Beer in Situ: Weldworks Brewing

The Pertinents

  • Weldworks Brewing
  • 508 8th Ave, Greeley, CO 80631
  • Founded in 2014

IMG_2367

Review

Even though they only had a few beers on draught at the time, it was a nice place to hang out! I love the slightly Mexican bent to the beers, with the bottled spiced one and the Spanish language names. This is entirely appropriate in Greeley.

The beers I tried were ok. In some ways, simple beers aren’t my faire these days. Therefore, the Vienna Lager and a few others were not up my alley. My thoughts on the ‘Medianoche?’ It unfortunately seems to taste of sunscreen.

You can bring your own food and they also serve nonalcoholic drinks.

 

China Survey: Results

Thank you very much to everyone who responded to the survey I put up about China in 2016. It was very interesting to see how people said they view China.

The biggest takeaways:

  1. The majority of respondents have never set foot in China.
  2. More respondents have a negative view of China than a positive one.
  3. Stereotypes about China are persistent and often outdated.

Now let’s get into the survey’s meat itself. If you want to take the survey yourself, please click here. 

Q1 Result: 57% people residing in the USA.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.45.05 PM

The other countries in the 32% at the bottom were mostly Canadians, with several Australians and many others.

Q2 Result: 56% of respondents consider their nationality US.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.58.16 PM

Only a couple of people identified themselves as Chinese.

Q3 Result: Hardly anyone reads hard-copy magazines anymore.

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Bizzarely, most of the responses for ‘Other’ were for Reddit. Guys…that’s an internet news site. Except this one:

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Russ, is that you? 🙂

Q4 Result: Slightly more than 40% of respondents have a mostly negative or wholly negative view of China.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.45.47 PM

One person did say it was too complicated to categorize in this fashion.

Q5 Result: ‘Authoritarian,’ ‘Corrupt,’ and ‘Communist’ are the top adjectives for the government of China.

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This question could have been formulated better, but I wanted to see what people used to describe the government of China broadly speaking. Additional write-in responses included ‘capitalist,’ ‘unknown,’ ‘fascist in some aspects,’ and ‘i haven’t thought of it before.’

Maybe I should have included a definition of these words, or asked people to define them in their own words.

Q6 Result: Nearly 80% of respondents have never visited China.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.46.22 PM

This is the most revealing question in the whole survey. The vast majority of the respondents have never seen China with their own eyes, so their views must only be formed through the information they get from the news and their interactions with people they know who are Chinese.

A little over a year ago, I would have been in this category, too. My own views on China have changed a lot since I moved there last year. The post is coming, I promise! I’m still digesting what I think and forming it.

Q7 Result: 65% of respondents are not nervous about China’s place in the world. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.46.30 PM

Interesting! I wouldn’t have expected this, based on the conversations I’ve been having since I got back. The comments on this question are revealing:

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 4.18.18 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-17 at 4.18.26 PM

I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to North Korea since I’ve been back in the States.

Q8 Result: I’ll get out of the way and let people speak for themselves. The question was ‘Describe your mental picture of China, in two sentences or less.’

 

Highlights include this gem:

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The most commonly mentioned phrase in these responses was ‘air pollution’ or some variation thereof, following by mentions of weak legal institutions and income inequality.

Q9 Result: Most people know at least one person from China.

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Q10 Result: Everyone knows about Mao Zedong, few people know the name of the First Emperor.

Sorted from most responses to least.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 4.35.14 PM

 

Conclusions

It seems as though people hear about China a lot, even though most in this survey have never been there.

This survey falls in line with the general ideas about China in media, and the narratives that drive them. Some of the ideas people have about China are really outdated, but my guess is that this is due to the poignancy of the images from the Cultural Revolution and the heavy focus both within and outside China on the current air pollution issues.

I was surprised that more people did not indicate they are nervous about China’s role in the world, given that they are mostly from the USA and most people I’ve spoken to since being back here appear to be hyper-nervous about it. Equally surprising is that the Rape of Nanking ranks above the Cultural Revolution in renown.

