City Brewing (2)(Hey! That's us!), JJ's Bar and Grill (2), The Hop Shop (2), No-Li Brewhouse (1) and Manito Tap House (1).  And yeah, the poster below came out a bit wonky, but what do you expect from an unfrozen caveman blogger?



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Speed Training

After failing with conventional methods, the River City Red Cycling Team has turned to slightly less conventional training methods.  Some of our training methods have been adopted by others.  For instance, after a "Deliverance" style training camp led by Rider Two, we later learned that CSC/Saxo Bank started standing in cold water after training.  They didn't realize it was more about escape instead of swelling, but that is the price paid for early adopters.

In our latest experiment, after using power meters for years, TC has finally decided to reverse engineer this into metered power.  We knew that motor-pacing was a sound way to increase one's speed and high-level endurance, but we have taken this to a whole new level.  There are rumors that Fabian Cancellara has adopted this technique in a more subtle way, but the originators deserve recognition.

Thus, we bring you the latest combined sprint/high-speed workout from River City Red Cycling:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Federal Regulations

I just learned that the federal entity that oversees breweries has issued an Industry Circular that clearly spells out that "social media" is considered a form of advertising and therefore must comply with all laws, regulations or interpretations promulgated by the TTB, formally known as the Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. (Try saying that three times quickly - on second thought, don't. It may cause nightmares.)

As a result of this new regulatory interpretation, you can expect to see a number of changes to Facebook posts, Twitter comments, Pinterest pictures, Tumblr Porn (no wait, that won't change), and even Blogs. For instance, starting tomorrow, every blog will start out with a warning that clearly states that pregnant women are no longer permitted to consume this or any brewery/winery/spirits sponsored blog without a note from their attending physician. Those under the age of 21 are similarly strictly prohibited from consuming such contents. Oh sure, we can send them to war, but don't you dare read this blog again until you are 21 or older!*

*Disclaimer - This joke is strictly a joke and is not intended to be taken seriously. We as a brewery and as citizens of this great country of ours are strictly in favor of reasonable consumption of jokes and blog material among consenting adults who have reached the age of majority, but are opposed to underage consumption of such humor. Don't let our attempts at humor suggest otherwise. 

Other changes you will now see will include certain disclaimers and warnings appearing prominently on each form of social media coming from an alcohol producer. This will be particularly tough on Twitter, where the mandatory warnings are 137 characters long. From now on, each brewery twitter feed will look like this:
  • Federally mandated warning – This Twitter comment is sponsored by an alcohol producer and is solely for consumption of those 21 or older.HEY  
  • Federally mandated warning – This Twitter comment is sponsored by an alcohol producer and is solely for consumption of those 21 or older.HI! 
  • Federally mandated warning – This Twitter comment is sponsored by an alcohol producer and is solely for consumption of those 21 or older.FUN 
  • Federally mandated warning – This Twitter comment is sponsored by an alcohol producer and is solely for consumption of those 21 or older.OH! 
  • Federally mandated warning – This Twitter comment is sponsored by an alcohol producer and is solely for consumption of those 21 or older.YA!
The industry lobbied for even one more character so we could include mandatory exclamation points with three letter words, but we just didn't win that one.  For some reason, though, pictures of girls in white one-piece swimsuits with the word "Budweiser" can still be attached to every tweet.

All I know for sure is that you will see a number of changes coming up to all social media in the near-term.  In anticipation and upon advice of counsel, we would like to make the following statement:
We hereby take back everything we ever blogged, tweeted, facebooked, myspaced (we really, really take back those things), linkedined or pinterested.  We take back every picture of someone drinking beer, smiling or appearing to enjoy our products in any way, shape or form.  We will be forthwith removing all statements of support for the great bars and restaurants that support the Drink Local effort (even though we still appreciate it) and will no longer provide information about where adults can find or consume adult beverages.  We will be moving our brewery to an undisclosed location and entry will only be allowed through knocking on a back alley door with a small opening in it, behind which a thick man in an suit will stand and only allow entrance if youse don't look like the coppers.
I know that some of these things seem drastic, but rules are rules, and besides, they're for your own good, right?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Blah

Ever have one of those Mondays when you just feel like taking the day off?  Just forgetting all of your responsibilities and doing what ever you feel like?  Not as energetically as Ferris Bueller took the day off, but more like shoving the alarm clock under the bed, drinking coffee in your pj's, reading the comics in the newspaper, playing video games and reviewing the entire Chive history?

Is it too late for me to call work and say in a throaty, horse voice, "I'm not gonna be in today.  I just feel terrible.  Not sure if I'm coming down with something or I ate something or I just don't feel like it, but in any case, my desk chair is staying cold all day since my ass won't be in it."?  No, I don't think it is too late for that.  I'll be wasting my day and hitting the kegerator no later than about 2 pm.  Maybe noon.  With a bowl of Fruit Loops.

Don't tell anyone at the office.  Don't tell my Mom.  Definitely don't Facebook or Twitter this. 

Catch you on the flipside of Monday.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Music - Blondie Edition

I don't have a good reason or excuse for posting these videos.  I am not really a fan of the first half of this video, but it is an interesting piece of music history in that "Rapture" is considered the first "rap" video to make the charts.  I think that is a generous to consider include any portion of video in the "rap" category, but if VH1 documentaries say it and wikipedia confirms it, it must be true.  It does, to give credit where credit is due, include call-outs to Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash and is one of the first mass media recognitions of one graffiti artists as "artists" rather than just vandals.

Enough chit chat - time for Saturday music.


Here is a video from Blondie song that I like more.  What can I say?  I grew up on it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Secret Race - One Thought

I had started a blog about The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton & Daniel Coyle's tell-all book about doping during what is referred to as the Lance Armstrong era.

