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Archive for August, 2008

Samuel Adams Oktoberfest

August 28th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Boston Beer Company, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Oktoberfest

5.7% ABV from a bottle

The Vice Blogger Goes Off Beer

It was August of 2002. One year out of college and all the debauchery in New York had caught up to me–I was in the worst shape of my life, tipping the scales at probably 215 or so. Going to happy hour every day–especially when that “hour” actually equals 5 PM til closing–does in even the best of us. I needed to do something about it, I was not happy. I’ve always been overly confident if not arrogant, no matter my current lot in life, thinking I deserve more women than Moulay Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty. And I was getting significantly less than that. I looked deeply at myself and had to chalk it up to the extra baggage I was lugging around. Now at 29, I realize that it doesn’t matter how fat I am, I will always land attractive women due to my rakish charm, disarming wit, and the fact that, well, I’m just plain interesting. There’s nothing more important than that. In fact, Ben Franklin, no schlub himself, called the great lover Giacomo Casanova the most interesting man who ever lived. Not cause he scored with tens of thousands of fair women but rather because he was a librarian, consort, writer, confidence man, dandy, master gambler, diplomat, spy, magician, and philosopher.  Oh, not to worry female Vice Blog fans, I also currently cut a toned and taut 178 as I type this.  I’m interesting, yes, but I’m not some slob.

But back then at 215 pounds, I was flummoxed at how I was going to cut weight. I live in the finest eating city in the world, ain’t no way I was going to eat salad and rice cakes for every meal. And back then I refused to exercise unless it was in the form of competitive sports. Nope, I knew the only thing I could cut out of my diet was beer. “You’re going to quit drinking?!” said my roommates in shock. No, I’m not going to quit drinking I snapped back. Hard alcohol was still fine. Thus, from September 1st through January 1st, all I drank was liquor

You don’t realize how often you drink beer until you no longer drink it and have to have liquor instead.  Heading to happy hour, every one else is capitalizing on a few hours of $2 beers…you’re drinking $7 whiskey sodas.  Saturday morning you’re tailgating or preparing for a whole day of watching football, everyone’s pummeling a macro keg…you’re drinking vodka tonics.  At home, pregaming before a big night out, your buddies are polishing off a few bottles of Yuengling…and you’re drinking straight from a bottle of Beefeater.

Those four months were murderous.  I was crying mercy.  I spent tons of money, was always wasted, permenantly damaged my liver and innards, lost a lot of cell phones and other possessions, frequently woke up in piles of sidewalk garbage, alienated friends, ruined relationships too…oh, and got laid even less than when I was Rubenesque as I was often slurring before heading out to the bars and barely made it past midnight without embarrassing myself or getting 86ed from many fine establishments.

But, yes, I did lose some 40 pounds and I looked fantastic.  So much so that people would come up to me in public to actually compliment me for my newfound handsomeness. Swear to god.  That shit hadn’t happened before and it certainly hasn’t happened since.

However, it wasn’t exactly worth it.

The worst thing about those four months of beerlessness was that my favorite seasonal beers in the world were out–Oktoberfests.  I don’t know what it is, but I love the beer style.  Maybe it’s because the end of summer sucks so much, as you know it’s about to be cold again, that when you see these beautiful orange-labeled beers and taps on shelves and bartops, you know there’s at least something good about the incoming chilly season.  You don’t know how much it sucked to be at bars back in 2002, staring at the recently installed Oktoberfest taps, drooling, but unable to break my personal vow.

Sam makes one of my favorites. In fact, it’s the first Oktoberfest I ever had, and one I immediately fell in love with. I guess I should be embarrassed by that, but shockingly enough, it is the best selling Oktoberfest-styled beer IN THE WORLD.  Even more than any German one.  Amazing.

Having said that, I don’t like Sam Oktoberfest as much as I once did. I used to think they had changed the recipe from the delicious early-2000s versions but now I’m thinking my palate just got more sophisticated. Nevertheless, it is still tasty. Rich, very malty, with a hint of spice. Not too complex though.  But I still love my first taste of Oktoberfest of the season, and every year it comes courtesy of Sam.  Though, what the fuck, August seems earlier for the beer’s release than normal, doesn’t it?

Now in 2008, I drink plenty of beer. And hard liquor. And wines. And any and all other fermented or distilled beverages available.  Yet I’m in better shape than at any other time in my life and doing better with woman too.

Lesson learned: never cut any pleasures from your life.

“I am writing My Life to laugh at myself, and I am succeeding.” –Casanova

B

Brooklyn Oktoberfest

August 28th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Country: America, Grade: C plus, Style: Oktoberfest

5.5% ABV bottled

I like to compare Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest to Brooklyn’s every single year. And since they’re usually the absolute first two on the shelves in Manhattan, this is easy. I must admit, every single year I root for Brooklyn to win my little side-by-side taste test–treating it as a battle between my beloved New York and the despised Boston–however, every single year Sam wins, usually in a landslide. Same goes this year.

I drank this one within minutes of my season’s first Sam Oktoberfest. That was unfortunate.

Brooklyn Oktoberfest has a bland, poor smell.

Tastes very much like a cheap cracker. Perhaps a Ritz. Can barely taste any malt at all. No sweetness, not very flavorful. Maybe a little hint of raisin? Hard to say. If that’s not enough, it has a very harsh, carbonated finish. Stings the tongue on the mouthfeel.

Ultimately, doesn’t really taste like an Oktoberfest at all. More like a very good macro lager (assuming such a beer exist).

