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Archive for October, 2008

Cascazilla

October 31st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 13 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Ithaca Beer Company, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Red Ale

6.5% ABV bottled

She sipped her cheap blush wine and nuzzled closer to me. She clearly wanted to ask me a question but was nervous. Spit it out, I wanted to say. She finally spat. “Tell me about your last girlfriend…”

A loaded question if I’ve ever heard one, but I’m a bit of a psychological savant and have answered these enough in the past to know the “correct” answer. I took a sip of my Cascazilla, a “monstrously” hopped red ale that pours maroon, smells like an IPA, and tastes like one too. Pretty tasty, and quite drinkable.

GULP.

“Well…my last girlfriend had major intimacy issues, lived under the shroud of her smothering mother who happened to hate me, couldn’t see and enjoy the practically perfect present for the always-unpredictable future, was clinically lazy, had a fear of commitment which she hid by claiming that I actually did, possessed a pathetically cyclical history of kamikazeing her serial relationships with the same personal errors, and, most egregiously of all, was not a champion of my dreams.”

Perhaps I’d gone overboard.

That was true but those were the only really bad things about her, stuff that could have easily been fixed. But that was irrelevant at this point in time. When a new girl you’re wooing lacks confidence, you tell her only bad things about your ex. One that is confident though, you can’t go far enough in telling her the good things, giving her lofty goals that she will then forever try to live up to and exceed.*

“She was smart as a whip, the sweetest person I’ve ever known, always laughed at my shit, even moreso put up with my bullshit, could drink like a longshoreman, liked to party more than me, fantastic and always forthcoming in between the sheets, enjoyed bar games, was incredibly creative, was my raucous ‘partner in crime,’ and had a comfortable bed…”

Tonight was our first “test” date. Er, actually, it had somehow become a “test” date when she started grilling me. The third date is usual a little early to get the third degree, but whatever, I was too drunk to mind. The only reason I hate being questioned, “tested,” is because it makes for boring conversation. I’d rather just drink, watch a movie, or make fun of other people not as genetically gifted as me.

Why must women always shanghai their chances by getting another woman’s essence into a partner’s head? What a stupid thing to do. You wouldn’t physically derail a man’s interest in you by showing him pornography–unless you were: awesome!–so why mentally derail him by forcing me to have remembrances of things past? And, indeed, now it was no surprise that I was thinking about her.

I was still miffed how it had ended. Completely arbitrarily and unnecessarily. Quite frankly, I was still shocked she hadn’t contacted me once in the however many months since we had broken up. On D-Day plus One I would have bet the heavily-subsidized farm that she would have phoned, e-mailed, texted, and/or carrier pigeoned me by now. Maybe that’s my narcissism acting up. Or, I guess she just didn’t love me as much as I thought she did.

I returned to the present.

“I’d always champion your dreams, Aaron.”

She said it, but I wasn’t so sure. Heck, I wasn’t so sure, yet, if she was even smart enough to know that the word “champion” could mean something other than the sweaty guy that gets to kiss a pretty trophy and display a giant novelty check after winning a sporting event.

Well, if my “new” girl was going to test me, I was going to test her. I don’t particularly care about a woman’s past unless it involves chronic STD contraction or ravenous intravenous drug usage, so I simply follow a trick Quentin Tarantino taught me.** I make each new girl of interest watch my favorite movie of all time — “Annie Hall.”

I’m surely not that daft, but I did used to agree with the line from the great “High Fidelity”: “What really matters is what you like, not what you’re like.”

Then why did every girl I’d ever liked, at worst, loathe “Annie Hall,” and, at best, feel apathetically bored by it?

It’s too irreverent. Too weird. Too old. Too out-of-touch. Too slow. And Woody gives me the creeps, they’d say. I’d heard all the complaints.

Finally, on Tuesday night, I’d come to realize, it didn’t fucking matter whether a girl likes “Annie Hall,” or good beer, or college basketball. All the mattered was if I liked to be with her. And I thought I might like this girl. I paused “Annie Hall,” grabbed her hand, and escorted her to her bedroom. Afterward, when she went to the bathroom, coming back she retrieved the DVD and her laptop from the living room and brought them back to bed. She had actually been loooooooving “Annie Hall” and couldn’t wait to see how it was going to end.

B+

*As a secondary purpose, these revelations also allow you to tell a new girl exactly what you expect in a relationship, a template for what you will and won’t tolerate.

**QT: “When I’m getting serious about a girl, I show her ‘Rio Bravo’ and she better fucking like it.”

(Also, please to join The Vice Blog FACEBOOK group. I’m trying to get the #1 ranked beer blog on Facebook.  Link in the upper right hand corner of my page!)

St. Bernardus Abt 12

October 30th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 17 Comments | Filed in Brewer: St. Bernardus, Country: Belgium, Grade: A regular, Style: Quadrupel

10.5% ABV from a bomber

What’s your number?

No, not that number you sicko. That’s a number you should probably never tell any one. What I’m talking about is the number of beers you’ve had on Beer Advocate’s 100 Top Beers on Planet Earth.

Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way an end-all of beer drinking supremecy. Many of the brews probably don’t belong on the list, only there due to statistical fluke, while quite a few others are virtually unattainable for mere mortals. Not that I am mere.

But there are many great, great legitimate beers on the list. The one currently resting in the #20 slot, St. Bernardus Abt 12, being one such. I would dare say it may be the most “attainable” great beer on the list, certainly in the top 25, as pretty much all Whole Foods, gourmet supermarkets, and high-end liquors stores have this around and in stock at all times.

The fact that it is so attainable, the fact that it does have over 1150 Beer Advocate rankings, makes its place on the Top 100 list all the more impressive. This isn’t a case of a small sample size of beer nerds driving up the ranking of an impossible-to-find limited release brew that is perhaps only so-so. I mean really, should beers with only 20 total reviews be included in the rankings? I’m not sure they should.

This is people from all across the globe easily finding this beer, already knowing its greatness, yet continuing to score it remarkable well.

And indeed, it is a damn fine brew. Not quite as dark as most quads I’ve had, but very strong to the smell. Potent in taste as well. Smooth and creamy, somewhat buttery though not in a bad way, and sweet along with citrus esters. Not quite as complex as say, a Westmalle Dubbel, but brilliant nonetheless. Amazingly drinkable.

As for my number….

I currently have drank 24 of the top 100 beers, with 6 additional brews on tap. That is either currently sitting in my apartment, or en route to me via beer trade. 30 beers. 30%. Doesn’t seem like that great of number but when you consider how many brews on the list can only be found by hanging out with asocial, girlfriendless beer losers at brewery release “parties,” by visiting a Belgium monastery, or by trading with a stranger in some far off place you never plan on visiting, then you realize that I may be doing alright.