It is, I believe, an honest attempt to communicate what was going on behind the scenes during those years, both when Hamilton rode with and rode against Armstrong,  It is a very good book and the appropriate companion piece to Daniel Coyle's earlier book, Armstrong's War, in which some things are implied but never said.

Too much time has passed for me to detail too much or too long my thoughts on the book, but one passage stood out to me which held the inexorable truth of cycling at every age.  I have copied it here.
Cecco had short gray hair and big, perceptive eyes; he looked a little bit like Pablo Picasso. He also had a revolutionary and refreshing attitude about doping, which is to say he encouraged me to dope as little as possible. He never gave me any Edgar; never handed me so much as an aspirin, because Cecco believed that most riders dope far, far too much. Insulin, testosterone patches, anabolics – bah! To win the Tour, you need only three qualities.

You have to be very, very fit.
You have to be very, very skinny.
You have to keep your hematocrit up.
Of course, how one goes about keeping up one's hematocrit, that is another story, eh?  Dr. Spalm jokes about riding a lot, not eating much and taking vitamins.  It looks similar to the view from the top.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blogging

Blogging is an odd thing to do.  It takes time and energy.  It doesn't require talent or planning, but it is better with those things.

It is also odd that it is almost a thing of the past.  A few years ago we were reading about the boom of Mommy bloggers or Hollywood gossip bloggers.  We were reading about those folks making money and that lead to a boom of industry bloggers, corporate bloggers, niche bloggers, etc.  The internet was awash with words on every topic.  And it was good, for a while.

I liked that people started beer blogs and bike blogs, and that scads of other blogs covered stuff that popped up on my radar screen and I wanted to know more about it. All of a sudden, there was an enthusiast source for information on any damn thing you wondered about.  I owned a 2001 or 2002 BMW R1150 GS Adventure for a while.  I bought it used and knew little about it, except that I wanted it.  The wonder of the internet led me immediately to thousands of words on every aspect of the bike, it's difference and changes from prior models to successor models, what was likely to go wrong, how to fix it, where to ride it and anything else I could hope to wonder about it.  It was a revolution of information transfer.

Probably none of those folks, or at least only a few of them, thought that they were going to make a living just posting information about BMW motorcycles, but there were people having adventures on them and selling books or movies or tv shows or appearances, so maybe there was room for an adventure motorcycle blogger to eak out a living and ride motorcycles, eh?  But alas, that notion passed and, more importantly, it was discovered that it really is hard to have something interesting to write about regularly, particularly when your topic is very narrow or limited in scope.

That is why, quite honestly, that you will read on this blog about a variety of things that interest me, from beer to bikes to beer to motorcycles to beer, and well, beer again.  But anyway, this is a brewery right? 

But even as this blog lives and breathes, many others are filled with posts that start with "Sorry for the long break, but this time I really am going to be good about posting."  Ominously, those posts tend to be the latest entry and at least 6 months old.  And, the young'uns all seem to have moved to Pinterest or Tumblr, where they don't so much write or create something as just repost and repost and respost.  I suspect that there is an Orwellian factory someplace that churns out the pictures and posts just so that everyone from 15-25 doesn't recognize what a shit-box of an economy or world that they are inheriting, but in any case, with Tumblr you can "create" your own space, fill your inbox with sexually suggestive questions and bond with the electronic world.  But, I think because it's hard, or maybe useless, fewer people are generating "traditional" blogs these days. 

This one will hang on while you read it, while it's fun, while it serves a purpose, but it does strike me as an odd thing to do some days.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Risk Takers

The way the world works today, rather than working for one company for the bulk of a career, many of us have many jobs and sometimes many careers.  I certainly have done that and in one of my stops along the way I was a lawyer representing banks and large corporations.  I worked for a local firm but came in contact with attorneys from some of the giant law firms that operate in big cities as a result.

One of the firms I had contact with was a law firm run by lawyers who had William Boeing for a client.  Not, at first, the aeronautical behemoth that is Boeing today, but literally the guy whose name was ultimately a symbol, but in the early 1900's was the name of a guy who started and ran a company.  I don't profess to know much about William Boeing or, frankly, his lawyers, but I have my strong suspicions.  My guess is that young Bill Boeing was a ballsy dude.  You would have to be to start building planes in 1915, wouldn't you?  Hell, the Wright Brothers took the first powered flight in December 1903 and the first one lasted just under a minute and covered less than 900 feet.  But a decade later, Bill started making planes in Seattle.

And when he hired lawyers, what kind of people do you think he was looking for?  Prissy academics or some savvy hard-headed guys who you would want with you in a bar brawl?  I do know that many of these guys boasted degrees from prestigious east coast universities, but I have to think that the guys building businesses and law firms in the early 1900's in Seattle were smart, cagey, hard-working and, importantly, willing to take a risk.  Clearly that is true or none of them would have ended up starting what they did, much less accomplishing it.

Which is why I used to be so amazed at the irony of the people who populated the giant law firms that sprung from those loins.  To suggest that these lawyers were risk-adverse hardly does justice to the notion of understatement.  I am, by the way, not suggesting that these folks weren't good lawyers.  They were.  They knew all the words, all the regulations, all the penalties and all of the volumes and volumes and volumes of ways to paper everything to death so that at no point could they be accused of exercising any judgment of their own.  They documented everything so that at any point from that moment until undoubtedly today, they can firmly and absolutely blame the opposing counsel, their own client or anyone else for anything that happened at all.  Not surprisingly, this process took a lot of time.  And guess what?  They charged by the hour.  Win/win.  Well, not the original meaning of win/win, but what exactly do you mean by that and who gets to define it and why can't we define it as a win now and a win forever and not worry about one side versus the other, eh?  