You know Brooklyn, you’re one of my favorite breweries, I consider you and Captain Lawrence my “home team” breweries, so it pains me when you let me down with one of your brews. Luckily, that rarely occurs. As the Brooklyn Dodgers might say, I’ll wait until next year…

C+

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale

August 28th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Pale Ale

6.7% ABV from a bomber (1st release)

If your dad came home every day from the office, loosened his tie, grabbed The Economist, and drank a nice wine…well then you grew up pretty rich and were probably loved.

And if your dad came home every night and drank a single malt Scotch…well then you probably only got to see him every other weekend and fucking hate his new trophy wife that was a senior at your high school when you were a sophomore.

And if your dad came home every night and waited until dinner at Chili’s to have a single bottled domestic…well then you grew up middle class.

And if your dad came home every afternoon from the factory/auto body shop/Hardees shift and immediately went to the old fridge in the garage to grab a can of Keystone/MGD/Busch then proceeded to plop down on the Laz-E-Boy and polish off beer after beer after beer (throwing empties at his bastard kids’ heads) straight through supper until passing out in front of the wood cabineted boob toob at 10:30…well then you probably grew up pretty poor.

And if your dad came home every night and shook up a dirty, dirty martini for himself…well then he probably left your mom and moved in with his “friend” Ricky once you left for college.

And if your dad came home every night and drank a Gatorade and then headed off to play tennis with a bunch of old ladies…well then you are me and that’s my pops.

And if some man came home every night and drank a nice craft beer like Sierra Nevada and you aren’t even aware of this man because your mother told you that she used to be a “bit of a party girl” back in her early 20s in New York so your father could be any of a number of fellas…well then that estranged man would be me. Please don’t get a DNA test.

Southern Hemisphere Harvest has an incredibly nice smell. New Zealand hops and North American malts. Not the hugest pale ale fan, but I like this one. Bitter and tasty. Citrusy and very spicy. A very solid special release from what is often called the oldest craft brewery in America.

B

Bleue Legere Light

August 27th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Labatt, Country: Canada, Grade: D regular, Style: Macro!

4% ABV from bottles, cans, taps, and anything and everything else

In French Canada the Labatt Blue Light flows like water and the men make David Beckham look like John fuckin’ Wayne. I think I drank about seventy-five “Blue Lights”–as they’re known in the region–in slightly over two days while not seeing a Mapleleaf male with a waist larger than 26 inches the whole time.

On Saturday night we drove into the big city of Lakefield, Quebec looking for a place to wet our whistles and possibly our nether-regions. Driving around a town that is striving to one day be two-bit, we surprisingly found numerous watering holes, but not a single one of them a straight bar. How queer! Why were there so many gay bars and so many homosexuals in this town? It was like the Christopher Street of the Great White North. Eventually, we realized these pixieish little men, with their sleeveless mesh shirts, Rafael Nadal capris, circa year 2003 faux-hawks, and aviator sunglasses worn indoors, were in fact the straight men of the town. Great Caesar’s Ghost!

No matter, the women in the town were sah-moking hot and when Gary, Dan, and I–three strapping young Americans–entered the bar, the ladies got whiplash they spun so quickly in their seats to ogle us. Despite the fact that we are of average build and dress in the States, to these women we must have looked like some UFC fighters passing through the area.

In this pub slash discotheque slash pool parlor, as the men unironically danced to such 1980s hits as Canada’s own Corey Hart’s “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night” (while as previously mentioned wearing their sunglasses at night), we were free to slug cheap beers we purchased with loonies and twonies while making plays on the gorgeous ladies. That was fun and successful, but not as fun as trying to figure out why French Canadian men dress like late-1990s American sitcom interpretations of what flaming homosexuals dress and act like. Alas, we never came to a definitive answer. But we laughed a lot. Especially at all the biker “gangs” that likewise inhabit the region and bar scene. Let’s just say, the motorcyclist in The Village People would even call these straight men “fruits.”

Oh yeah, Blue Light kinda sucks too. Labatt regular is a solid enough, above-average macro, but the Light tastes as if they’ve treated the regular like a concentrate and added 2/3rds water to each bottle to make it less potent. I guess Franco-Canadian men are in fact so sissy that they need to feel some false machismo by claiming they can polish off thirty beers in a night. Well fuck, an old lady hooked up to a dialysis machine could drink Labatt Blue Light all night and I’m not even sure her doctor would mind.

D

Humorous postscript: I saw several “men” at the bar drinking some oddly labeled bottle called 0.5. As in 0.5% ABV. Labatt’s Low-low alcohol beer. Sheesh. What a province of pussies.

River Horse Tripel Horse

August 27th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: River Horse, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Tripel

10% ABV from a sixer

Everyone knows if you want to make a long road trip bearable you’ll need to drink en route. But if you want to make it highly entertaining, you’ll need to bring some non-twist-off beer bottles and accidentally forget an opener. This happened to me, Gary, and Dan on our recent trip up north. And before I go any further, I just want to prevent MADD from protesting my blog–though that would help my traffic numbers soar!–by noting that our sole driver Gary never drank once nor even planned to. So, please, only MADP (Mother Against Drunk Passengers) is allowed to give me shit.

Our journey to Canada started off at my friends’ house in Jersey City where after beating both of them in a combined 19 out of 19 games of ping pong we headed to the liquor store to stock up for the car ride. In the parking lot, I pondered whether New Jersey has any breweries. Shit, I couldn’t think of any. How weird, one of the biggest, richest states in the union with no notable breweries*. And, indeed, BA only lists the Garden State as having a pathetically paltry seven, none of them acclaimed. I mean, seriously, New Jersey! There must be no need for beer, what with all those Jersey guidos only drinking gay shots and “Goose” on ice when they hit da club.

