Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bigger Picture

The release of a document penned by Pope Francis criticizing capitalism and free markets generated a lot of media attention this week. Many on the Left took the Pope’s statement to be an endorsement of their political views on taxation and redistribution. James Pethokoukis says not so fast in a post at AEI called Occupy the Vatican? A progressive pope? Not really:

Conservatives — whether churchgoers or not — are not utopians, They understand market economies will never turn the world temporal into Paradise (while at the same time realizing that command-and-control economies have frequently produced a kind of hell on earth). Conservatives value the “safety net” to help those whom the pope calls the “excluded.” But conservatives also want to reform the safety net so more resources are devoted to raising the living standards of the truly needy rather than subsidizing the rich, moving the jobless toward work and self sufficiency, and increasing social mobility and equality of opportunity.

Likewise, few conservatives would disagree with this bit of the pope’s statement: “The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”

Conservatives embrace markets because they support a free society — but also because market economies produce the sort of prosperity that enables true human flourishing, one where we can better define our future as we see fit and achieve success on the basis of merit and hard work. After all, it was innovative capitalism — something the pope surely understands even if actual anti-capitalists don’t — that raised the average real income of the West over the past two centuries from $3 a day to $140. That might not qualify as a miracle, but it is surely a wonder — one that has given us lots better stuff and lots more opportunity to lead lives of deep fulfillment.

And progressives are kidding themselves if they think the pope was somehow embracing an Elizabethian (Warren) agenda of sky-high tax rates and an endlessly expanding welfare state. (Indeed, the pope denounced “a simple welfare mentality.”) How cramped an interpretation. Pope Francis’s vision transcends such parochial concerns. He is a global figure looking at crony capitalism in South America, massive youth unemployment in big government Europe, tremendous wealth disparities in state capitalist Asia, and deep poverty in Africa.

As the Christian and libertarian economist Deirdre McCloskey writes in The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce, the good society can be built on the cardinal and theological virtues that also support a prosperous commercial society. The virtue of Courage, for example “to venture on new ways of business...to overcome the fear of change, to bear defeat unto bankruptcy, to be courteous to new ideas, to wake up the next morning and face fresh work with cheer.” And Hope “to imagine a better machine...to see the future as something other than stagnation or eternal recurrence, to infuse the day’s work with a purpose, seen one’s labor as a glorious calling....The claim here is that modern capitalism does not need to be offset to be good. Capitalism on the contrary can be virtuous. In a fallen world, the bourgeois is not perfect. But it is better than any available alternative.”

McCloskey goes on to write that capitalism needs to be “inspired, moralized, completed.” That sounds exactly like what Pope Francis is trying to do.


Liberals tend to conflate conservative support of free markets with an endorsement of materialism, greed, and inequality. Conservatives, especially those of a religious bent, understand that there is far more to life than markets and money and their core values are often at odds with those who mindlessly support and pursue them.

And the role of the Catholic Church (and the pope as its leader) is not to endorse political or economic positions. It’s to challenge its followers to not get caught up in the material world, but to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as passed on to us in the Gospel. These challenges from the Church will make those of all political views uncomfortable at times and that’s exactly the way it should be.


UPDATE: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has further thoughts on this matter in a post at First Things in which he says
Let’s Listen to Pope Francis on Economics:

To be a Christian is to be willing to be challenged, all the time, and to have the humility to let yourself be challenged—including, for Catholics, by the Church.

As people with strongly held economic views who take part in the public debate, we have acquired a certain toughening of the hide. We have become accustomed to thinking of ourselves as being part of a team, and to responding reflexively when we hear the rhetoric of the other team.

What the Church asks of us is to let go of our defenses and make ourselves open to her magisterium. Without abdicating discernment, we also have to force ourselves to open our hearts and let ourselves be challenged by Pope Francis’ words.

When Pope Francis describes inequality and exclusion as very grave moral sins, we must let ourselves be challenged, and we must open our hearts.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXXXVII)

Another edition of Beer of the Week, sponsored as always by the fresh faced folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can eagerly help you harvest the beer, wine, or whiskey you need to be truly thankful for.

Later this week, Americans will gather with their families and celebrate Thanksgiving. The holiday has become a bacchanalia of feasting, football, and if you’re fortunate, falling asleep on the couch. It started of course as way for people to give thanks for the successful harvest and the resulting bounty that would sustain them through the lean winter ahead.