Or, at least I think I am.

So I want to know (in the comments), what’s your number? Make me envious.

A

(Also, please to join The Vice Blog FACEBOOK group. Link in the upper right hand corner of my page!)

Swithwick’s

October 29th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Guinness, Country: Ireland, Grade: B-, Style: Red Ale

4.5% ABV on draught

Sunrise on a foursome ~ Murphy bed ~ Brian ~ Brazilian meats ~ Umbros as underwear ~ Brian’s tippling caveat ~ Meet Market Adventures ~ The seduction(s) ~ Boutique hotel rooms ~ Bathroom coitus ~ What the fuck? ~ Breakfast and laughs

The sun came in through the eastern exposed window, hitting the four sleeping people crammed onto the small Murphy bed which housed from right to left, easterly to westerly: me, my one-night stand, Brian’s one night stand, and Brian, all of us in various and unfortunate states of undress. The previous night had begun so normally, so PG, so unceremoniously headed toward mundaneness and early bedtimes.

But then, ain’t that how the best nights always begin? With the lowest of low expectations?

On Thursday morning I received a text from a good out-of-town friend Brian. He had been handed some spur-of-the-moment meetings in New York and was on the Acela en route. His night would be free though and he thought we should grab dinner. On the company card, natch. He enlisted me to pick a place. Living in Hell’s Kitchen near Little Brazil, I instantly offered the idea of a churrascaria, otherwise known as stuff-your-face-with-skewered-meat-until-you-are-supine.

Before Brian’s communique, I had planned on doing laundry that night, having no underwear clean. I hate going commando, especially on a hot and sticky night in the city, so I rummaged through my dresser for the most undergarment-like thing I had to don. Eventually, in the back, back, back of my dresser, I found a pair of high school-era tight-like-the-Europeans-wear Umbro soccer shorts. Shimmery, shiny, overly colorful, and with a long drawstring, they would have to suffice. And, since Brian had already explicitly stated that we would under no circumstances be drinking alcohol due to the fact that he had a bright-and-early Friday meeting, I figured I’d only be out wearing my soccerwear for an hour or two. Hey, what could go wrong?

Soon, I would see how Murphy’s Law would lead to Murphy’s bed.

We met at the Brazilian joint, asking to be sat in the dark basement so impressionable youths would not have to witness our savage destruction. For those of you rubes that have never ate churrascaria before, it essentially works like this: for a single price (usually in the $20-25 range) you get an all-you-can-eat of carnivore’s delight. On your table you have a card, on one side a green “go” light, on the other a red “stop” light. As numerous ESL waiters walk through the dining room carrying countless skewers of differing meats on a stick–beef, chicken, pork, lamb, shit wrapped in bacon, etc–a green light-turned card tells the gents to keep piling portions onto your plate. Not expecting to drink, and showing amazing discipline in spurning offers of delicious Caipirinhas, Brian and I must have put down a dozen pounds of animal in under a half hour. It was glorious. And, oddly enough, over oh-so-quickly.

Our bellies bulging like Buddha, we listened to a seemingly endless loop of “Girl from Ipanema” and “Mas Que Nada”–apparently the only two Brazilian songs ever written and performed–being played by the bossa nova band out front, laying back in our chairs and gasping for air. The night was still very young. What could one drink hurt?

I hate to transgress my friends, so I refused to broach the subject. But I hoped. I sent ESP signals across the entrails, viscera, and meat-laden spittle covering our table. Finally, Brian reacted, a neon bar light going off beside his head–an idea!

“Let’s go get A drink,” he said, accenting the “A” with a long-vowel stressing–as opposed to the typical schwa pronunciation–that one only uses when they are truly fucking serious.

Nearby on Eighth Avenue was a bar where Brian and I had had some fun times in the past and he quickly offered up that joint for my approval. Now, for whatever reason, I–like most locals–never go out on Eighth Avenue. Eighth is for the bridge-and-tunnel, the happy hour heroes, the tourists with just enough balls to venture to a tavern outside of Times Square, and flight attendants in town for the night and staying at nearby midtown hotels. In other words, a perfect storm of deviant, don’t-know-when-they’ve-had-enough, easy lays. Fun times are always had in Eighth Avenue bars, I should go more often. This time would prove to be no exception.

As we entered the classless and sterile pub, a stream of all-dolled-up women spewed out the front door like a bison herd. “Did a pipe carrying noxious gases just burst in back?” we wondered. Nope. Seems a Meet Market Adventures speed dating event had just ended. We would quickly realize that the girls leaving the bar were the ones that still had a shred of dignity, a sliver of confidence still inside of them. These were the girls that wanted to at least cry about their romantic failures in the privacy of their own homes. What remained in the bar was a gaggle of desperate women who had amazingly not found “Mr. Right” during the event and were now content to get shit-faced while singing along to “I Will Survive” off the Bose jukebox.

We pushed through the failed would-be Mr. Rights, milquetoast dorks dressed as if they were attending a wine tasting, blazers and khakis galore, all smarting after having been rebuffed by the female speed-daters, and hit the bar to get our drinks and scope the scene. With no great tap offerings we went with Swithwick’s, the ubiquitous and usually mispronounced beer* that is satisfactory enough in a pinch.

Brian and I quickly showed our speed-seduction prowess by becoming the life of the bar, the bon vivants of the party, the idols of every girl in attendance. We are funny and scene-stealing enough in normal crowds, but going up vis-a-vis with pathetic speed-daters was as if you had planted a steroids-era baseballer back into the 1940s. We quickly had our pick of the litter. And I don’t mean litter (def. 1), I mean litter as in garbage, rubbish, refuse.

Brian went for the queen bee, an actual employee of Meet Market who was running the whole sob-fest. With 300 ccs of confidence injected into her chest, I was quite jealous of Brian’s score. I found myself with a cute but pathetic speed-dater, too shy to flirt and do much talking, malleable to my every whim. In other words, perfect for me, as I adore the sound of my own voice and I very much like to tell women what to do as though I’m Patton.

Not surprisingly, only A drink became huge tabs replete with pint after pint and shot after shot. Soon we were the last in the bar and the party needed to move elsewhere. Brian suggested retiring to his nearby hotel room to hit the minibar and play some “party games.” Of course, upon arriving at Brian’s hotel, I learned that it is what is quaintly known as a “boutique.” Which, in Manhattan, means a tiny, shithole. The room was as small as a janitor’s closet with nothing more than the aforementioned Murphy bed, a mirror, a rabbit ears TV, and of course nothing even remotely resembling a minibar.