Surprisingly, though, this Jersey City liquor store had an actual line of beer from New Jersey — River Horse. Never heard of it, but I’ll give it a whirl. We opted for a six pack of their tripel. Any brewery brash enough to attempt a Belgian style tripel must be at least halfway decent.

We waited to begin drinking til we were well outside of the metro area and nightfall had hit. We aren’t so cavalier as to overtly drink beer in daylight while going up the Westside highway or something. Once it became dark, however, we quickly realized the shit we were in — no opener and these we some well-sealed bottles. And, unfortunately–in this one case only–none of us three are the kind of repressed former frat boys that still carry a Heineken ring bottle opener on our key chains.

Lacking an opener is usually not a problem when you’re at an apartment or someplace indoors as there are two opener-less tricks that typically work quite splendidly. The easiest is to just put the edge of the cap flush with a table–one you don’t mind possibly nicking up a bit–and then slamming your open palm down on it. Of course, cars don’t have coffee tables so this was out. The second easy trick which I’m fairly accomplished at is putting two bottles parallel to each other yet a foot or so apart, then briskly moving the bottom one up and the top one down toward each other with a great force, ultimately colliding the cap of the bottom bottle with the underside of the cap of the top to create a blunt influence which usually pops the top bottle’s cap right off.

This move was risky in the car as often some foaming occurs out of the bottle. And the last thing you want is your car to smell like a potent Belgian tripel if you get pulled over. Alas, that move did not work either and our concerns were rendered moot.

I took Gary’s Blackberry and googled “opening bottle without opener” and got an onslaught of tips. I looked at several sites and here following are some of what Dan and I tried next:

1. Seatbelt clasp — I suspect this would work on most cars, but the clasp of Gary’s Audi was incredibly small and atypical of what most cars have. The neck of the bottle couldn’t enter the clasp’s square opening and thus no attempts could even be made.

2. Belt — We all removed our belts from our waists to see if we could use the buckles to pop the tops, but this didn’t work either. Not even close. And I think I’d rather a copper pull us over and find tons of beer in the car than find three men with belt off their waists. He’d think he’d found some S&M auto(mobile)-erotic weirdos.

3. Dollar bill — Hard to believe, but according to numerous websites one can:

  • Take a dollar bill and roll it tightly like a joint, then fold it up several times over until you’re left with a tightly-compressed V-shaped piece (two folded bits that meet in one sharp, tight corner).
  • Take the “V” and wedge the corner of its fold into the bottle cap.
  • Jerk the bill up as hard as you can, which will result in the cap popping off.

This came nowhere close to working and caused the first open wound of the evening to form on my hand. And it also ruined a single.

4. Golf tee and keys — There was some tees in the car from a recent golf outing and we jammed these under the cap’s ridges to try and pry it off but that did not work. Likewise, the same attempts with keys of all shapes and size also failed.

5. Car’s bumper and other edges — Too much rubber and plastic, not enough hard surfaces. You quickly learn how cheaply cars are made when you try to use them as two-ton bottle openers. At one point, Dan tried to use the window shade latch to pop the top and it seemed to work as a loud explosion took place. He confidently handed me back the bottle, “Your beer, sir.” I was stunned when I looked down to see the cap still on. All he’d done was break the latch off the ceiling of the Audi.

6. Soda machine coin return — This is another one I think would work at a typical soda or candy machine, but the ones we encountered all had odd coin return slots that were far too big to fit the bottleneck into.

All these left me and Dan with were scraped up and heavily jostled bottles and bloodied (seriously) and battered hands.

Oh, have I neglected to mention that we were both wasted too? Yeah, by this point we were halfway through a bottle of Stoli we’d been passing back and forth the hole time. What, you didn’t think six beers would last two grown boys a six-hour car ride didja?

Now in hour three of trying to open these damn–and now warm–beers, we finally stopped at a shitty reststop where we were certain to find a souvenir bottle opener amongst all the trinkets and knick-knacks. There were Aaron, Gary, and Dan miniature license plates, porcelain spoons, and even collectible snow globes, but alas no fucking bottle openers to buy.

However, we did find a pickle in a bag.

God did I want to buy that filth and review it for you dear loyal readers, however Gary and Dan were too scared to have that thing floating in the car with them for the rest of the weekend.

Finally, after five hours of trying we were forced to call mercy. The bottle had defeated us. I’m not sure if they are the best sealed bottles ever crafted or if we are just retarded or were drunk. One hour outside of our final destination, we stopped to pick up one of Gary’s childhood friends who had with him an opener.

Ahhhhhhhh! We could finally drink the beer. And we needed to drink the beer now that our vodka was killed.

My god was the River Horse tasty. Hit the fucking spot. No masterpiece but a solid tripel. Nice malt and banana taste with a spicy sweetness. Vanilla esters and a lot of yeast. Not too complex but some good bite. A bit too unbalanced of alcoholic finish and some biting carbonation are its demerits.

I think I’ll now become one of those detestable ex-frat boys that always has his Zeta Beta Tau bottle opener holstered and ready for action. Would have saved us all a lot of pain and misery.

What tricks do you use when you don’t have an opener handy?

B

*I guess in retrospect that shouldn’t be surprising. They have no good college sports programs either.

Molson Export

August 26th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 8 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Molson, Country: Canada, Grade: C-, Style: Pale Ale

5% ABV from a bottle

Looking for fun in a seemingly boring town? Stuff your pockets with a few beers and hit the local Wal-Mart. Smalltown Wal-Marts are like wild game resorts. But instead of shooting bullets and arrows at deer, you can go to these white trash locations to hurl laughter, insults, and invectives at the fucked up local people and their even more fucked up products.