So what better way to celebrate the day than with a wet hopped beer that utilizes the freshest ingredients from the hop harvest? Founders Brewing Company in Michigan produces many a stellar beer including their Harvest Ale:

This liquid dream pours a hazy golden straw color with a white, two-finger head. Your first sip rewards you with a super juicy hop presence bursting with fresh citrus, then finishes to introduce toasted malt undertones.

Four-pack of 12oz bottles goes for $9.99 (if you can still find ‘em). Follows the usual Founders look with a label featuring succulently fresh hops.

STYLE: American IPA

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 7.6%

COLOR (0-2): Golden brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Floral and citrusy hop aromas with a touch of sweetness. 2

HEAD (0-2): White color with good volume and lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Follows the nose with big hop pop and more subdued malt flavors that provide just enough balance. It has a bitter edge and a clean, crisp finish. Decently carbonated with a medium body. Quite drinkable and the alcohol is not all that apparent. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Bitterness lingers nicely before slowly fading out. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Like almost everything Founders makes, this is a damn fine beer. The hop flavors are fresh and full without going over the top. Founders Harvest Ale is definitely one of my favorite wet hopped beers of the season. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Signs of the Cross

We often hear about the death or at least significant decline of Christianity in Western Europe. On a recent business trip To Switzerland I spent some time in the town of Zug. Outwardly at least, signs of the faith were still very much in evidence.

There were two Catholic churches in town that were still active and quote close to each other. I attended Mass at St. Oswald's.



The Mass was conducted in Swiss. While I enjoy the experience of hearing the Mass in another language and understanding the meaning of what is being said even if I don't understand the words themselves, I couldn't help but pine for the good ol' days when Latin would be used in all locales. There's something to be said for the universal Church having a universal language.


Just up the hill from St. Oswald's (and starting at the lake everything in Zug is up the hill from something) was St. Michael's.


Further up the hill from the church was its well-manicured and immaculately maintained cemetery.



Not a bad view for your final resting place. There was also a beautifully simple open air chapel which has served the local faithful for many a year.



Just a short distance from the cemetery was a hiking path that led from Zug to the small village of Zugerberg which sits close to the top of the hill. I was told that it was a fairly easy hike so I decided to make the climb to Zugerberg. “Easy” turned out to be a bit of a relative term. While I’m sure the incline was nothing for a local, for a flatlander from Minnesota it proved more of a challenge.

Making my way up the path, I encountered stone Stations of the Cross which were embedded into the hillside.



Stations of the Cross on a public pathway? Alert the ACLU or more appropriately the SCLU (if such an organization even exists).

A bit further along, I found a weathered stone cross under a tree.


And finally, close to the summit, but not quite there was this crucifix looking down on the lake far below.



The practice of Christianity may indeed be on the decline in Switzerland as it is most of Europe (72% of the Swiss are adherents down from 98% in 1970), but the public symbols are still abundant. Their existence shows how deeply rooted Christianity is in the culture and provides at least a glimmer of hope for a future rebirth.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Common Enemies

To better understand at least some of what motivates countries like Russia and China to take the positions they do on Syria, it helps to be able to see things in a broader perspective and not just focus on the dynamics of a civil war between the Assad regime and internal opponents. A front page story in today’s WSJ provided a good look at why this conflict is about much more than just who will rule Syria. Meet the Syrian Rebel Commander Assad, Russia and the U.S. All Fear :

The arrival of Mr. Batirashvili, known by his Arab nom de guerre Emir Umar al-Shishani, comes as other ethnic Chechens and Russian-speaking Islamists have for the first time responded in large numbers to the call of an international jihad in Syria.

Fighting in tightknit groups, the men have awed and repelled fellow jihadists with their military prowess and brutality, talking to one another in Russian or Chechen and to outsiders in the formal Arabic of the Quran, according to accounts of fellow rebels. Some have carved out fiefdoms inside Syria, enraging locals by collecting taxes and imposing Islamic Shariah law.

Even by the gruesome standards of the war in Syria, their rise has become notable for its unusual violence. One rebel from Russia's Dagestan, for instance, was chased out of the country after he appeared in an online video where he beheaded three locals for supporting the Syrian government, according to analysts with ties to the rebel groups. And just last week, Mr. Batirashvili's group apologized for mistakenly beheading a wounded soldier who actually turned out to be an allied rebel commander.

