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Archive for June, 2008

Bell’s Oberon Ale

June 30th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Bell's, Country: America, Grade: C plus, Style: Wheat (Hefeweizen)

5.8% ABV on draught

Before going to the Nats game, my friends and I hit some Capital Hill bars, wanting to throw back a few quality pops before going to the stadium. The first watering hole didn’t have that great of selection but they did have a free taco bar because I guess they like giving their patrons the shits. Correction, the bar actually had mini-tacos. They were like fucking taco sliders! Awesome. Every food tastes better when it is miniaturized and allows a man to feel like Goliath. I won’t say they tasted great and they kinda creeped me out in the same way the free buffet at a strip club would, but they still hit the spot.

I “paired” my taco sliders with Bell’s Oberon Ale, the only beer on tap I hadn’t had before. I don’t know much about the Bell’s Brewery as we don’t have much distribution of the brews in New York. I certainly wouldn’t call DC a better beer city than New York, nor a better drinking town, but they probably get a more diverse selection of beers from across this country. Each state’s “best” brewery seems to be well represented in the District. I would assume this to be because each state is well-represented by humans in the area, each of whom want to feel like they’re back home by drinking the brews they were weened on. My DC friends tell me that Michiganders consider Bell’s God’s gift to beer-drinkers. And, I must admit, the only previous Bell’s I’d had, their Two-Hearted Ale, was pretty solid. My friends further revealed that Michiganders seem to consider the Oberon the pinnacle of the brewery’s line. They told me that if talk beer with someone from The Wolverine State, The Great Lakes State, The Automotive State, or the Water-Winter Wonderland (why does Michigan have so many fucking nicknames?!) they would yak my ear off about Oberon and punch me were I to criticize it.

Well, get your knuckle sandwiches ready, Michigan. I didn’t love the Oberon, despite the fact that because I’m a huge nerd that plays bar trivia I know that the beer is named after the outermost of the major moons of Uranus which is actually named after a fairy character in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Of course, it was served with fruit, one of my beer pet peeves. I found it lacked smell and was overly light in taste. Citrusy, but not much else. A little spice and a little hops perhaps. I’m actually shocked the ABV is so high. It’s better than macro shit like Blue Moon or Shock Top (though slightly different styles of course), but not much better, and it’s certainly worse than a Sam Adams Summer wheat. It goes down well though and I wouldn’t actually mind day-drinking outside with a few on some weekend. But inside, at a bar, give me something with a little more taste and bite.

C+

Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy

June 30th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Jacob Leinenkugel, Country: America, Grade: D plus, Style: Wheat (Hefeweizen)

4.2% ABV

Some people push their bodies to the limit with extreme sports, climbing the highest mountains, swimming the longest bodies of water, running fucking marathons and competing in all sorts of things that end in -athon and -thlon. I push my body to the limit by spending my weekend with some out-of-town friends.

Went down to the DC area to hang with buddies Derek, Batch, and Whitey, drink a lot of highfalutin beers, and pretty much just act like a profligate.

Ignoring pure cash purchases, here’s what my online debit card statement looks like after the weekend.

06/27 WASHINGTON NATIONALS C WA… Debit -$14.00

06/27 PARADISE TOO, LLC WASHING… Debit -$34.10

06/28 BOURBON WASHINGTON DC Debit -$18.80

06/28 OLDVIRGINIA TOBACCO C … Debit -$13.97

06/28 TAQUERIA POBLANO 2400 MT … Debit -$20.86

06/29 THE LIBERTY TAVERN LLC … Debit -$14.72

06/29 THE LIBERTY TAVERN LLC … Debit -$22.89

06/29 BAR LOUIE DC WASHIN… Debit -$22.54

06/29 THE LIBERTY TAVERN LLC … Debit -$22.89

More concisely put, we engaged in lots of vices: smoking the kinds of things that will get you leered at in public, eating the kinds of food that will make you need angioplasty at a young age, and drinking some glorious beers. I think my friends and I are the only people around that have weekend long benders using expensive and rare beers, scotches, and bourbons. Let the serfs get cocked on Budweiser and Captain Morgan’s, I’m drinking Allagash or Stone! In the last three days I drank countless “A” beers that I can’t wait to review in the upcoming week. But, today, I’m going to start my recap by reviewing the shittiest beer I had all weekend: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

You may recall I have quite a hated history with the brewery. True, I do enjoy their Berry Weisse, but every other Leinenkugel I’ve drank in my life has made me determined never to drink another one. And, I thought I would never, until I went to a Washington Nationals game Friday night at their beautiful new stadium. The beer selection there was abhorrent. Batch and I checked out the “micro” porch bar. There, the only beers available were decidedly not micros. Mike’s Hard Lemonade, your standard Buds and Millers, and many beers from the Leinenkugel line. Why has this brewery seemingly exploded so much in the past year? My friends know my hatred of Leinenkugel yet taunted me to try the sissy Summer Shandy. It actually sounded appealing and inspired. Lemonade mixed with beer? It’s like an alcoholic Arnold Palmer. And, of course it had a nice-looking label, which I’ve come to find out is often the best part of a Leinenkugel bottling.