Such was the case when I was in North Country this weekend with my friends Gary and Dan, two brothers who grew up in the area and somehow survived to prosper. After having already seen the Dunkin Donuts inside the gas station and the old man that whittles on the edge of his porch, we needed to locate some more fun. Gary told me if we went to the Malone, NY Wal-Mart Supercenter that I would see things that would scar me for life. Or, at least, make me laugh until I was keeled over on the tobacco chaw-stained linoleum*.

So, after pounding a few Molson Exes–a surprisingly adequate beer, not great, but some decent ale body and flavor, and very drinkable compared to most shit macros–we headed over to the big box store, a taupe-colored monolith on the horizon. Gary warned me that inbreeding was prevalent and I would see some of the ugliest people on planet earth, but I still wasn’t completely prepared for what I was to witness.

Firstly, every person in town is constantly drinking Mountain Dew. It’s the only thing these people swallow beside beer and the slobber running down their gape-jawed faces. I would speculate that these giant beasts need the intense caffeine in order to locomote themselves around town, but I cannot be certain as not much walking seems to be done. Whereas in a normal city like New York where I live, the most prominent sodas are going to be your Cokes, your Pepsis, maybe Sprite or Dr. Pepper, in Malone those are the sodas of hoity toity fancypants folks. In Malone they say, “Give me Dew, or give me death.” I was absolutely stunned how the Wal-Mart soda selection was about a fifteen feet cooler across of all various flavors of the typically green nectar. I bet you think that all that exists is Mountain Dew and Diet Dew. Heck, maybe you’ve even heard of Code Red. Well you would be stunned at how many other variants there are. I don’t recall their wacky names, but I saw blue Dew, purple Dew, orange Dew, teal Dew, and countless other flavors and colors I can’t even remember. It was stunning.

For solid sustenance, the local indulgences of choice are hot dogs and ice cream. More, specifically, Glazier hot dogs, a bizarre fire engine-red-cased wiener unique to the area and made at a nearby meat plant. More specifically than that, the folk like their dogs “Michigan” style, which is a Glazier dog covered in some cheap spaghetti sauce. I’ve never seen people who give such a damn about meager hot dogs. In most of the world, people specifically avoid hot dogs unless they are broke, at a ball game, or in an eating contest. But not in North Country. Everywhere we went people were stuffing their faces with Glaziers like they were manna from above. And anywhere we went people would offer us these dogs. This must have happened two dozen times in a long weekend. When we turned them down, they thought we were the crazy ones. Who in their right mind would turn down a hot dog?! It was fucking bizarre.

Likewise with ice cream. I’ve never seen so many stands, huts, and shacks selling ice cream in a single location. Ice cream is not simply a dessert, not simply an occasional summer treat to cool down in North Country. No, there it is the stomach lubrication that guarantees one will continue to function while producing asses so big they aren’t allowed to ride roller coasters and need houses with custom wide-mouthed toilet seats. Ironically, just like the Dew cans which are also wide-mouthed.

So, these behemoths are riding their rascals and pushing their shopping carts through the Wal-Mart while they eat Glaziers, lap up ice cream, and guzzle Mountain Dew. Appearance-wise, most have completely shaved heads though those with hair have ratty ponytails or John Kruk-quality mullets. And facial hair is a must. Most opt for a goatees though fu machus are popular too. These are absolutely ridiculous looks as the locals have such fat fucking faces that goatees which are typically located on the most southern point of one’s face–i.e. their chin–are instead floating somewhere in the middle of their mugs, several extra chins of ooze residing underneath. This causes an oddball look similar to Al Jolson’s white ring around his mouth when he dressed in blackface to sing “Mammy.”

And Gary was right. Their faces, oh their faces. They just look mentally impaired. Doofy motherfuckers with always-opened mouths and eyeballs with nothing going on behind them. Everyone is so pale too. And of course they literally have rednecks.

For clothes, cheap and dirty construction crew t-shirts lacking sleeves. Sleeves are anathema to North Country. For lowerwear, I don’t think you will be surprised that jorts are the haute couture. Possibly topped off with a NASCAR hat or some fishing bucket cap. Any outfit fancier than that will betray you as being an outsider. One local man wondered Gary was so “spiffed” up. My pal was wearing a Joba Chamberlain t-shirt jersey, dirty cargo shorts, and flip-flops!

And we actually met a man named Bub. A man named Bub!

I’ve never heard such overt racism. Which is funny because after ordering food from a black Burger King employee at a rest stop on Thursday night somewhere about an hour north of the city on I-87, I didn’t see another person of African decent for the next four days. Everywhere we went it was n-word this and n-word that. I saw a motorcyclist at the Wal-Mart with a bumper sticker affixed to his helmet which simply read: “If you don’t speak English, get the fuck out of my country.” Suffice to say, I pretended I wasn’t a Jew, spending the weekend introducing myself as “Christian Christiansen” while eliminating all the Yiddish words and expressions that often spice my communications. Thus, “tchotchkes” became “shit on da’ walls at da’ diner,” “nosh” became “grub on some Glaziers,” and bagel because “crazy hole bread.” Likewise, when the drunk rednecks pulled out the firearms and munitions I had to catch myself from saying, “Oy vey, this is mishigas!”

Other favorite local argot would include “pussy” and “faggot.” As in, “‘eh pussy, quit bein’ a feh-gat and lets go get sum Glay-sher hawt dahgs.” In North Country, if you don’t do something some one wants you to do, thinks you should do, then you are immediately a pussy or a faggot.  Sometimes both.