Yes, you can tell that I wasn't cut out for that particular brand of corporate lawyering.  It didn't seem to me that we weren't doing the absolute best by the client and the process, but instead doing the safest by the client and the process.  I just wasn't convinced it lead to the best outcome and therefore, I wasn't really qualified to play the game.  But it did make me want to have a beer with those guys who started those companies all those years ago and learn a bit more about what they thought then, and what they would think now.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TV Singing Contests

I think that there will be almost universal agreement that singing contests on television are stupid.  I'm not saying that there isn't some entertainment to be had, but really, it's just dumb to suggest that this is a good way to find people who deserve to have record contracts and populated concerts.

I seem to recall that ABBA won a version of a singing contest that lead directly to their international fame and stardom, but does that really contradict my point?  ABBA is some entertainment, but they are generally quite stupid, right?

One of the things that is silliest about singing contests on television, and I'm not naming all the names just because there are too many of them when you include all of the minor ones after American Idle and The Voice (although that Adam Levine is so damn adorable . . .), is that not one of the judges on those shows would win the show on which they judge.  Their voices are too distinctive or don't have enough range or they can't jump from genre to genre and sound just as good, but then again, we don't want them to.  If Garth Brookes can't make it as Chris Gaines, then do we really need every wanna-be singer to move smoothly from pop to rock to country to ballads to hip-hop to standards to reggae to R&B to whatever?  I would say, no.  I don't want Michael Buble singing Led Zeppelin.  Actually, I don't want Michael Buble singing anything, but you get my point.

As a result, these contests do find "singers" that generally have very good voices, flexibility in their genres, are good looking and that appeal to 14 year-old girls (the demographic most likely to vote and vote and vote as if it means a god-damned thing in the world), but they don't actually find people that you want to listen to.

But, and you may find this shocking, that is not my only beef about them.  No, here is my beef of the day with singing contests on television.  The contestants are usually self-absorbed, vapid caricatures of actual singers and they consistently show no sense about the songs they are singing.  I do think that in order to succeed, these contestants have to appear to be having "fun", be "fun" and in the George Bush election trope - be the one you most want to have a beer with.  That, however, means that they should always and every time sing something from the K.C. and the Sunshine Band line-up of party rock fun-time happy songs (look it up, kids).  But if, god forbid, they have to sing something with some more emotion, could they just take a moment and look at the lyrics?

Several days ago, I saw a performance of Amy Winehouse's song "Back to Black".  I guess this person was confusing AC/DC's version of Back in Black with Amy Winehouse's song, or they just weren't bright, but in any case, she sang Back to Black with a shit-eating grin across her face the whole time.  I have also seen Winehouse's hit "Rehab" sung the same way.  Isn't it enough to even know the chorus and Amy Winehouse's tragic end to know that maybe this song involves a bit more pathos than party attitude?  Rehab is not a song about the joys of drinking.  They are several hundred of those on the country charts if that's what you want, but Rehab is a much more honest song about the trouble with drinking and trying to hide from the consequences.  It is a great, great song, but it was, at most, a darkly humorous song before Winehouse's death and now is just bittersweet at best.

So please, if you are going to sing a song, particularly on television for the benefit of several million people, try to, as the judges admonish, "connect to the song" or "emote" the song, or even just give a crap about the words, please.

And to prove my point - the two Amy Winehouse songs with a proper interpretation of what they express.



Monday, May 13, 2013

Beer Trivia

The brewery gets asked to participate in trivia nights at bars and restaurants once in a while.  We hang around, talk about the beer, donate some prizes and generally have some fun.  We also decided that we should offer to supply some beer trivia questions just for such evenings.  But since all the answers to trivia questions are already on the internet, we post these as a self-trivia challenge or for use at your next trivia night.  We just ask that you have a pint of one of our beers in recognition of the several hundred of hours of research we did to come up with the list and confirm the correctness of the answers.*

*Answers not guaranteed to be correct, but they seemed right after a few River City Reds one night.

Questions presented above and then questions and answers together below.  Enjoy.


1. Name five styles of beer:



2. What is the primary difference between an Ale yeast and a Lager yeast?


3. Name one piece of the brew house besides the Brew Kettle:


4. After mashing in and sparging, the brew process creates a liquid called what?


5. Alcohol is created during fermentation by the interaction of yeast with what substance found in the wort?


6. How many gallons of beer are in a standard 1/2 barrel keg?


7. According to ancient German law, the Rienheitsgebot, what are the only three ingredients allowed in the production of beer?



8. Beer was first brewed by which group - the Egyptians, the Romans, or the Aztecs?


9. True or False: The Mayflower ship bringing pilgrims to America stopped at Plymouth Rock because of beer?


10. The initials in the beer style IPA stand for what?



11. Select either A or B: During the colonial expansion of the United Kingdom, beer was either a) made in the colonies and shipped to Britain or b) made in Britain and shipped to the colonies.



Questions presented with answers:


1. Name five styles of beer:

Answers include: Amber, Blonde, Bitter, Bock, Brown, Cream, Golden, Hefewiezen, IPA (India Pale Ale),  Lambic, Pale, Pilsner, Red, Scotch, Stout and many others (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_beer_styles). 


2. What is the primary difference between an Ale yeast and a Lager yeast?


Ale yeast is a top fermenting yeast, while lager is a bottom fermenting yeast.  Lagers also ferment at lower temperatures and for a longer period of time.


3. Name one piece of the brew house besides the Brew Kettle:

Include Mash Tun, Lauter Tun, Hop Back.


