Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Back From New Hampshire

Karen and I finally made it back home from Greg & Mekayla's wedding. The trip was a lot of fun and we got to see a lot of our Boston friends. It was short, mostly because we have more trips later in the year and budgeting comes in to play. It costs a lot to fly from the center of the Pacific Ocean to Boston.

The AMC Highland Center was a great location for their wedding. The last time I was there was when Chris and I hiked Avalon, Field, and Tom.

They asked me to be one of the official photographers for the wedding. Official is too official of a word. They didn't hire a professional photographer, but asked me to coordinate the efforts of 6 of us who had been asked to specifically take photos throughout the wedding. I took 927 photos over three days. All combined, there was over 6000 photos (and that's from everyone who had a camera too, not just the official photographers).

I learned a good bit over the three days. Lighting is a bitch. Photographing a campfire is hard. More people than I thought do not like to have their picture taken. Vaulted ceilings and fluorescent lighting makes lighting the shot challenging.

I am currently going through the photos I took and trimming it down to what I deem the good photos. Once I have those, I'll upload to Flickr.

Earned just over 10000 miles for this trip.

Beers #13, #14, and #15

I'm really behind on the beer challenge. I have a backlog of days now. The trip to New Hampshire messed me up, so now I have to get drunk this weekend and catch up. I was able to try three new beers on the trip and make some forward progress:

Beer #13: Wolaver's Brown Ale

Certified organic and certified tasty. Recommended. Good flavor, aroma, and color. All around enjoyable beer.

Beer #14: Mayflower Brewing Pale Ale

As far as pale ales go, this one isn't terribly exciting. If you like pale ale, you might like this one. Some say it's a bit on the hoppy side. I didn't notice or I didn't mind, not quite sure. Probably not one I would seek out, but definitely not horrible. If you like pale ale, try this one.

Beer #15: Woodchuck Draft Cider

Does cider count as a beer? I'm including it in the beer challenge, mostly because I'd never had it and I wanted to try it. Adult apple juice. It's pretty good.

OK, I'm now on day 20 and I am only at 15 beers. That means I'm only trying 0.75 new beers a day currently. Need to step that up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Beers #10, #11, #12 and misc

Beer #10: Ayinger Brau-Weisse

Authentic Bavarian Hefe-weizen. It's good. I recommend it.

Beer #11: Achel Trappist

I've had better. Not bad, but not great.

Beer #12: Eku Pils

Not bad for a pilsner. It's German. Give it a try.

Also, Karen and I are now engaged.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beer #9: Butte Creek Organic India Pale Ale

Here's one you can skip if you haven't tried it. The reviews on BeerAdvocate generally seem to be in favor of this beer, but I have to say that it sort of sucks. Entirely too overboard on the hops. Now, I like an IPA just like the next guy, but as also stated by Chris, I don't want to taste a glass full of lawn clippings.

Craziness of the hops aside, the beer looks good when poured and smells nice. The taste makes you jump out of your chair. If that's your thing, this might be a beer for you.

As for the organic aspect, I don't really know how to test that out since I can't get a non-organic Butte Creek IPA.

I've completed a week or so on this course of trying 100 beers in the next 100 days. Let's see what I've done so far:

  • United States: 2
  • Germany: 1
  • Denmark: 1
  • Japan: 2
  • Belgium: 2
  • Australia: 1
  • IPA: 1
  • Hefeweizen: 1
  • Belgian triple: 1
  • Belgian other: 1
  • Japan boringness: 2
  • Australian interestingness: 1
  • Denmark whatever: 1
  • German ordinary: 1
This is not a scientific project.

Beer #8: Gulden Draak

A Belgian triple. Alcohol content of 10.5%, comes in a distinctive 330mL bottle. For more information, click here.

This isn't my favorite of Belgian beers. I do like the triple style, but this one tasted significantly stronger than most, which may have something to do with the various berries and whatnot that goes in to the beer (read the article on Wikipedia).