Not that you can understand what these folks are saying. A drunk Bela Karolyi would be far easier for me to understand. Their speaking style is a cross between someone with Bell’s palsy and someone that accidentally staple-gunned their lips to each other. Their cadence is loud and jutting. Words explode from the back of their throats, with incorrect syllables given some extra oomph. Not that many polysyllabic words are spoken. Their accents are an oddball amalgam of Buffalo lower class, Canadian lower class, and person pretending to be a retard. Makes the accents of Western NYers sound sophisticated. Or at least good enough for voiceover work. I just nodded when these folks spoke to me, unsure what exactly was being conveyed. Eventually I figured some things out.

Thus the common North Country phrase:

“Waaaaaaaaaah, luck ada tiiiihts ahn ‘er. Yer’ a pah-oooooooooo-see if ya’ done ga’ ‘it on ‘er, ayh gahya.”

Would translate to:

“Wow, look at the tits on her. You’re a pussy if you don’t go hit on her, eh guy.”

Not that there are any tits worth looking at for hundreds of miles around. Ever heard the crass expression “fun bags”? Well I would say that the women in the area have un-fun bags, gigantic sacks of fat dangling from their obese torsos, pulling their back down and make them hunched over as they drag their sickly little retard children around on leashes.

Oh, the products these people buy! They stuff their carts with all sorts of shit. Upon entering I immediately saw a section of beer signs. You could literally buy the kinds of cheap signs promoting cheap shit beers that many eighteen year olds hang in their dorm rooms. And they seemed to be doing a brisk business as that area was one of the more messed-with sections of the store.

You can also purchase food at Wal-Mart. All of it frozen and fat-laden. Tons of microwave pizzas and sacks of knock-off Ore-Ida products. The most fucked up thing I saw though were hot dogs wrapped in pancakes (both chocolate chip and blueberry flavor!)

The beer section is a tribute to quantity not quality.  24 cases of beers you’ve never heard of for the low, low price of $4.99.

Finally, in the back of the store, we stumbled upon an entire aisle devoted to furry steering wheel covers. An entire aisle! I didn’t even know this product existed, but in Malone their must be a huge demand for it. Firstly, why do you need to cover your steering wheel with anything and second, why would you want it to be furry like a cheap bath mat?! I do not know these answers. I don’t not know the answers to most of the questions I was confronted with during my hour in Wal-Mart. I was as flummoxed as the first time I heard about String Theory. It became too much. I felt weak, I felt like throwing up. I needed to get back to the car and just be alone for a while. And be thankful I would never enter the North Country Wal-Mart again.

C-

*Gary encouraged me to blast his hometown as much as I could. He noted that no one there knows how to use the internet so no one from there will ever read this. I don’t completely believe him so I look forward to hearing from North Country folks in the comments.

Russian River Supplication

August 21st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Wild Ale

PREVIOUSLY ON MY TOP TEN MOST WANTED LIST

7% ABV mini-magnum (BATCH OO3)

THE VICE BLOG’S 2008 ELECTION COVERAGE

The Vice Blog endorses:

NOT VOTING

They say you can’t complain if you don’t vote. BULLSHIT. You can best complain if you don’t vote. And “Rock the Vote”? Fuck you MTV. It’s borderline criminal to encourage your retarded minions to just willy nilly pull the lever like some neanderthal at a one-armed bandit. You only do it because you know 90% of them will vote for the Democrat. But it doesn’t matter, both candidates suck. Both candidates always suck.

Here’s a little secret friends. Politicians don’t care about you. They care about attaining fame and power and on-the-sly affairs with skanky women out of their league, and a whole lotta Facebook friends. And, believe me, more power to them, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I pen my hilariously entertaining, provocative, and intellectually stimulating blog posts in order to attract the very same things. But I don’t pretend that I’m doing it for “you.” These politicians aren’t doing anything for you. Or for “us.” No politician ever has. Sure, some are better at faking compassion and empathy than others, but no, they don’t care about you.

If they really cared about us they would go get a real job. You know, something that actually benefits us. Something that benefits society. Like…say…being a fire fighter, or a doctor, a novelist, an architect, a chef, or even a garbage man. The only problem is, the kind of person that goes into politics goes into politics because they aren’t smart enough, skilled enough, or talented enough to do anything else. The quiver of their skill set is empty, not a single arrow. Politics is the grad school of the real world. People go into grad school because they aren’t competent enough yet to begin living a productive life and people go into politics for the very same reasons.

Hmmm…how can I use my intense ambition to gain fame and fortune without any talent? A reality show? Well…yes, but you’ll lose your dignity. Ah, politics. You lose your dignity there too but you get more fame and faux-power.

And it is faux-power. With rare exception, professional sports team mascots are far more powerful than politicians.

This is not anti one side of the other. This is anti all of corporate politics. Politicians are good at only one thing. Making worthless laws. Actually, they’re also good at being foolish little nerds that produce fodder for late night comedians. But all these fucking laws…

You can’t do anything nowadays. You can’t smoke anywhere, you can barely drink. You can’t eat fatty foods. You can’t get married if you’re gay. You can’t do drugs that only harm you. You can’t fuck hookers. You can’t take multiple wives. You can’t clone yourself. You can’t even commit suicide. You can’t, you can’t , you can’t, you can’t do anything any more.

And I predict by the year 2025 we won’t even be allowed to eat meat. It’s coming folks, believe me.

What a fucking nanny state we live in. We have no freedom.

You say politicians protects us from vices? Poppycock. Those things are only vices because politicians say they are. I’d much rather write the Enjoys His Life blog.

Politicians aren’t economists but they think they can pontificate on the economy. They’re not scientists but they think they can make laws about the environment and medicine. And they’re not moral paragons by any standard but they hypocritically think they can dictate how we have to exist.

