30 July 2011

Beer on the Rocks?

All of use have some food issues.  I confess, I have my fair share: I hate corn, raw tomatoes, raw onions, okra in any form, guacamole and not a fan of milk.  My father used to drink milk over ice.  I couldn't stand the sight of it.  And the thought of ice cubes floating in milk make me nauseous.  My boss drinks beer on ice, as does New York Mayor Micheal Bloomberg.  I'm getting nauseous again.

Joe Sixpack posted an article trying to tamp down the controversy, and while I agree with him, I won't be conducting his little experiment.

It's fairly obvious that ice will chill the beer too cold, and that it will water the beer down.  If it's a Macro Light/Lite lager, then what's wrong with a little more water?  He wrote:

Adding a little more water doesn't necessarily ruin the beer - it just changes it. Could it actually improve the flavor? You won't know till you try.
Which, in the spirit of journalistic curiosity, I did during a recent hot spell.
Appropriately enough, the test beer was Heresy from Weyerbacher of Easton. This dark, rich ale is technically an imperial stout - a style that was designed to survive the cold, cold of a Russian winter.
On this day, though, it was muggy and 85 degrees. I poured it into a glass over two cubes. The beer foamed as expected and, in 30 seconds, it cooled a couple of degrees.
Was it ruined? Absolutely not. Instead, a beer that would otherwise stick to your bones had lightened considerably. The full, roasty flavor was still there, but now it was as easy to gulp as a light lager. A contemplative, cold-weather beer had been transformed into an easy-drinking warm-weather refresher.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:42 2 comments links to this post

29 July 2011

Pennsylvania Mulling Change in Liquor Laws

Normally, I wouldn't talk about other states' beer laws (Texas' laws are frustrating enough), but I ran across two articles about the possible privitization of liquor stores in Pennsylvania.  With the laws as they stand, when I go to Philadelphia for the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference, I could only by beer by the case at a distributor.  I wouldn't be able to go to a supermarket, say.  I could, however, buy a six pack at a bar or restaurant. (I could buy a bottle of wine at a restaurant, but I would have to open it, and have a sip before leaving.  But, since it's now an open container, I couldn't transport it home.) No singles, in other words.  Now the state is looking to privitize the liquor stores and make some reforms.  Good for them!

But. . .

"Beer distributors would be allowed to compete for the more than 1,200 retail liquor licenses that would be auctioned off," says an article at CBSPhilly.com.

Distributors selling directly to customers?  Could that be headed our way if it works well in Pennsylvania?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:48 2 comments links to this post

28 July 2011

A Wine Blog Teaches How to Taste Beer

The San Angelo Standard-Times' wine blogger, Gus Clemens, published an informative article about tasting beer.  Gus started off by saying you should swirl your beer to get the aromas out of the beer, and that you should pour beer into the glass.  All very heady stuff, coming as it does, from West Texas, the heart of The Great Texas Craft Beer Desert™ (which Satan calls "Coors Light Country").

Unfortunately, Gus finishes up with wine recommendations for his beer drinking friends.  Why, oh why, didn't he make some beer recommendations?  Oh well, as long as beer appreciation keeps spreading. . .

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:33 0 comments links to this post

27 July 2011

MillerCoors Gets it Wrong - Again

Everyone knows ladies don't fart.  They poot.  But now MillerCoors wants to take that simple pleasure in life away from English ladies by introducing a bloat resistant beer.  I shit you not!

The "beer" called Animée (French for "livened up", from which we get "animated" which the Japanese changed into "anime," the cartoons.  See?  You learn things when you come here.), according to the MillerCoors press release, will be "lightly sparkling and finely filtered" and come in three "flavors": clear filtered , crisp rosé and zesty lemon.  Because, you know, women find the taste of beer icky.

Look at the bottle on the left!  Did they just bring back Miller Clear and Zima to "remove the gender imbalance that exists around beer consumption and make beer an aspirational choice for women"?

The best quote about "Cleama" (Like that?  I just made it up.) comes from Allecia Vermillion at eater.com: "the world was experiencing a concerning shortage of flavorless, boring beers previously. And now we have one just for ladies. Hooray."

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why we can never have good things.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:04 1 comments links to this post

26 July 2011

True Love

A man was sipping his favorite craft beer while seated on the patio next to his wife. After a moment and he said, "I love you so much, I don't know how I could ever live without you."

His wife asked, "Is that you, or the beer talking?"