It is unsurprising that those surveyed have a mostly negative view of China.

How do you feel about China in 2016? Do you have opinions about travel to countries like China or North Korea?

Great Article: Let’s Talk About Millennial Poverty

View at Medium.com

I’m not in as dire straits as some, including the author of this excellent article. It bears mentioning that I’m not immune to the phenomena she describes, though.

Yesterday I had a long discussion about graduate school and teaching with a coworker, who is leaving this week. We talked about her belief, as mine once was, that she should be able to get into a programme at a top-tier school and get the necessary support from a research assistantship or teaching assistantship. She wants to do a stand-alone MA. It’s not very likely that those positions would be available, and with the rise of adjunct ‘professorships’ it’s possible that they wouldn’t be available even if she did want to go the full PhD nine yards.

She wants to go into International Education and study abroad administration, the other other career I had in my early 20s. I told her that there’s no way that she should be paying for an MA if she is working in that situation, since many universities offer credit programmes and part-time master’s classes as part of employment.She was confused when I said that I hadn’t personally had the opportunity, but I wasn’t going to go into all the complications of moving abroad and coming back and everything. Not to mention that most jobs I’ve ever had in the US were purposefully pinned to 39.75 hours per week to deny me that benefits of full-time employment.

It should be a familiar refrain for many Millennials.

Work hard. Study hard. Do loads of extracurriculars.

Pray that you never get sick or have an accident. Work harder. Apply. Apply. Apply. Put in 80+ applications for menial jobs in London and get an answer for two of them.

Go to interviews where they don’t tell you it’s unpaid until you’re already there. Work in a bar and have your professors come in for table service.

Live at your parents’ house. Live at your partner’s parents’ house (To be fair to the article above, I’ve had the privilege to be able to move in with family when it was necessary). Be ecstatic with $10-$12 per hour.

Pay more than $1000 per month for a room in a house with a toilet shared between six-eight people. Look at your bank statements at the end of each month and wonder if you can make it to payday. Overdraw the only time in your entire life, and get hit with a £50 overdraw fee from the bank.

Take the tax hit instead of buying the insurance you can’t afford but you must buy under a law that was meant to help you, not hurt you. Pay $800 out of pocket for an outbreak of Shingles and garner disbelief when you say to the receptionists again and again, “Sorry, I don’t have insurance.”

Move to other countries to find jobs that you can’t back home. Move to China so that you can have health insurance and live in your own place with your husband. Ok, maybe those last two are more specific to me.

I’m not in abject poverty, but I choked on my tea to see that the average income for a new graduate in 2015 is $44,000. I’ve never made that kind of money in my life! I’m certainly not in poverty compared to those around me in China. But something feels wrong about all the work that I put into my education, and all the work experience I’ve gain since then. It’s not enough to get the life that I was told to expect.

I don’t have high expectations anymore; I want to live in the same country as my husband, have some good and nutritious food to eat, travel a bit, and be able to work (but not the 50 hours per week I’m currently pulling). Maybe someday I’d like to have children and not have to pay $3000 out of pocket at least for each birth. I’d like to have a place to live that isn’t shared between eight people who I don’t know.

It’s just that sometimes even those lowered expectations feel out of reach. It’s especially hard when my government and that of my husband base our right to live as a family on the money we don’t really have. Still harder is having to explain this almost every other day to those around us. Most people still assume that Married=Passport (not since 1927!) or at the very least, Married=Partner Visa. We are too in debt and making too little money to afford to live in the same country unless we go abroad for now.

That’s the life of this Millennial at 27.

Machuria is Calling

Americans in China was the theme for This American Life last week.

It was interesting and refreshing to hear perspectives of one of my very favourite podcasts on my newest home in these wanderings. China is complex. It’s big. It’s fascinating. It’s so very far away, in the minds of people in the US. It’s that vaguely scary or at the very least bizzare China of the US media.