Some hillbilly at the bar with a mouth sans teeth and Nats t-shirt sans sleeves commended me on my selection. At that stadium, just like at any others, they don’t give you the bottle because they think you’ll get drunk and heave-ho it over the railing at underperforming players. Thus, I had to embarrass myself by asking the cashier if she could please bring me the bottle back so that I could take a picture of it. She not only obliged, but was duly impressed that I had a craft beer blog. Overhearing us, and seeing me take my pictures, the hillbilly was likewise in awe, further commending me on my awesomeness.

“I only drink microbrews, y’all,” he whistled through his open jaw, toasting me with his Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat, the beer with hints of toothpaste.

“No, my good sir, you only drink shit.” If Leinenkugel, the 7th oldest American brewery, now owned by Miller, America’s 2nd biggest brewery, is considered “micro,” I can’t imagine what he considers the size of his dick.

As for the beer, it’s fucking heinous. I would have rather just had a legit Arnold Palmer. It tastes like weak light beer mixed with a cheap lemonade powdered mixture you might get from a giant tub. Again, I will say that a bottled beer/lemonade mixture is a fairly inspired idea, but the execution here is terrible. I wouldn’t mind if a decent beer-maker gave this a go, not that they would. Summer Shandy is simple shanty.

D+

Bud Light Chelada

June 26th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 9 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Fruit Beer

4.2% ABV from a can

People always ask if I’ve altered my drinking habits in any way since starting my site. Succinctly and accurately stated–NO.

Until now.

First, let me state that I shudder to write this entry because it will be like revisiting a traumatic experience all over again. Is this how Alice Sebold felt?

A little history of how I came to this point in time…

One evening last summer I returned home late from a night out. I wanted a single nightcap to dust off while getting ready for bed and the only place open was my local bodega. Which doesn’t exactly have the best beer selection as I’ve previously stated. On these occasions I usually just buy a $1.50 tallboy can of Bud Light or maybe even a few bottles of Labatt, and that was indeed my plan this time. Until I spotted a new product next to the Bud Lights.

I had never seen the item before and I am a major sucker for new products. I’m the one idiot that buys the “wacky” flavored Doritos, and the “limited-time-only” Mountain Dew Code Aquamarine, and who goes to Taco Bell to get their new double-wrapped, triple-stuft, quadruple-shit-in-your-pants crunch supremes (only 79 cents!). Point is, I’ll give anything a try. Yes, even new products from crummy macrobreweries.

Something about the can’s label intrigued me. I don’t speak or read Spanish–for those outside of New York, a lot of products at your low-rent corner bodega/deli are written exclusively in Spanish–and this can was completely in the language. You might think living in Manhattan I should learn Spanish, but I simply can’t as I do not have the capacity to pick up foreign tongues (languages I’ve began to learn and not succeeeded in doing so: French, Spanish, German, Latin, Hebrew).

Thus, I had to judge this book by it’s cover.

The can was interesting, intriguing. It’s color scheme evoked freshness. Summer fun in the sun with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds and a corona of brightness. The glassware depicted evoked thoughts of big ass 64 ounce lime margaritas rimmed in salt. Of lounging in the sand, or poolside, sipping refreshing drinks while the lazy day passed away. I had sold myself. I figured it would probably taste like a Bud Light with a hint of lime or something.

Heck, I even noted the one phrase of Spanish on the can that even a dunce like me could translate: “La combinacion perfecta!” Sounds delicious! Er, deliciouso.

But, something about the can sent off sensors in my head. It was a little too red for my liking. Red’s a color that universally means “warning” or “danger.” The words “chelada” and “clamato” on the label also scared me even though I couldn’t translate them. Creatures are evolved to know not to eat certain things. Amazing but true. So birds somehow know not to eat the poisoned berries, and Australian snakes know not to eat the poisonous cane toad, and the urbanite Jew knows to google Bud Light Chelado before he drinks it. So I did. And I immediately saw something more disgusting than “Two Girls, One Cup.”

I saw words such as tomato juice, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and worst of all, clam broth. Yeah, these were the ingredients of the beer I held in my hand. I’ve drank some incredibly vile things in my life, but this wasn’t going to be one of them. Apparently, Mexicans actually like this shit! Well of course they do. Why else would Anheuser-Busch try to cash in on something unless it wasn’t already a craze? Now you might think me a retard for not knowing what clamato is, but I would counter that you are a deviant for actually knowing. Suffice to say I was pissed I wouldn’t have my nightcap that evening as I put the beer into the back depths of my fridge, only to show off to my friends as if part of some Frigidaire freak show, like a shrunken head or the world’s tiniest pony.

Fast forward to this week, nearly a year after the previously described events. With my team of butlers and maids on summer vacation, I decided to act like a common man and do some cleaning myself. I wasn’t thrilled with my overflowing and beginning-to-reek fridge so I decided to clean it up. And lo and behold, what should I find at the back of the icebox but my can of Chelada. I could have tossed it into the industrial-sized Glad bag along with the moldy cheddar and a banana so rotten it was black and shriveled to the size of a poorly-rolled doobie, but I knew that would be irresponsible. I had a duty to my readers. I knew I had to drink this fucking beer.