 He replied, "It's me...talking to the beer."

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:14 0 comments links to this post

25 July 2011

First in a Series: If I Owned a Brewery

[This is the first in a series of posts about how I would run my brewery. I am not a business major, nor do I play one on TV, so I could be completely full of shit.  Please feel free to comment and let me know exactly how stupid I am.]

I like the idea of a local brewery. The closest one to my house is Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, and I can find most of their package lineup in the stores around town.  I can find them on tap in a couple of places, but their special barrel ages series never makes it out here.  And that's understandable I suppose. This place isn't a hotbed of barrel age enthusiasts.

The original owner of the brewery picked Blanco as his location so he could concentrate on San Antonio and Austin as his main markets, and he worked those markets for years. Recently, Ben E. Keith Distributing Company picked up Real Ale for statewide distribution, but Real Ale still self-distributes here.

It's a good distribution model, and a historic one as well. Most Texas breweries, especially those before Prohibition, serviced the local area only. Kosmos Spoetzel, of Spoetzel Brewing Company in Shiner, had a 75 mile distribution limit. It wasn't until the 1960s that Shiner made it to Austin, and was embraced by the local counterculture. When I was at the University of Texas, that was the beer of choice, and as UT graduates have spread across the country, so has Shiner beer.

Lately, however, Shiner beer hasn't been as ubiquitous around here as it has in the past. Back in 2009, Shiner announced their Mesquite smoked beer, Smokehouse, would be released on June 1. By the time I left for NHC in Oakland on the 9th, it still hadn't made it here. I did, however, find a 10 case display in Albuquerque on the 10th. It was the last week in June before Smokehouse arrived in my town, just an hour from Austin. In otherwords, for three weeks you could not buy Shiner Smokehouse anywhere between Austin and Albuquerque!

Similarly, it is impossible to find Ranger Creek, Rahr and Sons, Austin Beerworks, (512) Brewing, Independence Brewing, Circle Brewing, Thirsty Planet Brewing, Live Oak Brewing, and Southern Star Brewing here in either bottles or kegs, but most of them have taps in San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth. (Jester King Brewing does distribute here, and I just saw them in the local HEB megamarket. Ben E. Keith brings us Saint Arnold beer. Three or four of the breweries are distributed in other states.  A couple of them are only distributed in Austin, and I'm okay with that, as you'll see below.)

I saw Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout in San Diego and Tucson, for crying out loud!

I realize that a small start up brewery can't afford to self-distribute to every small town in Texas. They have to have trucks and employees, and the state does everything it can to prevent small breweries from growing.  And even if you get a distributor, it doesn't mean that the beer will get on every shelf in the area, or even one shelf in the area.  The distributor can buy the rights to that beer and never sell a drop; just to keep anyone else from getting the rights and cutting into the sales of the light lager produced by their main Multinational licensor.

So if I owned a brewery here's what I'd do:

I would be in every mom and pop store in town.  I would be in every local chain in town.  (State and National chains almost always require a meeting at corporate headquarters to decide whether or not to carry the product.  What Texas brewery can afford to fly out to Bentonville just to try to get into Wal-Mart? Yes, you might get into the regional HQ of a large chain, but if the HQ isn't in my town, forget it!  They can come to me and beg me to sell to them.)  I'd be in every bar in town.  Once that was done, I'd move to the next town, then the next.  Depending on the location, I'd have a 70-150 mile distribution range.  You want a bottle of my GABF winning beer and you live 300 miles away?  You gonna have to come to me.  And I wouldn't cross a state line.  Who needs the expense of multiple label approvals?

Unrealistic?

Almost certainly!  That's how regional powerhouses like Lone Star and Pearl Breweries worked it, and they are both gone, sold to Pabst, a company without a brewery.  But it works wonderfully well for New Glarus Brewing Company.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:04 2 comments links to this post

24 July 2011

Thanks, Beer Fairy

On the Monday before NHC, Satan and I visited Lost Abbey/Port Brewing. While we were sitting there flirting with Molly, the feisty red-headed bartender, a charming brunette with a twinkle in her eye and an evil smile named Dawn showed up to fill her growler, then proceeded to get me drunk.  And she did a damn fine job of it, too!  We did all the things smart phone carriers do, followed each other on Twitter, friended each other on Facebook, and exchanged phone numbers.  I would have loved to spend more time chatting with her, but the tasting room closed and we were ever so gently encouraged to head home.