The four of us stared at each other with dumbfounded, what the fuck do we do now?, looks on our pusses. It was near 4:00 AM and our options were limited. Fortune favors the bold, and followers need leaders, so I had no other choice. I ordered my girl:

“Go to the bathroom, strip naked, and I’ll be in there in a sec.”

And she wordlessly did as she was told, shutting the door behind her. I shrugged at Brian and he shrugged back. Quite frankly I was a little impressed by myself. Brian’s girl had a leery look on her face, wondering what deviant things were about to occur. “Hey, you run these Meet Market Adventures. You should be happy she’s about to get laid.”

I followed my girl in, indeed finding her naked and standing in the bathtub. I liked this one!

We began to ravenously make out and as I reached down to unbuckle my jeans, for the first time in twelve hours I recalled what I was wearing under them. I snickered in my head, a tinge of worry, predicting that nothing kills a drunken 4 AM mood faster than hot pink and purple soccer trunks. Thus, I was forced to pull everything down at once, in the blink of an eye, totally breaking hook-up protocol but thus never giving her a chance to see my embarrassing Umbros.

When we finished, I no longer cared. I threw on my Umbros and we headed back into the room, finding Brian and his girl missing. We collapsed on the bed, my girl kindly insisting that the two of us only take 50% of the small sleeping space, should we doze off and our friends return. Of course, that is exactly what happened, and that is exactly how just a few hours later, I woke up in a tiny Murphy bed, me, my girl, Brian’s girl, and Brian, all in various states of undress. God, I don’t want to know what happened on the 50% of bedspace open beside me. Then again, at least I had my girl as a buffer, like those bumpers you throw up to help kids and retards bowl better. Likewise, I couldn’t complain as it was possible I had caused Brian’s company to get charged room damages for my bathroom dalliance.

Somehow, Brian woke the exact same time as me, and over top the shoulders of our sleeping lasses, we looked at each other and laughed. And then, OHHHHHHHHHHHH!, collapsed back to our shared pillows, our heads throbbing with the most epic fucking hangovers ever.

“SHIT!” Brian’s meeting was in just fifteen minutes. As he scrambled to get dressed, I tried to shake the bitches awake. I’ve always been amazed by how deeply somnolent my one-night stands can be. Girls are just wired differently than us I suppose.

By the time the girls were awake and tidy enough to walk of shame back to Yonkers and Hoboken–each of them cutely giving their respective man a business card should we ever want to have future contact with them (we wouldn’t)–Brian had already decided he wasn’t making his meeting and would just call in sick, cementing his status as a legend of vice.

We headed to a diner to grab brunch and recount the past fifteen hours ad nauseum.

B-

*Smi-dicks

Dogfish Head Midas Touch Golden Elixir

October 28th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Spiced Beer

9% ABV bottled

Here’s to the idiots that order stupid drinks.

To the drunk buffoon in Murray Hill who approached the bartender and nonchalantly asked for a round of Starry Night shots.  “And what the fuck are those?” eye-rolled the bartender, humiliating the fellow enough that he amended his order to straight tequila.  After the guy went back to his group of undesirables, the bartender and I snickered at the order, before realizing, hey, that shot probably looks pretty cool when executed correctly.  For the record, the recipe is Goldschlager floated on a Jaegermeister shot.

To the just-out-of-college girl I played the game of seduction with on the Lower East Side.  I thought I was successfully hitting on her, especially when she suggested we leave her group of friends and head to the bar to toast our near-future fornication with some Redheaded Slut shots, her treat.  I didn’t really enjoy them but we had several.  The girl was a Brunettehead and by the end of the night I learned that either my game was not that tight…or she just wasn’t a slut.

To the thirtysomething chap at a recent wedding who claimed “his” drink was a White Russian.  Seriously guy?  That’s no one’s drink.   Except The Dude’s.  And we all know you’re just trying to copy him to be cool.  But that’s not cool, because everyone’s seen “The Big Lebowski” and everyone–the Vice Blogger included–tried to make and/or order him or herself a White Russian in the days after first seeing the legendary picture.  And that was like a decade ago.  Now true, it’s a solid enough cocktail, no question, but it’s no one’s “drink.”  No one could possibly spend all evening drinking cocktails full of heavy cream, Kahlua, and vodka.  Get real.

To the girl I saw just last week at The Ginger Man order a vodka martini with “alotta olives, please.”  When she got handed her cocktail, the bottom of the glass was so full of olives, at least a dozen of them, that I was forced to sardonically remark:  “Jeez, ya’ trying to steal a free meal to go along with your drink?”  She coquettishly laughed, thinking I was flirting, staying near my side for a few seconds longer, expecting me to continue conversing with her, to further slay her with my alluring repartee.  I, however, turned back to my drink without a follow-up, leaving her to walk away confused.  “That girl liked you, why didn’t you keep hitting on her?,” asked my equally confused, and desperate, drinking buddy.  He didn’t understand either, that line, delivered as I delivered it, would have indeed been flirtateous in nature were it hurled toward an attractive woman.  But it was nothing but pure scorn when said to the kind of disgusting fat bitch that eats an entire glass of bar olives marinating in a splash of Stoli.

And, finally…

To the girl I was on a recent drinking date with, our first time out together.  We entered the pub and sat at a table in the far back.  The place lacked waitress service so, in a rare bout of chivalry, I offered to go up to the bar and get our first round.  I told my 24-year-old companion that I was in the mood for bourbon, and what would she like?  “A slippery nipple,” she shot back.  I pinky-cleaned some excess shower water from my ear canals before asking, just to be sure, “HUH?!”  “A slippery nipple, with ice,” she replied.  I smiled wide at her without saying anything further, turned to head to the bar, then bypassed the bartender, walked out of the establishment, and sprinted up the street to the Russian Vodka Room.  I’m getting too old to spend my time with idiots, I thought to myself as I turned off my cell and ordered two shots of infused vodka.

Come on people, you’re adults.  Ordering these drinks at watering holes is akin to going into a fine steakhouse and asking for a cardboard stick of hot pink cotton candy as your entree.  Grow the fuck up.

But the funny thing is, the irony is, that I constantly see these buffoons drinking beverages more childish than Ecto Cooler, yet I’m the one that gets stared at, that gets questioned, when I order the most normal of libations.

“Hey man, what’s that WEIRD drink ya just ordered?” is a refrain I constantly hear from needling strangers.

Well, in this case, the hoi polloi would be correct, Midas Touch is one fucking weird drink.  I nearly called it one fucking weird beer, but I’m not quite sure that’s a fully accurate label.