Soooo…for those scoring at home, I was about to try an old-ass (or “aged” if you prefer to be a connesseur) beer that consists of tomato juice, salt, lime, Worcestershire sauce, and clam broth. UGH. I felt like Evil Knievel about to jump over the Grand Canyon.

There was no fucking chance I was drinking this thing in my bedroom, or my living room, or even around another human being. I waited til my roommate left and then headed to the bathroom with my supplies.

(If you look closely in the picture you can see I’m clearly in my bathroom with a sink, my toothbrush, and my Crew strong hold gel in the background which is what I use to make my hair look like Showtime Lakers-era Pat Riley’s.)

Remember that great scene in “Trainspotting” when the character of Renton “Rent-Boy,” played splendidly by a young Ewan McGregor, tries to get off heroin, quitting cold turkey? Here’s how he described his preparation:

“Relinquishing junk. Stage one, preparation. For this you will need one room which you will not leave. Soothing music. Tomato soup, ten tins of. Mushroom soup, eight tins of, for consumption cold. Ice cream, vanilla, one large tub of. Magnesia, milk of, one bottle. Paracetamol, mouthwash, vitamins. Mineral water, Lucozade, pornography. One mattress. One bucket for urine, one for feces and one for vomitus. One television and one bottle of Valium, which I’ve already procured from my mother, who is, in her own domestic and socially acceptable way also a drug addict. And now I’m ready. All I need is one final hit to soothe the pain while the Valium takes effect.”

I prepared myself just as thoroughly. As mentioned, I waited for my roommate to leave. I locked the bathroom door. Previously to entering the bathroom I had eaten a turkey sandwich on wheat bread. I wanted a base in my stomach of some pleasant, non-volatile food. I also drank two Bud Lights to steady my nerves. I was as anxioius as a virgin going to the prom, and needed some liquid courage if I was ever to have the balls to drink this beer. I also brought into the loo with me a bottle of Coke Zero, a large water, another can of clam-broth-free Bud Light and, of course, I also had nearby my Listerine, toothbrush, and toothpaste to assure that I could clean out my mouth quickly and efficiently if anything bad were to happen. And I was certain something bad would happen. But I didn’t want to taint my review with stinkin’ thinkin’.

Let me interrupt to note that I have a very strong stomach. A lifetime of drinking recklessly and prodigiously and I’ve probably yakked less than ten times. And, those times I’ve thrown up were less because I drank too much but rather because I drank too much of something stupid. Like Jager. Or free hotel strawberry daquiris in Cancun. Or several “fishbowls” whilst in a most unfortunate fishbowl drinking contest over Memorial Day. I thought Chelada would soon be added to the “something stupid” list.

I wanted to see the color of the Chelada but didn’t want to risk befouling any of my beloved pint glasses. Thus, I poured some of the brew out for my fallen homeys and down the sink. It looked like menstrual blood. That was an ominious sign.

I was nervous for the impending smell. I should note I made the beer as absolutely frigid as possibly because the colder a liquid, the less you can taste it. A quality barley wine or quadrupel should be served at, say, 60 degrees fahrenheit. I suspected this motherfucker should be served at absolute zero.

I closed my eyes, if I was a Catholic I would have done that cool thing where they cross their chest, and then I leaned my big Jew nose down toward the aluminum opening. And I didn’t wince. I didn’t dry heave. There was no vomitus. In fact, I was able to keep my schnoz there indefinitely if I felt like it. I’m not gonna act like the beer smelled good, but it didn’t smell heinous either. Like overcarbonated Budweiser with a hint of Tabasco. I’m actually a fan of spiciness in all cuisines, so this aroma was fine by me. This was promising.

I felt more confident now. We all know hubris is a bitch. I took a little sip. Just a nip. Again, it was not heinous. Tasted kinda like it was one part Bloody Mary mixed with three parts Budweiser. I don’t like Bloodies, but at this point I thought the beer might be drinkable. Like I might actually finish a whole can. At this point I would have called it a “C” quality beer or so. I even thought to myself, “Yeah, I get this. I understand why a person could like this.”

My bathroom has no AC or window, so it was getting sweltering in there at this point. Like a steamroom. I felt like I was about to take a shvitz. Thus, I decided to take one more big swig and if that was pleasant enough I would bring the can back to my room and finish it off.

HUGE MISTAKE.

I took my big swig and this time the clam broth hit me HARD. Like a tidal wave rushing toward the back of my throat. It tasted like a liquid rotted anchovy pizza. I was so fucking repulsed I immediately spat it back out, a frozen rope that hit my medicine cabinet mirror on the fly. I threw my head toward the toilet and began convulsing. I couldn’t throw it up but I was heaving, wanting to eject the vileness from my system. My eyes were watering, burning. I was brought to my knees as if I had been kicked in the nuts.

“La combinacion perfecta!” echoed in my spinning head as if being spoken by a cute-as-a-button Mexican girl. Uh, how do you say in Spanish, “The only combination I can think of that would be less fucking perfect is shit mixed with vomit.”

