Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Unlikely Marriage: Beer & Conservation

"Beer is an art form. From wrangling the perfect strain of yeast to pouring the perfect pint, beer aficionados around the world argue about mashing, hopping, fermentation, and filtration. They dispute the material and contour of the bottle, the curve and temperature of the appropriate glass. Each person has a preference for ale or lager, light or dark, but many drinkers these days are developing a taste for beers of a greener hue.
Once reserved for St. Patrick's Day, green beer is now available year round in the form of more ecologically sound beers. Companies across the globe are crafting beers for taste and sustainability. They have found innovative ways to consume less power, conserve water, recycle materials, and utilize brewing byproducts. Although an industry-wide green revolution is still years away, companies are looking to the future for today's perfect brew.
Colorado, the "Napa Valley of beers," is at the heart of this green revolution. Leading the field of eco-friendly brewing companies is the New Belgium Brewery. In 1999, New Belgium became the first brewery in the nation to subscribe to wind-powered electricity. It is also one of the first breweries to use the methane produced by water treatment processes to "fuel a combined heat and power engine—or co-gen—which creates electricity and heat for the brewery." In addition, this brewery turns old keg caps into tabletops, uses sun tubes to light its warehouse, and turns byproducts like spent grains and hops into cattle feed.
Among the more unique eco-friendly ventures of this company is the Tour de Fat Festival, named after bicycles, weight loss, and New Belgium's most-loved brew: Fat Tire Amber Ale. At each stop along the eleven-city tour, New Belgium corrals one volunteer who promises to live without a car for a year. The devoted individuals sign over their car titles and receive custom-fitted commuter bikes in exchange. Thanks to a solar-powered sound system, decorations made from recycled materials, and beer served in compostable cups, the event's overall waste stream diversion rate has been around 85 percent, with a goal of 98 percent for 2008.
Although New Belgium Brewery is considered a leader in the world of green beer, many other companies are hoisting the flag of environmental sustainability. Colorado has the most breweries per capita in the United States, and two other local companies are developing, producing, and marketing these environmentally conscious brews.
The Odell Brewing Company uses six-pack holders made of recycled paper, and staggers production to avoid energy use during peak demand times. They also employ a device called the "Hot Shot Box." When the local city of Fort Collins experiences peak demand for electricity, a radio signal is sent to the Hot Shot Box to temporarily shut off some of the brewery's chillers. This reduces strain on the city's energy supply and thus the need for additional power plants.
Coors Brewing Company, one of the largest brewers in the world, has been going green for about 50 years. Coors became one the first brewers to use commercially produced aluminum cans in 1959. The company also began offering customers a one-cent-per-can recycling incentive, which helped to launch the recycling revolution.
Coors processes and recycles its own wastewater, and, in addition, that of the entire city of Golden, Colorado. Moreover, the company sells some 600 million pounds of solid material to local farmers as cattle feed, and more than 1.5 million gallons of ethanol to Colorado refineries. Since 1996, Coors has been recycling waste beer (beer lost during packaging or deemed below quality standards) and converting it to alcohol automotive fuel.
On the East Coast at the Brooklyn Brewery, founder Steve Hindy runs his company on 100 percent sustainable wind power, purchased from a wind farm in upstate New York. According to Wired, The Brooklyn Brewery's commitment to green power prevents roughly 335,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 1,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 500 pounds of nitrogen oxide from being released into the atmosphere annually. Brooklyn Brewery also arranges for the reuse of its organic waste, with all the grains and husks from the brewing process sold to farmers.
In California, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company uses the fuel cell as a way to dramatically lower emissions. According to the company website, four new 250 kW cogeneration fuel cell power units—one of the largest fuel cell installations in the United States—will supply electric power and heat to the brewery, with overall energy efficiency nearly double that of grid-supplied power.
As reported by the Associated Press, Foster Brewing Company of Australia has taken the fuel cell in an even greener direction. Australia's University of Queensland was given a $115,000 state government grant to install a microbial fuel cell at the company. This fuel cell is fundamentally a battery in which bacteria consume water-soluble brewing waste such as sugar, starch, and alcohol. The technology harnesses the chemical energy that the bacteria release from the organic material, converting it into electrical energy.
In Japan, researchers at Asahi Breweries are working to produce "monster cane," a variety of sugarcane that would power automobiles without sacrificing sugar output. Meanwhile, Sapporo Breweries has gotten into the field of promoting biomass fuels in the brewing business.
Another innovation in the world of green beer comes from one of the oldest brewers. Britain's oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame has started to craft its lagers and ales with "wort boiling" technology that reduces energy usage by 10 percent. The PDX Wort Heater fires steam at the wort—the sugar solution that results from soaking the starch in water and enzymes—breaking the liquid into mist droplets, which heat up faster than liquid wort, cutting brewing time in half while using half the energy.
According to the Popular Science website, if the 8,000 major breweries of the world adopted this wort boiling technology, the electricity equivalent of three million tons of coal per year could be saved.
So, grab a cold eco-friendly one this summer and enjoy responsibly because green beer is not just for St. Patrick's Day anymore." - ENN