4. After mashing in and sparging, the brew process creates a liquid called what?

Wort


5. Alcohol is created during fermentation by the interaction of yeast with what substance found in the wort?

Sugar


6. How many gallons of beer are in a standard 1/2 barrel keg?

15.5 gallons


7. According to ancient German law, the Rienheitsgebot, what are the only three ingredients allowed in the production of beer?

Water, barley and hops.


8. Beer was first brewed by which group - the Egyptians, the Romans, or the Aztecs?

The Egyptians approximately 7,000 years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_beer).  Do not believe drunken Belgians when they claim that they did.


9. True or False: The Mayflower ship bringing pilgrims to America stopped at Plymouth Rock because of beer?

True - The Mayflower ship was running low on supplies of beer and therefore didn't continue to their original destination further south but disembarked there.  Also, there are disputes about some of the why and how, but the answer is still true under all of these variations.


10. The initials in the beer style IPA stand for what?

India Pale Ale


11. Select either A or B: During the colonial expansion of the United Kingdom, beer was either a) made in the colonies and shipped to Britain or b) made in Britain and shipped to the colonies.

B - By law, all beer was made in Britain and shipped to the colonies.  It was prohibited for the colonies to make their own beer.  This is how IPA was created - they discovered that beers with more hops lasted longer because it is a natural preservative, so the beer going to India had extra hops so that it lasted during the long journey around Africa better.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Music - Anachronism Edition

Here is a list of the "Top 10" songs from 1986 from Billboard charts: 
1. "That's What Friends Are For".....Dionne & Friends
2. "Walk Like An Egyptian".....Bangles
3. "On My Own".....Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald
4. "The Way It Is".....Bruce Hornsby & The Range
5. "You Give Love A Bad Name".....Bon Jovi
6. "Greatest Love Of All".....Whitney Houston
7. "There'll Be Sad Songs".....Billy Ocean
8. "How Will I Know".....Whitney Houston
9. "Kyrie".....Mr. Mister
10. "Kiss".....Prince & The Revolution
It's kind-of an embarrassing list when you consider it, but in any case, you won't see this band on that list.  Even if you scroll down through the next 90 songs you won't find this band.  That doesn't take into account the British charts, where the album that includes these numbers reached number two.  There might be an argument the Brits were onto something. 

In any case, I couldn't find a good live version so close your eyes and listen to the lyrics.  You will hear anachronism, done right.


And, just because - a live version of Mr. Shankly - sing along disaffected kids and let it wash over you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

They just don't get it, do they?

When you hear the words "craft beer" or "hand-crafted beer," what comes to mind?  Probably a vision of a pint glass filled with beer from a locally filled keg that has body, flavor, aroma and is delicious.  If you ponder craft beer beyond that, you probably also get a vision of a small crew in or around a brew house, maybe mucking out a mash tun by hand, maybe smiling and drinking one of their own at the end of the day.  You might conjure up a bunch of words that you relate to craft beer, words like: local, committed, or passionate.  You have the vision of people working together with a common vision of making great beer, right?

When you expand your consideration of craft beer, you might also come to a couple of other words - authentic is one and I think environmentally conscious is another.  Both of these are important.  Authentic means really means that what you see, and what you think you see, is really what you are getting.  That's why people are suspicious of contract brewing or that the discussion of "crafty vs. craft" caused such a stir.  There is a lot of fun in the industry, but behind the pun names, the occasional drinking song or keg throwing contest, there are people who really care about making good beer and spreading the understanding of what we do.  That's one of the reasons I enjoy being part of the industry.

Another reason, beyond the camaraderie and commitment, is that the industry shows a genuine concern about the environment and our industry's impact on it.  We want to make good beer and make the world a better place at the same time.  Really.  Anyone reading these words has also read stories about breweries with solar and wind power generation investments, recollection of water or heat that can be re-used, burners using debris to generate power or heat to be used.  At our own brewery we give our spent grain to a pig farmer rather than throw it away, not only because it saves us the cost of disposing of it, but because it has food value and it would be wasteful to just throw away.  We use the cold water used for cooling wort on one side the heat exchanger for the next brew.  It saves resources and makes sense.

We are also looking at a bottling or canning line for packaging beer.  We are heavily inclined towards canning because the environmental impact appears to be more reasonable.  We want to be sure that the technology allows for the quality we want, but if so, we are willing to spend more on the front end to allow us to have a more reasonable and positive environmental impact over the life of the equipment and package.  There is no one forcing us to do this, but it is part of the ethos of our company and, I believe, our industry.

Which is why it was both dismaying but not atypical to read this headline recently, "Budweiser's new can has twice the aluminum." (http://www.wasterecyclingnews.com/article/20130419/BLOGS01/130419913/budweisers-new-can-has-twice-the-aluminum.)  If it had been written by an internet wunderkind instead of in Waste & Recycling News, it might have had a subheadline of "Fail".

Wow, that's certainly worth double the aluminum and six years of research!
You may or may not have seen the new can before now, but assuredly you will, over and over and over on tv, magazines, online ads, billboard, bus sides, in-store promotions, hot air balloons, condom wrappers, bumper stickers, coffee cups, get-well cards, lunch boxes, on the judging table at X-Factor, basically where ever several million dollars of advertising will get it.  In-Bev will spend millions to tell "you," the beer buying public how wonderful it is, what an effin great innovation it is, how much better your experience will be.  And the ads will probably use American flags and first responders at barbecues and maybe Clydesdale horses, but for sure they will be very well done, very effective and very full of shit.  Because here is the next result of their can innovation - the can has twice as much aluminum and holds 0.7 ounces less beer.  Excuse my crass language, but who the eff thought that was a good idea?

