This is an episode of the Living Proof Brew Cast.
We recorded on our most recent brew day and were joined by friend of the podcast, Chooch, who was recently returned from dipping his ass in the ocean. We all shared our appreciation of the restorative power of the ocean. Chooch explained the theory Viv, his wife, has in terms of having no choice but yielding to the greater power and majesty of nature.
We got off to an early tangent, teasing John about for the environmental noises most listeners are not likely to notice. I offered any of the other podcasts produced by our fellow non-profits and think tanks as proof of my point that New America has little to worry about with the quality of audio John produces.
We talked about how the brew day went, especially that we seemed to really hit our efficiency target in the mash. I was able to help track that and judge it with Brewzor, an app I loaded onto my new tablet. We were able to get an additional half gallon of beer and still hit our desired original gravity. In this batch of his stale vatted IPA, John has finally been convinced to take the plunge and oak it, a step he was not sure of last time. Among the many oaked beers we’ve had since that first batch that convinced him was Victory’s Dark Intrigue.
Our first beer was the last beer we brewed, the Dye-cast Dubbel, my Belgian dubbel recipe. Despite now being down to the last of this batch, I think this is the first time we have tasted it on mic. I reiterated our theory, previously shared, about where the sugary notes from Belgian beers really come from, that it is as much if not more the malts they use than the candy sugars which most people attribute. This put us in mind of other beers where the sugary sweet, especially with a fair amount of complexity, plays a strong role like John’s Jinx-proof Porter and the Southern Tier Creme Brulee. Caramelization and smoke are clearly a large part of that, like in the Backyard Ale from Flying Dog.
As much as we caught the same sort of sugary, caramelization and complexity in the Green Grass and High Tides, we also appreciated the intense hopping regimen. The first beer Chooch enjoyed with us arriving late at brew day, Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum. John agreed with that over the top, sticky, unctuousness that he also likes in Oskar Blues’ Gubna.
I am not sure why, but perhaps revisiting earlier, challenging beers put me then in mind of Victory’s Storm King which I had for the first time recently and in which I found a nice chocolatey sweetness for the first time. I had Peg Leg from Heavy Seas for the first time in a while, too, and had a similar experience. Both experiences had me thinking that I need to find time to retry beers that I have not had in some time.
Chooch had his own palate level up, the Leifman’s Oud Brown, a sour ale that he really enjoyed. He embraced the funk, reading us his check in notes on Untappd. Like with my roasty beer revelations, he knew that had he tried this beer a year ago, he would have spat it out. Now, he enjoyed it a great deal. John explained what he finds appealing especially in the sour brown ales, which often has a nice malty finish. John reminded us of the straight gueze we tried several years ago, that as much as we disliked it, we should revisit that. I gave a few more examples of beers worth finding again and giving a second chance. Chooch nicely related this to our thoughts on touchstone beers, that there may be a worthwhile corollary in gauging progress in the cultivation in our palates.
John took that back to comfort beers but in the context of being a local guide. When playing host, it is useful to find the accessible but distinctive flavors, something that is close to the idea of re-visitation. This part of beer questing and sharing complements the usual seeking out of new peaks. I rattled off more local high points, especially a recent one off, the Derecho Common from Port City, but also DC Brau and Chocolate City. I related it to the motto Cmar shared with us in the last episode, that when friends are globally traveling, to visit us as locals, John’s thoughts fit nicely into that ambassadorial duty.
This reminded Chooch of a couple of new Virginia breweries, one from which he brought us some samples, Devil’s Backbone. The other one is Roanoke Railhouse but he didn’t bring us any as it didn’t stand out as much. These beers were involved with some of Chooch’s recent travel, where he was planning to meet with Billy and Flynstress from Geek Radio Daily. Though he missed that connection, he did find a place a little east of the city that had one of our very favorites, Brother Thelonious, on tap. I used to live in Richmond, over ten years ago, and recall even then some good spots comparable to Gilly’s and Pepe’s and Pinky’s. My first taste of Unibroue was at a local Richmond shop where the resident expert guided me to that brewery.
Chooch remembered that it was The Village Cafe he tried. It was of course good for food as well as beer. He was recommended to it via a roller derby connection, speaking of John’s cousin. A fellow roller derby player of Flynstress (whose nom de roller is Thistle Hurt) is a waitress at Village. John had been and also recommended it.