It pours orange/red like a strong apple cider you’d get at a farmers’ market.  It smells like a sour/wild ale, very interesting.  And, wow, what an odd taste.  There’s a clear reason why.   A handcrafted ancient ale brewed with a recipe of barley, honey, white muscat grapes, and saffron among other things, this brew is Dogfish Head’s attempt to recreate an elixir found to have been drank by THE King Midas countless centuries earlier.

Overall, it tastes at times like a mead (a beverage I’ve had only once or twice in my life), a white wine chardonnay, a barley wine, and a wild ale mix.  Very bready, and carbonated like a weak champagne.  It took me nearly two hours to polish off a twelve-ounce bottle.  The beer is so potent–in complexity, not necessarily alcohol, though that too–that I could only handle eye drop size sips each time my mouth went to glass.

I’m damn glad I had the Midas Touch, but I’m not sure I’d ever want to have another!  It’s just not a complete success.  Having said that, I insist that any beer lover give this one a whirl.  It is something that demands to be experienced.

B

Lion Stout

October 27th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Ceylon, Country: Sri Lanka, Grade: A regular, Style: Stout

8% ABV on draught

I thought only the uncivilized, uncouth, uneducated, and unemployed read my blog, but I’m starting to learn otherwise.  Lately I have begun getting a small slew of fan letters, something an egomaniac like myself absolutely loves.  So people, especially you lurkers, especially you attractive lurkers of the opposite sex, please keep ‘em coming, they fuel my arrogance, causing me to hubristically do drunken things which lead to the funniest of stories.  And, thus, your further enjoyment.

This week I got a splendid e-mail, one of my best, which I’d shudder to even call a fan letter because this man certainly doesn’t worship false idols such as the Vice Blogger.  We began an online dialogue, quickly hitting it off.  The man’s missives showed him to be a far better writer than me and he likewise displayed a familiarity with beer that I can only dream of.  After a few back-and-forths I learned he was an NYU professor.  And, an e-mail or two later, I learned he was a professor of religion, a bonafide priest.  The fact that he signed his e-mails “Father” should have probably tipped me off.  Hey, I just thought it was a playful affectation he was going for.

Now I’m not religious and I don’t exactly believe in God, and some folks may even call me a heathen, but when a clergyman offers me a beer recommendation, you bet your sweet ass I will follow up.  Not exactly Pascal’s Wager, more like The Vice Blog Gambit, a belief that says, “Hey, why not try a complete stranger’s beer recommendation?  At best, you try a heretofore unknown glorious beer.  While at worst, you get gloriously drunk!”

Among his several NYC area tippling recommendations, Father Name-Redacted-To-Protect-His-Piousness was adamant that I try Lion Stout, oddly enough a Sri Lankan brew.  I did my research–ten seconds of googling–and learned that Lion is indeed an esteemed stout, mightily hailed in the past by beer hunter Michael Jackson, who told of how the bottle-conditioned beer, brewed using British, Czech, and Danish malts, Syrian hops, and an English yeast strain, has all its foreign ingredients transported to the 3,500 feet-above-sea-level brewery using the most precarious of roads.

Further research found, for better or for worse, The Ginger Man to be the only watering hole in Manhattan currently offering the beer.  Knowing that The Ginger Man becomes a zoo of boobs once happy hour heats up, I made sure to get down there early enough to avoid the Stella drinkers.

My confusion and worries over the quality of a Sri Lankan stout were quickly assuaged.  This was a good, if not great, beer.  Incredibly thriftily priced for an 8% stout that had to seemingly travel so far to get into my mouth*.  One of the sweetest stouts I’ve ever had.  Now, I know a lot of people don’t like sweeter stouts, but I’m quite the fan.  Frankly, I hate those overly burnt, meaty-tasting stouts that seem to be what most breweries are producing nowadays.  Lion Stout is the complete opposite.

Tastes of sweet prunes, mocha, and smooth chocolate.  Smells somewhat like a barley wine and goes down incredibly easily.  I’m stunned how high the ABV is because I could drink these all day.  A very, very good beer.  After only a couple though, I had to leave The Ginger Man, the tipping point being when a guy beside me simply ordered “IPA.”**

So thank you for the delicious recommendation Father, and I’m still waiting for that invitation to speak to your religion class some time soon!

A

*This beer definitely serves as a big “fuck you” to local food activists.  Distance between where the beer was constructed and where I drank it:  ~ 8,770 miles.

**Actual conversation:

MEATHEAD:  I’ll have an IPA.

BARTENDER:  OK, sure, which one?

MEATHEAD:  IPA.

BARTENDER:  Yes, but which one?  We have several.

MEATHEAD (louder):  IPA

BARTENDER:  …

MEATHEAD (louder, sure the bartender can’t hear him):  IPA!

BARTENDER: (fed up)  Sure.

Turns around and fetches the meathead something that was decidely not an IPA.  I think it was a Hofbrau Oktoberfest.  Later, the Meathead remarked to his friends, “I love IPA.  I’ve had it here before.  You should get one too.”

Stone Twelfth Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

October 23rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Stout

9.2% ABV from a bomber (July 2008 bottling)

I’ll assume you haven’t seen Fellini’s “8½.” That’s cool. Most people nowadays haven’t and I’m not looking down on you for it in any way. I get it, modern folks simple have no interest, no tolerance, for “weird,” black and white, foreign, subtitled, art films. Shit, people in ‘08 barely have the time, energy, or inclination to sit through entire American mainstream pictures on such easily digestible subjects as lame faux-satires of lame trailers of lame films no one ever saw in the first place.

But you should see “8½,” it’s a frickin’ masterpiece, one of the best films in history. And it’s far from as boring as you probably think it is, rife with sex, sex, and…well sex. Isn’t that enough?

I bring “8½” up because I had a dream last night just like a dream the main character Guido has in “8½.” A visionary sequence that forms one of the most indelible scenes in cinema history. Now, yes, I too hate any conversation that begins, “I had a dream last night…”* but more on that in a bit.

I’ll steal Roger Ebert’s brilliant prose to discuss Guido’s dream where he “…occupies a house with all of the women in his life, past and present, and they all love him and forgive him, and love one another. But then there is a revolt, and he cracks a whip, trying to tame them. Of course he cannot.”

A similar thing happened to me. In my dream I was walking down the street minding my own business, listening to the “This American Life” podcast, when who should cross paths with me, but an omen even worse than a black cat–an ex-girlfriend. Our eyes met, her’s dilated and reddened, my jaw dropped, her nostrils flared like a bull seeing red, a squirt of urine came out of my urethra, and then I did what I’d probably do in real life–I turned and sprinted like a coward. One of those sprints where you can’t make ground, you feel as if you’re wearing patent leather tuxedo shoes on recently Zambonied ice. And I kept slipping, and she kept pursuing me slowly like a zombie. And just when I got some breathing room, I came across another girl from my past. A one-night stand I scorned by claiming I was moving to Los Angeles the very next day. With a Brian Westbrook spin move I escaped from her and ran into a three-months-long fling I jilted because she had a fat roommate I was getting sick of being seen in public with. I juked and jived and came to another ex and then another and another and another. I was surrounded on all sides. I had no choice. I fought through the swarm like a fullback plowing a goal line stand.