"Diversium Unum"

The Paradox of this blog is that it is not consistent with the "nostalgia" which I first intended when I began. Coherency, however, is not typically my agenda. Conversely, I recognise that I must maintain "readability..."

Nonetheless, I march on with this motto: Unity in Diversity. Part of me is wistful and melancholy, and so I write poetic things from the deep past, I brood in misty corners of my mind, recalling and retelling. I slip into some "crusty" mood where I'd rather review beers and peruse ancient tomes, than to run free and embrace the movement of the world.

Today, however, I have been re-inspired. A certain stimulation of motion and art stir within my breast, and I seek the disciplines which (admittedly) I typically pursue with only half-resolved concern. My lethargy is an aggravation to me, I confess, and I am actively seeking provocative comments from any and all who would encourage me in these areas.

The areas of interest are:

Parkour (Freeflowing/Freerunning/Freeclimbing), Capoeira, Tao Te Ching, Universal Philosophy, Art (Martial), Symmetry, Poise, & Motion.

To fully apprehend and appreciate the quintessence of these concepts, I feel I must daily pursue them with a more dedicated enthusiasm than I have been previously wont to do. But, how?

How to get beyond the "laissez-faire" attitude, the lackadaisical, undisciplined state of my run-of-the-mill lassitude?

Advice please...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Revisiting of an Auld Friend

Allow me to break from the "July" tradition for a moment, & ignore the fastidiously laid plans of Mother Nature. My focus is the focal point for much of my nostalgia: Christmas.

Books, being one of the more valuable things ever introduced into the economy of things, have a special meaning for me, especially when they are such abiding sentimental classics as The Wind In The Willows & {the much beloved favourite} A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol - to be frank - is not so much a Christmas story as it is a New Year's story. For those of us who truly mean to change the course of our life, & for those of us who want this year's resolutions to actually have lasting value, we might need an Ebenezer-like situation, to shake us out of our paradigms.

It matters little if your life is a bad, abused, or flat life, the ideas in this simple story serve as guide to breaking the patterns which lead to bad ends. Indeed, the story is so familiar, so deeply ingratiated in our culture that we almost forget the point. Even in our old age it is never too late to change. Even in our stolid vices and habitual proclivities toward neglect and "scrooginess", we can change & become better people.

There it is. A wee bit of Christmas in July, for those who couldn't wait.
"Tap-poured Guinness {Extra} Stout: enjoyed in the presence of good friends, & a genial fare, illicites one of those Autumnal feelings that makes it good to be alive. Throw in the sound of a heady rain slapping the wooden eaves outside, a crackling fire on the hearth, & you just might discover the meaning of life."

This is a shoddy review, nonetheless, it is my honest opinion of the nectar of the gods we all know as Guinness.

The first thing that strikes one's senes is the appearance of the brew. Dark swirls assailed with an almost impregnable damson-red and currant-black body give the drink a thick yet smooth definition. The tall, brown-fizzy head that settles quickly is an extra delight which lesser brews fail to yield.