The prominence of the rebels on the battlefield has turned the conflict into a geopolitical struggle between the U.S. and Russia, which has long accused the West of ignoring the danger of Islamists in the troubled Chechen region, where an insurgency has been active for decades.


Lest you think this is only a concern for the Russians:

While people close to Mr. Batirashvili say he views the war as a chance to strike a blow against one of the Kremlin's allies, he has also talked of his hatred of America. In a recent interview with a jihadi website, he described Americans as "the enemies of Allah and the enemies of Islam."

And while the fighting is going on in Syria today, future repercussions may be felt in many more places:

U.S. intelligence estimates that as many as 17,000 foreigners are fighting on the side of rebels in Syria. About half fight for the ISIS; of those, officials in Russia say, at least a thousand are from the country's North Caucasus and from Europe, where many Chechens have sought asylum since the collapse of the Soviet Union and hostilities in Chechnya in the 1990s.

While the Russian-speaking Islamists represent a fraction of the total rebels, many have risen to positions of power because of their history of fighting a standing army in Russia, according to analysts.

Kremlin officials say that these fighters are picking up more military experience, as well as contacts to Arab financiers who bankrolled uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa.

"One day, it's highly likely many of these fighters will return to their home republics in the Caucasus, which will clearly generate a heightened security threat to that region," said Charles Lister, analyst at IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre.

The Chechen region has come under scrutiny lately in the U.S. in the wake of this year's Boston Marathon bombing. The alleged bomber on trial, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has roots in Chechnya and posted videos online recruiting fighters to Syria.

Mr. Batirashvili's ability to work with foreign jihadis appears to have been vital to his rise within the ISIS, which has become the main umbrella group for foreign fighters in Syria, including Saudis, Kuwaitis, Egyptians and even Chinese, according to analysts.


There is no doubt that the Assad regime is odious and the human rights records of the Russian and Chinese governments who support it leave much to be desired. But sometimes the choice isn’t between bad guys and good guys. It’s between bad guys and even worse guys. The West should not so quickly dismiss Russian and Chinese fears that the Islamist insurgency in Syria could spread to their countries. In fact, we should have similar concerns.

After 9/11, there was an opportunity for the major powers in the world-some democratic and some not-to set aside differences and work together to address a threat they all face to some extent or another. Unfortunately, that opportunity was largely missed. Now, that lack of cooperation and understanding shows up in places like Syria where our divergent goals are likely going to make things more dangerous for all of us in the long run.

HWX, Easy LIke Sunday Morning


It was a special Sunday edition of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience, with John Hinderaker of Power Line and Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas reconvening to deliver a joint sermon on the vital issues of today.  Topics addressed include:
*  a synopsis of John's actual Sunday school teaching to 2nd grade Lutherans of Minnesota
*  Barack Obama's strange and highly flawed attempts to delay Obamacare mandates
*  Obamacare advertising come-ons in Colorado, featuring free sex and beer
*  Loon of the Week with apparently imminent and inevitable passing of comprehensive immigration reform
*  150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address, with a related TWIG  correction (150 years in the making)
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This episode is brought to you by John Swon and Focus Financial.  Focus Financial is a leading independent financial advisory firm focused on providing comprehensive wealth management and financial planning services to clients.  John Swon and his team have over 25 years of investment experience, are dedicated to giving you the kind of one-on-one advice and analysis you deserve.  And as independent advisers, they are focused on your priorities, not selling products.
Call now and request a free financial analysis at 952-896-3888.  
HWX is also brought to you by Encounter Books.  Our pick this week is their important and timely new broadside:  How Medicare Fails the Poor by Avik Roy.   This is available at Encounter for a low, low price of $4.19   And listeners of Ricochet can get an additional 15% off this, and other
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titles, by entering the code "RICOCHET" at checkout.  Our thanks to Encounter Books for sponsoring HWX.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mothership at Ricochet. You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes. Or just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Speaking the Same Language

Last week, while on a business trip in Europe, I ended up at dinner with four coworkers: a Brit, an Australian, a Singaporean, and a Dutchman. At some point in the evening, talk turned to geopolitics and specifically what the future would hold for China and its relationship with the rest of the world. My Dutch colleague was rather sanguine about the prospects of the continued rise of China. He explained that we should not fear a scenario where China ended up eclipsing the United States in the role of the world’s preeminent superpower. In that situation, the baton of being the world’s policeman would pass from the US to China much in the same way it had passed from Great Britain to the United States after World War II.