Somehow I escaped. I thought I was finally in the clear. I looked over my shoulder back toward the zombie exes, giggling at my freedom, when I collided with a freight train. My head hit smack dab in her well-formed chest. It was her! EGADS!

I woke up with a sweat, it had seemed all too real. I stared at the sleeping girl beside me. I’d liked her when we hit the hay but now I was nauseous from the spectacle of her. I went to the bathroom and read some Crate and Barrel catalog she had lying on a cosmetics stand.

So why am I telling you this?** Do I want to know what it means? Do I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something? Am I perhaps seeing into the future? No, of course not. Dream interpretation is a pseudoscience that is as big of crockery as phrenology or Ouija board seances. I tell you this simply to note that I dreamed last night. You see, I never dream. The only time I dream is when I drink heavily. “So you dream every night?” you retort back to me. Har, har. Not quite.

I only dream on those few-times-a-month occasions when I tie one on hard. And I only dream lucidly, vividly, like last night, when I drink something so potent and pleasurable. You see, last night I drank an entire bomber of Stone Twelfth Anniversary and it made my resting mind do backflips like I’d tripped the absinthe fantastic with Van Gogh and Gaugin. Yes, I know, this isn’t the most intellectually rigorous way to determine the worth of a product, but sometimes we need to simply critique things in the visceral.

The bottle lists its ingredients, oh so simple: barley, oatmeal, chocolate, hops, water, and yeast. I wish more breweries would list their brew’s components. It would take the guessing-game fun out of trying to “figure out” a beer, but it would also eliminate those insufferable pedants that try to humble you by claiming they taste all sorts of flavors that are simply not present.

The stout pours black, perhaps dark, dark purple, like sludge. A bubbly and gurgling cocoa brown head. The smell is of warm alcohol and smooth chocolate.

Gotta say, the taste is nowhere close to as bitter as I suspected. Likewise, I taste hardly any oatmeal at all. Though it is much more alcoholic than I thought it would be. A lotta bite on the back of the throat. It definitely warmed me up on a cold fall night. A member of the Polar Bears could drink one of these and have no problem jumping nude into the Atlantic.

I actually liked this one the more I drank it as the back end tastes started to shine through. Its got some problems no doubt. It could certainly use more pronounced flavors and it lacks complexity. It also has a quite bitter aftertaste that I really did not enjoy. Also, whether this is good or bad, at times it didn’t even feel like I was drinking a stout. More like a strong dark ale.

As it has been said before, this is one major league asskicker. The kind of stout that leads a person to–after polishing off a solo bomber–searching out hot former classmates on Facebook and actually contacting them (even though they are Relationship Status: Married (and quite frankly not as attractive as you recall from a decade ago)), to ordering the $9.99 soft-core from channel 535 on Time Warner on-demand, and then to, yes, having some fucked up dreams.

Overall, Twelfth Anniversary is a very good beer, but not one of the brilliant Stone’s best, and certainly not world class. And I don’t actually really like dreams that much, especially scary and all too real ones, so this may be my second and last time to have the Twelfth.

A-

*Second worst conversation starter: “Did you see what was on ‘Oprah’ yesterday? Let me tell you…”

**Other than to show that even asleep I may be a hack that plagiarizes my ideas from the greatest masters?

Irish Carbomb

October 21st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 8 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Guinness, Whiskey

ABV insignificant

The Vice Blogger quite notably hates shots. Catchers gear may be the so-called “tool of ignorance,” but shots are the libations of fools.  Shots are for people that don’t like the taste of alcohol.  They’re for people that like giving unnecessary high-fives and woowooing (not a coincidence that that’s a name of a shot).  They’re for men that wear sleeveless shirts to bar.  They’re for people that think the lead characters in “Swingers” are people to be idolized instead of dolts that Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn were actually mocking.

Why would one ever do a shot?  If you’re ordering quality alcohol you should savor it, drink it as slowly as possible.  Shooting some quality booze is like ordering an Elliot Spitzer-approved $1000/hour hooker, then seeing if you can come with a single pump.  Meanwhile, if you’re ordering shitty liquor…well, maybe you should just dump that in the trash rather than your face.

Shots are for movie characters that have just gone through a break-up or lost their job.  For stevedores that head straight from the dock to the local dive, ordering a shot and a beer every single round.  And those shots are straight up hardcore, rotgut.  They are not fit for real humans that check their coats when they enter the bar.  For dainty little people that use coasters and ask for the “lightest” beer on tap.

Doing shots is like cheating to get drunk, a shortcut for people that can’t handle the effort, can’t manage the marathon tippling it takes to get loaded some nights.  Shots are akin to using performance enhancing drugs. And I don’t like it. Which is funny because I actually have no problem with steroids in sports and don’t think they should be banned*.

Having said that, there’s a certain je nai se quois about carbombs that I do kinda dig. No, they’re not something you should have every time you go out, or probably even once every month. And, quite frankly, they’re kinda douchey.  But once every season, when a large group of friends has gathered, when there’s something to celebrate, or something to forget (usually a sports loss), they are a great drink.

I love the ceremony of carbombs, as your waitress sprints back to the bar stand with an “I don’t believe this” look on her face, forced to gather all bar hands on deck for the massive project of halfway filling up countless pint glasses with Guinness, making a complimentary number of Baileys and Jameson shots.

I love the guy, usually the fella that initiated the bombing much to many of his mates’ chagrin, looking around like a good host, making sure, “Everyone got one? Everyone got one? We ready?  We ready?”

I love the anticipation as everyone lines up as if in the starting block of a 100m dash. Their drinking hand firmly wrapped around the pint, their off-hand holding the shot glass above the Guinness. Every time I reach this step a bit of totally unnecessary nerves come over me–being an Aurelius stoic I never get nervous for anything–but car bombings makes you feel like something of deep importance, something of great gravitas is about to occur. And I’m not sure why that is exactly.  I think it’s kinda like a boxer entering the ring, not sure whether the remarkable (or miserable) will happen within the next ten seconds nor possibly not at all.

I’m always nervous that the shot glass will shatter upon it’s deployment, that the cannonballed beer will splatter all over the place. Alas, it never occurs.  I also am always worried about someone inhaling the shot glass down their esophagus. This has SURELY happened somewhere. Surely. Though I have never seen it in any of my career bombings.