Then, ah! Then comes the aroma...a blend of nutty, hoppy, dare I say "bark" teases the nose with a darkly roasted "malty" scent. This is certainly the way it tastes, as well: much like an earthy nut, pried from its shell, plunged in a heady malt, brewed to dark perfection, and served with a light (yet not too frothy) head.

Aye, there's nothing like a cosy little fireside drink with this mate!
Need A Light?

The pipe is not merely a wooden or clay tool which some men use to while away their is a tool which corresponds to the soul. & not merely the soul, but the rational area of it.

This explains - consequently - why we tend to think of wise and ancient figures smoking long-stemmed pipes, stroking antiquated beards: the Oxford don, surrounded by massive volumes of dusty books, puffing away contentedly as he theorizes on the meaning of life or the hyperconductivity of some natural element: or even the prestigious Sherlock Holmes, who, in Doyle's original stories, actually smoked various sorts of tobacco, yet is nearly always portrayed with a pipe.
And yet, as I think on the value and emphasis of the pipe, I realise that perhaps one of the reasons pipes are so nostalgic is that, unlike cigars and cigarettes: a pipe endures.
Similarly, the questions of the philosopher far outlast the passing concerns of physical desires (cigarettes) on the one hand and human ambitions (cigars) on the other.

Further, while the cigar is entirely masculine, the pipe has both masculine and feminine elements (the stem and the bowl). This - in contrast to other forms of smoking - corresponds to the philosopher's activity, which is - if it may be put thus - both masculine and feminine: masculine in its pursuit of Lady Truth, feminine (I say this with abashment) in its reception of anything that she discloses.
& Finally, the effect that the pipe has on others is analogous to the effect of philosophizing: the smooth & simultaneously exhilerating fragrance of a pipe, like good philosophy, is a blessing to all who partake.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - The owner of a tiny island in off Scotland declared its independence from the United Kingdom on Saturday, saying he wanted the territory, population one, to be a crown dependency like the Channel Islands.
In a declaration on his Web site, Stuart Hill, who owns the 2.5 acre island of Forvik in the Shetland Islands in the North Sea, said he no longer recognised the authority of the government or the European Union, and cited a centuries-old royal marriage dowry deal as the basis for his claim.
"Forvik owes no allegiance to any United Kingdom government, central or local, and is not bound by any of its statutes," Hill wrote.
Hill, 65, has lived in the Shetland Islands on the edge of the Atlantic since 2001, when his boat capsized there during an unsuccessful attempted to circumnavigate Britain.
He is Forvik's only resident, and his home is a tent on the storm-battered island. He says on his website that he plans to create Forvik's own currency -- the "gulde" -- print his own stamps and raise his own flag.
"There will be no income tax, VAT (value added tax), council tax, corporation tax, or any of the other taxes instituted by the British government," Hill wrote.

Hill's claim dates back to a 15th century arrangement between the Norwegian King Christian and King James III of Scotland when the Shetland Islands were effectively pawned to King James in lieu of a marriage dowry.
According to Hill's studies of the history of the island, in 1669 King Charles II re-confirmed Shetland's status at the time of the pawning, meaning the islands remained directly answerable to the crown -- represented today by the Queen.
"The monarchs and governments of Scotland, and Great Britain and the United Kingdom have for many years assumed powers over these islands of Shetland to which they were not entitled," he wrote.
"By declaring Forvik a crown dependency I am simply re-establishing the correct legal relationship between this part of Shetland and the crown.
Hill said he had written to the Queen offering his services as "steward" and recognising her as head of state.
"I also invite anyone from any country in the world, who supports these aims, namely to become free of liars, thieves and tyrants in government, to become a citizen of Forvik," he added.
For a first article, what better than a list of personal & favourite firsts?
Here they are, in no particular order:

i. First favourite beer? Guinness, of course.

ii. First favourite ale? Irish red, naturally.

iii. First favourite author? Tolkien & Lewis

iv. First favourite musick? ...Now that's a hard one. Read my profile.

v. Other firsts? My eternal love, Astraea