Sunday, February 27, 2011

Big Ono

I see that I picked up another reader. Thanks to all of you who do read my work. I have to call out to the Big Ono just to say that I love his graphic image that is off to the side here. Nice work. Cheers.

District 3 Bar

After reading last week of Town Tavern closing and District 3 coming in its place, I took a walk down today to see how things are moving along. The new local owners must be politicians or lawyers or both. They have the LCB liquor license posted in the front window but they could not have got it higher up. Do they what people to be able to read it? It must be so that we can take in the marvelous art work standing in for window covering. I wonder if they will be open for St. Pat's Day?

South Side Club Fight

Big fight at the Caravan Club on Carson at 3 AM. Must have had 100 people inside. Anybody want to bitch about the "bars" being trouble. This place has more fights than inside the House of Representatives. Anyway, it brought a big police response and medic request. I bet the community leaders look the other way with this club. And why does the bank give them private parking? And yes, this was posted at 3 AM. I just with I did video so I could post the pee-a-thon outside.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wine Beer

Very often I hear people say how some high strength beers are like wine. Like wow! I grit me teeth when I hear this, as it is sometimes misleading to make a point. There is a correct perception that wine is higher in alcohol that beer relativity speaking. Factually it is incorrect as some wines approach beer strength. In today’s market of ever increasingly beer strengths, some brews may exceed some wines. What determines a type of alcoholic drink is its ingredients and manufacture. Beer is a fermented malt beverage while wine is fermented grape juice. Cider is fermented apple juice and perry is fermented pear juice. Although ordinary beer is 5%, it can be made much stronger but it does not BECOME wine. Yes, I know that the beer-wine comparison is used to illustrate a point, but it gives me reason to rant.

Actually, scotch is more like beer than wine. Scotch is a malt bases drink that is born from the brewing process. In a nutshell, grain is germinated, which converts starch into sugar. The germination process is stopped and it is now malt. The malt is added to hot water so the sugar can be extracted from the malt. Yeast is added which feeds on the sugars. The by-products of this buffet are carbon dioxide and alcohol. Plants consume one substance as food. Humans consume the other to make the opposite sex more attractive. This beer is distilled and the alcohol vapors are condensed into scotch.

This is a nice article on making scotch.

To make wine: smash grapes, yeast ferments juice, drink. Simple.

Mantini’s Wood Fired

I was reading the reviews posted on Tripadvisor and was a little surprised by what I saw. I am always amused when I read comments by people who do not review restaurants, etc. with a guidance plan. They usually state their experience by what they saw on their visit. This is fare as it is what actually happened to them. It can also be a bit misleading due to a one time glitch or a problem not caused by the restaurant. Still, some people have the opinion of “best place I’ve ever been to” to “worst place I’ve ever been to”. I often think “are these people in the same place?”

In the case for Mantini’s on the South Side, the reviews were so top heavy with negative reviews that I had to give a lot of credence to them. Although some reviews were about the service by the staff, the majority had to do with the owner. I have to say that what was said about the owner was overall correct. As for the staff, how the owner runs the ship is how the crew responses. I am happy to inform all those who had a bad time that the old owner has left the ship and a new captain is at the controls. I have had excellent service by all members of staff and enjoy going there. They also do steak far better than me. Anyway, here is one of my tenets on restaurants. If I had a problem with a restaurant I will always go back. If a problem persists that would be a good sign that things are not well. Don’t let one bad experience turn you off to a place. With new ownership at Mantini’s things are much better now.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pooch Back at Penn Brewery

In a move that shows they know what they are doing, the new owners of Penn Brewery have brought back Pooch to the operations. Don't ask me his real name as I don;t think anyone ever hear it. But, if your a long-time regular to the brewery then you know who I mean. He will be dealing with back room operations such as material handling and other what nots. Nick, Any and Steve are still the brewing end of the business.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Katherine Jenkins

In as much as I would love to rant about something this fine Sunday morning, I shall not. Instead I am going to give you a treat. Well, not ranting may be a treat in itself. Please click on this You Tube video for some delightful singing by a beautiful Welsh singer, Katherine Jenkins. Nothing more needs said.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pa State Stores and Our Business

Ah, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the State Store system. So much can be written about that and so much has. So let me give it a “shot”. When talking about the LCB the subject most discussed is the state store system. Here is Pa. we have to buy wines and spirits from the government. Why? Just because! Some people want the system to be privatized while others want to keep it under the control of people don’t have real jobs. Let’s take a look at some this. But first I am going to get strong coffee.