I decided to thank Dawn the Beer Fairy for her hospitality by getting her some Texas beer I think she would enjoy, and am pretty sure she can't get in San Diego.  So on my last weekend of freedom before returning to work, I went to Austin to pick up Ranger Creek Mesquite Smoked Porter, Jester King Black Metal and Independence Brewing Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout.

The traffic sucked!  I hope my swear words didn't sour the beer.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 05:16 0 comments links to this post

23 July 2011

Brewing Update

I haven't brewed since May, and I am not considering brewing until late August, for several reasons.

  1. It's hot here.  The highs bump 100° f with humidity in the 60s.  I'd have to start brewing at midnight to finish before it got to hot, and I'm not that dedicated.  I do not have a fermentation fridge, and the coolest room in the house fluctuates from 72° and 78°. (Ah the joy of living in a 1940s, uninsulated frame home!)
  2. I have five full kegs in the fridge: CYBI Bam Biere Clone, Bugeaters Rye Cream Ale target="new", Kölsch I Said So, Roger's Red Mild Ale, and Belgian Bombshell.  It'll take me a while to work my way through it.
  3. I can't decide what to brew next.  I want to brew Donn's Famous Horse Cram It In Brown Ale, Shadow Warrior, and another Saison du Permienne, but I can't decide what to brew first.
  4. Finally, we are in Stage 4 water restrictions about to move to Stage 5.  Since it takes about 15 gallons of water to make 6 gallons of beer, I probably should be a little more considerate.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:13 0 comments links to this post

22 July 2011

Bird's Barbershop Switches to Shiner Beer

I am almost positive Birds Barbershop wasn't around when I was living in Austin and lived not far from South Congress Avenue.  I am sure I would have known about a place that gives you a free beer when you get a haircut.

Recently, Birds switched from Lone Star to Shiner, mostly as a result of recent news from Pabst Brewing.

I only have only one question: How does that guy not get bits of hair in his beer?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:58 0 comments links to this post

21 July 2011

Austin is America's #8 Beer City

Travel + Liesure Magazine ranked Austin as the number 8 Best Beer City in the US.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:26 0 comments links to this post

20 July 2011

Franconia Brewery Tour

Assoicated Content from Yahoo! recently published an account of a recent tour of Franconia Brewery.  While not presenting a lot of detail about the tour, the most important thing to note is that it costs $5 to take the tour, and another $5 for an optional pint glass.

I'm hoping Satan and I can make another Beercation to Dallas, and squeeze the tour into our beer schedule.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:29 0 comments links to this post

19 July 2011

AB InBev Wants Your Area Code

After acquiring Goose Island Brewing, maker of 312 Urban Wheat Beer, AB InBev applied for a trademark the area codes for St. Louis (314), Pittsburgh (412), Miami (305), San Diego (619), Washington, D.C. (202),  Philadelphia (215), Phoenix (602), Charlotte, N.C. (704), Las Vegas (702), Dallas (214), San Francisco (415), Cleveland (216), Denver (303) Houston (713) and Nashville (615). They did not apply for Austin (512)--for obvious reasons--nor for San Antonio (210). (For the moment, they haven't sicced their battalion of lawyers on (512) Brewing, but I'm sure that will not be far off.)  Some speculate that they are only doing it to protect their trademark of 312 Urban Wheat beer. But since (512) beers already exist, and they didn't file an application for all 269 area codes, I don't thant's their plan. I think they will be rolling out area code beers for those 14 area codes. Maybe I should snap up (830) and (210). . .

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:41 1 comments links to this post

18 July 2011

Open The Taps

I have been thinking it was time to see just who the government is supposed to represent.  When politicians come calling hat in hand for votes, they are full of promises and big talk about doing what we want.  However, when they get to Austin or Washington, they start cashing checks from lobbyists and start doing what big corporations want instead of what we want.

In the wake of the deaths of HB660 and HB602, I mused that perhaps it was time for a group of craft beer lovers to band together and create a consumer lobbying group.  I even started thinking about starting one myself, but quickly realized that I don't like going to home brew club meetings, so I'd hate setting something like that up.

Fortunately, Ted Duchesne, of the Barley Vine blog, has stepped up and started Open The Taps, with the intent of adding a fourth tier—consumers—to Texas' Three Tier System.

Follow them on Twitter.  Like them on Facebook.  Sign up for their newsletter.  When the link is up, donate.

Unless you like living under our AB InBev overlords. . .