Can you imagine any craft beer company of any size any where saying, "let's use twice as much material to hold less beer!"  But hey, don't worry, we will use smoke, mirrors and tens of millions of dollars selling 'merica on what great innovation it is!

No, sorry.  It might work for a month or a quarter or a year, but ultimate it doesn't.  Abraham Lincoln said that you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.  People are recognizing that this particular emperor has no clothes.  People are slowly, but surely, recognizing that there is a difference between the craft beer and macro beer and it is as simple to see as the difference between a pint of beer poured from a locally-filled keg and that new bowtie can of Budweiser.  It's the difference between authentic and not.  And they just don't get it.  And no amount of advertising can ultimately hide that fact.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

More Proof That Beer is Good for You (Warning - This headline not proof of anything)

Friend of River City Brewing, J McB, sent along an e-mail recently.  It included a link to this article that says just the opposite of the headline, which is that Exercise Helps Moderate Brain Damage from Drinking (http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2013/05/03/exercise-helps-protect-brain.aspx).

If you take the time to read through this article, it talks about the way drinking excessively does the same thing to your brain that already happens with aging; it shrinks your brain and damages the connections.  At a minimum, these things combine to make your brain function less well and at a maximum cause you to act like (insert name of your favorite comedic punching bag).  But, and here is the good news, exercise may help moderate this impact.  The article says that exercise may help with the impact of both aging and excessive drinking and is more effective than the mental exercises that were the "scientific" discovery of the hour a several months ago when suddenly the aged were supposed to take up Sudoku in earnest to stave off dementia.*

*Two quick disclaimers - first, I don't know anything about the doctor, the study or the area generally, and two, I summarized the article for my own purposes, so please feel free to not send me an e-mail explaining any of the above.

The thing that strikes me about this article is that it should go into a folder entitled "Oh Yeah," or "Of Course."  (Sidenote - My folder entitled "Hey Ya!" is way more fun than my "Oh Yeah" folder.)  In my Of Course folder you will find other revelations like,
  • People who exercise are healthier
  • People who eat in moderation are healthier
  • Eating fewer chemicals, preservatives and fried foods leads to fewer diseases, conditions and idiocy
  • Having regard for people other than yourself leads to a more satisfying life and relationships
  • Too much of __________ (enter anything) is not good for you
I'm not saying that it's not nice to have reminders or that these things shouldn't be studied.  It is and they should.  I'm saying that in the midst of our lives, it would be worthwhile to consider some basic common sense in making decisions about our lives and lifestyles.  Excess anything, from consuming Oreos to weight lifting, is not good for you.  Our bodies do better with too much of some things, but please, people, use some sense and recognize that combining some exercise with reasonable eating and some alcohol to relax and enjoy life is a better path than abstention or excess of any of them.
Pretzels are good too.

So, to me, this article says two things - exercise is good for you and beer is good for you, because the article is a reminder that moderate consumption of a beverage made from water, barley and hops is a natural and reasonable way to relax, socialize and make your life better.  Craft beer is all about quality over quantity, and that, my friends, has to be good for you.*

*This message is not only not approved by the FDA or any other arm of the federal or state government, it is strictly prohibited.  Do not take this statement or any other on this blog to have any factual basis in reality or alternative dimensions.  Do not follow the advice in this blog.  Do not click on the links in this blog.  Do not read this blog.  Really.  Stop now.  Do not read these words.  Damnit!  I said to stop.  Now go outside and play.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shit Beer Drinkers Say

I came across this video thanks to Josh from our distributor, Click Distributing East.  In addition to being a very smart and personable guy, Josh also knows good beer and wine in a way that puts him among the most knowledgeable in the region.  This video, however, is more about funny than about education.


As a sidenote, to find this video after seeing it the first time I googled "shit beer geeks say". It turns out that there are many takes on this and almost all of them are bad. As a customer service for you, our beloved readers, I watched 20-30 beer-related videos to find some companion pieces to this one. I discovered that there is an incredibly huge gargantuan volume of total crap on YouTube. Sure, you know that in an abstract way, right? But even in one tiny dicing of the several billion videos online, they are almost all crap. Just thought you would want to know that this blog does 1) research - which up until now there was no proof of and no one would have thought possible and 2) we care enough to only serve up tasty helpings of pre-approved video.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

River City Red Cycling

Last year the brewery had two things - construction bills and a cycling team.  This year, we have beer and a cycling team, which is a much better combination.  It is, however, a fair criticism leveled against us that it was somewhat of the wrong order to have a cycling team ahead of beer, when the group spent the year riding and racing with jerseys that proudly proclaimed "River City Red" as the team name.

It was a leap of faith to come together as a team to promote a product that didn't exist and none of them had even tried.  So, for that, I thank the whole crew who jumped on board before we started brewing and drinking beer.  I sincerely hope that they are enjoying the results after the wait. I don't expect that River City Red will be the favorite beer of everyone one of these guys, but hopefully the brewery has done them proud.  The converse is certainly true.
2012 Wenatchee - Suffering and having fun - it's an art form.

Last year, the list of accomplishments, trophies, awards and damn fine racing was nothing short of impressive.  We built the team around one simple rule - no assholes.  That rule served us well in that the very few assholes with sufficient self-reflection to know that they were assholes volunteered for the team and, probably more importantly, it indicated that we were trying to build a team of riders and racers that were, indeed, not assholes, but also had a sense of humor and would keep the whole thing in perspective.  We wanted racers who were good racers (hold your line, understand drafting, understand good racing as opposed to negative racing, not chase down teammates, etc.) and we wanted riders who helped make the whole thing a bit of fun.  Since none of us are earning a paycheck on this deal, that seems important.  I mean, it's supposed to be fun, right?  Otherwise, why are we here?

