Category Archives: General

Our Schedules for Balticon 47 – Update (again)

Update: When I first posted this, the LLF live show was listed as ten PM on Saturday. It is in fact two hours later, at midnight Saturday.

Update 2: Listening to the new media track coordinator, it sounds like the tips and tricks panel is actually Saturday and I will be joining it as well.

John and I will once again be attending Balticon, coming up in a week. We plan to record a pre-show this week that I hope we’ll be able to get posted before we go. Once there, we will be on panels, again, adding our experiences and talents to those of all the other volunteers to make the new media track as awesome as possible.

When not on panels, we will again be cornering friends of ours throughout the weekend to capture interviews for this podcast to share over the course of the weeks following Balticon.

We will be having our quiet, by invitation only room party, Sunday night. Please ask one of us for the details once we are all at the con. It will still be BYOBS, number 3 I think, but to go along with the re-launch of the podcast, that will expand to Bring Your Own Beverage and Story. We’ll have some of our own homebrew on hand and encourage any of our friends and listeners who will be there and are brewers to bring theirs as well. In addition, we’ll have a modest bar to mix up some favorite cocktails and perhaps share some more experimental tastes. (We also plan to have a good supply of cold water and you are forewarned we will be nagging people to hydrate so that ill effects are blunted as much as possible.)

One new thing for us this year is a live recording of the podcast. John and I are already conspiring on ideas for how best to include the live audience and bring teh awesome. For those unable to attend, we will be recording so we can share the live show in the feed, too.

Our schedules are:

Saturday, May 25
09:00 Producing Your Podcast (both of us)
18:00 Peer Media, Copyright and You (Thomas)
23:00 Audio Production Tips and Tricks (both of us)
00:00 Libation Liberation Front live show! (both of us)

Sunday, May 26th
12:00 Disasterpiece Theatre (Thomas)
13:00 Talk to Me: How To Conduct Podcast Interviews (Thomas)
16:00 Managing a Large Cast (John)

Monday, May 27th
10:00 Voice Acting For Audio Books and Audio Dramas (John)

So come and find us, say hi, and we’ll share our fancy new LLF business cards and, well, perhaps some other surprises once we are there.

Posted in General.

We’re Still Here

You may have noticed the start of some changes around here. John and I have been taking an unplanned and unannounced hiatus but the change in name and the new theme are part of our plans to return, re-energized and raring to go in the new year. I won’t go into the reasons for the break other than to reassure everyone we are fine, that this is just about making sure we create enough space to recharge so that we can keep producing a podcast in which we believe and most importantly that is fine in the making.

First and foremost, if you are already subscribed, the existing feeds will continue to work for the foreseeable future. If that changes, if I decide at some point not to renew the old Living Proof domain, I will do so with plenty of warning. If you want to manually re-point to the new feeds, the links over there on the sidebar should now correctly point to them. Otherwise, you can manually edit whatever URLs to which you are subscribed, changing to

So about the name change, we discussed it as part of re-launching in 2013 and felt it was more accurate to where our heads are at. While we’ve always been able to at least superficially relate the conversations we’d been having on the podcast back to beer or brewing, it was starting to feel a little constraining. We had the domain from our open source protest beer project last year but hadn’t really done anything with it.

Libation is inclusive of beer but also lets us use anything as a catalyst–beer, wine, spirits, whatever. And it has a wonderful double meaning, of a gift, an idea in which John and I are enthusiastic on many levels. Conversation is a gift as is the company of the guests we bring onto the show, right along with whatever beverage we choose to accompany that.

The honest truth is that John and I increasingly think and work on issues that fall under the umbrella of liberation. Initially we were just thinking about ways of improving the ethos of free sharing in the world of craft beer and liquor including helping to move laws forward to allow more at the home and craft scales to participate. But we also often end up talking about creative and political liberation. We both work at a think tank, these issues are almost always on our minds and had been slowly creeping into the on mic conversations anyway. So we thought it made sense to acknowledge and embrace them, bringing them into the foreground. Honestly, it also opens up the list of who it makes sense to invite into the discussion considerably, as we did most notably anyway at Balticon this year having on not just brewers and beer geeks but also writers and musicians.

This is a movement, this urge to the creative gifting, creation and sharing. A front makes sense to us, in a playful yet serious way. We are militant on one level, believing strongly in a spirit of cooperation as a way of being but not so much so that the selection of front to complete the name isn’t an intentional sly reference to Monty Python (splitters!)

We don’t have a hard date for the re-launch of the podcast but we’ll update this space when we do. In the meantime, John and I both have a hefty break from work coming up. We should be able to get some writing and production done to complete the re-branding without impinging too much on the down time we both discussed and felt was critical to us to be able to continue the conversations we’ve been having that are far from over, far from exhausted yet.