I took exception to his view and argued that while the US and the current Chinese government bore little resemblance to each other, Britain and the US had much more common politically and culturally.

In Saturday’s WSJ, Daniel Hannan explored the importance of the ties that bind not only the US and the UK, but the rest of the Anglosphere. The World of English Freedoms:

Above all, liberty was tied up with something that foreign observers could only marvel at: the miracle of the common law. Laws weren't written down in the abstract and then applied to particular disputes; they built up, like a coral reef, case by case. They came not from the state but from the people. The common law wasn't a tool of government but an ally of liberty: It placed itself across the path of the Stuarts and George III; it ruled that the bonds of slavery disappeared the moment a man set foot on English soil.

There was a fashion for florid prose in the 18th century, but the second American president, John Adams, wasn't exaggerating when he identified the Anglosphere's beautiful, anomalous legal system—which today covers most English-speaking countries plus Israel, almost an honorary member of the club, alongside the Netherlands and the Nordic countries—as the ultimate guarantor of freedom: "The liberty, the unalienable, indefeasible rights of men, the honor and dignity of human nature... and the universal happiness of individuals, were never so skillfully and successfully consulted as in that most excellent monument of human art, the common law of England."

Freedom under the law is a portable commodity, passed on through intellectual exchange rather than gene flow. Anyone can benefit from constitutional liberty simply by adopting the right institutions and the cultural assumptions that go with them. The Anglosphere is why Bermuda is not Haiti, why Singapore is not Indonesia, why Hong Kong is not China—and, for that matter, not Macau. As the distinguished Indian writer Madhav Das Nalapat, holder of the Unesco Peace Chair, puts it, the Anglosphere is defined not by racial affinity but "by the blood of the mind."

At a time when most countries defined citizenship by ancestry, Britain was unusual in developing a civil rather than an ethnic nationality. The U.S., as so often, distilled and intensified a tendency that had been present in Great Britain, explicitly defining itself as a creedal polity: Anyone can become American simply by signing up to the values inherent in the Constitution.


For a variety of reasons I don’t think that China will surpass the US as the world’s leading super power. If it does, I doubt if the transition will be as smooth and as seamless as the one from the UK to the US. However, whatever happens with China, the bigger risk to the future of the US is if we lose sight of the shared values that have united the countries of the Anglosphere.

There is, of course, a flip-side. If the U.S. abandons its political structures, it will lose its identity more thoroughly than states that define nationality by blood or territory. Power is shifting from the 50 states to Washington, D.C., from elected representatives to federal bureaucrats, from citizens to the government. As the U.S. moves toward European-style health care, day care, college education, carbon taxes, foreign policy and spending levels, so it becomes less prosperous, less confident and less free.

We sometimes talk of the English-speaking nations as having a culture of independence. But culture does not exist, numinously, alongside institutions; it is a product of institutions. People respond to incentives. Make enough people dependent on the state, and it won't be long before Americans start behaving and voting like...well, like Greeks.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Prayer for Veterans

Heavenly Father, on this day, help us remember those who gave of themselves to keep us safe and secure.

Enkindle in our consciences a desire to serve those who served their country selflessly.

Give us the grace to aid those who have given aid and protection to us and others both here and overseas.

Let is never forget the causes for which they fought or the bravery they showed on the battlefield.

May we be always be mindful of those who paid the price for our freedom, just as your Son gave his life to free us from the bondage of sin.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

HWX, with John Nolte


It’s a special edition of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience. John Hinderaker of Power Line and Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas reconvene to bring you the finest in armchair Internet punditry. Topics addressed include:

* the autumn leaves

* the Obamacare roll out and administration knowledge in 2010 about the millions soon to have their health insurance policies taken away as a result

 * The impact and implications of Barack Obama’s continued false assurances that Americans could keep their plans

* How your political orientation predicts who you’d like the Minnesota Vikings to start at quarterback 

* Loon of the Week (Rep. Frank Pallone on the real villain behind cancelled health insurance policies)

* This Week in Gate Keeping (Set your clocks back, just kidding!)

 Special guest was the great John Nolte, editor at Breitbart.com. John gives us an update on how things are going at Breitbart, reflects on the continuing legacy of founder Andrew Breitbart, and gives us his insights into Obamacare and Hillary Clinton’s already functioning campaign for President in 2016.

