we dual beer carriers

We all met on a mist covered field at dawn just after a full moon.  Each participant could pick the melee weapon of their choice.  A duck (Earl) officiated the process and had right of refusal for all rules as Earl saw fit.

Standing at one end of the field of honor was E. Scott Santi, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer for ITW.  At the other end was Nancy Baker, International Sales Manager for PakTech.

Santi chose the katana.  Baker chose the gas powered chainsaw.  Earl quacked loudly, and dropped the handkerchief to begin the bout.  Who emerged victorious from this most glorious of contests?  First, some history.

In the 1950’s one of ITW’s inventors came up with the idea of the classic plastic can holder that we all grew up with.  This used a minimal amount of plastic, performed its function well, and generally was left alone for decades.  However, nobody recycled anything back then.  So by the 1980’s and certainly the 1990’s this creation was popping up everywhere.  As the environmental movement gained steam, we’ll all remember hearing and seeing how many ducks were slain by this product.  But the product worked, and so the solution offered to humanity was not to ban the plastic holder, but to cut it up prior to throwing it away so wildlife couldn’t be snared within its death jaws.

However, in the early 1990’s (in PakTech’s case 1991) smart people saw this situation as a business opportunity.  Thus was born the solid molded form plastic can holder that you see far more often today.  This is what PakTech makes.  Its (usually black) plastic holders carry the canned beer from just about any craft beer company on the planet that doesn’t put their cans inside a paper box.  PakTech even goes through the trouble on their website to explain how their holders are not just better than the old ITW version, but also more environmentally friendly than the paper six pack box.

The examples I used in this most intense study (where I consulted three MIT engineers, a pair of preeminent environmental activists, a blue whale named Betty, and the Ethiopian immigrant who sells me most of my beer) I had an ITW can holder that held old style classic and tasty Yuengling.  This makes sense, Yuengling is older than anybody else, and isn’t looking to be flashy.  The PakTech version held a six from one of my local craft breweries who has every interest in their branding to appear more environmentally supportive than your average elder brewery.


But wait, hold on here.  We at TAP love to question assumptions.  Just how lethal are ITW’s original plastic holders to the planet’s poor creatures?  National Geographic does a pretty good summary.

The original numbers of the dead was supposed to number six figures each year but nobody seems to know where that number came from, as in, it was made up.  Since 1994 the EPA mandated that the ITW style holder be biodegradable.  This means it’ll biodegrade in about 700 years.  It also means it’s worthless in terms of plastic recycling ability, and it still ends up with plastic particles in the ecosystem.  The article also lists some very wacky replacement solutions to the ITW design which sound stupid and make one admire the sound business acumen of PakTech who built a realistic and useable design.

But let’s go ahead and take the article at face value.  And then multiply it ten times.  Thus we estimate that in a given year the ITW design viciously strangles one million ducks per year.  Compare this to the over ten million ducks that are shot by hunters every year.  You do the math, and determine just where the threat to wildlife really is.  I’m not against hunting, but if you’re an environmental type, where is your time better spent, beer can holders or shotgun rounds?

Our belligerent conclusions:

– It’s pretty obvious that the ITW design uses way less plastic up front, we’ll say only 5% as a rough estimate.  [katana slash across the cheek by Mr Santi]

– But the ITW design can’t really be recycled and requires the user to cut it up prior to throwing it away.  [Ms Baker powers up chainsaw]

– The PakTech design uses way, way more plastic up front and requires confidence in the user (and their local jurisdiction) to recycle it properly, otherwise it’s just a huge piece of landfill that’ll take 7,770 years to biodegrade.  [katana pierce into the belly by Mr Santi]

– But the PakTech design is completely recyclable and does not require the user to cut it up, it can be just tossed into the bin alongside the cans that held your tasty, tasty beer.  [chainsaw rips through shoulder of Mr Santi]

– Earl quacks: “Who gives a fuck?”  [Mr Santi lowers katana; Ms Baker powers down chainsaw; both are panting, exhausted, and covered in blood]

There are positives and negatives to both these products.  Both perform their function well.  Both have attributes that are meant to aid the environment.  But the key fact is, in order to complete their purpose to the end stage, it’s the end user that must complete the process.  As in, you.  If you use ITW, and you don’t cut it up at the end, you have failed.  If you use PakTech and don’t recycle properly, you have failed.

This is just fine by me.  Because instead of shouting online or protesting or whatever, it just comes down to sound, simple actions by individual humans.  Each individual can make a difference just by doing their job.  Buy ITW, or PakTech, or a paper six pack box, whatever, just do your job at the end and the cycle works.