Posted in General.

The Pumpkin Beers of 2011

(Originally posted on The Secret Lair)

There are five things I look forward to in October. Pumpkin coffee drinks, outdoor campfires with friends, brisk hikes through the autumn woods, mugging small children for their candy, and pumpkin beers.  Each has its appeal, but since this year is the year I started homebrewing my own beer, it is only right that I take some time out to review the pumpkin beers I’ve had this year. In order of worst to best:

Punkin Ale

I label this one the worst because my expectations were so very high. I usually like Dogfish Head beers: I love their experimental approach to brewing and the passion with which they further the craft. Not every experiment is a successful one, and this one did not resonate with me. I think it’s only fair to note that when I picture a pumpkin-flavored product, I’m not thinking of the flavor of the raw pumpkin; I’m tasting the nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cloves, the brown sugar and molasses as well. Punkin Ale has none of this; it’s a straight up ale with pumpkin, no embellishments. Some find this to be a strength, but for folks like me who are looking for the best possible mix of pumpkin pie and beer, this is one to avoid. This makes me sad.

America’s Original Pumpkin Ale

To Buffalo Bill: Your sauce, sir, is weak. Hints of flavor come through, but not nearly strong enough. This is like drinking weak beer with a pumpkin-flavored crayon dunked in it. The ale itself leave much to be desired, and there is a strange not-beer not-pumpkin aftertaste that made me shiver. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Ichabod Ale

This is where things start getting good. The brew has an excellent body and smooth aftertaste. The pumpkin and spice flavor is hinted at in the bouquet on the pour and is especially strong on the finish, but there is a no-man’s land in-between that needs bolstering.  If you are introducing a Bud drinker to pumpkin beers, this is a good one to start with, as it is not overpowering. For those of us who want stronger flavor, you’ll be happier with one of the next brews.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale

Excellent beer.  This is the beer that started me down the road of trying as many pumpkin beers as I could find this year, and when you taste it, you’ll see why. Heavy nutmeg and allspice notes on the pour give way to a surprising light-bodied beer that is full of flavor. The pumpkin and malt flavors are clear and clean, and the finish is pure warmth and spice. Highly recommended.

 Harvest Pumpkin Ale

I’d rate this in the  class with the Post Road Ale: a solid beer with excellent spiciness to the flavor. The difference between this and the Post Road is that this beer is has a heavier body and a darker pour; there are elements of molasses in the flavor with the nutmeg and the clove. It is also best served chilled, and is amazing when used to chase a Buttery Nipple shot.

Pumpkin Beer

This was a surprise. I’ve never had anything else by O’Fallon, but if the rest of their catalog is as strong as this one, then I’ll be looking for more. Excellent color and pour, sweet and malty with the right balance of pumpkin and spices. There is also a slight citrus finish with was surprising but pleasing nonetheless.

And the clear winner was…

Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Amazing. Just amazing. This is a Big Damn Beer with intense flavors: strong spices, sweet pumpkin maltitness throughout with a stunning hoppy finish. I was completely blown away. The perfect pumpkin beer, falvorful from the onset and you’re nice and toasty (both from the flavor and the ABV) by bottom of the pint glass.  Highly recommended.

Have you had any good pumpkin beers this season?  What did you think?


Posted in General.

Thomas’ Beer Diet

Past guest on our brewcast, Evo Terra, recently announced to the world his intention to go on a brew diet for the month of October. For the space of one month each day he will consume only one large sausage link and five or six craft brews. You can follow along on his blog his reasons for undertaking what some consider madness, a surprising number of whom have witnessed Evo’s past antics and should know better.

Shortly after Evo’s first post about his brew diet, an email thread was started including John and myself and several of our other regular guests on the brewcast. Chris Miller in particular wanted to know if any of us were planning on trying to follow along on Evo’s latest beer focused adventure. Evo is the only one of us that works in an environment that in some ways is a throwback to earlier times, times that didn’t get so panicky over the mingling of employment and limited quantities of alcohol. If any of the rest of us were going to attempt our own brew diets, it would have to be with some modifications.

Inspired by Chris’ idea to replace his evening meal with beer while having sensible and healthful food for breakfast and lunch, I pondered how I could come up with something similar that would not get me fired.

I really wanted to participate. John and I have discussed some of the amazing historical brewing traditions that going back to medieval Europe and further. There is good evidence that a weakly alcoholic and highly nutritious beer fueled the construction of the pyramids. European surfs drank small beers throughout the colder seasons to ward against the chill and to enjoy a form of preserved grain. The Trappist monks and other monastic traditions have incorporated the craft of brewing into their aesthetics of austerity and self-sufficiency. My wife even tells me that there is an order of Russian orthodox monks who still observe Lent by consuming nothing but beer.

