January 19, 2008

What gives with the stink at John Harvard’s brew pub?

Posted in Fatherhood, Other Stuff at 10:08 pm by loolar

It just goes to show they’re right – you should always ask Dad first.

One Sunday last November, I was in Boston with some friends for a wedding. We were enjoying the football games at John Harvard’s brewery in Harvard Square, for a nostalgic trip to one of our former favorite haunts (all but one of us has since moved away; the remaining holdout now lives far out in the burbs).

Our experience was marred, however, by the apparent stink of manure that periodically wafted through the bar. After repeatedly checking our shoes, we dismissed it as a possible by-product of the local mounted police, brought in whenever the door opened.

I asked my dad (former brewmaster at a brew pub in Ohio), and he immediately recognized the issue. It seems that, after brewing a batch, if you leave the spent grain (the barley) around for a few days (after essentially accelerating the decomposition of the grain by using it to create the wort), it starts the stink up the place – really badly.

And the stink may be pretty close to what we mistook for manure, since you’ve essentially done the same thing to the grain that a horse/cow digestive tract would – brew it in a moisture bath, leaching out the sugars that can be metabolized, leaving behind bacterial waste and spent, indigestible fiber (a few days exposed to air takes care of the bacterial part of the equation).

He says they never brewed on Friday or Saturday if they couldn’t be sure they could get the grain hauled away (usually by a pig farmer), because the smell only took a day or two to develop. So he surmised that they did a brew on Friday, and we got the benefits of it on Sunday.

I’m sure you’ll all sleep better now that this mystery has been put to rest.

January 13, 2008

NFL season almost over – goodbye, UPS Wipeboard twit

Posted in Advertising, Customer Lack of Service, NFL and other lesser sports at 8:04 pm by loolar

A fun divisional playoff weekend – only the conference weekend remains, and then I will be free of glimpses of the UPS Wipeboard twit for another six months.

I say glimpses, thanks to the digital powers that be, who have provided the Digital Video Recorder. My stepfather John was in town last weekend for NFL wild card weekend, and we introduced him to the wonder of watching an NFL game without commercials. As a result, he enjoyed watching his Giants beat Tampa Bay with nary an annoyance last week, and then spent the AFC game on my computer researching which one to buy.

Anyone with a TiVo or DVR knows the drill – the program starts, you hit pause, do errands or chores for an appropriate interval (about 25% the length of the actual program – so, 15 minutes for an hour long, 45 minutes for a three hour game), and return to the program with a “buffer” that allows you to fast forward through all the commercials. For yesterday’s Patriots divisional game against the Jaguars, my buddy Kris and I went to Costco for pizzas. When we got back, we had 50 minutes of buffer, and so never watched a single commercial.

Every now and then, however, for whatever reason, I end up watching a program in real time. Patriots-Giants in week 17, for example – some events have to be watched in real time. As most guys know, you need to add your personal mojo to the contest to help edge it in your favor.

And when that happens, I am invariably subjected to the UPS Wipeboard twit.

You’ve probably seen him. Near as I can tell, he’s looks like Steve Carell in a mullet, doing “clever” wipeboard marker tricks like he’s Bob Ross offering arts and crafts tips on PBS (“Look, a small truck is a big truck if you just add two figure 8s and a squiggle!”).

I don’t mind the Steve Carrell part – I just wish he was actually funny, like Steve Carrell. I can even forgive the effete mullet (it’s more of a bob cut), since, hell, during the height of 90s grunge, I used to have a somewhat similar haircut.*

What drives me up the wall is his smug, pompous, pretentious, dismissive delivery. Hence the “twit.” I mean, I get the sense that this guy thinks his wipe board abilities are commensurate with kung fu skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills; that they’re profoundly fascinating, and we should be awed and reverent that he’s deigned to share them with us. It’s like he thinks he can pick up chicks with this shit. At least the guy doing amateur card tricks has the good taste to pretend he’s having fun, while acknowledging it as inherently silly.

Never mind the fact that I could never get UPS to make home delivery during hours that weren’t when the average person was at, y’know, their frickin job.

UPS, you and your pompous Wipeboard twit shall not be missed.

*But didn’t look like a dorkus malorcus.