Just try to avoid buying beer in bottles though.  Why?  Ah, more on that later.

[Earl quacks loudly]  [Earl draws firearm, a Colt 1911; proceeds to rob two injured big shot corporate suits at gunpoint; flies away]  [Earl is spotted at The Hen Pub & Grille later getting blitzed with a swan, a goose, and a komodo dragon]

we demolish Stella Artois’ (aka InBev) pathetic advertising lies

Once upon a time it was said that celebrities who wanted to make money shilling product were required to go to Japan to do it. It was considered poor taste and reflective that the actor’s career was in the tank if they tried it in America. This is the entire plot point of Lost in Translation (which remains among my favorite movies) where a washed up Bill Murray heads out there to hock Nippon whiskey.

Well, those days are long, long over. Soon it’ll be no big deal to see a celebrity promoting a vacuum cleaner. I don’t really care either way, I hate most celebrities anyways and so couldn’t care less how they earn their coin. But it’s directly applicable to the point of this post which is to assault the lies of Stella Artois.


During this last Super Bowl the viewer got to see Carrie Bradshaw and The Dude drinking Stella. The idea that The Dude drinks anything other than white russian is bullshit, but I digress. Now they’ve dragged out Idris Elba to push the beer. A guy who would have made a great 007, but turned it down, is now reduced to pushing this cheap beer. What a loser. Doesn’t he already have enough boats?


The general idea of the ad campaign is that Stella is fancy, a sophisticated way to poison your body by ingesting a toxin known as alcohol. The most emphatic scenes in these commercials are the ones where they show dressed up rich people swilling Stella at the original 1926 Christmas party. And there’s multiple shots where Stella poured from the tap foams over and requires the use of a foam knife.

I laughed out loud at the foam knife part. For those who don’t know, in the old days draft beer typically came in barrels. Before the age of refrigeration these barrels basically sat at room temperature. With warm beer, when the carbon dioxide was exposed you got a ton of foam into the mug. So barkeeps needed the foam knife to get rid of all this extra foam. To the modern drinker, this warm beer would have tasted skunked or funky due to the poor overall carbonation of the end product.

Only later when keeping beer cool became widespread did this practice disappear because it was no longer required. It’s why you don’t see bartenders using foam knives today, unless they’re tapping a firkin. So while it looks fancy (in theory) what Stella is basically saying in these commercials is that they prefer Stella warm at room temperature, at poor quality, and skunked out. You can even reinforce this trend by buying the Stella foam knife on Amazon (I’m not joking) so that you too can dispense warm, poor quality beer to your guests.


Stella is a mainstay European beer and has been for decades. Only recently has the goal changed to sell it widely in America. In 2008, Stella got wrapped up in the creation of the AB InBev behemoth creation which probably now sells half the beer on the planet. Sometime later somebody at InBev was probably like, hey we can sell Stella to dumb Americans and pass it off as real swanky Euro beer.

Now I’m one who truly believes there is no actual bad beer. I’ll drink just about anything. But there are certainly beers that aren’t good, and Stella’s one of them. It’s basically just Europe’s Bud or Miller. There’s nothing special about it. Except the advertising campaign that says so. That and the stupid (and entirely unnecessary) tulip glass that they always show it in.

So is this scam working on the American people? No shocker here: Yes! From 2010-2015, Stella sales more than doubled in America. Today Stella remains one of the country’s fastest growing beers. It’s why you see it and those stupid tulip glasses in almost every bar now. And you better believe they’re not charging you Bud or Miller prices for Stella. Nope! You’re paying extra for that ultra-fancy Euro beer, fools.

The Giant Octopus is very wise and aggressive. I wonder how many Americans know that Stella is owned by InBev, or what InBev even is? Or that in Europe Stella is basically Bud? Hell, I doubt most Americans even know that Bud is foreign owned. But basically it worked, Stella’s blatant advertising lies have made a ton of gold for them. So, sadly, I guess the conclusion of this post is once again that we’re all doomed.

In general, society’s just not smart enough (or doesn’t care enough) and is happy to be manipulated and lead around on a leash by the Giant Octopus, straight to the bar, to hand over its cash without coherent thought. Doomed! [sigh]

Stone Liberty Station – the descent into another dimension

After all these years of searching I finally did it.  I met an alien.  Whilst seated at the bar (one that you could argue might be in the top ten in the country) a middle aged white guy walks up and orders a white wine.  Alien.

