Friday, June 19, 2009

Beer and Celiacs

I'm brewing tonight, and as I do, I thought I'd tell a little story.

A few weeks ago, my family and I participated in the 8th International Walk for Celiac Disease.[1] I talked about this two years ago. Remember? If not, here's the link.

The main issue with Celiacs disease is those afflicted cannot tolerate gluten in their diet. Gluten is found in many grains including barley. That means no beer for those with Celiacs. That's not as bad as being allergic to hops because there is a solution: beer made using sorghum.

In 2007 I discovered Redbridge. The Anheuser-Busch gluten-free beer. OK, but not really that good. Very low hop flavor.

In 2009, I discovered Bards. Now this beer is a lot more interesting and flavorful. The most notable difference between this and the Redbridge is that the Bard's brewers don't mind using hops. The Hersbruker and Tettenang come shining through in the most delightful way. The result is a beer I would drink not because I had to, but because I want to.

Sadly, at the walk I only got a few small tastes. I will hopefully be able to find it around here. I'd like to try an entire 6

[1] the name is a bit misleading. We were not walking 'for' Celiacs disease. We are actually quite against it. We were walking to raise funds to research a cure.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

more bar progress...

I continue to tinker with my bar. I recently added this feature:
I installed this liquor shelf using only materials I had on hand. It turned out pretty nice.

I would like you to note the bottle of gin right in the middle. My parents are moving out of their house right now and found this bottle of gin. They bought it before I was born, drank a little and put in a cupboard for almost 40 years. I tasted it. It's not very ginny anymore.

Friday, June 12, 2009

NOS and Boulder beer- Day something

I'm sitting in Denver International Airport enjoying the free wireless. Way to go DIA!!!! Every airport should have free wireless. It's 2009 after all.

I’ve done a very poor job of reporting on the NOS lately. Sorry. Instead of a blow by blow account, let me give a summarizing overview of things at the 2009 NOS and other things I have thought of and done. I will give a more detailed beer review tomorrow. As a preview let me say, I tasted 2 dozen beers in one day.

Part 1: NOS tidbits.

Robert Grubbs used a blue laser pointer. Very cool. I guess when you win a Nobel prize you can treat yourself to fancy little gadgets.

Phil Baran just might make it in this business. After hearing his talk, which ended the Symposium, I am convinced he is probably the top young star in Organic Chemistry.

Paul Wender's talk was not as brief as his taxol synthesis, relatively speaking. But, it was interesting.

The Symposium was superb. I am proud to say that I attended every lecture and looked at every poster. While it was awesome, I leave feeling a bit of melancholy. Seeing what remarkable things these people I have done, I look at my professional accomplishments and can't help feeling inadequate and unaccomplished. I'll get over it.

I was disappointed that it rained a lot. That put a damper on doing outdoor activities. I was finally able to see mountains on the day I left.

Part 2: Other observations and occurances

I rented a car and got a Toyota Yaris. What a stupid interior design. The speedometer is in the middle of the dashboard. Stoopid.

I mailed home some dirty laundry to avoid the $15 checked bag charge and to avoid waiting for my bag at the airport. I meant to include some lotion and toothpaste (both nearly full) since those are not allowed on carry-on luggage (they were more than 100 mL). I forgot to include them. IDIOT!!! I was forced to ditch them both in the garbage at the security checkpoint. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NOS and Boulder beer- Day 2: Part 2

Yesterday was another busy day of lectures and beer pursuits. I recapped a little of it previously. Here is another very brief report. The only reason why I am writing this now is that it is raining outside... again. But, more on that later.

Part 1: The talks
During day two Melanie Sanford gave a fast-moving talk on Pd(II/IV) catalysts. She presented some very interesting work very quickly. Next, Tamio Hayashi talked about Rhodium-catalyzed reactions. I missed some of this because I had to poop. Eric Jacobsen gave a really good presentation on asymmetric hydrogen-bond catalysis. He mentioned a class of H-bond catalysts that are great at the asymmetric part, but they slow the reaction down. This made me wonder how he could call them 'catalysts.' Regardless, it was a wonderful morning of organic chemistry. Later in the evening, Andrew Streiweiser was presented with the Adams Award. He then gave a much more interesting lecture than I expected.