I would like to try it again and with proper glassware. I've generally liked most Belgian beers I've tried, but this one I think needs another go.

I will say that I tolerated it, but I'm not quite at the point of recommending it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tax Season Over

In the United States, personal income tax is collected at a variety of levels. Some cities collect a personal income tax, such as the City of New York and the City of Yonkers (which they call an income tax surcharge, which still sounds like tax to me), both in New York state. Many municipalities have wage taxes or occupational taxes, which are usually the source of many local arguments and debates and councilmembers being voted out of office.

But no one ever really talks about municipal government income tax. All you ever really hear about is state income tax and federal income tax. You also hear the date April 15 a lot, which is the date that personal income tax to the federal government is due. Most states make their due dates on this day as well.

This week has been tax week and there have been subtle clues all over that you need to remember to file your tax return by April 15th. One of my favorite so far has been AMC running The Untouchables several times a day this week. Remember how they got Capone on income tax evasion? Oh right, better go do my taxes.

Here in Hawaii, I have the pleasure of paying 8.25% of my income to the state government and a significantly larger portion to the federal government.

I hope everyone filed on time.

Dinner at Ka 'Ikena

On Wednesday night, Karen and I met with some of her coworkers and their friends for dinner at the Ka 'Ikena Restaurant at Kapi'olani Community College. This restaurant is a teaching/classroom facility for people taking culinary and hospitality courses. The restaurant manager is the instructor for the dining room students. The kitchen operates as a separate class (at least based on what I was told).

It was really interesting and strange. Should we all be playing various roles, such as aggravated customer, difficult customer, customer who doesn't speak English, and so on?

The restaurant serves a full 5 course meal, but the only beverages offered are water or tea. It's bring your own booze, so everyone showed up with bottles of wine and beer. Guess the school can't have a liquor license?

Elsewhere in the same building were various kitchens and lab environments. For example, we entered the building and walked past the Confectionery Lab. Neat.

In another building is a mock hotel room. So weird. I guess people in the hospitality industry have to learn somewhere and you might as well have actual settings like the ones you'll be working in.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beer #7: Coopers Sparkling Ale

Real Aussie Ale. Brewed In Australia. No additives. No preservatives. Australian made. Australian owned. Bottle fermented. Family brewed.

These phrases are all printed on the bottle, along with a silhouette of a kangaroo. On the back of the label it reads:
Coopers Ales and Stout are brewed using the centuries old top fermentation method and natural bottle fermentation method and natural bottle conditioning, resulting in a characteristic fine sediment forming on the base of the bottle. This sediment is completely natural and can be gently mixed before drinking or poured carefully leaving the sediment in the bottle.
Never before has a bottle told me so much. They really like their beer and want you to appreciate it to the same degree. This beer was really quite good. I decided to give the bottle a swirl to mix the sediment in and pour that in to my glass as well, so I could get what I imagine is the full effect of Coopers Sparkling Ale. Very nice beer. If you can find a bottle, give it a try.

Coopers is brewed in Australia and imported by some importer in California. I'm not sure what the shelf life is, but I doubt it's long. The beer itself very much reminds me of a homebrew. It's just good.

12.7 fluid ounces should be enough for you to decide if you like it as well. I'm glad I'm starting down the path of beers I like. The ones early in the project were just not exciting.

Beer #6: Bavik

I'm not doing a very good job of posting on the day I drink the new beer. Whatever though, I still post.

Beer #6 was Bavik, a Belgian Pilsner. I enjoyed this beer. It's light colored but cloudy, flavorful but not overwhelming, and distinctively Belgian (and I'm comparing to other Belgian beers I like).

It came in a 330mL bottle, which wasn't quite a pint. I was wanting another when I finished it. The previous beers I've tried in this 100 beers in 100 days project were not good enough to have me asking for another (except for the Widmer one).