We’d be better off in an anarchy. We know best how to live our own lives.

Finally, voting is not cool. It’s just not. No one thought it was cool to vote in student council elections. And they were right, it wasn’t. I should know. I was once my high school class president, winning the (un)popular vote by I think something along the lines of a 6 to 2 total vote victory (in a class of some 700). Yeah, not exactly a good electoral turnout. And there’s no reason to turnout for a national election either. John and Barry are just as big of nerds as the people like me that were running for class office back when we were seventeen. You shouldn’t support nerds.

OK, fine, you want to exercise democracy. You want to get that stupid sticker that says “I Voted.” Wow, you voted today?! Like 130 million other people? Cooooooooool. I took a shit, masturbated twice, and ate a chicken salad sandwich. And you don’t see me affixing a sticker with all that info onto my cardigan’s lapel.

But maybe you feel bad, like I did (somewhat), when my emigre pal Ian derided me for refusing to vote when so many other people only can dream that they live in a country where they could exercise such power.

Fine, if you absolutely have to vote…

Then vote for BOB BARR.

He’s the closest to a laissez-faire candidate we have. And the closer to that, the better for us all. Plus, he has an awesome Errol Flynn-esque mustache and he makes fun of the bad breath of his very own supporters.

Ah, Supplication. I don’t know why Russian River calls it that, but it’s a perfect word to describe our election season. Supplication, a humble request from your dear Vice Blogger to not vote, and rather just sit back and enjoy glorious beer..

The great Marie said she had cellared this one for about a year. The bottle claims it’s a brown ale aged for fourteen months in pinot noir barrels. So if you do the math, that’s over two years of aging. Cool. Probably the most vintage beer I’ve ever had. Excluding that Chelada.

The label also notes that wild cherries, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus are added to the barrel during the aging process. Then, the Supplication is bottle fermented to add carbonation and make it like a champagne or sparkling wine. Yeast sediment remains in the bottle.

Supplication pours an absolutely gorgeous color. A very unique color for a beer. Like the juice of a blood orange. Unbelievable lacing.

You can definitely tell it’s a wild ale by its smell but it’s not that overpowering. Darker than the few other wild ales I’ve started to encounter in the last few months.

Wow, it’s tart. However, it’s tart but not sour. If that makes sense. Cherries are very detectable. The flavor is so pronounced and delicious. If your like tart cherries you will adore this beer. The oak and yeast are very much noted too. I like it much better than the Cuvee de Castleton wild ale I had recently, and that one wasn’t too shabby itself.

Supplication is more flavorful, just as tart, but more balanced with other components. Of course very fizzy like a champagne. But tastes like a red wine. The other wild ales I’ve had seem more like whites. Goes down smoooooooth. Not that alcoholic or potent in taste. And the more you drink it the better it becomes.

Maybe I’m a weirdo, maybe I’m an oddball, but I like to drink the yeast sediment. On bottle conditioned bombers, my first glass I usually do a slow (recommended!) yeastless pour. For the second glass I always add the sediment though and I always, to a glass, like the second one better. Maybe it’s all in my head, maybe I’m a weirdo, but it is what it is.

A very odd, strange beer that I don’t think Joe Sixpack would like. I’d like him to try it though. I’m sad I don’t have more of it and may never get to sip it again.

Because it is WORLD-CLASS.

A+

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

August 20th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Weyerbacher, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: IPA

9% ABV from a bomber

You live in New York City cause you don’t wanna grow up. And that’s not cause you’re a Toys “R” Us kid, it’s cause you don’t want to spend all Saturday afternoon mowing the fucking lawn. You’d rather actually enjoy your weekend, spending it relaxing on the lawn, as in the Great Lawn, which is mowed by a grounds crew out on work release from Queensboro Correctional, allowing you to do more important, fun things, such as nap in the sun, smoke cigars, day-drink, and block out the prattle of untalented amateur street musicians.

And you don’t want to own a five bedroom house. I’m sure that’s nice, but what do you need all that space for? It’s more fun to still be 30 and renting a shoebox filled with rats and roaches, living next door to a bunch of weirdos. Leads to better stories and always keeps you on your toes. Comfort begets the atrophy of mind, body, and soul.

And you don’t want to drive places. God driving sucks. You can’t do anything while you drive but…drive. And listen to miserable local radio DJs that couldn’t hack it in a real market discussing all the miserable things occurring locally. Mass transit is the way to go. You can read and do crosswords, ogle women, touch germ-laden poles and straps to contract oddball strains of disease, and ignore bums’ poorly-crafted sob stories.

And you don’t want to eat a square meal with your old lady after work. You want to hit happy hour! And get shit-faced. Grab some jalapeno poppers and chicken wings for dinner. And then some pizza afterwards for dinner number two. Aren’t you a little old to still be doing that?! Fuck no, this is New York City, we all still do that! We’ll never grow up!!

And you don’t want to be fat. Yeah, you really don’t want to be fat. I’m no scientist, but I am an anecdotal observationist and I have a little theory that suburban living directly leads to fatness and baldness. And you don’t want that. You want to live in a city with thin people who have lustrous heads of well-coiffed hair. It makes for a nicer general aesthetic than having to reside in a place with 300 pound orcas holding Cold Stone in their right hand, Chipotle in their left, and Quizno’s in their fanny pack.

And you don’t want to deal with fucking babies. Ever been to a party or get-together outside of Manhattan? There’s fucking babies everywhere you look! Like goddamn Gremlins. You’re trying to relax, tell a bawdy story or two, maybe get loaded and attempt to fornicate with a stranger, and then a fucking toddler comes over yanking your jeans leg. Good lord! Children are neither to be seen nor heard in New York. We are children ourselves, we don’t want any more of them.