Spurred on by Evo’s wild idea and sustained by the deeper connections with beer and brewing traditions, I decided to do something very close to Chris’ approach. I will replace my evening meal with a single craft beer. I will eat breakfast as usual and since my most nutritious meal of the day is the often vegetarian meal, as much as possible with CSA grown vegetables, my wife cooks for the family for dinner almost every night of the week, I will hang onto my dinners to have as leftovers for lunch each day. Doing so is the least impactful, most healthy way for me to participate.

I picked up my first batch of beers for my coming October dinner replacements. My first thought was to favor sampler packs as a way to make my money stretch well for the whole month and to combat palate fatigue. I found this Sam Adams sampler of harvest beers and immediately realized it was perfect for an October brew diet. I could not resist throwing in the Flying Dog Secret Stash which is a harvest beer made from all local ingredients including spices and honey.

Buying all this beer brought it home that I am really doing this, I am giving up one meal a deal for a month and committing to replacing it with a single craft beer. Whether this slight reduction in my calorie count for the day helps me drop a few pounds I’ve been trying to lose in a half-assed fashion for a while now or has any other impact on me will be interesting to find out. I doubt I will have the time to blog anywhere near as much as Evo is doing on his brew diet and I already know a couple of work related events later in the month will required putting the diet on hold for a couple of days. Regardless, John and I will be recording at least one interview, possibly more, with Evo about this whole project. I look forward to sharing my experiences then about how my own personal take is going.

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BYOBS 2: Electric Brew-galoo

Last year at Balticon John and I hosted an unofficial gathering of beer enthusiasts and homebrewers which we called a BYOBS. That stands for stands for bring your own beer and story though a fair amount of bs’ing occurred as well. The idea was to bring a beer that had an interesting history or personal significance and share both it and the story with everyone else.

We had such a great time that we’ve decided to host another BYOBS at this year’s Balticon. After conferring over our respective schedules and the general grid of programming, we’ve settled on Sunday night at 7:30PM to 8:30PM. As with last year, we are keeping the location confidential since we will be sharing alcohol. Please find John or me at the convention and ask for the full details. An excellent opportunity to do so would be just before or right after the Brewing Your Own Beer at Home panel, on Saturday at 1PM in Derby. John and I will both be on that panel.

Our plan to brew and tweak the Black Rum Stout we shared last year just didn’t come together in time as a result of insane work and personal commitments. We will however be bringing samples of three other recent homebrews to taste including the Living Proof Dye-cast Dubbel, the Wryneck Brewing Company Green Grass and High Tides, and the Rogue Archivist.

If you won’t have homebrew to share, we recommend checking out Calvert Wine and Spirits which is conveniently located just a few blocks away from the convention hotel. Their beer selection is phenomenal, we’ll be making a trip to pick up supplemental beer for the podcast segments we hope to record throughout the weekend.

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Open Source Beer Fellowship

Beer by definition belongs in the public domain. To be more clear, copyright protection doesn’t extend to recipes, at least as expressed in terms of mere lists of ingredients. Brewing as a hobby and a trade flourishes despite the lack of intellectual monopoly. Beyond existence in what is often called an intellectual monopoly negative space, most home brewers and many craft breweries very much embody a spirit of sharing that embraces and builds on the spirit of the public domain. In particular, the parallels between open source software, enabled by a bit of legal trickery in the form of condition or contract on copyright, and small scale brewering are quite compelling. (I use small scale to encompass both home breweres and commercial craft brewers.)

Both are often motivated by the creation of products that suit the taste of the creator and the absence of such products out in the world. Collaboration is usually seen as a positive rather than a competitive threat. Meritocracy rules the day, the quality of work and clear exhibition of mastery often trump market considerations such as price or messaging. If you search for either open source software or homebrew recipes, you will find items of all varieties that match.

Given this strong overlap, it isn’t surprising that John and I both work with open source to varying degrees and maintain an interest in both constructed intellectual commons and the public domain. Through our volunteering efforts, we’ve even come into the orbit of one of the strongest advocates for the public domain, Carl Malamud. We’ve crafted a beer out of the respect we hold for Carl’s efforts in improving access to the text of our laws and multimedia materials produced by the government.

Carl has a new project in the works to which we hope to be able to link soon. Based on our past interactions, John, his wife who makes all our beer labels, and I have been tapped by Carl’s non-profit,, as Open Source Fellows. Our project?

“Our Nation’s Attic.” An exploration and demonstration of the importance of works of the government in promoting creativity and economic activity through the creation and documentation of an American Pale Ale, an open source beer.

