Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Beer drinkers for Colbert

We heard the call last night, so we’re popping open a bottle of our best beer in the fridge and announcing our support for Stephen Colbert for president.

Why? It just makes sense.

Politics these days are filled with silly crap, i.e. Hillary’s manic laugh; Barack’s flag lapel pin; Mitt Romney’s name; Giuliani dragging his past (there’s a joke in there, think about it); Fred Thompson, period (honestly, this guy shouldn’t get elected to anything higher than school board or act in anything other than role playing in group encounter, he’s just that stiff and bad on camera and at the podium; who cares what he has to say? 99 percent of Washington doesn’t care what we say) …

Nation, if we can borrow Steve’s line for a minute, these people have nothing on Colbert. He stands for truthiness, just us and the American way.

But that’s not the reason we’re backing Colbert.

It’s because when he elected to announce on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" that he was considering to weigh the possibilities of whether or not to be in or out of the race vs. sitting on the sidelines or getting in the game, he did it with a beer in hand. (He subsequently announced he had "heard the call" on his show, The Colbert Report.)

OK, so it was a prop, along with the hay bale, to show how regular-guy he is. (Sorta like Lonesome Rhodes, but then that was a dark side of Andy Griffith 50 years ago and we're starting to veer off course; great Kazan film by the way, though). We don’t know what kind of beer it was (only a neck label was on the bottle, or stage light glare; we couldn't make it out), but that doesn’t matter. He chose to do his talking with a beer. (We think Samuel Adams should be his running mate.)

Plus Coldbeer, er uh, Colbert, last week lampooned the Miller-Coors announcement of combining brewing operations. Tastes great, less Rockies (that’s our joke, by the way).

So we endorse Stephen. You can’t turn your back on a guy with a beer and something entertaining to say.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Central time, Part 2 & No fest like O fest, Part 3

Overheard at the Central Jersey Beer Fest in Woodbridge last month: “Pretty good festival. Wish there was more brewers here.”

Not once, but a number of times we heard this. Full disclosure: We asked, so yeah, that’s why we heard about there being only four Jersey craft brewers – three brewpubs, one production brewery – pouring at Parker Press Park on Sept. 29.

But those words should be taken to heart by Jersey’s craft beer industry. The folks who went drink your beer and appreciate what you create. And that is – aside from the obvious, beer, – choice. Craft brewers create options for people who like beer. Porters, stouts, ESBs, IPAs, Oktoberfests, Vienna lagers, amber ales …

Some notes

This was the inaugural Central Jersey Beer Fest, the proceeds of which will help pay for a Veterans Day parade in Woodbridge.

So on a first try, getting only four brewers – three really when you consider that the hometown brewpub, J.J. Bitting Brewing Company, was the organizer – isn’t bad. If you checked the schedules of other craft brewers in the state, you would have seen they had other commitments for the same day. Others just opted not to go. Maybe it’s festival fatigue, or a desire to first see how the festival went and then sign on for next year.

And speaking of next year, we hope this festival does grow. It’s centrally located with great access to public transportation (train station); the town has embraced it and offered up a spacious park with plenty of shade trees; and it fills the fall calendar slot.

If we had our way, we’d turn it into a real Oktoberfest event with beer tents and the state’s craft brewers ceremoniously tapping actual wooden barrels of fest beers brewed for the occasion.

Sound like big production? Maybe, but High Point Brewing already does this, at least three times each fall. Barrel tappings, that is.

And while we’re making suggestions for a bigger event, we’d also suggest networking with the state’s German-American clubs. Feels kind of odd, to us anyway, to just co-op their cultural event and not genuinely have them represented.

Tech note:
The video is up (runtime is just over 7 minutes), but we're not happy with the resolution we're getting with YouTube. We're also a little frustrated with at the moment, since the resolution is better on that site, but the only html that's available for embedding in the right dimensions ends up playing all the Beer-Stained Letter videos we've posted on blip, when we merely want the latest one to play.

This is an ongoing headache, the crapshoot of getting quality image resolution, and results from cross video formats (QuickTime to Flash). So we're checking some advice sites to find reliable settings for the source video that gets uploaded to YT, blip, et al. We hope to get our hands on the Flash software next year (costs about 700 bucks, and shouldn't be confused with the free download Flash player). By the by, the video was also submitted to, but we don't know what's up with them. They haven't posted it, and looks like their site, after a redesign, morphed into something with a heavy emphasis on social networking.

In the meantime, our recommendation is watch the vid in iTunes (search for the blog title under podcasts) or at the site.

And speaking of German-American clubs, we got to enjoy an evening at the Oktoberfest held by Deutscher Club of Clark on Saturday.

Two oak barrels of Paulaner Oktoberfest beer were flown in from Munich for this dinner. That’s a really big deal, since only five of these barrels get parceled out to the Northeast this time of year. Deutscher Club got a brace of them. Did we mention it tasted great? It was also unfiltered. Golden, too. (For more about Oktoberfest beer, check out Lew Bryson's piece in Condé Nast Portfolio.)

But Oktoberfest isn’t just about the beer. It’s about keeping good company, too, the conviviality. So a special note of thanks for the warm hospitality that we, as guests unfamiliar to the club’s regulars, received. Prosit!