Finally able to upright myself from the floor, I immediately slammed the 20 ounces of water. Next, I gargled four fingers of mouthwash. Then, I brushed my teeth. Four more fingers of mouthwash. How did about an ounce of fluid so destroy my stomach, pollute my mouth, and soil my tongue?! And my lips now were incredibly salty. Even worse, I couldn’t quit burping, each eructation forcing me to taste the nauseous fluid yet again and again and again. I was in near tears.

Bud Light Chelada? Should be called Bud Light Chlamydia.

I went to my room where I popped a normal Bud Light to relax and write up what you have just read to this point. I was sweating and needed to lay prostrate for a half-hour or so as if I’d just had a tough workout. Eventually, I got my strength back and had to do one final and troubling task: eliminate the 9/10th full can of Chelada still remaining. If I was smart, I would have just opened my bedroom window and hurled the can into the open patio of the hipster bar five floors down below me, a payback toward the loud patrons who keep me up every night as they discuss Jim Jarmusch movies and “going green” late into the AM.

But, I didn’t do that. Instead, I began pouring it down my sink.

Big mistake. It was making a fucking bright red, stinky mess and I thought it best to not put any more of this fluid near where we put our faces several times a day every single day. Thus, I dumped the rest of the beer out near where we put our dirty assholes several times a day every single day, the toilet. A fitting burial.

The misery is now over. My sink looks like a murderer washed his hands there while my toilet smells like an unkempt woman has been sitting on it. I can’t imagine what my roommate will think I did while he was gone for the evening.

F

Bud Light

June 26th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: D regular, Style: Macro!

4.2% ABV from a can

“Brewed with the finest ingredients for a refreshingly smooth taste.”

That’s what is says verbatim on the side of a Bud Light can.

The “finest” ingredients? A “refreshingly smooth taste”?! Really?!

Why do all macro beer manufacturers lie so fucking blatantly? These places should be sued. No truly good beer promotes itself this hard. It’s only the shitty ones. It’s like the dude that walks around the bar talking about his great job, his awesome penthouse apartment in Soho (with a balcony, yo), and his big dick, while conspicuously swirling around his Porsche key chain, and telling any girl that will listen how awesome he is.

Fact of the matter is, that guy stocks Chiclet vending machines for a living, crashes at home with his moms, has a tiny dick and comes too early on the rare opportunities he gets a chance, and doesn’t truly have the car, just the $3 Porsche key chain. Oh, and could he get your phone number reeeeeal quick because the last train leaves Penn Station at 12:45 AM and he needs to get back to Clifton, NJ.

Something truly outstanding doesn’t blatantly say it is outstanding, it just IS outstanding. And, thus you notice this and remark, “Wow, this is outstanding.”

Bud Light on the other hand is decidedly not outstanding. No matter how much its cans believes this to be true. Unfortunately, I drink too much of the swill, as recounted in this entry. That has to stop.

I suppose Bud Light is mildly refreshing on a hot ass day, but that’s just because it’s usually ice cold and its pretty much water. I hardly taste flavors in it. Maybe a little corn, perhaps a little low-grade rice, some metallic sensations that have worn off from the side of the cheap can. No bite, no hops, no malt. Pretty much just piss water. Actually, tastes a little like soggy white Wonder Bread. Terrible finish. It almost instantaneously gives one beer breath and you start smelling like the old drunk guy at the pub that’s always leaning over into you, putting his arm around you, and trying to give you life advice, despite the fact that he has no teeth and is wearing a scuzzy 1988 Cincinnati Bengals AFC Champs t-shirt.

Best thing you can say about this brew is that at least it ain’t Corona.

D

Hoegaarden Original White Ale

June 25th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brouwerij van Hoegaarden, Country: Belgium, Grade: B plus, Style: Belgian White

4.9% ABV from a scalding hot glass fresh from the dishwater, garnished with a lemon even though I explicitly did not ask for fruit in my beer. AKA: Ideal drinking conditions.

My friend was besmirching Hoegaarden at the bar the other day, saying real nasty things like, “I don’t even think it’s better than Blue Moon,” so I had to defend its honor and give it a Vice Blog-approved tasting to prove that it is indeed a superior Belgian white. I haven’t had Hoegaarden in ages, perhaps years (is a year longer than an “age”?), but it still holds a special place it my corroded heart. It was the first Belgian beer I ever had and it immediately made me sit up and realize WOW, they are doing things with fermented beverages in that country that I have never experienced before. In my Leffe Blonde entry I discuss first falling in love with Belgian beers and Hoegaarden (along with Leffe and Duvel) are the one that started that romance, making me into the brew-guzzling snob I am today.

The more I got into beer, though, stuff like Hoegaarden just seemed too “mainstream,” too low in ABV for me to still order at bars. But having just had it again, I must admit that Hoegaarden is still delicious. In fact, it’s perhaps the best Belgian white in the world with only Allagash, Ommegang, and St. Bernardus’s releases as worthy competitors.

Hoegaarden–God I’m sick of spelling that name, I can never remember which vowel to double! It’s worse than Haagen-Dazs but at least it has no umlauts–has a perfect spice blend like in any great witbier, giving it a terrific smell and taste. This is a beer that is truly great in the summer, fuck those other beers that have to put “summer” on their label to make you think they are refreshing. I don’t need to know what season I’m supposed to drink your beer, fella. Hoegaarden is citrusy with just a hint of wheat and creaminess, a nice easy finish. In retrospect, there’s nothing mind-blowing about this beer, but is there anything mind-blowing about any Belgian whites? It’s not exactly a style that lends itself to going out on a limb and creating something to blow your testicles off. They’re simply beers that are light and taste good. Hoegaarden nails it.