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:09 0 comments links to this post

New Aroma Descriptor

One of the free beers we got at NHC was a Cascadian black ale, Black IPA, whatever you want to call it.  Satan and I poured up a bottle and took a deep whiff.

Satan rolled his eyes heavenward in thought.

Then he took another sniff.

He looked at me and asked, "Do you get 'minnow bucket'?"

I took a sniff.  "Yes, damn you.  At first I thought it was pine, now all I can smell is a minnow bucket!"

It didn't taste like a minnow bucket, though.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:20 0 comments links to this post

17 July 2011

Easy Open Bottle Caps - No Opener needed

I don't normally let my art geek side out too often.  I've been following dorknob.com for a while because of their cool architecture and design articles.  I never imagined that one day I would be linking to one of their articles from this blog, though.

Recently, they posted pictures of a new type of bottle cap designed by Gonglue Jiang that is more like a pop top.

As a former retailer, I can see a problem with this. Some BMC drinker reaches into my case to grab a sixer of his favorite Makin'-Love-In-A-Canoe* light lager and snags three tabs from the sixer next to it, and I gotta throw away three bottles.

Of course, that might appeal to the Macros.  "One opened accidentally is one sold!"


* F**cking close to water

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:46 0 comments links to this post

16 July 2011

Craft Breweries Contribute $2.4B to Oregon Economy

I ran across an article by Blake Potolicchio at BeerUniverse.com. He writes:
The National Beer Institute estimates that craft breweries pumped about $2.4 billion into [Oregon]’s economy last year. This includes not just direct wages for making, selling and distributing beer and taxes paid, Butenschoen said, its money that goes to hops growers, glass companies, packaging materials and other companies and individuals.
And, since 2005, the industry has added 200 jobs and indirectly added almost 5000 others, which is how the WBDT likes it: keep all that economic growth and all those jobs out of Texas.  They'll keep bringing beer from the states with brewery friendly laws rather than add any tax revenue to Texas coffers.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 13:09 0 comments links to this post

15 July 2011

"Yes, I sell beer in Texas, but if I tell you where you could buy it, I would have to kill you."

I've bitched about this before, and I'm gonna bitch about it again. In Texas, it is illegal for a brewery to tell you where to buy their beer. It's supposed to prevent breweries from establishing tied houses, where only one brand of beer is sold. However, it is being applied to restrict competition, so that MillerCoors and AB InBev, who are in virtually every location, can be assured that no one will be able to buy a competitors beer without a lot of footwork. Or, as an article on Reason.com put it: ". . . a rule that was supposed to discourage monopolies has become anti-competitive."

I'm surprised the Big Boys haven't closed the loophole that let's a brew pub tell people where to buy their beer.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:12 1 comments links to this post

14 July 2011

An Update on My Vow!

Having recently returned from NHC with over $100 in beer from various breweries, I want to make it clear that I have not given up on my vow to only drink beer from Texas owned breweries when I'm at home.  But I did buy some Lost Abby, Ballast Point, Bruery, Stone and other fine beers from California, that I feel that I lived up to the spirit of the vow.  All those beers were bought in California and Arizona, and all of them self-distribute.  So you'll see some California beers popping up on my Untapped Twitter feed.  Rest assured that I still hate Texas beer distributors with every fiber of my being.  Cheers!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:03 0 comments links to this post

12 July 2011

Zymurgy's Top 10 Best Beers in America and What That Says About Craft Beer Drinkers

The 2011 Best Beers in America list was published last month in Zymurgy Magazine, and it paints a somewhat bland picture of the American craft beer landscape.  Of the top 10, six are American IPAs, two are American Double/Imperial IPAs, and one is an extremely hoppy American Strong Ale.  Only one is not an IPA, Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which is an Imperial Stout.

Here's the list, if you missed it:
1. Russian River Pliny the Elder+
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale*
T3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA*
T3. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
5. Bell’s Hopslam+
6. Stone Arrogant Bastard
7. Sierra Nevada Celebration*
T8. Sierra Nevada Torpedo*
T8. Stone Ruination*
10. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale*
* = IPA
+ = DIPA
The Russian River line at Pro Night
After spending thirty minutes in line for a Pliny at NHC Club Nite last month, I know why Pliny is up there.   In fact, I even had a goal of drinking as much Pliny as I could while we were in San Diego.  And I also voted for Pliny for number one.  So I wasn't surprised to see it as #1 for the third time in a row.

I just wasn't ready for the shocking lack of diversity of the top ten.