Talking about Brother Thelonius put me in mind, again, of its relation to my dubbel. It started life as a clone of North Coast’s strong golden but it was Thomas Vincent who really called it, that my changes morphed it into a dubbel. My trips to Brussels over the past year and tasting dubbels there have me agreeing more than ever. John shared his top five, which include the Ayinger Celebrator, Chimay Rogue, the Brother Thelonius, Gubna and quite possibly my dubbel, so a good representation of Belgian style beers.
I described a moment of immodesty when I shared this most recent batch of my dubbel with my father-in-law who I have a long history of sharing beer and homebrew with. On returning the empty of the bomber I gave him of the 2012 dubbel, he honestly and seriously wondered when I was going to go pro so he could buy this beer in particular by the case. I won’t lie, I have thought doing so might be my third career in another few years, especially since I feel like the recipe for the dubbel is pretty close to the target.
Chooch changed the tone, bringing the goofy. My first thought as he warmed up was the banana bread beer he brought us. He was thinking more about strange, wacky side projects. In this instance, he wanted to conduct a lightning round. He had a set of simple questions, this time on the subject of beer pairings. He first asked what beer we’d want to have with a big, juicy cheese burger. John went for a brown ale since that was the pairing he had when he hurt his finger all those months ago. For me, it was an IPA as I consider those my Summer beers, like Loose Cannon I’ve been having on tap recently. So much for the lightning round as we rat holed on Heavy Seas talking about their golden ale and the fact that AHA members can get a free brewery tour, a recent addition to the list of membership benefits.
Round two, best beer for a hot day on the beach. I went for the obvious, the Summer ales, like the one Sam Adams makes. I also thought of the spiced wit biers. John suggested Somersault, Negro Modelo and Pacifico. I offered a craft alternative to Negro Modelo, Chocolate City’s Cerveza Nacional which I enjoyed at a family friendly happy hour at Wonderland Ballroom. There was a lot of agreement around the Baja, Californian, Mexican local beers for hot days spent around water. This reminded John and I of one of the last times Chooch was on, sharing some beers from that region.
Final round, the best beer for buffering your system for transmatter ray teleportation. Think Douglas Adams. I haven’t been teleported but did have a good beer in mind for general purpose buffering of the system. At Meridian Pint after a stressful day, I had a session IPA from DC Brau, Groundwolf, that was conditioned in a rye cask and served cask style. I think it would serve to prepare for beaming aboard a Vogon deconstructor ship. No peanuts or cheese sandwich required. John recommended a liquid date bread of a beer, chunky and monkey, the 21st Amendment Monk’s Blood. It is a nutrition bar in a can. Chooch awarded the round to John.
Chooch’s third lightning round had us all appreciating how deeply science fiction has pervaded our lives. I talked about a recent episode of my other podcast, one of my intermittent discussions of the genre from a literary and cultural perspective. Mention of my other podcast put us onto some wonkish topics, including P2P piracy and admission that efforts by industry have not stemmed it. I was IGF USA recently sitting at a table with a representative with Disney who showed an odd dissonance around embracing online opportunities while still pushing back against piracy.
John brought us back to our last point of departure an interview as part of Intel’s Tomorrow project where Brian David Johnson interviewed Bruce Sterling. He got him talking about the electronic tools Sterling and William Gibson used to write the Difference Engine. Johnson previously interviewed Cory Doctorow and commissioned Knights of the Rainbow Table. He is also a Virginia local who we think we can lay good odds we could get on both this podcast and my other one.
Johnson’s work here really highlights a strong trend of futurism among not just Gibson, Sterling and Doctorow but many others like Rudy Rucker and Charlie Stross. Much of what Johnson has done here has very specifically been to leverage deep thinkers to spark thought and creation from today’s engineers. It made me thinking of the odd reminiscences I’ve been having using my new Nexus 7. For me, they served as a reminder of how continuous these inventions often are, that a connector like Johnson can help keep things brewing until the right opportunity comes along to see them really take off. We dug into how astonishing it is that so much of what was once futurism is now quite pedestrian.
John brought up Michael Lind’s new book, “Land of Promise“, which touches on how concentration and break up within the market affects innovation, for good and for ill. Chooch’s mention of AT&T’s “You Will…” ad campaign put this in John’s mind. Chooch had some other examples counter to one of Lind’s arguments about how much longer Bell Labs would have cranked out amazing inventions if not divested. Like many things, trying to tease out the best way forward is complex and challenging. I pointed out how this can lead to retrodiction, like the recent mischaracterization of the creation of the internet. John Scalzi’s confessions of a self made man better makes my point that we need admixtures of public benefit and private gumption.
I started to put a post-partisan point on the productive power of hard fought compromise. Chooch went even pithier with the quote: humans don’t scale. A good thought to end on.
You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.
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