B+

(And it’s always cool to drink a beer in its own brand-labeled, specially-designed glassware!)

Yuengling Traditional Lager

June 25th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Yuengling, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Lager

4.4% ABV from a draught beer tower

Based on pure conjecture, my most drunk beers of all time:

Honorable mentions: Labatt Blue, Brooklyn Lager, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Dogfish Head Sixty Minute, Sparks, Pabst Blue Ribbon (NYC hipster special makes it always $2 a can!), and all macros and their crappy light counterparts.

5. Milwaukee’s Best (aka “Beast”) (years drunk 1997-May 21, 2001) — The “house” beer in college. I didn’t drink a lot of beer in college, especially my freshman through junior years, but if beer was being drunk, it was this shit. We drank it in cans, bottles, pitchers, kegs, funnels, any fucking way possible. The day I graduated, I knew my lips would never come close to this vile brew again. And they haven’t. This beer made me hate beer so much in my formative years that I nearly never learned to love it.

4. Heineken (2000-2001) — In my Heineken entry I discuss how I started drinking this beer senior year of college because I thought it made me look cool, especially compared to my Beast-swilling cohorts. Bad times. And a bad beer to boot.

3. Guinness (heavily from 2001-2004, sporadically from 2004-present) — Upon leaving college, I needed to find something to drink. And, since I was living amongst tons of Irish in Hoboken, New Jersey, this seemed like a good place to start. Seven of these on a Monday night of dicking around and I’d be feeling fine. Then, I’d do the same thing Tuesday night, and Wednesday night, and Thursday night, etc. Yeah, I was a profligate during that era. I’m not sure why I slowed down on drinking this other than that I’ve found plenty of more beers I like better. Nowadays, I pretty much only order one if I’m drinking at a bar before noon or having some rounds with my Irish buddies.

2. Bud Light (1997 to, unfortunately, the present) — I really don’t like this beer at all. But it goes down easy, you can polish off a zillion of them in a night, and it’s dirt cheap at bars. Why do I continue to drink it nowadays? Probably because the bar I go to twice a week from November to March to root on the Syracuse Orangemen basketball team serves pitchers of it for $6. Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to be there on Wednesday nights, there’s a beer pong special and pitchers are only a quarter. So, even though I don’t like this beer, even though it makes me gain 30 pounds every winter, even though it gives me wicked hangovers, and even though I’m usually drinking it from dirty Solo cups laced with floor detritus from filthy beer pong balls, I know come November and season tip-off, I will unfortunately be drinking this shit again.

1. Yuengling (years drunk 2001-present)

I have drank so much of this motherfucking beer. Yet, I didn’t even know what it was in college. I heard my friends from Pennsylvania always talking about it, saying their pops drank it, but I just assumed it was some exotic Chinese beer, what with the weird name and all. Only after college did I learn that it was straight out of Pottsville, PA and courtesy of America’s oldest brewery.

I begun drinking it because my first “real world” roommate was a prodigious drinker out of Scranton, PA and he introduced me. In Scranton, and in most of Pennsylvania, they don’t even call the beer Yuengling, they simply call it “lager.” Watch your Pennsylvania friends go to a bar anywhere on the East coast and ask for a “lager.” The bartenders will look at them crazy. “OK, you want a lager. But which one?” Only if a fellow Pennsylvanian is manning the taps will they know that there is only one lager. To these folks at least. Funnily enough, Beer Advocate doesn’t even classify Yuengling as a straight lager, calling it an American amber/Red lager instead.

Any how, I began drinking Yuengling because in the NYC area it was priced as rock bottom cheaply as the American macros but it tasted so much better to me. Only now do I realize that it was a weak 4.4% ABV and a 22-year-old Aaron probably liked that. I drank so many of these fresh out of college. Heck, I usually drank an entire six-pack of Yuengling before going out on a Friday and Saturday night–probably a good reason I never picked up woman once getting to the bar!–before drinking more drafts of Yuengling once out on the town.

It’s virtually impossible for me to review this beer any more because I have gone past my capacity for drinking it. Wilt Chamberlain surely got sick of fucking, and I have finally gotten sick of Yuengling. It came to a head on Saturday when my friends and I ordered a “beer tower” of Yuengling at the great Lansdowne Road. A beer tower is literally what it sounds like: a poorly washed out clear PVC (?) tube connected to a base from which a group of friends can spigot themselves pints of beer. I think the tower holds maybe 10 pints in it. I felt like a Spring Breaker with it at my table, but it is fun to order one for novelty purposes.

Lagers are typically cheap beers made with low-level hops. It’s why most macros are considered lagers. But Yuengling always seemed better than the Buds, Coors, and Millers of the world. Even sick of the brew I still have to admit it’s tons more flavorful than the aforementioned. Malty, nice red amber taste, and creamy, though not much hops, and nowadays I’ve come to realize it’s far too thin and watery. Being better than the “famous” American macros is just not good enough for me any more. Especially when I can get Brooklyn Lager and Sam Adams pints for similar prices if I’m drinking “on the cheap” for the evening.