And you really don’t want to have lights off, stone-cold sober, Jay Leno on in the background, missionary position, rhythm method, vaginal intercourse with your wife-you-no-longer-love 2.5 times per month. Yeah, you pretty much want the polar opposite of that.

But mostly, you just want excitement. Every single day to be different. A surprise around every corner. And bars that are open to dawn.

You don’t wanna grow up, because if you did, you’d see how boring the world can truly be.

But beer is always exciting!

My e-friend, the Drunken Polack, one of the few beer bloggers online that doesn’t suck, told me to explore some Weyenbacher brews, starting with this one. I listened to him, he knows his shit.

Simcoe has a very piney smell, like a Christmas tree. Or at least how I recall a Christmas tree smelling on the few occasions that your humble Jewish narrator was allowed into a Christian home during Noel. That’s cool, I’m not bitter, that’s not the reason I moved to the Tel Aviv of America once I got my walkin’ papers. We never let the un-Chosen People into our home to light the menorah either.

The brew’s taste is equally piney. A nice simcoe hoppy bitterness as well. Not that I knew what simcoe was until I acquired this beer.

Not that potent for a 9% DIPA. Which is quite shocking actually as that’s a pretty prodigious ABV for even a double. It’s very drinkable and I really dig the mouthfeel of this one. It tingle the insides of my cheeks and tickles my tongue. Nice! Like the first time I got French kissed under the bleachers during the ice cream social sock hop. I’ll never forget you Gladys!

Simcoe IPA is very good, but it feels a tad “one-note.” Nevertheless, I look forward to trying more Weyerbachers.

B+

Old Chub Scottish Style Ale

August 19th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Oskar Blues, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Scottish Ale

8% ABV from a can

“Are you gonna blog about this?”

Mid-gulp I turned around. She was much better looking than I would have guessed regarding the unusual circumstances.  Thus, she had to be crazy.

Last week a random girl A___ had sent me an e-mail telling me how much she liked an entry I had written about a certain beer she liked.  She also noted how much she liked the bar where I mentioned getting the beer. I told her I likewise liked that bar. She thought we should like it together. I quickly agreed to meet her for a drink.

“You’re not even gonna ask me what I look like?”

True, perhaps I had been too overzealous.  Damn. But I didn’t care if she was 70 years old and ugly as Joy Behar, I had done something remarkable in only four easy steps:

1. Drink a beer.

2. Write an article about said beer.

3. Woman reads said article about said beer.

4. Now said woman wants to sleep with said me.

I wish life were always so simple. However, now A___ refused to tell me or show me what she looked like pre-date. She claimed it didn’t matter, that I shouldn’t be concerned, because there was no doubt I would “love her.” I told her what George Bernard Shaw said:

“Love is a gross exagageration of the difference between one person and everybody else.”

So, yeah, I didn’t know what she was gonna look like and now I was a tad nervous. What kind of woman could read my vulgar missives and think me a good catch? Think they absolutely had to meet me?!  Actually, I imagine most, I am indeed pretty awesome and my writings don’t even tell half the story.

Nevertheless, I got to the bar early to make sure my beer goggles were securely in place before A___ arrived. It didn’t matter though, she was surprisingly stunning. And she quickly wanted to buckle down and get some beer-drinking done. But first…

“Are you gonna blog about this?”

People always ask me that question nowadays when we’re in the midst of something. Some activity.  Having some shits and giggles.  And there’s no good answer.

I typically reply, “Well, yes, if something interesting happens.”

That’s not a great answer, though it is true. Paradoxically, the people I’m with both want to and don’t want to be blogged about.

They want to because it’s validation. It’s validation that they were a part of a good, memorable time; validation that they are a good, memorable person. At least that’s what they think, though it’s not exactly how I feel.  Many of the best times of my life are simply not interesting enough to an outside reader to necessitate writing about.

However, these same people don’t want to be blogged about because…well, I’m not actually sure why. Do they think that simply being a part of my blog will sully their sterling reputations? That it would be an event they will never be able to recover from? Like appearing in a “Girls Gone Wild” video or something? I’m still unclear about the line of thought. Especially considering me (and portly Kansans) are pretty much the only people I mock, defame, and libel in my writings.

I explained this all to her and she immediately took it as a challenge. She had to make the evening interesting enough to get written up. Cool with me.  Little did she know, though, that no matter how mundane the occasion, I was 100% going to write about my first date with a Vice Blog reader.  If we had an fun, interesting time, well all the better.

A___ was from near Boulder, Colorado originally and she seemed to know her beer. She recommended Old Chub from the Oskar Blues Brewery. I had never tried it before but I had certainly heard quite a bit about Oskar Blues. Mainly because they’re the only craft brewery in America that cans their beers.

Yes. They can their beers. A highly regarded beer from a can?! My interest was aroused but I was also quite leery.

I shouldn’t have been.

Old Chub has a thick smell, kinda like soy sauce though not unpleasant. Tastes of caramel, chocolate, and pronounced smoked malt. Very nice flavor and not what I expected. Kinda tastes like a dopplebock actually. It also went down a lot smoother than I thought nor was it as filling as I figured it would be.

However, it is perhaps a little boring. I would have it again though and am intrigued to try more Oskar Blues brews.

As we tippled our Old Chubs, A___ wouldn’t stop talking about…well, me. Specifically my writing. No matter how I tried to steer the conversation–toward the Olympics, toward other beers on the menu, toward last week’s awesome “Mad Men” episode, even toward the humor in watching the fat gal at the end of the bar eating an entire platter of nachos grande by herself–she kept coming back to me and my writing.  Discussing her favorite posts and mentioning many of her favorite lines and views espoused by your humble author.