 This episode is brought to you by John Swon and Focus Financial. Focus Financial is a leading independent financial advisory firm focused on providing comprehensive wealth management and financial planning services to clients. John Swon and his team have over 25 years of investment experience, are dedicated to giving you the kind of one-on-one advice and analysis you deserve. And as independent advisers, they are focused on your priorities, not selling products.

 John Swon and Focus Financial - Liberal with their advice; conservative with your money. Call now and request a free financial analysis at 952-896-3888.












There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mothership at Ricochet. You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes. Or just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript. Hope you enjoy.

Skate Away

Front page story in today’s WSJ features the breaking news that the New Football Stadium in Minnesota Will Allow Skaters:

Workers will tear down Minneapolis's Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome early next year, clearing the way to build a sleek, $975 million stadium. The design element in the Minnesota Vikings football team's new home that most concerns Jim Hoffner isn't the sloped clear roof or the 95-foot pivoting doors on one end. It is the hallways.

For more than two decades, thousands of people like Mr. Hoffner have been strapping on in-line roller skates and cruising the corridors of the Metrodome on cold days when the stadium doesn't host a major sporting event. Mr. Hoffner loves the Dome's two continuous concourses—the upper one for faster skaters aged 16 and older, the lower for everyone else—and the polished-concrete floors gloriously free of ruts or twigs.

But Dome skaters face an end date—currently Dec. 27—and have nursed anxiety that the program won't continue in the new stadium. As the final full season of skating wound down last winter, some of the skating program's regulars "just started to cry," Mr. Hoffner recalled. "They said, 'Jim, what are we going to do?' "


Here’s a suggestion: Get a life. C’mon people, inline skating at the Dome is fun, I’ve hit the cooridors a number of times over the years, but is it really worth crying over?

Rollerdome, as the program is called, costs $4.50 per session for kids and $6.50 for adults—plus $5 to rent skates. Dome-skating programs in Pontiac, Mich., and Indianapolis have fizzled as the Dome's has thrived, Mr. Cofrin said, because of the Twin Cities' health-focused populace and the colorful community it has spawned.

Women in their 70s skate alongside children at birthday parties. One frequent skater, "looks like Santa with a very long beard, and he dresses up for the holidays," said Scott Schulte, a 53-year-old regular. Mr. Schulte has completed eight of the Dome's annual 26.2-mile marathons—that is about 70 laps—as well as several 50-mile skates that have become a rite of passage for people turning 50.

Paul Dyrud, a long-track speedskater who is training to try out for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team heading to Sochi, Russia, retreats into the Dome to vary his workouts and when winter temperatures make it counterproductive to use a nearby 400-meter outdoor ice oval. (Yes, it sometimes gets too cold in Minnesota even to ice skate.)


Fact check: mostly true although the number of days it’s actually too cold to skate outside in a typical winter is in the low single digits.

The powers-that-be have listened. In an interview with the Journal, Ms. Kelm-Helgen, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chair, confirmed that the new stadium will allow skating. In fact, the activity is even informing its architecture.

"We made sure we designed a new stadium with two concourses that have 360-degree access so that the Rollerdome program could continue," Ms. Kelm-Helgen said.

Still, skaters will have a 2½-year hiatus while the Dome is demolished and the new stadium is built on the same site. Mr. Schulte, the 53-year-old skater, was pragmatic about the layoff: "In the meantime I have to go outside and cross-country ski during the winter, I guess."


Somehow life and winter in Minnesota will go on. It always does.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Cutting Through

Now that the FAA has agreed to loosen up restrictions on using electronic devices from gate to gate, a debate has begun on whether to do the same for cell phones:

Federal approval to use electronic devices throughout flights has revived a related debate over whether airline passengers should also be able to make voice calls while airborne.

Under the Federal Aviation Administration's new guidelines, fliers can use tablets, e-readers and even smartphones from gate to gate, but those devices must be switched to "airplane mode," disabling cellular connections.

The FAA has said it doesn't have safety concerns about the in-flight use of cellphones. Instead, the agency is complying with the Federal Communications Commission's ban on cellular connections in flight, designed to avoid interference with cell towers on the ground.

The same FAA advisory group that recommended lifting most restrictions on electronic devices also considered the pros and cons of allowing fliers to talk on cellphones in the cabin. But partly because the FAA determined voice communication was outside the committee's jurisdiction, they punted to the FAA and the FCC to discuss the ban on in-flight cellular connections.