And, to that end, the team has succeeded incredibly.  We have a group of guys who like to train and race together; we walk away from most races proud of the effort and tactics; and, very nicely for everyone involved, we have walked away with an impressive list of wins and placings both last year and so far this year.

I would like to do justice to all of the people and all of the stories, but the truth is, I don't know all of the placings and stories.  We share bits and pieces of information about the races and results, but the whole story mostly gets shared on rides and over beers.  No one, unfortunately, does a good job of recording all of the wins and placements, much less all of the stories.  We had Tuesday night series winners individually last year, series team victories in a couple of categories, a whole bunch of impressive individual wins including Scoot Proost's 1st place in the Washington State Master's Road Race Championship, Cat. 4/5.  This year that trend has continued with quality rides by the team in the Tuesday night races,  doing things like getting 4 of the top 6 places at the Walla Walla Stage Race Men's Cat 5 and Richie Frahm picking up a win this last weekend at the Washington State Master's Criterium Championship, Cat. 5.

So, starting today, you can find the list of racers and riders on the team on our Cycling Team Page - http://rivercityred.blogspot.com/p/cycling-team.html and for every one of the team who sends us results, we will get them added and updated as the season progress.  So drop us a line and let us remember our victories and our fun.  And thanks for riding together as River City Red Cycling.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Prom

Like Christmas and the Lentil Festival, High School Prom only comes once a year.  But since one spring in the 1980's, I have not given one rat's patootie about any Prom.  This weekend, however, I cared about Prom for the first time in 30 years because my own elder son attended one.  He is a senior in high school (a valedictorian, I hasten to add) and therefore it rose to the surface.

A couple of weeks ago I saw an article saying that the average expense for a prom is now over $1,100.  Aside from picking my jaw up from the ground, I continued to read that at least this is both sides of the couple's expenses, but includes the female's price of a new dress, new shoes, and accessories, along with the male's rental of a tuxedo, flowers, and then the cost of dinner, transportation and pictures.  It is shocking, but at least it included less Southern California excess than I first thought.  No, still ridiculous, but it doesn't include things like helicopter and elephant rentals which I first suspected.

A couple of things struck me about prom overall though.  First, when I went, we got dressed up fancy, had a fancy meal and had some "fun" that night.  The statute of limitations has run, but let's not get into the messy details.  We had some input from parents on outfits and I'm sure I was handed some cash to pay for dinner, but then the parents were not involved.  At all.  I drove away to pick up my date, her parents took a picture of us and we were off.  I went to a couple of proms and that was the plan each time.

From my perspective as a kid, other than my parents wondering where I was until I came back, that was it.  And the parent-worrying part wasn't so much on my radar screen. 

This weekend, however, as prom traditions have evolved (or devolved, but let's not go too far down that road), it included at least one new duty for many parents and for some, more.  First, picture taking is not something done solo at the male's house and then as a couple at the female's house (presumably shared later if anyone cared, but I don't think they did).  Also, the prom dance itself had a photographer and many a cheesy photo was taken, to be shared with all of those with an abiding interest.  Now, however, it is common for group photos to be taken in pre-arranged spots.  My son picked up his date and then met 3 more couples at a semi-public place so that parents could also drive there and take pictures of the eight of them, and, of course, also all males together, then all females together, then various combinations of males and females, then kids and parents, then serious, then silly faces, then jumping in the air, then base jumping, then hot air ballooning, then fire breathing, then etc., etc., etc.  I think the whole process took about nine days, although I admit I blacked out from irreconcilable thoughts in my head.

After returning home from this process, I was then treated to an extraordinary number of facebook posts and twitter pictures of this same process being replicated all over Spokane and nationwide.  Some groups were smaller and several were much larger, including one that I saw that involved 13 couples.

In addition to this new picture process, I also saw numerous pictures of parents making dinner for groups of kids.  This resulted in not just a dozen kids being in one place, but the parents all hovering around enjoying the camaraderie of it.

Now here is where I would like to launch into a major rant about both of these things.  But I find that I just can't muster the anger.  I do think that kids have too little freedom these days.  They have too few chances to make mistakes and learn life lessons on their own.  On the other hand, the consequences of these mistakes and life lessons seem to have increased so much that it is very hard to let them happen.  It's also hard to rail against parents wanting to be involved in their kids' lives, particularly, as is the case with most seniors, when they are actively making plans and preparations to leave home for college and the rest of their lives.

I do think that kids need more independence and that parents today hover too much, interfere to much and try to molly-coddle kids too much, but that said, I don't do that to my own kid.  At least, not too much.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday Music - Warren Zevon Edition

I think most people have heard the song "Werewolves of London" but I don't think that most people know that Warren Zevon is the singer/songwriter.  And, unless you have something just a little maladjusted in your head, you may not love Mr. Zevon in the way that I do.  Here is his biggest hit, followed by two perfectly wonderful horrible songs.  Listen to the lyrics if you want to know what I mean.




Rest in peace, Warren Zevon.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Updates, Beer News and a little Beer Trivia

For those of you who joined us along the way, here is a brief update on the state of the brewery.  We spent most of 2012 either planning, licensing or constructing.  We spent January of this year making first batches of beer, testing some recipes and generally getting up to speed.  We started selling beer in February and we managed to double the amount of beer sold to retail establishments from February to March and almost again from March to April.  That is the benefit of starting with a small number, but it also indicates that people are liking the beer and we are making progress getting it into our local market.  There are obviously thanks to be made in-house, to our whole small team that jumped in on 10,000 tasks, but there are also big, big thanks to you in reader-land for finding, trying and drinking our beers - River City Red, River City IPA, Girlfriend Golden Ale, Coeur d'Alene Huckleberry and Coeur d'Alene VB Stout.

