Saturday, April 16, 2016

I am a rock

“I am a rock” is a song that was first performed by Paul Simon as a solo act in England in 1965. It was re-recorded by the duo known as Simon and Garfunkel in late 1965, and was included as the final track on their “Sounds of Silence” album. Since its release, it has been “covered” by numerous other artists.

The song came to mind a week or so ago when one of the students in a biology class that I was monitoring brought his pet rock to class.

Pet rock ? I remember those !

In 1975, advertising executive Gary Dahl came up with the idea for a Pet Rock. He produced the collectible known as Pet Rock, which sold for $4, and included a 32 page instruction manual. They went on sale in June of 1975, and were a huge hit during the Christmas season of 1975. Overall, his company sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks. Since the cost to produce the Pet Rock was very minimal, Mr. Dahl became an overnight millionaire.

If you’re a fan of nostalgia, you’ll be happy to know that they became available again in September of 2012.

Improbable as the story of the Pet Rock is, crazy overnight success in America IS still possible, even for very young people.

An 11 year old Texas girl named Mikaila Ulmer recently secured an $11,000,000 contract with Whole Foods to sell her Bee Sweet Lemonade. Initially, the lemonade will be sold in 55 Whole Food stores in the southern United States. The recipe for her lemonade uses mint, flaxseed, and honey, and it came from her great grandmother’s 1940 recipe. She came up with the idea to sell the lemonade in order to save bees and support beekeepers, and recently served the lemonade to President Obama.

Another example of young people doing well is a company called Instagram. It was founded in October 2010 by 27 year old Kevin Systrom and 24 year old Mike Krieger. 18 months after its founding, the company was sold to Facebook for $1 billion in cash and stock.

If you think that young Mikaila is an exception (and she is) but you think that young black girls from the south can never be successful, consider the case of another black girl who was born in Mississippi, which has long been one of the poorest states in the country.

Her name is Oprah Gail Winfrey, and she is now worth $3.1 billion. For that kind of money, you can buy an awful lot of Pet Rocks.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It takes a good head to make a great beer

Since the breweries that they started are internationally famous, there is no doubt that Adolphus Busch, Adolph Coors, and Frederick Miller were all pretty smart guys. For that matter, Jim Koch, one of the founders of The Boston Beer Company (2nd largest American owned brewery, after Yuengling) is also a pretty smart guy. His net worth is slightly in excess of $1 billion.

However, when I’m talking about a good head, I’m really talking about the ART of pouring a beer. Surprisingly, there are a lot of people (including many servers in restaurants) who simply don’t know how to pour a beer.

The bartenders in Dublin are true artists, since pouring a Guinness the proper way is always a two step process:

1) tip glass slightly, aim the beer at the Guinness label on the glass, pour the beer to the halfway point, and set the glass aside to allow the beer to settle

2) hold glass in a vertical position, and slowly top it off

Regardless of which beer expert that you consult, the proper way to pour a beer is essentially the same. This is what the Beeradvocate recommends:

1) always use a glass, and make sure that it is clean .. a dirty glass, or one with residue from another beer, my inhibit head creation and flavors

2) tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle, and pour roughly half the beer towards the center of the glass

3) once half the beer is poured, tilt the glass to a vertical position, and top the beer off .. once the beer is poured, the head should be between an inch and an inch and a half .. the head releases the beer’s aromatics, and adds to the overall presentation

As the video below from the Magnolia Pub points out, different types of beers may require a slight alteration to the process, but not by much. Pouring the beet too fast creates a head that is too large, making a mess and distorting the flavor of the beer. Pouring the entire bottle into a titled glass (which many restaurant servers do) often eliminates the head altogether, causing the beer to become flat and less flavorful. Drinking straight out of a bottle eliminates the head entirely, and reduces the flavor of the beer substantially.

you’re doing it all wrong

Just as wine tastings (and many wine labels) often emphasize the proper food pairings, that same advice also applies to beer, which I wrote about roughly five years ago.

So what are you waiting for ?

Grab a beer !