Skip to content

New Homebrew: Belgian Golden Strong Ale

I brewed a Belgian golden ale just before Christmas and bottled it two weeks ago. Tonight I’m sampling it, and here are my first tasting notes:


This is neither my glass nor my actual homebrew, but the color of this Belgian Golden Strong Ale is almost exactly the same as mine.

Nose: Strong with Belgian yeast, reminding me of Unibroue’s Maudite or La Fin Du Monde
Appearance: Golden orange and moderately clear.
Carbonation: Excellent.
Head: Rich white, holding nicely—which is surprising to me for having only been in the bottle for two weeks.
Mouthfeel: Full with a mild alcoholic bite.
Flavor: Front end–A very pleasant mellow malty sweetness and mild spiciness, with floral notes; Finish—faintly mineral and subtly tart. I know I used hops in the brew, but I can’t detect them now.
After taste: Slightly tart mixed with stone fruit (peach, maybe?)

If you’re wondering how my notes compare to a standard, here are the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Guide notes on Belgian Golden Ales (style 18D).

Verdict: I’m really pleased. This is really drinkable—and dangerous for a session given that it’s 8.13% ABV.*  The BJCP lists commercial examples (in relation to those I’ve actually sampled) as Duvel, Delirium Tremens, Piraat, North Coast Pranqster. I’d put mine, surprisingly, up against any of those.


*This is the best ABV I’ve achieved since moving to Chicago, mostly because I watched my fermentation temperature really closely (which I haven’t always done in the winter). I also kept the newly bottled beer in a warm place, which likely contributed to the excellent carbonation and head.

On Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

This is a short book with a powerfully long crescendo. For those of you wondering about the time commitment, I basically read it in 48 hours (with Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a major “interruption”). What follows are all of my reflections and favorite passages (five each) after a first reading.


1. Cosmopolitanism – I’m mildly surprised that Coates chose *cosmopolitanism* as the deep structuring ideal for himself and his son. It’s a keyword in the text. Read more…

A Manufactured Controversy about Master’s Degrees

Despite the off-putting title of this Chronicle article by Leonard Cassuto (i.e. “The Degree for Quitters and Failures: A look at the melancholy history of the master’s degree”), I really wanted to be engaged by it. Instead, I found myself questioning and arguing with it almost immediately. By the end I found it nearly useless—except as a potential provocation for better future analyses by frustrated readers like me. My disagreements began here: Read more…

The Privatization of Controversy

I enjoyed this piece by my friend and colleague, Andrew Hartman. I disagree, however, with the thesis that is mostly represented in the title, “How Austerity Killed the Humanities.”

To me, it’s not so much austerity or conservatives that have been trying kill the humanities, but rather privatization.

The humanities have been reduced to a “subject” or discipline that has been, according to some, corrupted by lefties and radicals in public education institutions (whether higher or K-12). The current conservative and liberal solution is remove the study of “controversial” topics from those institutions. That means privatization. Controversy, in that narrative, is best handled at home (liked sex education).

This is why President Obama, conservatives, and liberals alike are fine with career and career “readiness” as the ruling criteria for their myopic version of “education.” If we can reduce controversy in education, they believe, then we’ll have centered the endeavor on a so-called objective “common” core that can be supported by all.

The mistake is to think that eliminating controversy is good for either democratic or republican philosophies of government. Teaching controversial subjects trains the mind to better navigate controversy later. Subjectivity can’t be eliminated if you believe in the uniqueness of individuals and individualism. Controversy can’t be privatized in a democracy. – TL

Where Are Today’s Fr. Ouellets?

Paul Murray, writing for the National Catholic Reporter, remembers the Catholics that marched in Selma on March 7, 1965. A prominent character in Murray’s narrative is Fr. Maurice Ouellet, pastor of St. Elizabeth’s African-American mission in Selma. Against the wishes of his archbishop, Thomas Toolen, Ouellet helped register voters, as well as support and organize Selma-ins for the march to Montgomery.

Who are today’s Fr. Ouellets? And what are they doing? I don’t know for sure, but here’s my top ten for what they could be doing: Read more…

FYI: Newberry Library Event


Chicago-area Friends: The Newberry Library has invited me to present for its “Meet The Author” series. This open event is next Tues, 1/27, at 6 pm. Come hear a LWEM (Live, White Male of European descent) reflect on the discoveries I made during research and writing, as well as my personal relationship to this topic and plans for future research/writing. You will benefit from the fact that I sort of test-ran the opening of my NL talk during another panel this past weekend. – TL

No, Anti-Intellectualism is Not Suddenly Taking Over the United States

An intervention: I’ve been watching this 2.5 year old piece, from May 2012, recirculate over the past week. I find the article annoyingly alarmist.

First, there’s the scary, over-generalized title. Anti-intellectualism is not suddenly taking over the U.S. Extrapolating national trends from Arizona, of all places, is a hazardous business. That state has been a hotbed of reactionary, odd politics for fifty-plus years since Goldwater.

Second, one should never generalize about anti-intellectualism at large from our political discourse. American politicians and would-be activists are famous for uttering crowd-pleasing, nonsensical, and offensive things.

Third, Americans have been arguing about school curricula, in public settings since, well, public schools were created. Those arguments became more heated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, becoming especially hot in the 1930s and through the 1950s.

Fourth, our public libraries have been targets of would-be censors since public libraries became a wider presence in the early twentieth century.

Fifth and finally (for now), on concerns about higher edu curricula, scholarship, and professorial utterances, well, David Horowitz has been raising the the alarm on those topics since the 1980s. Nothing particularly alarming on higher education anti-intellectualism has occurred over the past five years.

In sum, let’s not get scared about a 2.5 year old article by a Columbia law professor, published in a British periodical, underscoring historical trends that have seen higher heat levels in the last century. Americans have been and should always be aware of our special brand of anti-intellectualism. But I was more worried in 2008 than I am now or was in 2012. – TL


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers