Watercooler Stories

Odd beers find way to Toronto festival

TORONTO, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Hemp beer and beer smoothies were just a couple of the unusual brews beer aficionados sampled this weekend at Toronto's 16th annual Festival of Beer.


About 30,000 people showed up to try some of the more than 120 craft beers offered from around the world, the Toronto Sun reported Sunday.

Beer smoothies were the creation of Nickel Brook Beers.

"A couple years ago we created an ice cream float and it's a mixture of our apple beer and vanilla ice cream," co-owner John Romano said. "We put it in a blender and mix it up and it's a big hit at a lot of festivals. It's almost like Jolly Rancher and ice cream."

Cool Beer Brewery is the purveyor of a hemp beer called Millennium Buzz Beer.

"It adds a slightly nutty flavor to the beer," Barbara Agustin of Cool Beer Brewery told the Sun. "The logo (of a hemp leaf gets a lot of reaction). People mistake the leaf once in a while for its (marijuana) counterpart, which is kind of funny."


Winnie the Pooh helps nab mobster

NAPLES, Italy, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The wife of a fugitive Italian mobster has an affinity for Winnie the Pooh and police say that helped them track him down in Brussels.

Authorities had been trying to catch up with Vittorio Pirozzi for seven years. But it wasn't until they realized his wife always used the name of A.A. Milne's fictional bear Winnie the Pooh for her cellphone account that they were able to zero in on his whereabouts.

Despite the elaborate code the couple used to communicate, police figured out when she was talking to him and that eventually led them to Brussels, where they arrested him last Wednesday, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The 58-year-old Pirozzi, a high-level member of the Camorra crime syndicate in Naples, had been on Italy's 100 most-wanted list after being convicted in absentia on international drug-trafficking charges.

He faces a 15-year prison term once he's extradited to Italy.

Biker's back not that bad

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- A Swedish biker gang leader must return about $200,000 in disability benefits because crimes he's accused of aren't possible with a bad back, officials say.


Kent Nilsson, leader of a Hell Angels motorcycle club in northern Sweden, filed for disability benefits in 1998, citing back problems, Swedish news agency TT reported Sunday.

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency said an investigation revealed his work with the motorcycle club "can scarcely be viewed as compatible with the work capacity and medical scenario" the biker outlined in is disability application.

Nilsson said in his benefits application back and neck problems precluded him from traveling long distances in a car. However, the investigation showed he was convicted in an alcohol-smuggling case where he traveled from northern Sweden to Germany.

Additionally, he also allegedly helped load the vehicle with large quantities of beer, wine and spirits.

Nilsson has until Aug. 28 to return the money, after which he will be charged interest, TT said.

Iowa city sees video games in its future

OTTUMWA, Iowa, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Ottumwa, Iowa, once the home of the Coal Palace, hopes to build a future on an International Video Game Hall of Fame.

An actual building is still a few years and millions of dollars down the road, The Wall Street Journal reported. But this weekend, top gamers gathered in Ottumwa for Big Bang 2010, a festival of video games and celebration of Pac-Man's anniversary.


"We want to be the most complete archive of video-game history," Dan Canny, vice president of the Hall of Fame board, told the Journal. "Maybe we had no business stepping up and doing this, but we're doing it."

So far, the Hall of Fame has raised $75,000, with most of the money going for Big Bang.

The city, on the Des Moines River, has a population of 25,000 and an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent. In the early 1890s, Ottumwa was known for the Coal Palace, a temporary exhibition hall.

Ottumwa has its own claim to video game fame. In 1982, Walter Day, owner of the Twin Galaxies arcade, called game makers to see if he had broken a record. He was told they did not track high scores, so he began doing it.

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