We also know that more people are paying attention and following along as we have a growing number of twitter followers (@RiverCityRed), a growing number of Facebook likes (https://www.facebook.com/RiverCityBrewing), and a fast growing readership of this blog (nearly 450% increase from January - again the value of starting with a small number).

We certainly haven't hit our full stride yet, but we are making progress and appreciate your support along the way.

We have, however, managed to get a few things under our belt and are ready to take on a couple of new projects.  This week we brewed an Imperial IPA that is projected to be right at 9% ABV and 95-100 IBUs.  Unlike our more session oriented River City IPA, we are looking at a big, serious Imperial that will satisfy the hard-core hop heads with our River City ClockTower IPA (It'll ring your bell).  It will be available later this summer for a limited run.  Stay tuned here for more information.

We are also working on a variation of our River City Red, but kicked up a notch to be a maltier, stronger Scotch ale for a one-off run benefiting a local non-profit and slated for arrival in late August.  Also, same bat channel, same bat time for more information (that just means to keep reading the blog, reading our Facebook status or our tweets).

And, for a bit of fun, we came up a some beer trivia questions for an outing Friday night at the Sidebar and Grill.  Check out their Facebook page (here) for information and look for the trivia questions to be posted here or on the various social media after they get used tonight.

And last, but not least, we are bowing to public requests and looking closely at a tasting room or tap room for the brewery.  We are slightly trepidatious but mostly excited.  Look for more news on that topic right here in the coming weeks.

Bike Buying Guide - Part 2

Last time, we talked about bike types or styles and price points.  Today, we will take a survey of the various frame materials from which bike frames are made.

If you have decided on a hybrid bike or any of the variations from there, you probably are limited to the frame material that your particular bike is available.  That will probably be either steel, in the less expensive variations, and then aluminum or nicer grades of steel as price points go up.  If, however, you are looking at a mountain bike or road bike, you will have your choice of steel, aluminum, titanium or carbon fiber in a wide variety of price points.  Here are a few thoughts on each.

Steel - Bikes have been made from steel for a long time.  They have a particular "lively" feel which causes proponents of steel to say, "Steel is Real."  Yes, steel is real, real Victorian.  Butted steel bikes were made literally in the Victorian era.  Admittedly, steel technology did advance a lot after that; all the way up until WW II.  Really.  Reynolds 531 tubing was introduced in 1935.

Oh, the steel aficionados will want to argue about it, but the reality is that steel is a great and practical material for bike frames.  It is not surpassed for practical bikes, but even though steel lovers will talk about the spring, the liveliness or the character of their bikes, if you are considering characteristics beyond practical, pragmatic or cost, you will probably wander into other materials.

Aluminum - Aluminum has a higher strength to weight ratio than steel, so a well-made aluminum bike typically weighs less than a steel bike.  A cheap aluminum bike may be heavier, however, also due to the characteristics of aluminum.  In order to achieve the same strength and durability, the aluminum tubes have to be larger than steel and the result of the larger size and underlying properties means that an aluminum frame will generally be stiffer than steel - nice for acceleration, but can be fatiguing.  Aluminum is more difficult to weld and early models had some welding/joint issues, but like steel, and aluminum bike can take some abuse and minor dents won't destroy the integrity of the frame as a whole.  Compared to a steel bike, expect to spend more, have it weigh less, be stiffer and expect your friends to comment on your bike being made out of recycled beer cans. 

Titanium - Titanium is a nice combination of steel and aluminum characteristics - it is lighter material than steel in the same strengths and it is less rigid than aluminum.  It is also very corrosion resistant and like steel and aluminum, is not subject to failure (or collapse) with minor dents or crashes.  On the other hand, it is a much more expensive material and much harder to weld and work.  As a result, it is an expensive frame material and takes more skill to combine the positive attributes with the negatives.  It is possible to end up with a noodly titanium frame, so care needs to be taken in selecting a maker and expect to pay for the privilege.

Carbon Fiber - Carbon fiber is an excellent material for the most demanding bike frames.  It is possible to create a frame that weighs much less than any other material and, with enough expense and engineering, it is possible to build in almost any combination of stiffness, flexibility or characteristics sought in a frame.  Not surprisingly, this material and engineering comes at a steep price.  As with the other frames, inexpensive carbon frames exist, but often you get what you paid for, with a stiff but clunky and not necessarily light frame.  On the other extreme, with enough money (literally $10,000 plus for the frame alone), you can achieve an extremely light, extremely stiff for pedaling forces and turning but compliant for ride comfort frame.  But, this wonder material comes with a big downside, which is less resistance to crashes or the potential for failure of the frame from the same impact that any of the other materials would handle.  The good news - no dents.  The bad news - it goes straight from fine to broken.

So with those comments, what is the right material for your bike frame?  That is strictly dictated by what you want to do with your bike and how much you want to spend.  If you are a professional that will be handed a new bike after a crash and your only objective is to win a race, then carbon fiber is the way to go.  If you are a non-professional that has to buy your bikes and have goals beyond getting to a finish line first, then despite its sex appeal (which has gone a bit amuck as you can find damn near everything made from carbon fiber - literally including plates and coffee mugs), the other materials warrant a good hard look.

The reality is that very nice bikes can be made from any of these materials.  Any of them can also produce bikes that aren't fun to ride.  What I would suggest is consulting with a local bike shop and getting some help finding the right bike for you.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Two Wheels at a Time, Please

I like to ride bicycles in a whole variety of ways, training, racing, commuting, mountain biking and more.  I also like to ride motorcycles.  I have not, however, ever tried to combine these two hobbies, but here is the tragic result of that melange.