I don’t know what planet this thing hails from, or what they look like when not in disguise, but clearly this alien doesn’t understand that when you’re at Stone Liberty Station you drink really tasty beer.  It’s inhuman to order wine.

Or, maybe this older chap is so confident in his ways & his preferences for life, that he just doesn’t care.  Dude knows what he wants.  Period.  Like if you were so comfortable with who you were that you walked into a vegan restaurant and demanded pork without shame.  In a way, it’s kind of admirable.  But, he should have still ordered beer.

But wait, there’s more!  For reference, I was seated at the closest seat in the corner.


After the alien departed, two guys (a Cali Korean and Cali Chicano) and a gal (Cali Pilipino) [God Bless America] took up the area to the right without actually sitting down.  Somebody had left an empty beer glass and a partially full glass of rosé.  While continuing to order more beers, the Chicano began to dare the Korean to drink the rest of the rosé.  This went on for about twelve minutes.  I kept waiting for things to escalate, for table dagger fingers to appear, but sadly this didn’t occur.

Off to the left another pair of Southern California template bros were activity hitting upon a gal clearly wearing a wedding ring visible to the whole planet.  She did her best to not look uncomfortable and smiled a lot, but this continued until the husband showed up.  It probably helped that her husband looked like the guy who dead lifts kegs for Stone in the back.  The difference in audible volume of voice for these two guys pre and post husband appearance was stereotypically comical.

Back to my right our Korean friend had decided to take the dare and began sipping the rosé.  Our Chicano chap began aggressively texting with another guy not present with happiness and made a repeated comment along the lines of, “I love ‘Rique man, I love him, I love that bro!”  At which point his girlfriend accused him of being a homosexual.

Other bar regulars begin to discuss a forthcoming special event where Wil Wheaton and two other men I’ve never heard of are famous for an annual stout that’s brewed, then debuted during some kind of video game symposium they hold inside the bar [furrows brow] and folks drink the beer, but play games, but there’s some kind of limit on time or whatever.

In other news, Wil Wheaton did not turn out to be a coked out sex fiend and is in fact a normal person.  The Traveler probably got his head right during their dimensional journey so Wheaton didn’t get child actor syndrome.

Of to the right, our bros killed off the last of the rosé with other friends who had arrived by lying to them about whose said rosé it originally was.  Then they all left and I felt a great absence in my life as I was no longer entertained by casually observing other members of the human race who sat two feet away without acknowledging that I existed.

Luckily a family of Japanese took their place.  We had the Mom and Dad, their son, daughter, and their son’s wife or finance.  The son and wife spoke English, the rest of the family did not.  It was neat to hear solid Japanese again for the first time in a long time.  I’m reduced to near zero skills, so I caught only a word or two here and there.

The son was forced to simplify Stone’s extensive beer list by describing a number of beers as “IPA Gaijin”.  The Father understood the situation better and discussed a number of IPA Gaijin options for selection but ultimately he settled upon the Wheaton stout.

The bartender felt the need to card the young ones.  The son and wife have their Cali licenses.  The sister pulls out her Japanese passport.  The bartender is clearly put off balance because the whole darn thing is in Kanji.  He takes the passport, looks at it briefly, nods once, and hands it back to her without comment.  She gets beer, all without the bartender ever knowing they sell beer in vending machines in Japan.

Father tastes the Wheaton stout and suddenly realizes he’s got something high octane shit in his hands.  He asks his son, who clarifies that Wheaton’s Klingon brew cranks in at 13%.  Father grins, grunts, and growls with pleasure like Mifune over a good sake.  He then proceeds to truck said beer in only a few minutes.  Mother, sister, and wife all get beer flights.  They’re all still there when I leave.

Oh by the way, the food is pretty good.  The beer is astonishingly awesome.  At least a dozen drafts are brewed directly on site.  You are to be challenged to find a fresher sip with such variety.

Built from the remains a former Navy mess hall Stone’s turned it into a satellite station to hold events, beer different beers, and generally create something more than your typical restaurant, bar, or micro brewery.  I truly applaud them for doing something different, something unique that goes beyond the standard all too faceless Bar Americana #728b.

The descent into another dimension is entertaining, to see all the wide variety of humanity.  But really, the only reason to go to Stone Liberty Station is to drink incredible beer.  It’s more than enough.  Such good beer.

Milwaukee – Oscar’s

So what does one do after they’ve hiked seven miles, were already tired to begin with, and just want a good meal and few beers before an early bed? Well, you plan ahead and plot a stop between hiking and the hotel at a place that is consistently on every top ten burger list for all of Wisconsin.

