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/// HEARD IT THROUGH THE HOPVINE
 
DECEMBER 2002/JANUARY 2003 » BACK TO HOPVINE INDEX
 
HEARD IT THROUGH THE HOPVINE
There's nothing like a trip to Belgium to remind you that we as a beer-drinking nation have a long way to go to achieve greatness. Where else would a café owner decline to serve a beer you ordered — not because he didn't have it, but because he didn't have the proper glass to serve it in! Where else could dinner consist solely of a bowl of moules (mussels done a dozen different ways) and a glass of exotically flavored ale? The notion of great beer served with great food that was made with beer isn't just a "meet the brewer" special dinner in Belgium. It's an everyday occurrence in restaurants and bistros in every city and village around the country. OK, some are better than others, and if you venture beyond the tourist-infested side streets off the Grand Place in Brussels, you can and will find beer and food nirvana — often in the most unassuming locals. In ’t Spinnekopke (Little Spider's Head) sounds like an arachnophobe's nightmare, but its beer cuisine, beer list and service do not have an equal in this country. And this is only one of many possible choices in Brussels. Get thee on the Web and off to beer-vana…

Celebrator readers are hip to the Nobel Prize (for outstanding discoveries). This should be differentiated from the No Bell Prize (which is a dead ringer). So how about that Ig Nobel Prize for research that's highly unusual. Every fall at Harvard University, the scientific elite get somewhat less serious when Nobel winners give out the Ig Nobel prizes as a spoof of the Nobel ceremony. This year, physicist Arnd Leike won an Ig Nobel prize for showing that beer foam follows mathematical laws as it shrinks. Leike said, "There is plenty more science in beer. You could call this experiment merely the first draught." Hey, them Harvard types are a riot…

Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike Inc. is threatening to sue British brewer Scottish Courage over a John Smith's campaign using the slogan "Just ’ave it," according to the British newspaper The Guardian. Nike claims the slogan, part of John Smith's new advertising campaign starring British TV comic Peter Kay, is a deliberate rip-off of its "Just do it" ads. And Nike knows about rip-offs. Kay stars in the ads as an enthusiastic but bumbling and overweight soccer player. Nike's legal beagles assert that the ads are "detrimental to Nike's trademarks, which are registered in the main for sports clothing, tarnishing them and making them less attractive and less distinctive." The brewery has responded by accusing Nike executives of lacking a sense of humor. As the Nike folks say, "Just sue it."…

Here's a technological innovation that is sure to appeal to a beer geek in your life: Evolution Robotics has developed a kit that turns an average laptop into a rolling, seeing robot. Naturally, there is a beer lover's application. Wave a beer bottle in front of its sensors, and it knows what to look for on its trip to the kitchen. This robot will fetch the exact beer you want and deliver it to your recliner! The software is designed to create behavior routines that tell the robot what to do. "The beer-fetching application took a string of 35 linked behaviors," according to the article. The ER1 is available now from U.S. retailers such as Fry's and Tiger Direct. Costs start at $599. Is this a cost-effective way to get a beer from the fridge? Ask your techie beer lover…

Congrats to Widmer's Collaborator Milk Stout, a gold-medal winner at this year's GABF in Denver. This is a fitting reward for Widmer's dedication to encouraging homebrewers to come up with great beer recipes to be brewed commercially. Sodden thought: We all know and appreciate the joys of a good beer fart. Ah, but what about someone who is lactose intolerant who drinks a Milk Stout? Why do I always have to do the heavy thinking?…

This just in from the Great White (as in Caucasian?) North: Canadian coppers have accused a motorist of caring more for his case of beer than for the safety of his nine-year-old son. Officers pulled over the motorist near Mississauga in Canada after seeing a child jumping around in the backseat. When they approached the car, they discovered the man and his child weren't wearing seat belts while a case of beer was snugly fastened in the passenger seat. And, it was Canadian beer! We all have our priorities…

Down the Orrin Hatch Dept.: Utah is known for its notorious adherence to some of the country's strictest limitations on beer enjoyment, including limiting alcohol content to 3.2% by weight. (Wine is OK at 12–14%.) A report from the Salt Lake Tribune suggests that at times this absurdity can get to be a little much. Two Utah entrepreneurs, Joan Guetschow and Trisha Stumpf, both world-class athletes, recently started a spring water company, selling bottled water under the tongue-in-cheek label of "Utah Beer" (!), even going so far as to apply for the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C. Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, however, was less than amused and filed a protest, objecting to a bottled water product being called "beer." The net result: Some negative publicity for A-B, after which the megabrewer decided to simply let the protest lapse. "Utah Beer" will keep its name. (Is there an old joke about making love in a canoe somewhere in here?)

 

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