The cyclist was apparently visiting from England, but thankfully had no broken bones.  How's that for an American trip memory?

Also, if you look closely you can see the problem was that the motorcyclist hit his left foot on the pavement, which caused him to stand up the bike and go wide on the corner, which reminds me of one of my motorcycling mantras - you may only get one chance to go into a corner too fast.

People, let's be safe out there.  Let's get them before they get us.  No wait, that's not the right context.  How about, let's keep the shiny side up.  Yeah, that's better.

Bike Buying Guide - Part 1

There is a small bike boom that has been growing in the United States for several years.  Lots of influences are driving the increased awareness, increased ownership and increase in commuting.  Some of the credit probably goes to the now-disgraced Lance Armstrong, but even more should go to the people in communities who are just getting out and riding.  The more of them you see on the street, the more it looks like something "you" could do.

As a result, there are a lot more people interested in bikes and looking at buying a bike for the first time as an adult or stepping up from the department store style bike that has been in the garage for a decade or more.  And that, dear readers, is why I am going to provide some solid, down-to-earth advice on buying bikes.

First up, let's look at styles of bikes:
  • Road bikes, which typically have skinny tires, drop handlebars and many gears.  This is the category of bike that people use to do races "like" the Tour de France.
  • Mountain bikes, which typically have wider tires with knobbies or grip pattern, flat bars and also have many gears, often having three chainrings.
  • Hybrid or Fitness bikes, which are between these two styles, usually with tire widths in-between, an upright position and flat bar, and may have a lot of gears or as few as three-gears or even internal gears (so that the gears are in the rear hub and shift automatically - giving the rider the benefit of more gears but without the complexity).
In addition to these three broad categories, there are many variations.  For instance, the road bike category broadly includes "track" bikes or single speed bikes, fixed gear bikes, time trial bikes, triathlon bikes, cyclocross bikes and variations aimed at commuters, cross-country riders or gravel road aficionados.

Mountain bikes include bikes with 26" wheels, 29" wheels, now 650 c or 27.5" wheels, and "fat" bikes with tires dramatically wider for riding on sand or snow.  Also, mountain bikes in most of these tire configurations can include rigid frame bikes, hardtail bikes with a front suspension fork, or full-suspension bikes with a front and rear shock system (rear suspension also comes in more than a dozen varieties).

And lastly, there are other variations including tandem bikes (for one person who likes to ride bikes and one person who doesn't but got dragged into it against their will), recumbent bikes (for people who like the idea of riding, but want a place to carry their conspiracy theory notes on their laps),  cruiser bikes (for people who like the idea of riding, but don't ride except on the boardwalk next to Venice beach), electric bikes (for people who like the idea of riding, but don't ride except back to the store to get the motor fixed that inexplicably never works).

So, with all of that in mind, the first thing to do is decide what kind of riding you "think" you would enjoy doing - road, trails, both, racing, leisurely, across the neighborhood, across the state or whatever.  And, after you have decided what category of bike, the next thing to do is decide on your bike budget. 

This is one of those things that is hard to answer.  It's a bit like deciding how much to spend on a "car".  You can spend $500 on a car, or $5,000 or $50,000 or $150,000 or more and you will get dramatically different results.  The same is true with bikes, but I am going to give you a handy reference guide to help determine how much to spend.  This assumes, however, that you have this sum to spend.  If you don't, buy what you can afford because it is more about the "engine" than the bike and you can have fun on a $25 bike (as long as it's not bought from a crack-addict in an alley - then the guilt of buying a stolen bike ruins the fun).  But, my rule of thumb would be that if you are going to ride less than once a week, spend less than $1,000.  If you are going to ride once a week up to seven times a week, feel free to spend $1,000 for each day per week you will be on it, so $1,000 - $7,000. 

"That's crazy!", you non-bike owners are thinking.  $7,000 for a bicycle!  Yes, well, welcome to the age of technological innovation in cycling and a growing group of middle age people spending freely on their hobby.  You can have the same discussion about golf clubs, running shoes, sports cars or wine.  There are choices at many price levels, there reasonable values and then as you go up the stuff that gets crazy good, depending on what you want to spend.  Does this mean "you" should spend $7,000 on a bike.  No, you should not.  On the other hand, if you are already wanting to spend seven large on a bike, then the prior paragraph is all you need to feel good about it.  You earned the money, you love the bike, so go spend in good conscience.  I won't tell your spouse that I came up with the rule of thumb just to justify spending the money on a bike.

Two other thoughts on the price of a bike.  I think Keith Bontrager was credited with saying that you could have bikes or components that were light, strong or inexpensive, but you only got to pick two.  And when he said that, light and strong were not cheap, but they aren't anything like the amount of light, strong and expensive you can buy now. 

And, here is the other reality of expensive bikes:
  • a $1,000 - $2,000 bike is at least 100% nicer than sub $500 bike.
  • a $3-5,000 bike is 50% nicer than sub $2,000 bike.
  • a $7,500 bike is 25% nicer than sub $5,000 bike.
  • a $10,000 bike is 10% nicer than sub $7,500 bike. 
  • a $15,000+ bike is 2-5% nicer than sub $10,000 bike
I think they call that the law of diminishing returns.  On the other hand, the beauty of a bike may not follow these progressions and this does not attempt to capture the coffee-shop envy generated in each category. 

So now you have an idea of what kind of bike and how much you want to spend, so what kind of frame material should you get for your bike?  Look for that in the next day or two.