I especially identified, somewhat weirdly, with the stories about the man who’s been living here for more than seventeen years and currently lives in a village called ‘Wasteland’ in the North of the country. It’s very different from my experience of a mere 39 days, of course. He lives in the interior and shuttles between there and Hong Kong, where his wife is a lawyer. His stories about the village made me long for a village in China, for a way to escape this giant metropolis and see what it’s ‘really’ like out there.

Is this the 'real' China?

Is this the ‘real’ China?

Shanghai, in all its glory and LED-clad sparkle, doesn’t always feel like CHINA China. It sometimes feels like demi-China…like the historic influences of the French and their lovely little concession have seeped into the very soil. The crops that grow now are more outward-looking. There are proper hospitals and ubiquitious Starbucks. There is even one in our neighbourhood, down by Lianhua Road Station where few expats seem to venture. It’s always busy.

The writer who lives in Wasteland evoked the desire to escape because the China he spoke of is the one where my Mandarin would grow by leaps and bounds and not by baby steps. I’m a bit of a spectacle on some streets in Shanghai, but I’m sure that I’d be an even bigger one in Wasteland. I’m interested in rural China, and living there…it calls to me like Patagonia once did.

He spoke about wanting to have a card with shorthand on it, to answer the inevitable questions that come up in every conversation with those who live in and around his village. Among the answers:

“I am American.”
“I am 1.85 metres tall.”
“Yes, I can use chopsticks.”

Is this the 'real' China?

Is this the ‘real’ China?

Despite being in Shanghai, I want to make a card that answers similar questions. Even in this strange blended land where being a foreigner is not exceptional (except to a three year old on her father’s shoulders, visiting for a tour of Shanghai from somewhere else who points at you and shouts “WeiguoRen! WeiguoRen!!”), I often feel the need to explain my presence. Especially down where I live, in Minhang.

My card would go something like this.

“I am American, but my husband is English.”
“I am 1.85 metres tall.”
“I am new to China.”
“My natural hair and eye colours are what you see.”
“Yes, I can use chopsticks.”
“I will pose with you for two pictures, and only if you ask before taking them.’

I would add a tear-off section that could be given back to me, saying, “Teach me a new phrase in Chinese.” Then I could learn a bit more.

Cool neighbourhood we walked into, down a close alleyway. Amazing!

Might be closer….

I now have my full-blown residence visa and my passport is back in my possession. I need to get out of Shanghai and see ‘real’ China. Real China.’ It’s easy to fall into the idea that Shanghai is not China, somehow. Maybe I’ve only been circulating in the parts that are not. Maybe if I went down more side streets and spent more time in the small shops near my apartment instead of Expat bookstores I would have experienced it by now. But then, it’s easy to fall into the idea of a ‘real’ place. ‘Real’ India is an ever-present quest for some tourists in that country. You hear them talking about it in hushed tones, over the clicking of their DSLR cameras…”I want to see REAL India. I want to photograph this village so that I can show my twitter followers the REAL India.” Not to mention that it’s a bit uncomfortable to take the photo of an unsuspecting nine year old girl in her parents’ courtyard.

Or “real” America. I want to see Toto and amber waves of grain and the Washington monument. Or ‘real’ France. I want to stand under the Eiffel Tower eating a baguette and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes. Or ‘real’ England, where Stonehenge is in London and I can eat jellied eels all day next to Parliament.   Something about these ‘real’ places is the stereotypical; the film-based, the expected. We want to go to the places we pictured in our minds.

Maybe this is the 'real' China?

Maybe this is the ‘real’ China?

But still…that piece made me want the ‘real’ China. I long for it. I want to take a bus to the middle of nowhere. I want to hear dialects whose names I’ve never even heard of. I want to eat food I never even conceived of. I want to get away from the thousands of Starbucks. I want to go somewhere that people have no idea what pizza is…I want them to tell me the things that they know about this world. I want them to help me to see how life once was, before it changes forever.

I want the hard things. I want the squat toilets. I want the quiet at night. I want (or maybe even need) a cold, quiet wind in the wilderness.