And you get Oscar’s

1712 West Pierce Street Milwaukee, WI 53204


They have awesome burgers. They have dozens of draft beers. They have a great atmosphere. I got in there late afternoon. There was one white-collar office party, one blue-collar office party, a reception for elderly veterans, and a bunch of random folks like me. All were smiling and having fun. Oscar was helping the employees everywhere. Everybody was enjoying themselves.

I got The Big O, because if you’re in a place so highly recommended, you get the flagship menu option. It did not disappoint. This is a really great burger. And it’s a superb place. Parking is available in their own lot. And you should go.

Milwaukee – Pabst Mansion

My Grandfather was so into Pabst beer that he named his dog after it.  This supposedly scruffy little mutt had a sharp personality.  So he fit well with his originally rough Milwaukee based namesake brew.  I think this also explains much of my obsession with all things beer, much to my detriment at times.

I suppose both my Grandfather and his dog would be rather troubled to see what’s become of Pabst now.  For you see, the tale of Pabst beer and of Frederick Pabst himself is a winding journey.  I think it emphasizes some of the best, worst, and weirdness of modern America.  I don’t know why all this fascinates me but please bear with my degenerate mind for this post is going to be a long one.

The man

Pabst was born in 1836 Prussian Germany to a poor local farm couple.  When he was 12 they immigrated to the American Midwest during a time where nobody was checking papers at the border.  This was still a time where America was a harsh, dangerous, and backward place.  Within a year Pabst’s mother died of cholera.  Pabst spent his teenage years working menial odd jobs just to survive and eat.  Somehow, he ends up with a lucky gig onboard a Great Lakes vessel.  Without an education or connections, he works his way up the maritime ladder and by 21 he’s a steamship captain with a name people know.  If you want yet another example to understand how American economic mobility is different nowadays, imagine what it would take for a 16 year old high school dropout waiter to become a ship captain within five years.

Pabst remained close to his roots and the German émigré community.  He spoke German at home his entire life.  He thus meets a fellow German in Phillip Best, marries his daughter, and ultimately uses his equity in the steamship trade to buy half of Best’s brewery.  From then on, Pabst is a brewer, though he maintains the title “Captain” Pabst for the rest of his life.  Thus proving once again that it’s awesome to be a captain, just ask Patrick Stewart’s ghost.  By the end of the Nineteenth Century the brewery is one of the planet’s most successful.  Pabst is Milwaukee’s leading citizen, he owns properties, resorts, banks, a theater, and on and on.  Though he came from nothing, he’s literally at the peak of American society.  He checks out to the next realm in 1904 as one of the more respected men on the planet.

The beer

By 1874 thanks largely to Pabst’s genius the brewery was the largest in America.  You could likely make the argument that by volume this meant they were the largest in the world.  Though I’m sure this is not provable given the dearth of statistics at the time.  I’m positive some dude in Bavaria was brewing ten times that amount in his basement closet alone.  In the traditional American style Pabst maintained their signature lager which ultimately became known worldwide as Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR).  Of note, they never won a blue ribbon or anything.  Pabst being the businessman he was just put a blue ribbon on the beer bottle as a marketing gimmick to indicate quality.  This gimmick has survived over a century and a half so I guess it worked.  It is also for this reason that if your local mayor or councilor tells you they’re solving a problem via a “blue ribbon” committee that you should immediately impeach them.

The PBR name and style survived prohibition as well as the post war era.  As the light American lager that it was, you can count on all the goods and bads that come with that designation: reliability, consistency, quality, safety (which was a big deal back then), but ultimately a relative lack of taste and variety.  In our new modern beer era folks tend to hammer this style of beer.  I don’t go that far.  It’s good for what it is.  It’s my preference for drinking on weeknights.  And it’s important to remember in our over-hopped, lunatic beer world of today, that once upon a simpler time folks were just happy to have decent, quality beer before they had to wake up in the morning and clock in at a tire factory.

Eventually though, things began to fall apart for this legendary company.  In a timeline of horrors not uncommon to other Midwestern businesses, in 1985 Pabst is bought in a hostile takeover by another self-made man turned beer baron Paul Kalmanovitz.  One can imagine that Kalmanovitz would have run the brewery well, but instead he died two years after the sale and it appears his trust made a true hash of it afterwards.  Sales plummeted and by 1996 in a nightmare haze Pabst brewing enters the contract brewing stage and the original Milwaukee brewery is closed.