Part 2: The pursuit for beer
In the late afternoon I went out looking for beer. I decided to go to Southern Sun Brewery which is a larger version of the original Moutain Sun. When I got there at 3:50PM I found that it did not open until 4PM. I decided to wait a little while when this happened:

The heavens they opened up and began punishing the world for unknown sins or for my desire to obtain beer, or so it seemed. The hail, it was biblical and it started whitening the ground:

And I was kept from this:
Eventually, I realized I was being a big wimp and so I decided to walk the 30 feet in the rain and get me some beer. And it was very good beer. They only have about 25 beers on tap... I drank the XXX Pale Ale, the Old School Irish stout and Colorado Kind. The Kind was very nice. The Stout was unremarkable. The Pale Ale was an excellent example of the style.

After the poster session (several hours later, mind you), I took a walk to the Mountain Sun Pub and found out why they opened a bigger store. The place was packed with people drinking really, really good beer. I stood in a corner drinking FYIPA, an Amber, and something else I don't remember.

UPDATE: It is 4:09PM Mountain time and I want to go to the Walnut Brewery but am being held hostage by another monsoon. Nice weather, Boulder!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NOS and Boulder beer- Day 2

Too tired to report about day 2.

I spent too much time at Mountain Sun and Southern Sun brewing. The beer is all good. Really good.

I will report tomorrow on day 3 about day 2 which will also be a report about day 3 if I can muster that.

Until tomorrow, here is some stuff I wrote earlier today during a break about post-talk questions.

There is nothing more annoying than people that spend 5 minutes asking a question just so they can make sure everyone in the room knows how smart they are. Give me a break.

During one session, someone asked to see a certain slide again. It took a while for her to see the one she wanted even though the same image appeared on three slides. After significant navigation by the speaker and confirmation that he had the correct slide for her he asked her, “ so, what’s your question?” She said, “I don’t have one, I just wanted to see the slide.” The groan from the crowd was deafening and the annoyance was palpable. This incident was used as joke at the next lecture.

After Eric Jacobsen’s talk, a crusty old chemist got up to dispute the use of some data from computer modeling experiments. The old guy spent about 5 minutes describing why computer calculations cannot be trusted. He even went so far as to use the word “bullshit.” The old guy would have been right, IF Jacobsen had done what the old man accused him of. Computer calculations are theoretical estimations of energy. They do not necessarily take solvent into affect. They can, however, as Jacobsen explained, be used to describe relative energies. Dr. Jacobsen did a good job of describing how they appropriately used these calculations. After that the microphone ended up in the hands of another crusty old chemist and he said, "I'm Streitwieser, and that was a good answer!" The crowd applauded.

BEER REPORT: Boulder beer is really good. The microbreweries here know how to make beer and they are good at it. I will continue to consume said beer until asked to stop.

Monday, June 8, 2009

NOS and Boulder beer- Day 1

Today was the first day of the NOS (National Organic Symposium). Here is a brief recap of what transpired today and the beer that I drank. As with the previous post, grammar will most likely be brutalized in this posting. Please forgive me.

Part 1: The Grubbs encounter

Robert Grubbs gave a talk this morning. Grubbs won a Nobel Prize for his work (which he deserved). However, I think he's getting bored. Or at least he has now realized the opportunity to do crazy things. His talk was good. He talked about some crazy polymers he is working on. That was great, but after the talk when most of us got all coffeed-up, I found myself next to the Nobel Laureate himself taking a leak in the men's room. Yup. How many of you have taken a piss next to a Nobel Laureate. Probably not many of you. Here's a conversation we had (at least in my imagination):

Me: Boy, this water sure is cold.
Grubbs: yeah, and deep.
*rim shot*

OK, that conversation didn't happen, but I did notice he is really tall. I'm tall, but he is taller.

Part 2: Other stuff
There was another talk after that and then I had lunch and fell asleep for a while. I woke up and moved on to Part 3.

Part 3: Boulder Beer

I went to the Boulder Beer brewery and drank some beer as instructed by commenters Marcus and Dan. I drank some Hopped and Infused Pale Ale, Planet Porter and Singletrack Copper Ale. They were awesome. The Pale Ale is dry hopped with Cascade, but it is so well balanced the hops don't punch you in the face. The fruity ester overtones make it a fine, fine beer to consume for many hours. The Porter came from their cask. I am a cask whore. I love almost all cask-conditioned beers. This one was so good I almost cried. The Singletrack was a departure from the first two. It was great, but my palate was not prepared. Still, a superb beer. I plan on returning there for more beer. I tasted nothing that was bad. The rumors are correct. Head East on Valmont from 28th street, Take a right onto Wilderness Place and try not to drive in circles. But, if you do drive in circles, realize the brewery is in the middle of the circle.

