Are we still in a pandemic? Yeesh! I can’t believe how many typewriters I haven’t got to yet (trust me, I have gotten to a lot of beer in the mean time…). This time we look at a very interesting electric typewriter, and an equally interesting beer…
Smith-Corona’s Electra Automatic
When I go to thrift shops, I often see 1980’s era electronic typewriters (like the Smith-Corona XL Series discussed previously). To find a mechanical electric is a little more unusual, so I had to take a chance on this. I had looked at other Smith-Corona Electras in the past, but not purchased any of them. Something was always a little “off” about them (maybe the pronounced “wub wub” of the motor?) and it frightened me as something wrong with the machine that I didn’t know how to fix.
Luckily, this one made it home and it was a gem to type on!
These types of machines seem to be fairly common. Granted, there are lots of variations of these machines in Smith-Corona’s lineup, and I could not find anything quite specifically like a “Electra Automatic” in the Typewriter Database, it does have a body styling and key set very similar to the Electra XTs of the mid-1970s. This is the first one I have seen with faux wood panels, which to me is a plus!
This machine came from a thrift store, and based on its grungy appearance I wasn’t expecting much. However, as my typecast below details, it actually turned out to be a very decent typewriter (though probably in need of signifiant cleaning). Even the motor’s “wub wub” settled down as the machine got used to working again!
I should note that most of the typing missteps above are a result of the operator, not the machine! 😉 An interesting challenge (for me) on this electro-mechanical machine was the “Enter” key, or what we used to call the “Return” key. Which, of course, was technically short for “Carriage Return” – meaning, once you pressed it, you had to wait a second for the carriage to have a chance to return! Too many years of using computers has trained me that “Enter” is really a “next line” key, so I am used to just pressing it and continue typing. This would take some getting used to in my typing rhythm. I just found it very odd, as using a machine with a manual carriage return lever forces this aspect of typing to become part of your process and rhythm.
There are some machines I try just for the experience of trying them, and then I pass them on. I fully expected the Electra Automatic to fall into that camp. I perceived it as a low-rent, throw-away electric. It surprised me, though. It was a great typing experience. If I spent a little bit of time with it, adjusting my technique to work to its strengths, I am sure its performance would be as good or better than any machine I have. And its durability, given how it appears to have (not) been cared for, says something to me, too. So I am going to hold onto this one. I’ll get around to cleaning it, opening it up and seeing how it works compared to the other similar-vintage electrics I have had, and maybe it will make another appearance on this page some day if I can find out more information about it.
Kuhnhenn’s A Few Shillings Too Many Ale
Kuhnhenn Brewery is named after the brothers that started it, Eric and Bret. They are located in Michigan, and I happened across this very interesting-looking bottle at a liquor store while traveling in Michigan last year.
They are a small brewery, and I am not sure what level of distribution they receive. They are well established however, operating for nearly twenty years now. As you can see on their website they pride themselves on the use of local ingredients.
They make a variety of interesting beers as well as mead. They have won awards for their DRIPA, which is a Double Rice IPA – something I think I need to experience!
A Few Shillings Too Many is a great big, powerful beer, brewed and then aged for six months in bourbon barrels.
Based on the Scotch Ale style, this dark, full-bodied ale is something to be savoured. It is strong at 11% alcohol, and bursts with flavour. It would make a nice dessert beer, I think. It really gets its wings from the barrel aging process, which gives it a boozey flavour.
As you can see above, this bottle had a vintage of 2018. I purchased it in 2019 and drank it in 2020. This is a style of beer that you can keep and age in your cellar. It would be interesting to have a 4-pack of this, and try one annually to see how the flavour profile changes. I imagine my sample, having conditioned in the bottle for perhaps two years, was nicely mellowed compared to something you might buy in the store today.
Rate Beer give this a 96/100 score and I feel it is well deserved. Certainly this is a brewery I will seek out if we ever get past this pandemic, and I am able to travel to Michigan again! On a related note, their website indicates they’ve been helping in the pandemic by producing hand sanitizer, which is nice thing, too.
Until next time, keep hand-washing, social distancing, and be sure to also drink & type safely. Cheers!