Herr Dirketor Funranium, Down Under (100% Paul Hogan Free Content)

The quote of the trip so far: “I think that in the depth of winter, Australians have forgotten what summer is like and what it does to beer.  This thing is brilliant.  How many thousand have you sold to Queensland?”

Answer: None…yet.

Let me begin by thanking the exquisite attack hospitality of the people of Australia with their demands that I try their favorite beers.  A stein that is empty is a void that demands to be filled and no suggestion has been ignored so far and all enjoyed.  I do have to scoff at the declaration for one of the brews at the Lord Nelson Brewery that it was “very hoppy”.  The brewers of California are demented and fighting a war of nuclear escalation with their ever hoppier beers.  Like the decendents of white mice turning black in mutagenic defense against radiation in the MegaMouse Project, I’ve had to acclimate to the ambient beer.

The mother of the groom on being served a modicum of Kona BBotE declared in good British fashion, “Ooo, yummy!” with Wallace & Gromit cheese-related finger wriggles.  I’m calling that a win.  A budding librarian has her 2L of Ethiopian with gleam of delight & fear in her eye.  I look forward to hearing how it treats her.

I have, unfortunately, discovered that all the tales of indifference and horror attributed to Australian Post are entirely accurate.  There is a certain level of quantum uncertainty combined with a lackadaisical attitude that gives one the impression that an package will get there when a passing drunken traveler can be flagged down and bothered to care.  I realize this is a traditional postal service mode, but BBotE demands a higher level of professionalism.  Eventually, when sufficient money is waved in their faces, postal employees remember that they do have actual express mail options and have to go rummage for the forms and remember which buttons to press on the McMail Service register screen.

I did bring extra Steins of Science with me to the antipodes, but both the imperial pint FMJs have been claimed leaving only a 350ml and a 1000ml.  Unlike BBotE, the steins are not perishable and can be entrusted to the slow pace of Australian Post.  The listings are active on the main page, but I will refuse orders from anywhere outside Oz and NZ until the 13th of July.  I am all about the instant gratification.

Vacation – The Sad Truth

Now in the homestretch before the redeye flight to Sydney on Tuesday.  All of you in America who placed orders for BBotE last Thursday will have your precious braingojuice shipping on Monday and in your hot little hands by Wednesday.  As for you lucky Australians, assuming Oz Customs does not declare me to be a potential terrorist based on the quantity of caffeinated beverage and steins I will be carrying in my luggage, steins will be ship out on Thursday and BBotE the following Monday (I don’t trust Australian Post not to leave your BBotE languishing over the weekend anymore than the US Postal service…with damn good reason).

For everyone else, I am sorry to report that I’ll be taking no orders until July 12th.  The listings have all been switched to Out Of Stock.  Stay tuned for announcements of the taps being turned back on and tales of misadventure in Australia & New Zealand.  For those coming to meet Herr Direktor Funranium in person in the pubs of Sydney and Christchurch, I look forward to some damn fine racontuering…

Coming Down To The Wire

Ordering for BBotE will be turned off this evening at 10pm PST.  For you people who like to wait until the last minute, I have one 1000ml FMJ and one 350ml FMJ Stein of Science on hand.  Grab them now if you want them, otherwise they go in my luggage to Australia & New Zealand.  You never know, a wallaby or kea might steal them from me.

Goddamn keas

Last Call: A Literary Review

Last Call for BBotE.  I’ll stop accepting new orders on June 17th, resuming July 13th.

In other news of a Last Call nature, I highly recommend the book by the same name written by Daniel Okrent.  While the over-arching story of Prohibition, the abolition/temperance/suffragette movement, and the 19th century religious revival is one I am familiar with, this book has been fantastic at filling in the names, dates, and fine detail in the story.  I think I’ve read roughly a third of the book out loud in dramatic style to the delight/annoyance of my girlfriend.

What strikes my most while reading it is how very little has changed in the tactics of the control of illicit substances, attempting to legislate morality, and general manipulation of the American political process since the dawn of the Anti-Saloon League.  We are still inheritors of the temperance movement’s textbook approval process where they gave up on the adults and instead tried to educate a generation that “would hate the bottle” to vote the previous generation away.  Sound familiar?  The marginal politics of micro-targeting and “single issue voters” in the last 20 years are nothing new; the original yes/no political litmus test was “Are you dry or wet?”.

It makes me want to cry into my beer and keep reading.  I am very thankful for my legal beer.

VACATION ALERT, REDUX

After verifying the supply chain, I can extend stein sales until the end of the weekend and still be able to construct your stein in time for vacation. Yes, Australia & NZ, the flat rate shipping applies to you right now. BBotE, you’ve got until June 17th to order.

VACATION ALERT: June 10th Closure

Tonight, at 10pm PST, I will be suspending sales of the Steins of Science in preparation for my trip to Australia.  If you want one before I go, now is the time.  Otherwise, you’ll be waiting until mid-July when I turn them back on.

Black Blood of the Earth…you have until the 17th for that.