I can recommend Bavik. Belgian beer is known to be strong and this one seems stronger than your average pilsner, but certainly not strong like typical Belgian beer.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Offer Valid At Participating Locations

You know the phrase. Offer valid at participating locations. Or something along those lines. I'd never run in to a non-participating location until moving to Hawaii. Here, they never participate in nationwide promotions. Sign seen today at the register at KFC Hawaii on Kapahulu Ave:

This is about the norm. Stores have to put up signs like this when a nationwide coupon mailer goes out and everyone in Hawaii ends up with the coupons that aren't valid here.

Perhaps the bigger question here is why was I eating at KFC?

Beer #5: Carlsberg

From Copenhagen, Denmark comes Carlsberg. Karen had tried this one before and didn't have many great things to say about it. I have to agree. rates it as a C, or mediocre. And it's certainly worthy of that rating. They state it's a German pilsner style, but it doesn't quite taste right. No head, some aroma, some hops, mostly alcohol flavor. Maybe that's what you want.

This is another beer brewed in another country and then imported here, unlike fake import beers that are brewed "under authority" from the foreign brewery but by a local brewery.

I do not recommend Carlsberg. Fortunately I had a can of Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing to chase the 330mL of Carlsberg badness.

Beer #4: Bitburger

This beer was consumed on Friday, but recent happenings have kept me from posting.

Bitburger brewed in Germany and imported, available in a 500mL can, and at my local grocery store.

It's nothing to write home about. Not much in the way of aroma or hops or anything beer-like. The review is particularly short because nothing about this beer jumped out at me.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Beer Backlog

I have not posted yesterday's. The Kirin beer was Thursday. I've got to make a trip to Hawaii's only beer specialty store...which is only a few miles from me, thankfully.

I will be posting a writeup of Friday's beer later today.

Beer #3: Kirin Ichiban

Beer #3: Kirin Ichiban

This is another Japanese beer that I'd never tried. I saw this one at Safeway and picked up a bottle. It comes in large bottles that hold 1 pint 6 fluid ounces, or 22 fluid ounces, or 65 centiliters.

Having not been super impressed with Asahi's super dry beer, I wasn't having hopes for the second Japanese beer I was about to try. And this beer is no exception. However, since I am drinking it as purchased from Safeway in the United States, one has to look at the side label and notice that it's brewed by Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Lame.

Though the beer definitely tastes different than any other beer I've had from Anheuser-Busch, it's still ordinary. It's not a dry beer, but it's sort of average in every other camp. Perhaps this is Anheuser-Busch's latest attempt to sell beer under the slogan drinkability. I don't really understand that slogan. I mean, beer is weird and different and if you don't like it, you don't like it. Don't water something down so people will drink it based purely on the fact that they won't gag. Antifreeze has drinkability. It's smooth and sweet. But you don't see Prestone selling it under that slogan.

I had medium expectations for the beer and got that. Oddly, I'd say it's better than Asahi only because it has actual flavor. It has a little hops to it, but nothing to make drinkability fans run screaming. Also, I like comparing beers to Duvel apparently, so compared to Duvel, it has similar head.

I can't really recommend this beer, unfortunately. The label is really confusing. I have absolutely no idea what the animal on the front is supposed to be. It looks horse like, but the head looks slightly cow like. It has scales. Also, it looks like it's on fire. You be the judge.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

100 Beers in 100 Days: Beer #1 & #2

Chris has decided to try 100 new beers in the next 100 days and I thought, "I like beer," so I'm joining in on the project.

It's going to be a challenge for me to find 100 new beers in Hawaii, but so far I've had success. The goal is to try 100 beers that you've never tried before. We'll see how far I get.

Beer #1: Asahi Super Dry

A Japanese beer I have not yet tried.