Given what I’ve said about copyright not applying to recipes and the parallels from the world of software, open souce beer may seem redundant. There are other protections for recipes, however, mostly in the form of secrecy, trade or otherwise. As supportive as the commercial craft brewers are of hobbyists, few if any openly publish their recipes. The large volume of clone recipes available are the product of reverse engineering and exist legally due to the lack of copyright. Tolerance and support are not the same as affirmative siganls and sharing of information that once disclosed is in the public domain.

Our Nation’s Attic will be an open source beer recipe in a positive sense. John and I will publish the initial recipe with the clear intention of other home brewers using it to make their own beer from it. To that end we are committed to publishing our notes throughout the development and brewing of this beer with an eye towards common adaptations both in process (all grain, partial grain, and extract) and ingredients which frequently vary based on local availability. The notes, which will be subject to copyright, we will dedicate to the public domain.

Going beyond our own efforts producing batches to evaluate and tune the recipe, we’ve discussed possibly developing a declarative signal, something like a logo mark, to identify home brews produced from recipes that are openly shared. We’d like to seek out other brewers, hobbyist and if we can find willing ones commercial ones, willing to use our recipe and post their own tweaks for further sharing. Lacking a copyright, we cannot compel a share-alike or copyleft condition. It is our hope that the spirit of collaboration among brewers is strong enough that we’ll get at least a few takers and perhaps get many more to think about how opening the source of their own beers would enable far more experimentation and enjoyment.

Stay tuned for updates both on Our Nation’s Attic and our further efforts in cultivating concrete practices of open sharing in brewing. For my part, based on my deeper interest in policy and its history, I will try to pull together some more posts expanding on the themes identified in the definition of our fellowship project.

To the extent possible under law, Thomas Gideon has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Open Source Beer Fellowship. This work is published from: United States.

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Savor Tickets On Sale Tomorrow, at Noon

John and I are both planning on trying to get tickets. We talked about Savor in our early discussions of Discovery’s Brew Masters series as the unveiling of one of Sam’s beers took place there. I currently work very close to the venue and am excited at the prospect of attending such a big event in the beer world right in my usual stomping grounds.

You will be able to purchase tickets for Savor tomorrow starting at noon from their web site. They apparently reserve pre-sale tickets for VIPs and attendees from years past and those sold out in next to no time. I thought it would be a useful reminder for anyone else interesting in going, to be prepared to try to buy your tickets at noon sharp, just in case the rest of the tickets go as fast.

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New Belgium Coming to DC/MD/VA

The news, from the DCist, is really only of interest to our local readers.

Beers from Colorado brewer New Belgium have achieved some level of cult status. Part of the reason for this is that despite being the third-largest craft brewer in America, the brewery did not distribute east of the Mississippi until 2009. However, that is all about to change as we find out from DC Beer that New Belgium is seeking to expand their distribution to D.C., Maryland and Virginia some time this fall. The timeline will reportedly depend on the distributors in the localities, but demand may be high enough to force the distributors to respond quickly.

I have not had a chance to try anything from New Belgium, yet, missing it the few times in recent history I’ve traveled far enough west for it to be available. I am looking forward to picking some up this Fall.

New Belgium to Expand Distribution to D.C., DCist

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First Canned Beer Went on Sale 76 Years Ago This Week

Wired shared a bit of commercial beer history.

1935: The first canned beer in the United States goes on sale in Richmond, Virginia. By the end of the year, 37 breweries follow the lead of the Gottfried Krueger Brewery.

As the article goes on to explain, American Can Co. had been experimenting with cans as early as 1909 but those previous attempts couldn’t withstand the pressure of carbonation. It is also interesting to note that the Krueger brewery was as skeptical as many craft beer enthusiasts remain. Brewers like 21st Amendment and Oskar Blues have convinced me, at all events, that we shouldn’t judge a beer harshly for being canned.

Another fun bit of trivia, and apparently an attempted concession to gthe bottle bias, some breweries experimetented with conical topped cans complete with a crown cap.

Jan. 24, 1935: First Canned Beer Sold, Wired

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Brew Masters Still Alive?

There is a ton of internet rumor swirl about the possible cancelation of The Discovery Channel’s “Brew Masters” featuring Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagioni. The short and skinny of it? The show’s initial schedule called for six episodes, five have been broadcast and the sixth is in the works due to a construction delay to Eataly New York, to which Sam is co-partnering up to provide an onsite cask brewery. The fate of a second season is yet to be determined, but the sixth episode should be released sometime soon with a possible mini-marathon of the first five as a promotional ramp up. This article for The Washington Post’s All We Can Eat Section does a great job clarifying the status of the series and events on the Dogfish Head horizon.

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