Did this get annoying after a while?

Fu-uck no. I loved it.  I mean, I am a deep-seated narcissist.  Incurvatus in se ipsum.

So no A___, you didn’t do anything quite interesting enough to make me want to write about it, but you did make me realize who the perfect kinda girl is for me:

A member of my own fan club.

B+

[To join the fan club please write me at theviceblog [at] gmail.com!!!!]

Russian River’s Blind Pig IPA

August 18th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

6.1% ABV from bottle

Call me a chauvinist, call me delusional, heck, call me a fucking asshole (but in the comments section, please), but after ten straight days of feasting on a smörgåsbord of Olympics, here are the female events I believe I could medal in or help a team medal in with just a month of training.

Field Hockey

Why?: I dated a girl once who played high-level collegiate field hockey for what I understand is a national power. After school she continued to play on a very competitive club team in the city. I tagged along once to watch a practice and afterward dicked around with her stick seeing how well I could strike the ball. The answer was quite well.  In fact, much better than any of the long-time-playing woman there. And I was a much faster runner than all of them too, though my “dribbling” was admittedly a little shoddy. Thus, this leads me to believe I would be the Wayne Gretzky of women’s Olympic field hockey, pelting the net with my screaming shots as the opposing defensewomen cowered to the ground in fear of bruised thighs and battered egos.

Why not?: Like most men who have played sports their whole lives, I have a fairly bad back, and thus I can’t imagine being hunched over in that awkward stance for an hour and half long game. Also, my legs would look so great in my short sporting skirt that inevitably my teammates would be thrown off and unable to concentrate on the competition at hand.

Handball

Why?: Have you watched these matches? Have you seen how slow these women throw?! How little of velocity they get on their shots?!! Well that wouldn’t be a problem for me.  I may have a rag arm now in my old age but it’s still a veritable Dan Marino-type cannon compared to Olympic women’s handballers. Women’s handballers throw like the kid that sucks at grade school dodgeball. The kid that tells his mom to write a letter to the principal excusing him from participating in the masochistic game due to the trauma it inflicts on him.

Why not?: I really can’t think of a reason why not. Maybe the fact that I don’t know the rules and would probably just quickly scan handball’s wikipedia entry fifteen minutes before my team’s first match? Yeah, I would probably commit a lot of infractions I wouldn’t be aware of. And you know the officials would call me for a lot of BS fouls too.

Javelin:

Why?: The world record currently stands at 71.7 meters by one Osleidys Menéndez of Cuba. Please. I could throw an unsharpened number 2 pencil that far using my left arm while seated in a rolling desk chair.

Why not?: Because I have no idea where to buy a javelin. You think Modell’s sells them? I doubt my fellow competitors would lend me theirs for the competition. Especially since I’m gonna be kicking their asses. Hmmm…wonder if I can get a deal on a good used one on ebay?

Fencing (Saber)

Why?: As exciting as it was to see Beca Ward, Sada Jacobson, and the oddly sexy Mariel Zagunis produce a USA sweep of the medals at this year’s games, I was stupefied by how slow the womens’ footwork was during parries and ripostes. They lumbered around, moving as if their trousers were full of shit. And, come to think of it, looking at some pictures, maybe they had in fact soiled their drawers. Now, I may not be Barry Sanders or anything agility-wise, but I’m a lot nimbler than these gals. Not to mention, my reflexes are highly acute due to always being alertly wired on the Voltaire-esque amounts of caffeine I consume every single day. I would be poking these women in their sextes and quartes so quickly during my balestras that they wouldn’t know what to do!

Why not?: A much bigger body surface area than my fellow competitors would make it a lot easier for them to get scoring hits. Plus, I’m a little concerned about how good of vision I would have through one of those beekeeper’s-like masks they wear.

And one women’s sport I would be terrible at:

Trampoline

Why?: I’m a stoic so I’m not frightened by many things, but I have been scared shitless of jumping on trampolines ever since I was a little kid. I was always fearful of mistiming a leap, losing track of where I was on the bouncing surface, and falling into the open void in between canvas and base, thus getting my entire lower body stuck between two of those menacing coils. Ouch!  You can imagine that I never did anything more difficult than little six inch vertical bunny hops on the trampoline bed, too scared to put the pedal to the floor and see how high I could go. I wouldn’t even get on the trampoline with other kids, too worried that numerous youngsters bouncing at once would cause a ridiculous exponential recoil affect that would propel me far off into the ether. I always admired the kids with the balls to do back flips and stuff, for I was too chickenshit of those damn coils. Hey, why’s this a sport any how?!

Of course, like any good armchair sportsman, I came to all these realizations while lazily lounging on my sofa in my boxer briefs, stuffing my face with Flipz (sweet white fudge coating with a nice salty pretzel core–they are delicious!) and drinking beers. The brew for the day was Blind Pig IPA, another Russian River selection from the package sent to me by the amazing Marie. In fact, she told me she actually prefers it to Pliny in bottle form.  Intriguing.

Right of the bat, it has a great smell. Very bitter IPA, fresh and well-balanced with some powerful hops, kinda like Ruination. Grapefruity and I detect a slight minty flavor as well. It has to be said, it simply doesn’t taste quite as good as it smells. It’s very drinkable though and I think it could make for a splendid session beer. Nice and cold (as ordered by Russian River on their bottle) it was indeed tasty.

Blind Pig is good, damn good, but I just don’t find it super flavorful, interesting, or complex enough to be considered the masterpiece a lot of people seem to think it is.

A-