AND GO!

You drop the shot and with the most melodic *CLINK* it rattles down the sides and hits the bottom of the glass.  You chug the entire concoction, watching out of the corner of your eyes how your friends are progressing.  I’ve never ever seen people bet even a nickel over a carbomb chug, yet we men go after them as if our lives are on the line, looking askancely to see how our buddies, nay competitors, are doing, hurrying up our drinking if necessary to catch up.  Whatever it takes.  A move that frequently leads to brown liquid being poured all down your chin and onto one’s shirt.  Yet another great reason the Vice Blogger is always a man in black.

Upon finishing, you slam your glass on the bar, wipe your face with the back of your arm in a continuous sweeping motion from mid-ulna to fingertips, and smile at your friends.  Triumphantly unfurl a belch if possible.  Like a gunslinger blowing the smoke from his pistols.  Ah yes.

Carbombs, they’re so childish, yet so…manly.  Maybe we should go back to calling them boilermakers like our grandfathers did.  That sounds more masculine, less Jersey shore “Yo, let’s go ‘ave some car bawmbs, yo.”  Boilermakers let you know the gauntlet has been laid down, “Oh, it’s gonna be one a’ ‘those’ nights,” everyone says.   Yes it is.

Maybe next time, children, I’ll tell you about truck bombs.  That’s a pitcher of Guinness with a plopped rock glass of Jameson/Baileys.

_____

*I say this neither to be transgressively contrarian nor ironically humorous.  There is no reason to ban performance-enhancing drugs in sports.  It is impossible to accurately monitor usage, impossible to consistently apply the rules (why is cortisone across-the-board legal?), it gets Washington involved in even more useless exercises of sanctimony than we could possibly need, and the health risks are debatable if not completely dubious.  Oh yeah, and fuck “the kids.”  For the best take I’ve ever seen on steroids please check out this year’s brilliant film “Bigger Stronger Faster*.”

Magic Hat #9

October 21st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Magic Hat, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Pale Ale

5.1% on draught in a poorly washed pint glass

As Milena, the sexy and lithe Bulgarian barmaid with the teased hair, fetched us some pints of Magic Hat #9, I told my friend how I’ve stumbled upon a very easy way to ingratiate oneself with foreign babes. Although, actually, this seems to work with all foreigners–cab drivers, street meat vendors, happy ending masseuses, et al–which is quite swell in a melting pot such as NYC.

I figure it works because America is perceived as a cut-off, jingoistic, egotistical place that only cares about the goings-on inside its borders. That may be true, or it may simply be that the most interesting stuff in this world happens inside our borders, but we won’t debate politics here. All that matters is that perception is reality in the game of seduction.

So here’s the secret, all you got to do to impress a foreign women in New York:

Mention the most famous soccer player in her nation’s history.

It’s as simple as that.

You say, that’s silly, why should that work? If you’re an American woman, you think, “If I was in, say, Germany and some Aryan gent sprinted up to me, thinking I’ll drop my panties simply because he is mildly conversant on Lebron or Kobe or Eli Manning, he’d have another thing coming to him.” And, you’re absolutely right. You wouldn’t give a rat’s ass. But that’s because America has thousands if not millions of interesting things about it. Thousands of celebrities that represent our homeland. Thousands of celebrities that we don’t even need to give a shit about. But, other countries don’t. Other countries have nothing going on and usually only one or two great celebrities in the nation’s history. Only one or two great celebrities that every native must love.

Thus many travelers to America, many emigrants, feel an inferiority complex about their place in America, thinking that us locals know nothing about their culture. Thinking that we believe all Latinos are Mexicans, Asians are all the same, and nothing goes on in Africa except zebra-hunting and AIDS contractions.

Hence, just the most minor knowledge of a person’s country and culture is enough to blow them the fuck away. And knowing a much revered soccer player from their land is often that tipping point. Luckily, I know most countries’ great futballers. Not cause I’m some sleaze that memorized these names in order to bed heavily-accented women, like some nerd memorizing pi to fifteen-hundred digits to impress at a Mensa convention. I know simply because I’m a soccer fan with a remarkable memorable for the arcane.

Try it out next time you encounter a foreign woman. You don’t even need to be smooth about inserting the fact into conversation. You can really just yell across the room: “Miiiiiiiiiiiiiilena!”

And when she turns her head with a what-the-fuck-is-this-drunk-a-hole’s-problem look on her face, you just say, pronouncing it correctly and slightly accented: “Hristo Stoichkov.”

She will sprint toward you, shoving you in the shoulders like Elaine used to do to Jerry–”Get. Out!”–a stunned and intrigued look on her face.

“You know who Hristo Stoichov is?!”

But of course.

And play it off coolly. “What, doesn’t everybody know who Hristo Stoichov is?” you will say, fully aware of the answer. She will tell you that, of course, not, no other Americans know who Hristo Stoichov is, and not only that, but most idiots assume she’s Russian. Don’t you Yanks know there’s more than four countries in Europe?

Well, I do. You got Romania (Gheorghe Hagi!) and Northern Ireland (George Best!), Ireland itself (Roy Keane!) and you can even go to Africa and hit up Liberia (George Weah!) or South America and Colombia (Carlos Valderama, though every rube remembers him) and the list is endless.

It’s such a simple way to impress*. And you don’t even need to know anything about the player. Just his name. Shit, I only kinda remember the hot-headed Stoichkov from the 1994 World Cup, but aside from that, I really can’t tell you anything about him. Not his stats or his club teams or even what he’s up to nowadays. Doesn’t matter. All you need to know is the name and you will forever win a place in her heart. At least for the rest of the night. Now you got your in, and it’s on you to do the rest of the work.

As for the Magic Hat #9, the one craft beer that has somehow become inexplicably ubiquitous, I hadn’t had it in quite a while, though it is halfway decent. Pretty much just a fruit beer (apricot)/pale ale hybrid. I don’t think real craft beer fans could ever love this one, and certainly never buy a six-pack of it, but it’s another decent gateway beer to some real quality stuff, and it’s always a welcome draught option over mediocre macros.