Part 4: More talks

More talks and posters tonight about stuff. They were all really good and the beer didn't run out at the poster session tonight. I made it back to my room without getting attacked by a racoon (though it was close) and am now ready to go to bed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

NOS and Boulder beer- Day 0

I'm tired and I'm going to go to bed, but before I do, a quick recap of my trip to Boulder, CO and the NOS. I must warn you, spelling will not be checked and fragments will be common.

Part 1: The flight.
If you fly a lot, you probably can relate to this:
The plane was 1 hour late leaving MSP due to maintenance issues. Something ab0ut a broken engine. We finally flew. We couldn't land due in Denver due to tornadoes. Holding pattern... Too long. No fuel. Must land in Colorado Springs to refuel. 1.5 hours in Colorado Springs. Finally we make it to Denver. Scheduled landing 1PM. Actual landing 5PM. Rent car. Drive to Boulder. Check in, register. Find beer.

Part 2: Beer
I have no internet access so I can't check the recommendations made previously. I review a restaurant list. Find BJ's Brewpub. It's close. I go there. DAMMIT!!! It's a chain. OK, OK, OK, that's not bad. I should be happy when the small guy makes it big, but I want to taste Boulder beer. The beer at BJ's is pretty good. No complaints. The Brown Ale is superb. Stout at 8.1% alcohol is just too much.

Part 3: UC Racoons
As I was walking to the NOS poster session, I came across 4 racoons on the University of Colorado campus. WTF!!!! I could have gotten rabies.

Part 4: NOS poster session
The poster session was fine. I made 2 important observations.
  1. I am happy to report that the number of attractive female organic chemists is increasing. Tonight it was mostly grad students. About 35% of them were what I would call attractive. Petty? yes. But if you've spent any time in chemistry grad school, this is worth noting.
  2. The UC-Boulder hosted NOS poster session sucked big time due to the fact that they ran out of good beer. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!??!?!? WTFx20. How can you run out of beer?
Part 5: I'm going to bed
Good night.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Boulder brewpub advice needed

Tomorrow I am off to attend the National Organic Symposium in Boulder, CO. I expect it to be a superb time.

As is my custom, when I travel, I like to visit local brewpubs and sample their wares. I'm going to go out a limb here and guess that Boulder might have some brewpubs (yup, a few).

I'm looking for suggestions from my highly experienced readership. Where should I go? I will have about 3-4 chances to get out and experience the local brews. So, I need several suggestions of which brewpubs to visit.

I know what you (at least one of you) are thinking. Drive up to Fort Collins and visit Fat Tire world. That possibility is still on the tentative agenda. The NOS lineup is superb, as usual, and I don't plan on skipping any talks. OK, maybe one or two. But that's it. I just might drive to Fort Collins.

Or, I could drive down to Golden and have them bottle some of my piss.... I'm sorry, that was uncalled for. They have enough piss. They don't need mine.

Please, submit all suggestions. Danke!!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Let's explode this thing

My wife and I took my two oldest kids to a Minnesota Twins game today. My beloved Twins took on the Indians of Cleveland. It was a noon game so it worked out great for the kids.

The Twins promptly shellacked the Indians with 4 homeruns, much to the delight of my kids. They are still too young to appreciate the nuances associated with baseball, so the crowd pleasing long balls help. The Twins won 11-3. I was proud that my kids lasted the whole 9 innings (the cotton candy helped).

I took some pictures:

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome will be replaced next season by Target field. The dome will still be used by the Vikings, but thankfully, baseball will once again be played under the sun in Minnesota.

Every time I go to the Dome, I can't help but notice something. Here is a picture of the roof. Notice anything?
Here's a closeup of the middle.
That's right. The HHH Metrodome is a bigotted bastard and Nazi sympathizer. Who is the moron that designed that stupid roof.

I hope that someday, instead of imploding the thing like they did to the Kingdome, I hope they fill it up with air until the think pops.