For those unfamiliar with contract brewing, this is where the brand doesn’t actually own the brewery and hires some guy outside their company to actually make their beer (usually under the supervision of the brand’s brewmasters).  Lots of companies do contract brewing well, such as Sam Adams or various Japanese brands for their American sales.  But it can also be a true descent into frat boy style poor quality.  For example, at the recreational football league I play in somebody brought a 30 pack of Kirkland Light Beer (read Costco) as their contribution.  This was made for Costco by a contract brewer in Wisconsin and was awful.  Though beer being beer, and football being football, we did drink it.

Many will be well familiar with Pabst’s recent return to prominence via the hipster rage of going back to do things which were once cool.  This bizarre trend has enabled PBR to become somehow high quality whereas say Budweiser is perceived as not.  I don’t entirely understand this way of thinking but acknowledge that it does exist and has a somewhat legitimate feel to it.  After all, if my Grandfather loved this beer and named his dog after it, why not me too?  But it’s important to remember that Pabst basically isn’t in touch with the roots that the hipsters worship.  PBR circa 1968 is not PBR today.  What Pabst exists as today is its own independent LLC, headquartered in Los Angeles, financed by a private equity firm, and still only a contract brewer.  One wonders what Captain Pabst would think about this arrangement?  Where it has essentially no ties to Milwaukee, no basis in the self-made path he walked, and only a facade of the identity it once had.  And yet, still immensely popular.

Pabst Entry.JPG

Pabst Mansion Entry.

The house

In 1892 at the pinnacle of his life Pabst decided to build his retirement home.  After two years of construction he moved into Pabst Mansion still located at 2000 West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.  In Pabst’s day, Wisconsin Avenue was called Grand Avenue and was home to the dozens of mansions that housed Milwaukee’s elite.  The other mansions are gone now and most of this stretch is home to Marquette University.  The Pabst Mansion remains intact largely due to its purchase by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee which bought it from Pabst’s children in 1908 and occupied it through 1975.  Following that, a bunch of truly dedicated and scrappy historical preservationists put their time, money, and reputation on the line to preserve the mansion.  These same people are mostly at it today.

The house itself is not fully renovated and in many ways isn’t quite the pristine piece of history that one wants when visiting such a place.  But they do a mostly great job of making it happen given their limited financial resources and the actual state of the house.  The Catholic Archbishops made extensive changes during their time including the painting of all walls, bathrooms upgrades, repurposing of rooms, and so on.  In order to acquire cash to progressively reconstruct the house back to its original condition, they’re forced to do some weird things like host weddings and receptions on the second floor in the old master bedroom area.

Photography isn’t permitted inside the house.  If you want to see what it looks like, the Internets offer you a variety of clean images.  I’ll roughly paraphrase here.

The tour begins on the ground floor reception hall with its adjoining parlor and music rooms.  There’s also the kitchen (tiny by today’s standards), dining room, and Pabst’s own office.  They advertise the mansion as 20K square feet of space.  I don’t think this is an accurate number unless you include all the closets, basement, and attic.  I think the true amount of livable space is less than half that.  My first impression was how relatively small the place is.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a massive house, but the dining room would barely seat a dozen folks in tight quarters.  The parlor about the same.  Pabst’s office is only slightly bigger than my cubicle.  I get the idea that this house reflects the style and temperament of Pabst and his family.  He came from nothing, so he wanted a tight, intimate existence.  Not the massive, airy, aloof nature of say a British country house of this era.  The wealth is instead displayed not in the house’s size but in the way it’s decorated.  The painting of the walls, the trim, the intricate wood carvings, the touches of silver or gold all give each room an immensely unique character.

The second floor houses the rooms of Pabst’s daughter and granddaughter, the family sitting room, and the Pabsts’ master bedroom.  Almost all of this second floor is renovated as well, though because of their renting requirements the master bedroom area is almost entirely empty.  In a shocker for the 1890’s, but what we’d mostly take for granted today, the house was unique in having a bathroom assigned to almost every bedroom.  Hot water and heating came via natural gas.  However air conditioning was a long future invention, the house is designed to funnel heat up and out an intricately designed trap door in the attic.  In a uniquely American touch that would appall the British counterparts of the day the servants quarters are toward the back of the house but on the same second floor where the Pabsts slept.  The third floor is populated by a series of bedrooms that were meant for the guests and for Pabst’s grown sons who would occasionally stay there.  Most of the third floor is not reconstructed and there’s just not much to see up there yet.  Though they have a vision for how it’s all going to look.  They said it’ll take years if not decades before the house is entirely reconstructed toward its original look.