Maybe I’ll be able to get it soon. I can now travel in China, after all.

Beer In Situ: Big Beaver Brewing Company

We find ourselves spending a lot of time in brewpubs, brew places, breweries, and tap rooms now that we are doing the visa waiting game for our next move abroad. It’s amazing to have so many places available to us in the Front Range of Colorado. Every time I come back from living abroad, new places have opened and new beer is waiting to be discovered. We drove up to Loveland to visit a brewery with a way with words (innuendos ahead!). 

The Pertinents

  • Big Beaver brewing Company
  • 2707 W. Eisenhower Blvd. Unit 9 Loveland, CO 80537
  • Opened October 2010
Logo!

Logo!

Their Self-Description

“Let’s build a sustainable, community supported brewery that makes great beer! This can only be achieved with the support of regular customers that purchase beer in reusable containers directly from the brewery. 

We have been overwhelmed with demand since we opened in October 2010.  The little tasting room expanded two times, brewing system has expanded four times, and the walk-in cooler space has expanded three fold.  At this point, we cannot expand any farther in this space.  

We want to thank all our regulars and the tourists that stop in and support this crazy old concept: consume locally brewed beer in reusable glass (are you freaking nuts?!). 

We look forward to meeting you and sharing some laughs!                                                            

                          Sincerely, Peter Villeneuve

PS: Remember to give the finger to mass produced beer!” –bigbeaverbrew.com

Lovely Art

Lovely Art

The Space

The brewery is infused with a very healthy sense of humour. The beer section itself is at the back of the space. At the front is Blown Spoke Cider Company, which serves a surprising amount of fruit-based alcoholic treats. There is no mixing of beer and cider drinking, however. Big signs proclaiming “NO BEER BEYOND THIS POINT” and “NO CIDER BEYOND THIS POINT” keep the possibility of cross-contamination at bay. It’s a fair point, since an infection could ruin the beer (or cider). But it is important to keep in mind if you bring a gluten-free buddy, since you’d have to converse across a small hallway.

The space is simple and clean, featuring big cartoons of phallic symbols and a massive Big Beaver logo on the wall. There’s a very large TV for sporting events, and lovely, handmade blue pine accents. The brewery is in the back, where garage doors open to the outdoors, weather permitting. Knowledgeable female staff were working behind the bar on the day we visited.

Squirrel With Hammer. The Best.

Squirrel With Hammer. The Best.

The brewery is clearly engaged in the local community, with Free Beer Fridays (free pints until the keg kicks) and weiner dog races for charity. The crowd is a little bit more mature than at some craft breweries, but everyone is friendly and happy to see new faces amongst the regulars.

Bonus: They sell branded thongs! Yes! Butt Thongs!

(They also sell a wide variety of awesome tees and hats with mildly offensive phrases on them.)

The names would be embarrassing if your dad brought them up in conversation

The names would be embarrassing if your dad brought them up in conversation

The Beers

Big Beaver has a wide selection of beers on hand at any given time. There is a focus on Belgian-inspired styles with some interesting innovations in between. Some lacked a little bit of carbonation, and overall the beers tasted like the best kind of home-brew. Unpretentious, tasty, and simple, these beers come in a little smaller and more sessionable than some of the other craft beer offerings in Colorado (under 8% ABV). The flights are ample and come at the lowest price around, with 8 pours of ~4 oz. $6.50 for one of them, $8 for the other.

My measure of a brewery is the taste of an attempted sour beer. One of the two breweries in my hometown (which shall go un-named…but NOT Gravity Brewing) consistently tries to pass off not-sour beers as traditional sour styles like Berlinerweisse. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY. At Big Beaver, we ordered two of the flights and made sure to order the Belgian sour and the Gold Strong Ale. The Sour Brown Ale was passable and reminded us of sour candies, but not quite carbonated enough. I’m sure that it will get better in the next batch, and at least it wasn’t an imposter.