As I’ve mentioned before, I would oppose letting people use mobile phones during flights. The views of fellow travelers are mixed:

Fliers appear split on whether voice calls should be allowed. A survey of more than 1,600 U.S. adults included in the FAA advisory group's report shows that 51% of respondents felt negatively toward in-flight phone calls, while 47% felt positively. When asked what, if anything, should be banned during flights, 61% said phone calls, more than double the response for the No. 2 answer: alcohol.

So somewhat less than 30% of fliers think alcohol should be banned? That’s a rather frightening number in favor of prohibition.

If I had my druthers, I would ban the following behavior of travelers:

- Grabbing the seat in front of you and pulling it back in order to get to your feet. It’s a seat, my seat, not a device to make it easier for you to stand.

- Piling into the aisle and pushing your way forward to deplane before the rows in front of you have. We all want to get off the plane as much as you do. Wait your turn.

- Crowding around the boarding area when the process hasn’t yet started and you’re in Zone 3 (a Delta specific example) and then being surprised that people with Sky Elite status have to fight their way through you to board the plane.

I could go on and on with examples that are far worse than anything I’ve encountered due to alcohol.

Meanwhile, Joe Doakes e-mails to note that now that electronic device usage is being reconsidered we should look at other safety restrictions that don’t really keep us safe:

That’s good news. Now, let’s revisit the pocket knife issue.

Like many older men, I routinely carry a tiny pocket-knife. The feds know there is miniscule danger from people like me. They proposed allowing me to carry my pocket-knife so they could focus on real threats. Hysterics forced them to retreat but hysteria shouldn’t drive security decisions.


I used to have a small Swiss army knife in my backpack that I carried on trips for years. I forgot it was even there until I was going through security in Denver one time when the TSA noticed it and disposed of it. I had probably carried it on twenty flights in the post 9/11 period without it ever attracting attention. The idea that we must have a zero tolerance approach to such “weapons” is absurd.

Common sense is finally prevailing with electronic devices. It would be nice to do the same with pocket knives.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Friday, November 01, 2013

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXXXVI)

After a couple of weeks in hiatus, we now return to our regular Beer of the Week programming sponsored as always by the thrifty folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help save time and money while finding the beer, wine, or whiskey you need.

Daylight Saving Time, which in reality saves nothing and should be eliminated post haste, ends on Sunday which means evening darkness will descend even sooner. Along with the leaves on the ground and the nip in the air the end of DST signals that winter is close at hand. While winter beers are appearing on the shelves and soon will be the focus of this beer drinker’s desire, there’s still time for one last offering more suited to warmer climes.

Our beer this week is the first we’ve featured from White Birch Brewing in Hooksett, New Hampshire.

Welcome to White Birch Brewing, Hooksett New Hampshire’s own craft brewery. We started making beer in June of 2009 in 15 or 20 gallon batches. The advent of our first calendar year saw us go from about a half barrel a day brewing to about two barrels a day. Thanks to the continued interest in our beers we have grown to a custom seven barrel system made by Macy Industries right here in Hooksett. Yes, we’ve grown but our beer is still all brewed by hand in our modest brewery.

It’s their Berliner Weisse:

Napoleon’s troops referred to Berliner Weisse as the “Champagne of the North” due to its lively and elegant character. Today this style is described by some as the most refreshing beer in the world.

Our approach was to brew this beer with Lactobacilius for a refreshing and authentic interpretation of a classic summer refresher.


220z brown bomber bottle goes for $6.99. Simple white/tan paper label.


STYLE: Sour Wheat Ale

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 5.5%

COLOR (0-2): Golden brown and cloudy. 2

AROMA (0-2): Sour apple. 2

HEAD (0-2): White color, light volume which fades fast. 1

TASTE (0-5): It starts out quite tart, but that sharpness fades and becomes a touch sweet at the end. Flavors of apple, cranberry, lemon, and yeast. Nicely carbonated. Light bodied and very drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Lasting and rich. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Sour beers are very trendy right now. I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet as my experience with the style-while admittedly limited-has been mixed. White Birch Brewing’s Berliner Weisse makes me more willing to explore the sour side. It is very refreshing and delivers a nice flavor mix. While it retains its tart edge throughout, it mellows as it warms so I’d recommend letting it sit for a bit before you commence to sipping. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14