Pabst Back.JPG

Pabst Mansion from the back.  The backyard (where the coach house once stood) is now a hotel parking lot with satellite dishes from the local ABC station.

The present

What are we to make of Pabst?  If a man’s primary purpose in life is to provide for his family’s future Pabst wins that unreservedly.  His children, grandchildren, and ancestors never had to struggle the way he and his parents did.  There’s not much to read on the current Pabst family.  Though if the tour guides were any indication they all seem fairly well off and help maintain the Pabst mansion with occasional support and the return of old artifacts.  Even if Pabst’s descendants aren’t at the pinnacle of society anymore, you can surely count it a success that the family rolls on.

The beer company is entirely different.  Its legacy is nothing along the lines of what he’d imagined except for the blue ribbon.  One of things that capitalism engenders is the idea that nothing is sacred.  Companies, brands, names live and die like it’s nothing.  It’s why the companies that have been around for centuries are so special and held with such awe.  But for the other 99% of brands or ideas, they’re all going to eventually die.  Pabst’s beer was a vessel for the success of his family, and then he and his family moved on, and now only its shell remains.  Not as a means to perpetuate the Pabst brand or ideas, but as a means for an LLC and private equity to make a ton of money off an identity somebody else created.  This is the reasoning that forced me to conclude that if I ever started a business of my own, that I had to have in mind to discard the sucker in a heartbeat without losing my mind.  Modern capitalism means you have to essentially not give a damn because you or your neat brand or cool idea will almost always eventually get bought out, you sell out, or it dies or fails.

I wonder, if because of this, a great amount is lost to the American ideal though.  The distance of modern capitalism to the ideas of Pabst’s day goes a long way to explain in my mind why we have such a disconnect between the elite and everybody else.  Pabst had a global brand, but was a Milwaukee man.  He had business and charitable interests throughout the city.  He helped improve the town and make it modern.  When he died and his brand left the city, a connection was lost.  I sincerely doubt the current Pabst LLC gives any damn whatsoever about Milwaukee from their LA headquarters.  Corporate tax methods, overseas profits, quarterly earnings, leveraged buy outs, faceless private equity firms & hedge funds, and whatever do not lend themselves to the type of community capitalism that Pabst practiced.

It’s one reason (among many, many) why so many of the Midwest’s businesses have failed in the last fifty years.  It explains why Pabst is no longer brewed in Milwaukee.  And, I dare say, it also explained (at least in some part) the black lives matter protest that was walking down the street as a exited the Pabst mansion tour.  I couldn’t help but think that if Pabst had been alive looking out his own window and seen that?  That his reaction would have been to tackle and battle the problems afflicting the city that he lived in, built, and loved.  That he would have had the temperament and clout to bring all the sides together, to forge a tough compromise, bang heads, to put his name and effort on the line to move the needle of society a little bit in a better direction.  We could do with some more of his kind today.  I think we desperately need it.

Pabst Front.JPG

Pabst Mansion from West Wisconsin Avenue (with the protest behind me).

This is Pabst’s letter to his children, read after his death.  It gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.  They hand these out on the tour.  Well worth it.

Pabst Letter.jpeg

Boston Harbor – Harpoon Brewery

Some things or locations on my bucket list just kind of sit there and fester for years.  For whatever reason, this doesn’t usually bother me.  I’ll get around to it when I get around to it.  You would think I’d be more deliberate and plan things out.  I used to be this way.  But now unless I’m at work I kind of refuse to let my brain work that way, it’s tiresome.

So despite my worship of beer, I’d just never gotten around to visiting a brewery.  And I never really felt the need to force it.  I would think about it from time to time, but never make the effort to schedule it.  Ending up at Harpoon wasn’t some type of strategy either.  My Brother had been there years ago, so we decided to go again while in town for a wedding.  The discussion that led to this quick trip Downtown lasted thirty seconds, and I smirked to myself and them that this would be my first brewery ride.


He said when he went years ago that they didn’t really have a formal tour.  They just took you straight to the tasting room and asked if anybody had any questions.  From the tasting room you can see the brewery floor.  But now they take you in the front and up some stairs where they have a full bar and waiting area.  You buy your $5 ticket, wait, and drink beer.  They also have custom pretzels.  I know it sounds terrible, but somehow we managed.


Boston Irish Stout, Scotch Style Ale, & 100 Barrel Series #58 Secret Alloy Ale


The guide takes you back and she talks you through what I think is a relatively small sized brewery.  I think it took about a half hour.  It’s pallets of beer and monster sized brewing equipment.  I have a general understanding of how beer is made, but don’t really get how it’s done on an industrial scale.  The problem was the tour gal kept talking too fast so that a lot of the time we couldn’t really follow what she was saying.  This was the only downside of what was otherwise a quick, decent look at how these places operate.