Tasting Flight

Tasting Flight

Tasting Notes

We ordered the Beaver Teaser and the Bush Whacker flights. Warning: NSFW innuendo ahead. Only selected beers are reviewed for brevity’s sake. Apparently the Big Beaver website is under construction, so some of the geekery is unavailable.

Shaved Tail Ale 

  • Style: Belgian Ale
  • Geekery: 5.6% ABV, ?? IBUs, Colour = Thick Dark Caramel
  • So. Many. Phenols. This is a funky and slightly cheesy beer (in a good way!). The Belgian yeast is on display here, and it gives a raw and army taste that lingers long after the finish. It would complement goat cheese perfectly. The aftertaste is the subtlest assertion of aniseed. I don’t like aniseed, and yet I like it in this beer.
  • Overall Rating: 4.2 pints (out of five pints)

Potent Peter  

  • Style: India Pale Ale
  • Geekery: 6.5% ABV, ?? IBUs, Colour = Light and Yellow
  • It smells like an American IPA, and tastes like a British one. Flowery nose, earthy and woody tones on the taste. But is it an IPA in the American style? 6.5% ABV is a little low, and the bitterness is not assertive enough for me. A really balanced, tasty American Pale Ale, I think.
  • Overall Rating: 4.0 pints
Attempt at Big Beaver Face

Attempt at Big Beaver Face

Sassy Lassy 

  • Style: Irish Red Ale
  • Geekery: ???% ABV, ?? IBUs, Colour = Red (duh)
  • Smells nice. Tasty. Just what I want in an imperial pint (20 oz.). Big Beaver serves many of their beers in the dimpled jugs that English cask ales thrive in, so this is perfect. The beer is not hoppy, and it actually really works. Tastes of the characteristic British biscuit (cookie) flavour I associate with red ales, especially since I have ye tot find my replacement for the 5 AM red ale from Brewdog.
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 pints

Milk Porter 

  • Style: Milk Porter
  • Geekery: ??% ABV, ?? IBUs, Colour = Strong Tea
  • C’mon guys, no innuendo? I can think of a few things that could sound off-colour and have to do with milk. This is my favourite of the beers we tried. Dark chocolate truffles that are laced with booze on the initial taste, blending into an unplaceable taste that is nonetheless nostalgic.
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 pints
Better attempt.

Better attempt.

Golden Strong Ale 

  • Style: Belgian Golden Strong Ale
  • Geekery: ???% ABV, ?? IBUs, Colour = Golden
  • Caramelly goodness everywhere. Everywhere. It’s like a toffee beer, but with a bitter balance and a delicious, strong taste. There might be the tiniest bit of a green apple taste (not always desired in beers, but somehow it works here).
  • Overall Rating: 4.0 pints

Big Woody  

  • Style: India Pale Ale
  • Geekery: ????% ABV, ?? IBUs, Colour = Weak Tea
  • There is a strange, oregano taste on the initial sip. The characteristic cutting hops of American IPAs are almost totally absent. No hop laser beams like in Stone IPAs. No persistent bitterness. This is an Old World IPA, complete with the taste of earthy English hops. Slightly tannic tea aftertaste.
  • Overall Rating: 3.8 pints
Beer education materials.

Beer education materials.

Burning Bush 

  • Style: Chili Pale Ale
  • Geekery: ???% ABV, ?? IBUs, Colour = Menacingly Reddish
  • Is this beer? This experimental, boundary-pushing ale is full of tomato puree and is much spicier than any chili beer I’ve tasted. In all honesty, it tastes of King’s Cup in college. Heavy tomato taste and a certain saltiness mean that this beer would make a lethal bloody mary base.
  • Russell: “Is it supposed to taste like gonorrhoea?”
  • Overall Rating: 3.0 pints

The Munchies

The brewery offers a brat with all the fixings, or some bags of crisps. Not a huge selection, but it sure looked good.

Thoughtfully considering his puns.

Thinking of beavers….

Russell’s One-Line Review

“Dam good place!”