Recently, Antony Davies, associate professor of economics at Duquesne University and a senior scholar at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. wrote a letter to the editor in the trib. He asked if the private sector could sell alcohol more efficiently than the state? His retort was that government has never done a more efficient job than private sector. My comment to Mr. Davies is to get off the campus more and see how private business is run. There is no law that says private business has to run efficiently, make money or give customers what they want. If that were not true then Dilbert would not exist. I have seen things done in retail that would make a government bureaucrat weep with envy.

The practice of operating efficiently does not have to be applied with the state store system. They have no competition other than boarder states and as long as we go in to buy wines and spirits at said price, what are they loosing? Could they make more money? Yes, But they are making money and being more efficient will not translate to lower costs for us. Under private hands, price could go up, selection could go down and we would still be bitching. And let’s us not forget the restaurant people. They now buy from a single source. How would they obtain stock? A central wholesaler who could control cost or multiple vendors fighting for sales? Should “big alcohol” go private don’t expect your Thunderbird to be delivered with unicorns.

Mr. Davis brought up the issue of underage drinking and drunk-driving (that’s drink-drive for my British readers). First of all, if alcohol was the only thing youngsters were taking in, it would be better than what they are taking in now. Getting booze and smokes have always been obtainable. How about dad’s liquor cabinet?

I have several issues to Mr. Davis’ comments on drunk driving and binge drinking. He said that Pennsylvania had equivalent underage drinking rates but higher drunk-driving fatality rates than privatized states. I cannot dispute this but what does it have to do with anything? First of all we need to remember that not all alcohol comes from state stores. Beer comes from distributors. I don’t think many people walk out of a state store or beer distributor and start drinking on the way home. Other than drinking at home, a lot of people drink in bars, clubs and restaurants. This is all private. Right now people are drinking beer, wine and whiskey and getting drunk and driving. Privatizing the system will do nothing to change this. If you want to link drunken driving to the state store then you need to eliminate all drunk driving incidents what were due to beer only. If that could be done it would mean nothing.

I have concerns and interests in how the LCB operates in general but as for state stores I don’t buy wines or spirits for home so I don’t care one hoot about them other than the state budget and my taxes. Anyway, should the system go private I am sure that we will have a good selection. As for price, we will pay for the value and not the worth. By that I mean that the price will based on what we are willing to pay as opposed what it cost to stock an item plus mark-up.

I am sure that all who read this has an opinion one way or another. I don’t see how a change in a products distribution will change its end use. All that is germane to this topic is taxes generated, price and selection. Right now we can bring our grievance to our representatives. We have been doing that and it has not gotten any better. Once the system goes private none of this will be any of our business.

Incidentally, I am only using Mr. Davis’ comments as he wrote a letter today and I could not pass it up. He said what a lot of people are saying and I think much of it is moot.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Architects and builder work together to create beautiful buildings for pubs and restaurants. Why do the owners of pubs and restaurants go to great measures to make them blighted for the sake of attracting customers. I am talking about vinyl signs. They are a blight on the landscape and if proposed at a zoning or planning commission hearing the project would be shot down. Community groups demand building owners abide by strict standards. Here on Carson Street owners need permission to paint the buildings and the city even gets to approve the colors. Yet the vinyl signs get strung up and nobody bitches. I drove past Patio 10 today. Lovely place with a nice patio (but just 1) with a nice view of the Bluff. But out front are 3 eye-sores. Guys, can we do better. Maybe it's just me. It always is. But I just don't like vinyl signs on buildings. Across the river can be seen the UPMC and BNY Mellon signs. You may or may not want them there but aren't they better than having a vinyl sign flapping in wind? Well, that's it. No more rant. I am off to Fat Heads.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adult Magazines

Should beer magazines and newspapers be covered in plastic akin to many of the “other” adult magazines that have more pictures than text? This may seem an odd question but what leads me to ask this is what I see on the Internet. It is very common to get to a brewery or distributor home page (usually based in the US) and having to select the “I am over 21 button” to go further. Is there some Federal law that prohibits those under 21 from reading a site that describes beers and trying to sell said product? I know of no such law yet many having such sites seem to think otherwise.

If we are to protect the kiddies from viewing naked beer bottles on the web then should not all viewing of alcohol be prohibited? Young people see adverts in newspapers, storefronts (if you are not in Pa.), State Store windows (in you are in Pa.), and so on and so on. And good god lets not forget about those sports events and TV commercials. I can’t fathom the adult nature that is presumed in brewery and distributor website and I have ever seen anything “adult” about them. Maybe the powers to be are trying to save the children from accidently seeing photos of Miss Frothingslosh? If there is some rule on this I’d like to know. I would also like to know if anyone looking for “model trains” has ever clicked the “No, I am NOT 21” button!