We can thank Asahi Breweries Ltd for coming up with the term "dry" to describe a fully attenuated pale lager. The word was adopted for products such as Michelob Dry as well as Bud Dry. I do have to admit that it makes for better marketing. Saying Michelob Fully Attenuated Pale Lager probably isn't going to sell a lot.

So what do you get with Asahi Super Dry? Not much to speak of. There is a unique flavor while drinking it (i.e., it must be actively touching taste buds since dry beer will leave no taste), but it's not at all hoppy. Internet claims Asahi Super Dry is made from special yeast, which may account for the unique flavor. Who knows?

The other very noticeable feature is the incredible amount of carbonation in the product, which is a characteristic of fully attenuated pale lagers. Some people like this, other people avoid gaseous beverages altogether. In Asahi Super Dry, the carbonation helps it go down or makes it appear more interesting than it really is. I do like Duvel, which has a lot of gas, but it does have a different flavor.

Regarding color, it's light but not nearly as light as typical American beers in this category. I would call it a light amber color.

In the United States, Asahi Super Dry is brewed by Molson in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Imported by Asahi's US division in Torrance, California, United States.

Is Asahi worth trying? Frankly, if you are a fan of fully attenuated pale lagers, I recommend trying Asahi if for nothing more than you can add an import beer to your list of liked beers. Your beer snob friends making fun of your request for Michelob Dry could be modified to ask for Asahi (don't say Super Dry). For me, I'm filing it away as a drinkable beer if I'm under beer duress, or a situation where none of my preferred beers are available but they happen to have plenty of Asahi on ice.

Beer #2: Widmer Hefeweizen

I do like hefeweizens, but they seem to come in all shapes and sizes. Widmer is a brewery in Portland, Oregon and this appears to be their flagship beer.

I like this beer. Good flavor and good aroma. Upon receiving a glass of Widmer Hefeweizen, notice the color. It's cloudy. This is interesting to me. It maintains this all the way to the bottom of the glass. Flavor remains consistent and good. It's not very bitter at all, just enough.

I can recommend this beer. No picture available because it was on draft and I was on the other side of the bar from the tap handle.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Car Warranty Calls

I have been getting these for the past 3 weeks on my cell phone. Usually about 2 calls a day. All from different numbers. The call comes in and reports a valid phone number. Once I speak (e.g., "Hello?"), the autodialer plays a recording telling me my car warranty is about to expire. Press 1 to speak to a representative or press 2 to opt-out of future special offers. Pressing 2 does nothing, the calls keep coming in. Speaking to a representative is also difficult.

The autodialer does not exist where the callers are. When you press 1, your call is routed to someone somewhere. Internet says the operators work from home and the autodialer rings their phone and they pick up and take the call. I cannot imagine what circumstances would make a person take that job.

I ask to be put on the do not call list, but before I can finish the question, the operator disconnects. These people are trained well. Any attempts to fish information out of them gets met with a disconnect. There is no way to call back either and you know nothing about them. Very frustrating.

Rob Cockerham posted a page about this very problem on his site. Rob's done a lot of great things for the Internet, including documenting many pranks and performing detailed scientific analysis of products in his kitchen. He's also become a consumer advocate of sorts, which is nice for us lay people because Rob has a bigger voice because he's been on TV and I think his name is on the Internet more prominently than mine.

Anyways, Rob is having the same trouble I'm having trying to get any information about these people. So I'm posting on my tiny little blog that 4.5 people read (maybe).

I've received calls that claim to be from the following numbers:
If you're receiving calls about extended car warranties and you have any additional information, please post here. I'm trying to find out who the company is.

If you are being annoyed by these calls, try to have some fun with them. Start giving out any of the above phone numbers as ways to contact you, but be sure to tell people you are extension 1. The only way to try to get information from these people is to talk the operator about the offer. Be sure to give them a fake car, possibly even several. Say you have 20 cars or 20000 cars. But be sure to pick old ones. Like a 1953 Nash Rambler or a 1965 International Harvester Scout or a 1954 BMW Isetta.