I used to loooooooooove this beer, but the love affair is finally over.

Yuengling. Years drunk: 2001 to 2008.

B-/C+

La Fin Du Monde

June 24th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Unibroue, Country: Canada, Grade: A regular, Style: Tripel

9% ABV from a bomber

When most people think of beer drinking in Canada, they probably imagine two hosers like the McKenzie Brothers pouring can after can of Labatt or Molson down their faces while ice fishing, eating poutine, butchering the English language, and rooting on the Mapleleafs. And, admittedly, Labatt and Molson are solid enough beers. For getting wasted while ice fishing, eating poutine, butchering the English language, and rooting on the Mapleleafs. But, surprisingly enough, there are some world class brews coming from America, Jr. And, it all begins with Montreal’s Unibroue brewery which produces what might be the country’s best single beer in La Fin Du Monde (which my Francophile friend tells me means “End of the World”–nice!).

Not just that, but La Fin Du Monde is extraordinarily accessible in the Northeast U.S. That’s partly due to the fact that La Fin is “bottle conditioned.” This means that the beer isn’t fully fermented and contains yeast sediment (”on the lees” it’s called) which allows for further fermentation after bottling. This allows for several things. First, it lets the beer be cheaply shipped and stocked, making it very accessible in outside markets. I pick up bombers of La Fin and several of Unibroue’s other quality beers for around $6 a bomber at my local supermarket. In fact, La Fin is quite possibly the “high-brow” beer I drink the most. And, at that cheap of price and with that high of ABV, you can make your night end nicely for an amazing cost.

Bottle conditioning also produces beer that is perfect for cellaring. Filtered beers have a short shelf life and necessitate tacky “born on” dating because once their compounds begin breaking down the beer becomes unpleasant tasting. Most folks would counter that most of your filtered macro beers already are unpleasant tasting. Remember kids, filtering something does not always make it better, despite what Brita may have us believe. The live yeast inside an unfiltered bottle-conditioned beer acts against these processes, giving the brew a longer, if not infinite, shelf life in which the flavor will continue to get better and better and the taste more and more complex as it ages.

These points are all moot for me, however, as my career record for the longest I’ve ever gone without drinking an amazing beer I’ve purchased is some ten days. And that was only because I was ill during that time and only able to consume egg drop soup. Plus, living in a fifth floor Manhattan walk-up, I don’t exactly have room to stow countless beers while they age. And, I certainly don’t have a cellar. Rather, I do have a cellar but it’s a communal building one where we deposit our trash and recyclables, maintain a menagerie of vermin, and provide a creepy, dank place for our perverted building super Chet to bring hookers home to. I can just imagine what would happen were I to start “cellaring” my La Fins and top-fermented trappist ales down there. Let’s just say, I know one bum that would greatly appreciate going from drinking Boone’s Farm to aged Orval.

As mentioned, bottled-conditioned beers have yeast sediment in them. So, if you open the beer early you will literally see chunks, for lack of a better word, of products floating in the beer. It’s like the fresh-squeezed pulp of the industry. You unadventurous people that exclusively drink macros will probably be freaked out and think you have a rotten, tainted beer, calling the company to file a complaint, but it is in fact nothing to worry about.

Pouring the goldenrod La Fin out, the head of the beer is like a primordial soup, with so much activity occurring in the foam. It’s like a lab experiment. You could probably look at it under a microscope and see organisms interacting and fucking each other! But not to worry–the yeast sediment is incredibly tasty with very earthy flavors, and, best of all, it’s packed with Vitamin B! Did someone say health beer?! In fact, in some countries, it’s a ritual to separate the sediment from the beer and drink it as a shot.

Sweating my balls off in my bedroom as a busy weekend comes to an end this was a perfect beer to wet my whistle. Technically a tripel, La Fin smells great, one of the best and most odoriferous beers I’ve ever encountered. It’s incredibly tasty, incredibly malty, incredibly yeasty of course, incredibly everything. It’s creamy, buttery, full of fruit hints like apple and pear. And it has a spicy and peppery finish. Near perfect. Got to be about the most drinkable 9% beer on the planet. I really can’t imagine someone disliking this beer.

If the world was truly coming to an end, you would certainly go out in style with a La Fin Du Monde as your last tipple. The French name reminds me of my favorite Latin saying: Bibamus, moriendum est. Death is inevitable, let’s get drunk.

A

Harpoon IPA

June 23rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Harpoon, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: IPA

5.9% ABV on draught

Next on my Friday night IPA orgy was the selection from Harpoon, something I expected to be mediocre. Not sure why that was my thinking as I’ve enjoyed plenty of Harpoons in the past, but that was just my gut feeling. I must immediately admit, I was wrong and pleasantly surprised.

Before my review though, I’d like to give a little shout out to the great Lansdowne Road which has one of the coolest little “frills” I’ve ever seen at a bar, something known as an ice rail. I’ve never seen any other bar before that has this but it is literally a rail running the length of the bar which acts as an icy “coaster,” for lack of a better word, where one can rest their drink when not holding it up to their face in order to assure that the beer never becomes room temperature.