I’d had Harpoon many times before.  I’ve always considered it to be decent, but nothing awesome.  Good stuff, but not great.  I’ve had a bunch more since we visited and my original impressions remain intact.  Although the Scotch and Alloy shown above were awesome.  They need to let some of their rarer varieties ship beyond Massachusetts.  They’re far superior to their regular fare.


After the tour you get about 15 minutes in the tasting room to have 2 oz after 2 oz from about 20 taps.  It’s a neat wrap up.  The walls are surrounded by beer from everywhere on the planet, a very nice touch.

Overall this was a worthwhile visit.  But I feel I can’t really compare or contrast it with anything.  Without visiting other breweries I can’t put Harpoon into context.  I guess I’ll have to visit more of them to figure it out.  Oh darn.


100 Barrel Series #56 Thunder Foam – I managed to stumble upon this at one of my local shops.  A dark and spicy stout, it was a fine wrap up to my evening.  Hopefully I can manage to find more of their kind at the same place the next time I shop there.

Boston Harbor – sort of

I’ve developed this weird trend lately where I show up new to a place I’ve never been before, but somehow end up with a schedule that allows me only a few hours to initially see places before I’m on my way again.  It happened recently in Milwaukee and Detroit, and now Boston.  I’m not complaining mind you, because all it means is I have to go back.  Oh darn.

In any case, the family only had a few hours before a wedding west of Boston.  So we went down to Boston Harbor and walked around a pier or two and then toured Harpoon Brewery.  Incidentally, as much as I worship beer, this was my first brewery tour ever.  I’ll probably write about that later.  Maybe.

But whatever, here’s some random shots of Boston Fish Pier, right down the road from Harpoon.


Boston Fish Pier is still very much operating.  All the boats there are small craft, as in not the massive trawlers that are literally raping the oceans.  You can tell from the material condition of everything that they’re owners not necessarily swimming in gold.  It all felt very classic, except that the pier itself had been renovated from it’s original creation in the early 20th Century.





The Exchange Conference Center – Located at the head of the pier.  If you’ve heard me whine about the awfulness of modern architecture, here is an example of a new building I’d consider a great job of creating something that’s not a faceless glass enclosed wonder.



I have discovered the fattest seagulls I’ve ever seen in all my global travels are located in Massachusetts.



A lightweight anchor casually discarded on the pier.  If you look you can see why.



you will be made to pay

The other day I strolled into my neighborhood shopette to purchase a pack of alcoholic beverages known locally as beer. I struggled to determine which style I desired to buy as I’m generally indecisive and as there are so many delicious options. But then I was shocked as I felt a sharp pain at the base of my back and I quickly found myself being led down the beer case aisle with a firm hand on my shoulder.

“Just right this way, Sir; just right this way,” the man said. I thought about struggling but it seemed as if the man could read my mind for as I made to break free the pain in my back increased and I realized I had a knife to my spine. I managed to glance over my shoulder and I was aghast to find my captor was no less than The Monopoly Man.

Our journey concluded in front of the ubiquitous Bud and Miller case. For of course they’re usually side by side. “Pick one,” The Monopoly Man whispered seductively in my ear. Sweating, and scared out of my mind, I meekly uttered, “Which one?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he firmly responded. Five minutes later I departed the shopette with a six pack of Bud or Miller. I can’t remember which as I was too concerned with the fact that I’d soiled myself shortly after The Monopoly Man returned the switchblade to his pocket and disappeared behind a Grolsch display case, never to be seen again.


Why yes, yes it is.

$104B is a lot of money for a beer company. $104B is a lot of money for anything. $104B could buy you ten nuclear aircraft carriers or 20 years of budget for America’s PEPFAR anti-AIDS program. But AB InBev is using it to absorb SABMiller. Why? Straight cash, folks.

Should you care? After all, nobody is made to buy beer. Alcohol is scientifically a poison to your body. It’s why you get drunk. So technically speaking, I don’t suppose there’s any reasonable difference between deliberately ingesting alcohol, and deliberately ingesting drain cleaner. It’s just that one is more poisonous than the other. Except that beer is tastier, so there’s that.

But this purchase is the latest in a trend. Depending on where you live, there are only about three mobile phone providers you get to choose from. The health insurance companies are merging now too. Experts predict that eventually instead of having five health insurance companies that there’ll be only three soon enough.