Is this what the Craft Beer movement has come to: 60% IPA, 20% DIPA, and 10% hoppy non-IPA?

I guess I shouldn't have been so suyrprised.  Last year, the results were very similar, with Guinness replacing  KBS and Bigfoot Barleywine keeping Arrogant Bastard company as a hoppy non-IPA.  Hopslam wasn't in the top ten, which made it 60% IPA, 20% Hoppy non-IPAs and 10% DIPA.

I know I should never do this, but I am going to quote Jason "JP" Petros, of The Brewing Network, who said, "Drink something else!"  There's more to life than IPAs.  Not much.  But more.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 15:17 2 comments links to this post

Sustainable Brewing at Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is the nation's sixth largest brewery, and is probably the nation's greenest brewer, with on-site water treatment facility, natural and bio-gas capable fuel cells with heat recovery systems to feul of their massive boilers, one of the largest private solar arrays in the nation, and carbon dioxide recovery systems integrated into their fermentators. Here's an interesting interview with Ken Grossman, owner of Sierra Nevada.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 14:04 0 comments links to this post

10 July 2011

(512) Brewing Private Brewery Tours

(512) Brewing has begun to offer free private brewery tours, but you have to register.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:41 0 comments links to this post

08 July 2011

Beer Menus

Eola School/Bright Brewing in Eola, Texas
Jaxon's in El Paso
Okay, not a chalkboard.  Sue me.
Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego
Lost Abbey/Port Brewing
Mimbres Valley Brewing in Deming, New Mexico

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:12 2 comments links to this post

06 July 2011

Here's a Great Guerrilla Anti-Marketing Idea

In the wake of AB InBev's objection to HB602, someone did this at Freetail Brewing, as tweeted by Scott Metzger:
I think I may be spending a lot of money on Budweiser stickers. . .

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posted by Jeff Holt at 05:04 0 comments links to this post

04 July 2011

Buffalo Creek Brewery

Houston's real estate new website swamplot.com posted a story about Buffalo Creek Brewery's location.

[Founder Rassul] Zarinfar tells Swamplot he was happy to find a location that wasn’t “on the outskirts of town in a super-corporate industrial project.” The company plans to hand-deliver all the kegs it brews themselves, so highway access mattered. Having a location people could easily walk or bike to was also important to him. “Plus,” Zarinfar adds, “we wanted a warehouse that didn’t feel too much like a warehouse, but instead more like an art studio (since beer is art!).”
 Sounds like a great place to visit.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:20 0 comments links to this post

02 July 2011

Shiner Ruby Redbird - Reviewed

Like most Shiner seasonals, this didn't get to Paradise before I left for NHC, but I did see it in San Diego.  Thanks, Texas Beer Distributors for being so. . .eager.

I'd read some reviews of the beer.  Some were not complimentary.  Brother of Satan sampled it, and as someone who has just started his exploration of the Craft Beer scene, he thought it was quite nice.  Now that I have a six-pack, and everyone deserves my opinion, here's my review:

Appearance (0-3):  Perfectly clear, golden with a thin white head that dissipates quickly. 3 points


Aroma/Bouquet (0-4): It's hard not to be influenced by the name.  I expect grapefruit and I get it, but I don't get it the way I do when I use a lot of Cascade hops.  It reminds me of a soda, sort of a ginger ale/orange soda mashup.  Or the way a Shirley Temple smelled when my dad would take us out drinking when on vacation.  It brings back a flash of beloved childhood memories. 3 points.


Taste (0-10): There isn't a lot of hop or malt to balance each other.  It's covered by the grapefuit and spice flavors.  It starts fairly neutral, with all the flavors in the finish.  The citrus, followed by a slight ginger tingle.  It's nice.  It reminds me of a saison, and the grapefruit flavor shouts "Summer!"  But it's a bit overcarbonated and has a thin, Shiner body.  I can imagine sipping this poolside, or after mowing the grass.  6 points

Overall Impression (0-3): It's a beer that doesn't have its identity clear.  It's refreshing, but as I finish the first pint, I'm not sure I want a second one.  I'm craving a Boulevard Tank 7 or Saison Rue instead.  So the beer fails the drinkability test in that respect.  But it's not as bad as some reviewers have described it.  I like the idea of using a ubiquitous Texas ingredient in a beer, and have to give the brewers at Spoetzel Brewing some credit.  2 points

Total:  14 points

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:37 0 comments links to this post