Now, I know what you’re saying, “But, Aaron, why would you and your potent machismo need an ice rail to keep your beers from getting warm? Don’t you drink at a rate faster than the one at which liquid warms?”

Well, yes, of course I do (unless I’m savoring some potent masterpiece of a brew). I just mainly like the rail so I have something to fiddle with when I’m bored with other people’s conversations, It is then when I begin to slalom my pointer and ring fingers through the icy snow as if they are Alberto Tomba’s skis. However, for the less accomplished drinkers I think this is truly a genius invention that really improves a night out slugging beers. Whatever the case, it is definitely one cool conversation piece.

Back to Harpoon’s IPA. This beer doesn’t actually taste like a IPA. It’s very fruity and has no bite, no real hops sensation. Tastes a bit like some banana Laffy Taffy which I know is a comparison I’ve used more than a few times to describe the flavor of certain beers. Incredibly drinkable for an IPA but still has a decent enough ABV. Also, I was surprised at how complex this brew was as it did have a lot of stuff going on in it, including floral, citrus, and pine tastes. I don’t think this is a very good example at all of an American IPA, but I can’t deny that I really enjoyed drinking it and will almost certainly drink it again in the future. It’s very refreshing.

B+

Stone IPA

June 23rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

6.9% ABV on draught

Decided to turn Friday night happy hour into an orgy of IPA tastings as I joined my friends at the great Lansdowne Road. To set my bearings, I began with my favorite, and perhaps the best single IPA on the market, Dogfish Head 60 Minute. A brew I had previously awarded a solid A to. Delicious. Next, I went with the single IPA from my favorite American brewery, Stone out of California. Stone’s “schtick” is to make big and bold beers that will kick your ass and leave you begging for mercy, and at 6.9% for their single IPA, they aren’t joking. It clocks in at 0.9% more manly than the 60 Minute. (Stone also makes a double, or “Imperial,” IPA known as Ruination which is outstanding.)

I’ve had the Stone IPA countless times but compared side-by-side and minutes apart with the 60 Minute a stark difference is easily apparent. I hate to denigrate the great Stone, but their IPA is simply not as good as Dogfish Head’s. It’s not as flavorful, I don’t believe it’s as complex, and it’s a little too sour. Incredibly hoppy with tastes of citrus and the outdoors.

It’s almost surprising that I like Stone less than 60 Minute because I’m usually the guy that likes big beers, the more potent the better. Just not in this case. Having said that, the Stone IPA is incredibly drinkable and I am certainly not displeased to ever have one in my hand. It’s just, if I have to choose between this and the 60 Minute, I’m going with the latter.

All told, it’s still an outstanding IPA, maybe even my overall second favorite. I will even be so bold as to say that it is Stone’s worst regular bottling. And, when you still score an A- on that, you know you’re doing something right and making some truly memorable beers. That’s why Stone is the best brewery in America.

A-

Budweiser

June 22nd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: C-, Style: Macro!

5% ABV from many, many, many ice-cold tall boy cans

The Flushing Meadows public course is like a bar that you just so happen to be able to golf at. On Saturday I accompanied my friends Plerchee and Ian to this par 3 “pitch ‘n’ putt” nestled under the shadow of Shea and amidst the ruins of The World’s Fair from back in an era when we still had world’s fairs. Little did I know it would be one of the strangest–and most pleasurable–golfing experiences of my life.

Arriving at the 7 train stop in Queens, you get off and take a short boardwalk headed toward Corona Park. It is at this point in which you feel you have entered another country. As I hoofed it the 10 minutes or so to the course, I’m not sure if I saw another white American. Most of the crowd were Latinos kicking around futbols, but there was also a large contingent of Asians headed to play tennis at the USTA Tennis Center. I did not hear English even spoken once. Where the fuck was I?

Plerchee told me ONLY to bring a wedge and a putter and, though I doubted him at first, I’d rather be short a club or two than have to lug my entire bag to another borough, so I listened to his advice. He was totally right. In fact, a sign on the “pro shop”–really just a tiny concession stand that you might see at a Little League ballpark–advised, if not ordered one, to only carry two clubs (humorously noting that “One club must be a putter.”) I looked out over the course. It was puny, one of the worst looking courses I’ve ever seen. But I still kept my hopes up. Golfing on a shit course is still better than spending the day at home watching a “Tila Tequila” marathon. Mark Twain was wrong.

While I waited for my friends to arrive I decided to have a little hair of the dog to stave off my dipsomania. And, as luck would have it, the “clubhouse”–really just a second “drive-thru” window next to the “pro shop”–had a special on Shock Top drafts. Only 2 bucks. My day was already starting off nicely. I typically don’t drink when I play golf. Correction: I typically don’t drink early in the round when I golf. Though I am a crummy golfer, my incredible confidence, if not delusional nature, makes me think that every time I tee it up I’m gonna card a 69 and thus I better keep my wits about me. However, by the time the turn comes and I’m already shooting a 52, it’s time for the cigars to be lit up and the beers to be shotgunned. I decided to begin my round drinking at this course because I was still quite hungover from Friday night’s activities.