The health insurance companies claim they need these mergers to keep costs down. So good news, your health insurance cost will go down over the next five years. Guaranteed. They’ll swear to it.

The problem with capitalism is you need genuine competition for it to work. Otherwise you get something other than capitalism.

AB InBev has shelled out $24.3M in political campaign contributions equally split between the parties, as well as $102.3M on lobbying the government. SABMiller’s numbers are $2.1M and $21.0M, smaller, but still equally split between the parties. Hmm, why would they give an equal amount of cash to each party?

You certainly shouldn’t really care about AB InBev and SABMiller. Instead, you can just always buy tasty Yuengling.

But I suspect you do care about health insurance. Or the cost of your phone plan, seeing as how you can’t compete in the modern knowledge economy without one. How about the cost of your Internets? Or your power bill?

The same thing is happening to them all. You will be made to pay. The Monopoly Man is sure of it.

The Monopoly Man

“Terribly sorry old chap but you’ll be made to pay lest you force me to slice you open.”

I know what’s in Tut’s new tomb rooms

I don’t know what’s in Tut’s new tomb rooms.  Nobody does.  But hey, you never know where life’s going to take you.  There are all kinds of things that could be in there, including nothing.  So why not gamble away recklessly in the hopes we can guess it right?  After all, my Guests possess the most unbridled surveillance resources imaginable, so certainly I can figure this out.  Except that they’re usually too drunk to use them; and I also happen to be an idiot.

– Tut’s genuine Mommy in Nefertiti is in there and it’s the archeological discovery of the century

– Tut’s new tomb rooms don’t exist

– Tut’s 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI with the 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel is parked in there pending investigations by the Egyptian Ministry of Transportation

– They break it open but instead of Nefertiti or Tut, it’s just Khufu sitting there in a lawn chair downing a highball glass of barley wine, and he’s like, “Fools!  I’ve stolen all of Nefertiti’s treasure and added to my stash.  You were only four-thousand years behind the power curve.  You’re fucked!  Ahahahahahahahaha!”  And then he re-ascends to Valhalla in the blink of an eye; and all they get is the lawn chair

– Tut added six-thousand amphora filled with booze in there to ensure he could get ripped in the afterlife with abandon; but then he ran out in 1134 AD and he’s been sad ever since.  The archeologists could try adding more booze filled amphorae to the stash to hook Tut up, but I don’t think it works that way

– They find completely empty rooms because they buried Tut in a hurry, after the murder and all

– Zahi Hawass shows up wielding a pair of old Yugoslavian machine pistols and holds everybody hostage, shouting at the top of his lungs to the Geraldo cameras, “Sign up for my newsletter to be first to here about my upcoming lectures and books!”  Poor, poor Zahi, dude you supported the wrong dictator, you should try and get in good with Sisi to get back in the game; you were a hoot to watch

king tut

give up your secrets ya bastard


Absurdity of the Week! Expert Studies!

The results are in! Extensive use of exclamation points can lead to hypertension and diabetes! Surveying approximately 1,400 adults across multiple demographics over a six year period, our study confirmed that the act of engaging the shift key and simultaneously overextending one’s pinky finger resulted in increased stress to the body and ultimately early heart disease!

My Guests’ brutal solution to this problem is to swap the location of the period and exclamation point on the keyboard so that every time you’d normally type a period, you instead get the exclamation point! They shall require this change to all the planet’s keyboards by the end of 2018! Or else. Please ensure you cooperate, for they truly desire to keep liquidation to an absolute minimum!

After all, you think coffee is bad for you? Just wait until my Guests carry out their vicious plans. Even a good old cup of coffee won’t save us from their wrath!

It’s enough to make you want a damn sweet beer! Or to try and escape your hated cubicle so you can go walk downtown and maybe get some tasty fish & chips to celebrate your Friday!

Just be sure you wear a hat so that bright sun doesn’t melt your brain inside your skull!

And don’t drink anything, not even one beer, with your lunch because then your boss(es) would get mad at you for being drunk on the job!

And when you get home be sure to tell your significant other that you need vegetables only for dinner so you can cleanse your palate of all that fried food!  Then the two of you can plan a weekend family gathering at the beach for an awesome time! Don’t forget the sunscreen, everybody loves a decent tan.

But if you see a Goth kid on the beach, be sure to give them a hug! Because apparently Goth kids are at risk for depression!  Who knew? I’m awfully glad this study told us that. Otherwise nobody would have known!


keep going; we’re awaiting the next results with baited breath