You have been warned.

BBotE Update: Longevity Test, MkII

Okay, as I sit here with a strange tea-like flavor in my mouth I think I can reliably report that BBotE is not meant to be stored for 6+ months.

All five samples that had made it this long were sampled this evening (Papua New Guinea, Sumatra, Ethiopian, Panama, and Yemen).  Why these five you might ask?  To be honest, they were the ones that were left after a party back in December 2009 where most of my 375ml samplers were completely consumed by the happy crowd or purloined before I could hide these ones.

I had previously sampled them at the three month mark and discovered that the flavor had not particularly shifted in any for the worse, although the Yemen was showing acidic hints.  The Panama, however, had aged remarkably well and gained an interesting cinnamon & caramel flavor as it aged.

At the six month mark, they were all undrinkable though with slight variations.  The Panama and Papua New Guinea had a strange acidic green apple flavor that came as a surprise.  The rest were tannic. Tongue to battery terminal, tannic.  They all are now probably eating their way through my pipes as a team since they went down drain.  I remain amazed by the fact that none of them had moldered in the slightest.

So, I stand by my declaration that you should store your BBotE cold and consume it within three months.  I am beginning a new longevity test considering that the previous samples were made with my old pre-January labor intensive and arthritis tempting hand-wringing and pressing process.  While the old hands on approach gave me a good appreciation of how things should look and feel, it also tended to let a lot of grounds through as filters failed.  Those stray grounds, in turn, would continue to leach acid into the BBotE.

More science…

BBotE Update: Malabar Experimentation

CURRENT INSOBRIETY STATUS: two 12oz beers and 85ml of Hangar One vodka.

Last weekend while reconvening the gaming group of old with beers and Steins of Science, I stopped by the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company to see what interesting things they had on offer in the Fair Trade section.  As a hedonistic epicure, I do not require my delights to be procured in an ethical manner, especially if the tears of the downtrodden improve the flavor, but I am always drawn by the oddities the Fair Trade section tends to have.  This week, my discovery was the Malabar.

Where is Malabar you might ask?  To people that have heard me previously rant about the disingenuous use of “natural background” statistics without looking for local variations, you might be more familiar with the modern province of Kerala, in India.  Kerala has some truly beautiful, coconut strewn, purple sand beaches made of the sediment runoff from the Western Ghats…which have a naturally occurring radiation dose rate of roughly 14000mrem/yr (my annual occupational dose limit per the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is 5000mrem/yr).  This is because that beautiful purple sand is mostly monzanite, a thorium/uranium bearing mineral which may ring a bell to those of you that read the Origin of Funranium on the old site, oh so long ago.  By comparison, the natural background in the continental US, on average, at sea level is about 360mrem/yr.

I drunkenly digress. Where’d my glass go?

INSOBRIETY STATUS UPDATE: two 12oz beers and 125ml of Hangar One vodka.

When I opened the jar of freshly roasted Malabar, I was sold on the first sniff.  I am eternally on the hunt for good light roasts which should preserve as much of the fruity flavor of the coffee cherry as possible.  My scorecard currently is 1-1 with Panama (quite good, actually improves with age unlike all the other BBotE, worth repeating and sharing with the world) and Brazil (disappointing flat nutty flavor, maybe I got an old stale batch, not in a hurry to try again).  Several pounds went home with me to play with.

The resulting BBotE was quite complex and I am still wondering about it.  Similar to the Ethiopian, it exhibited high oil extraction with beading on the surface when poured.  Initial aroma struck me as having a hint of cucumber.  No one else agreed with this and questioned my olfactory sanity.  A general synesthesia agreement of a “green” smell was met.  Subsequent tasting I conducted with a different group 7 hours later did not strike me with the same cucumber smell, but the following day it happened again.  My nose may be broken.

On to flavor.

The initial flavor struck me as cool, not quite minty, and coating.  Then the mid and late palate came in and stayed.  To me, it tasted like a walk along the canals outside of Melbourne, FL smelled.  Florida is freakin’ alive compared to California and it is not possible to walk on an unpaved surface in that state without crushing some flowering low to the ground plant.  It was sweet, green, broken leaf & stem smell with the floral aroma of stomped flowers and it kept shifting.

The Vodka Test: as is usual, after my initial tasting I add what is roughly enough straight Hangar One vodka to make a roughly 3:1 BBotE to vodka mix to see what the alcohol can pull out.  Bizarrely enough, I got the taste of honey.  Again, my sanity was questioned and madness of the tongue proclaimed.

The experimental 2L batch of Malabar is now gone, but I think I will be playing with it again.  It’s a shame Santa Cruz Roasting Company is an hour away.

FYI: Impending Vacation Store Closure

Because of the preparation lag time, I will be turning off the ordering for BBotE on June 17th.  Because of the longer lead time for the steins, I’ll be turning off ordering for those on the 10th.  I will turn it all back on come July 12th when I return.

So, if you want something before I head Down Under now’s the time to hammer me with requests.