B-/C+

*Admittedly, this strategy isn’t full proof and all-encompassing. It doesn’t exactly work for Italian, German, French, and Dutch women, though it probably wouldn’t hurt to casually throw the names Baggio, Klinsmann, Cantona and Cruyff into conversation. Likewise, in the rare country that doesn’t regard soccer with great esteem, you might need to know a world-class cricketer, rugby scrummer, or, I don’t know…curler.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

October 19th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | Comments Off | Filed in Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Stout

10% ABV bottled (LIMITED BOTTLING — WINTER 08-09)

You might not expect it–actually you probably might considering what else I love–but I’m a huge Food Network fan.  I consider chefs to be artists on par with filmmakers, novelists, and strippers.  The Food Network’s most brilliant display of gastronomic artistry is “Iron Chef.”  So you can imagine I was absolutely stoked on last weekend’s “Iron Chef America” when The Chairman announced that the day’s secret ingredient was to be BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!!!!!!!!

The competition actually ended up being rather lackluster and disappointing considering the secret ingredient and the presence of Bobby Flay but some good did come from it.  Brooklyn Brewery’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver was on hand to judge and one of his beers was used in the face-off, the Black Chocolate Stout.  I’ve obviously heard of this beer what with the solid acclaim it gets, but surprisingly enough, especially considering my love of the brewery, I had never had it before.  In fact, I’m not sure I’d ever seen it in stores before.

With great kismet, one day later I did see it in the local Jubilee and I predictably became giddy as a schoolgirl.  I wasn’t in a huge drinking mood and limited edition stouts often run pricey, so I only grabbed a single bottle.  Of course, I get to the register and the bottle doesn’t ring up.  Now unlike most other foods, beer has an incredibly wide price variance.  Not as wide as, say, wine or Scotch, but still quite varying.  From $1.50 macro forties to $20 trappist twelve-ouncers.  But most register folks don’t know about the latter, unable to conceive that any liquid could cost so much.  Most register folks assume a single bottle of beer runs in the $2 range.  And, you know, that supposition would typically be right 95% of the time.  So, I’ll often find that when a single bottle of beer doesn’t ring up–and this happens nearly 50% of the time with me–the lazy register person will just punch in something in the $1.50 to $3 range.  And quite often with the beer I buy, that ends up being a steal.  Well this register person punched in $2 for my Black Chocolate Stout and I was thrilled.  Thrilled but left with angst.  Any time a register person undercharges me with their made-up price I always wonder if I should be like, “Wait, you’re seriously going to only charge me two bucks?!  OK, gimme a second to sprint back there and clear you guys out.”  Alas, I didn’t do that this time.

For my money, Black Chocolate Stout has one of the best labels in the business. Minimalist. Dark.  Black.  Or maybe I just like it cause the bottle “dresses” like me.  Seriously.  I too am usually found completely clad in simple all-black attire.  Like CashGervaisDieter.

Pours black as Indian Ink.  An intoxicating smell of chocolate malts, leaning toward the sweeter side.  A nose like a wine actually.  Very unbeer like.  I actually drank this one completely warm.  Didn’t even refrigerate it.  Straight from the store shelf to my glass to my tongue and down my throat and into my liver and to my central nervous system which allows me to be so witty and write these great things.  And soon enough, the beer had even metaphorically found its way into my heart (Awwwww).

Mindblowingly flavorful from beginning to end.  Six varieties of chocolate, black, and roasted malts, complex and perfectly balanced.  When I set out in to find my libations for the evening, I was actually in a wine mood.  And this could be a wine.  No, it doesn’t taste like grapes or anything, but it has the consistancy and texture of wine, a Burgundy perhaps.  It tingles your tongue and throat as it goes down as if it’s spiked with a pleasant little dose of cocaine.  So smooth and soooo drinkable.  No alcoholic bite whatsoever.  I think even amateurs would enjoy this one, even those that completely eschew beer, but I’ve been wrong before.

What else is there to say?  I’m not sure that this is the best imperial stout I’ve ever had, but it may be my new favorite.  It’s the beginning of stout season and I’ve refreshed my memory on quite a few noted ones in the past few weeks.  And honestly, I think Black Chocolate Stout kinda puts even such brilliant ones as Old Rasputin and Stone IRP to shame.   This one is not to be missed.

I’m heading back to Jubilee to clear them out.  Black Chocolate Stout is going to see a lot of playing time in the next four months.

A+

Gordon

October 16th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Oskar Blues, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: IPA

8.7% from a canned four-pack

In the past I’ve discussed mingling with transvestites, proudly jogging shirtless through Chelsea, and my unabashed love of fruit beers, but this may be my “gayest” post ever. Fans that love me for my machismo please avert your eyes and surf to another site before I tell you my darkest secret, a secret that will leave many of you cold and stupefied…

Are you ready?

Here it is:

I love “Gossip Girl.”

A ladyfriend of mine was curious about the phenomenon and quite frankly I wondered what all the fuss was about too, thus we decided to catch up on “Gossip Girl.” And, courtesy of Netflix and iTunes we tore through the entire series up to the present in just a couple of weeks, culminating with the three most recent episodes last night. A triumph I celebrated with some Oskar Blues’s Gordon, but more on that in a sec. (If you just read the Vice Blog for the beer reviews and tales of wine and roses, feel free to hit the page down button five consecutive times.)

Suffice to say, I quickly fell in love with “Gossip Girl” and though you may think that I like it purely as a “guilty pleasure”–akin to liking a bad reality show, anything on MTV, or Sparks malt liquor–I don’t. I legitimately enjoy this show. It’s an inconsequential program that knows it’s inconsequential and revels in that fact.

There are four kinds of shows. Important shows that don’t act like they’re important, that don’t preach messages to you, that simple let you decide what they mean (”The Wire,” “Mad Men”). There are “important” shows that are smug, self-satisfied, self-righteous, sanctimonious, pedantic, and let you know in every scene that they are (in bright lights) *IMPORTANT* (Sorkin’s “West Wing.”) Then, there are unimportant shows that think they are important. These may be the worst offenders. “Sex in the City” fits the latter bill and though it deals with the same topics as “Gossip Girl”–fashion, upper class NYC living, promiscuous sex, recreational drug and alcohol use, and “the pretty people”*–the second’s always-playful treatment of those topics makes the show vastly superior. “Sex and the City” acted like it was unlocking the secret to human existence every week. “Gossip Girl” is just trying to entertain the hell out of you.

Now, while I enjoy the show, I do have some gripes. It’s almost silly to complain about an intentionally over-the-top show where teens live more decadently than Jay Gatsby, but whatever.

Here then are ten nitpicks I have with “Gossip Girl”:

1. Myspace–The characters on “GG” don’t surf the internet much, but a few times I’ve caught them checking out a person’s profile on Myspace. Seriously?! There is not a chance in the world that Manhattan’s well-heeled teenage elite would use Myspace. Nowadays that site is for amateur porn stars, professional pedophiles, and people that like their computer to shut down every time they visit a website. The show’s characters would obviously be Facebook users. And it’s quite possible that they wouldn’t even use Facebook but rather some social networking site that is so trendy and new that I have yet to even hear of it.