My friends arrived and the golfing began. Some highlights of the course and our Saturday round:

*No tee boxes. Just mats like at the driving range. Cool by me, I hate lugging tees around. Having a pocketful of wood spears is not what I call comfort.

*You can play rounds as late as 1 AM. The last tee time go off at 11 PM. Seriously. The course actually has stadium lights. Though if I was playing this course at night I’d probably carry a sidearm with me in addition to my two clubs.

*The scorecard notes the course’s ground rules. A most amusing list culminating with the policy “High heel shoes and coolers are not allowed on course.”

We assume that rule was put in place to eliminate prostitutes from walking the grounds.

*Most holes are so short you could spit from the rubber-matted tee box all the way to the greens. Surprisingly, the greens weren’t half bad, and fairly challenging. The “fairways” were another story though. One fairway had a man hole cover in the middle of it, while another had what looked like a bottomless trench that if one fell in it would cause the person to drop all the way to the center of the earth. Luckily, this most hazardous of course hazards was surrounded by six bright orange traffic cones. The few bunkers on the course were not white sand traps, but more like quicksand marshes. Thankfully, I didn’t once find myself in them.

*The twosome in front of us was a guy dressed like a overly serious golfer playing with a girl lugging a purse around and wearing a flowing sun dress that scraped the ground. Yeah, she wasn’t exactly Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

*The group in front of them was an unwieldy fivesome featuring five fat fuck friends that though in their mid-thirties probably all still live with their mothers. These folks would come into play later during the absolute highlight of the afternoon.

*I saw another group on the course, a large Mexican family. The only person playing was the father though. However, the mother, two small children, and a baby in a fucking stroller joined the man on his round, following him like a 1800s circus caravan. Yes, though you aren’t allowed to sport stilettos you are apparently allowed to push a stroller around the course with an infant in it.

*We also spied what seemed to be some sort of Asian mystic. She looked like a 90-year-old Yoko Ono and just absentmindedly wandered the course in her bizarre dress, interacting with no one. I’m not sure if she was a bum, crazy, or simply a mirage on the horizon. Perhaps she was all three. Maybe when people talk about the “golfing gods” they’re referring to this chick. And, I gotta admit, I was snaking in long putts all day long. This loon was clearly on my side.

*The highlight of the day occurred as we were about to tee off on 6. A bum lugging around an enormous Glad bag full of aluminum “empties” walked past us and headed toward the adjacent 8th green. There, he cavalierly picked up a ball that was resting some five feet from the hole for a makeable birdie putt. The hitter of the ball was the fattest of the fivesome mentioned previously and when he saw the bum grab his ball he began sprinting down the fairway wielding his club like a mad man. Me and my buddies watched with baited breath. This had the potential to be the most exciting thing to happen on a golf course since my friend lost his virginity in a sand trap at the local country club at 3 in the morning after the prom. Can you imagine some fat Long Island guido hitting a bum over the head with his wedge? All of the sudden our day was about to become “Grand Theft Auto: Municipal Golf Course.”

Unfortunately, the fat fuck was too much of a fat fuck to run the 80 or so yards that were the length of the hole and halfway there he was winded. He had to stop to put his hands on his knees and, panting like an asthmatic, he shouted out at the bum to leave his ball lest he get a beat down. The bum feigned ignorance of the situation but ultimately left the guy’s ball. I’m not sure that there’s a deposit refund for golf balls so he probably figured he best just go retrieve more cans.

Oh, and there were plenty of empty cans to retrieve! There was an elderly black gentleman driving the course who was seemingly on a mission to keep all the golfers well lubricated. I’ve never had such prompt service, even at five star restaurants! And, at $3 a tallboy Bud, we were going to get quite schnockered as we were averaging a fresh can every 2 holes or so.

Budweiser, The “King” of Beers. How fucking arrogant to call yourself that, especially when you produce such an inferior product. I tell you though, sometimes an ice cold Bud can really hit the spot. It’s not like I’d be drinking La Fin Du Monde on the course were it available.

So, what to say about Bud? It’s actually one of the more flavorful macros which is indeed faint praise. Compared to it’s Light counterpart there’s no contest. A really superior beer in comparison. Actually has a little taste and bite and doesn’t just taste like dirty water. Hints of corn and rice if any flavors can be distinguished. Goes down easy and that’s why college kids and people that don’t truly like beer drink it. A little too carbonated for my liking too, but I guess that’s what AB has to do to mask the mediocrity. And it’s very bloating, I feel like an over-inflated whoopee cushion after polishing off a few of these. Nothing special, it is what it is and we were all shit-canned by the 18th hole.

C-

As for pitch ‘n’ putt: It eliminates all I hate about golf–prohibitively expensive greens fees, six hour rounds, carrying a heavy bag, losing balls, using woods and long irons, spending most of the day lost in the trees and weeds, wearing spikes, lugging around tees, and exhibiting decorum–while maintaining everything I love about the game. Plus, it’s a great confidence booster. Even wasted, I was able to shoot an even par round on the back 9 (7 pars, 1 bird, 1 boge) and an overall round of 62. Nice! I may have to become a “member” at Flushing Meadows CC. Pitch ‘n’ putt gets an A+.