2. The Humphreys’ “Poorness”–It seems like in every single episode of season one, every single person–including the Humphreys themselves–must discuss how goddamn poor the family is. First of all, father Rufus was a moderately successful nineties musician judging by the magazine covers and gold and platinum records hanging on his wall. So unless the record company screwed him–feasible–there’s no way he wouldn’t have some loot. But aside from that, the Humphreys live in, and I believe own, a fucking enormous, and badasssssssss, townhouse in Williamsburg. A place that would surely cost a few million. So while the Humphreys are nowhere close to as rich as the Basses or Waldorfs, neither are they the Ingalls.

3. Travel–The Humphreys live in Brooklyn, all the other characters and their high schools are on the Upper East Side. Yet characters travel between these two places like it’s nothing. Fuck, in one episode, Nate was back and forth between Brooklyn and the UES like 5 times in one afternoon. Not only impossible, but ridiculous. We New Yorkers are like pre-Genghis Khan Mongolians, very clan-like, refusing to ever leave our neighborhoods. I have friends that live just across town from me–under two miles in distance–but I see them only a few times a month cause I hate crossing Park Avenue. Friends in Queens that I see only a few times a year. And friends and relatives in Brooklyn that I’ve never even visited. And that’s the typical behavior of a New Yorker. So even assuming that the teens on “GG” are using their chauffeured cars, they still wouldn’t be going to Brooklyn as often as they do and in such quick fashion.

4. Schooling–Has there EVER been a scene on the show inside a classroom? Likewise, in a late-season one episode they just throw it out there that Vanessa is home-schooled. I think the writers were like, “Shit, we’ve forgot to ever have Vanessa in a school scene. Whatever, just say she’s homeschooled.” Not that we’ve ever seen any one teaching her. She’s too busy running art gallery cafes, videotaping things, setting up blackmails, and traveling to the UES.

5. Obscure references–Likewise, despite the fact that these characters are never in school and, aside from Dan, seem to have no real interest in learning, they are some of the most educated characters in TV history, throwing out obtuse references left and right. Really, Chuck Bass knows who Bertie Wooster is? And Serena has heard of Robert Mapplethorpe? And I still struggle to believe that Blair knows so much about 1940s through 60s cinema such as “Charade” and “Roman Holiday.” Most of my intelligent and well-educated friends don’t understand those references, hard to buy that seventeen-year-old profligates would.

6. Teen drinking–I have a decade of prolific drinking under my belt and I couldn’t handle the imbibing “GG”’s characters do. Chuck Bass throws back Scotch like it’s bottled water yet remains unflappable. Serena can drink Belvedere martinis left and right and stays indefatigable. Have you ever seen a real-life teen try to drink straight liquor? They can’t handle a sip of it. And after a glass they are passed out and vomiting uncontrollably on their parents’ basement sofa. Shit, I got thirty-year-old friends that wince at just the sight of straight booze. Yet, these “GG” characters are better drinkers than Bukowski. Riiiiiight. I see why parents are outraged by this show.

7. Sexy underwear–I’m 29 so I’ve dealt with my fair share of scantily clad women, of all ages. And very few times have I found anything interesting about their underclothes. But the girls on “GG” wear some of the most violently sexy undergarments I’ve ever seen. Every single time a character has to strip down, wouldn’t you know it but they are wearing some absolutely insane burlesque house, satin, ornately ruffled panties. Doesn’t any one in “Gossip Girl” land ever just pull on a pair of Hanes Her Way cotton underwear for the day? But hey, I’m not complaining.

8. Dan’s vests–Of all the absurd fashion on the show–Chuck’s ludicrous suits and bow-ties which I actually kinda like, Blair’s “Alice in Wonderland”-like frocks, Serena’s 1920s one-piece swimsuits which I think are meant to hide her inexplicably giant ass–it’s Dan’s vests that drive me most insane. I just have a visceral hatred toward them. He looks like a goddamn organ grinder.

9. Jenny’s Weight Loss–I swear to god, between seasons one and two, Jenny Humphrey lost at least forty pounds. She went from a cute well-formed girl (I say this completely asexually, Chris Hansen) to a scrawny little stick figure. At first I thought the part had been recast with a new actress, like when they switched Aunt Viv on “The Fresh Prince.” But, nope, it’s still Taylor Momsen. What I don’t understand is why no character mentions anything about it. “Hey, Jenny, you’ve lost a little weight over the summer, everything alright?” Maybe an episode about how she’s on crystal meth. Or contracted AIDS. We could at least get an anorexia scare episode with some Karen Carpenter playing in the background. I’m starting to think that Jenny’s weight will fluctuate more from season to season than Meadow Soprano’s did.

10. No one ever refutes the posts on Gossip Girl–This drives me nuts. How come ever single teen on the show accepts the Gossip Girl’s posts as 100% dogma the second they are put online? These characters are masters of lying–or, at least lie a lot–yet no one ever calls bullshit on a Gossip Girl post. Why is that? All of them are based on a rumor that usually only one person has proof of. Wouldn’t be too hard to get away with denying allegations. It’s what I’d do.

But despite these nitpicks, I still love the show. In fact, the nitpicks make the show even more enjoyable.

Also enjoyable was the Oskar Blue’s Gordon I had while catching up on the series. My first two beers from Oskar Blues, especially the Dale’s Pale Ale, were such successes that I knew I had to try the IPA, possibly my favorite style of beer. I expected a potential masterpiece so I did something I almost never do–I bought more than a single. Oskar Blues beers come in canned four-packs and with Gordon weighing in at 8.7% that would be more than enough to make me forget that I’m twofold the age of some “GG” characters. My belief in the product was rewarded when the dumb Whole Foods register girl rung the four-pack up at $3.99. No clue what she was thinking, that’s nowhere close to a correct price.

Gordon has a very dark pour for an IPA. A lot foamier than expected too, though maybe the cans were simply mishandled. A nice, floral smell but surprisingly not that potent or interesting. Incredibly dry taste. No sweetness whatsoever. Very hoppy and sour. However, it is indeed very drinkable for such a high-ABV beer. Especially compared to, say, a similar 9% Dogfish Head Ninety Minute, which I consider the DIPA par excellence. Wow could these sneak up on you. As some reviewer said on Beer Advocate, I could drink a “dangerous” amount of these. So could I.

Ultimately, I liked Gordon but never fully loved it. Making it surely the first time ever that I have enjoyed a brewery’s pale ale more than their IPA. Weird.

B+

*I know what you’re saying: “SJP, Cattrall, Nixon…SaTC was about pretty people?!” Yeah, I never got that either.