The Vice Blog 2008 Wrap-Up

December 26, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | Filed under Lists.

A friend’s father, a beer connoisseur in his own right, was recounting to me the best brew of his life. It was the summer of 1967, he was sixteen, and when the starting pitcher got injured before his town’s adult summer league game against a big rival, he was forced to come out of the stands where he sat as a mere spectator and take the mound.  A star high school hurler at the time, facing seasoned adult former-stars would be a whole ‘nother story.   And, after he amazingly struck out seventeen batters in a complete game win, he walked off the field where a family friend presented him with an ice-cold Pearl. Yes, sometimes the “best” beers we enjoy aren’t even that good of beers.

Like Rob in “High Fidelity,” I’ve always been one of those nerds obsessed with lists (“Top Ten Quarterbacks of All-Time,” “Best New York City Movies,” “Syracuse University’s 100 Sluttiest Co-eds”) and have always made them for personal use.  But, now that I have an award-winning blog*, I can make my own lists and disseminate them to the planet.


1. Stone Old Guardian

This has been my favorite beer for a few years now and this year’s batch was no exception–yet another masterpiece of a tasty sweet barley wine.

2. Surly Darkness

Before I started this blog, here is a beer I would have NEVER had access to.  A small brewery in Minnesota makes just a few thousand wax-dipped bottles of which they only release on one frigid Saturday morning in November to geeks that have queued up since before sunrise.  Luckily, through the power of the internet and my hiiiiiilarious writing, I’ve made quite a few beer friends across the world this year. One such new pal is Minnesotan The Captain, who lives mere miles from the Surly brewery and who was so kind as to send me one of the limit six bottles of Darkness he was able to score.  Ranked as a top ten beer in the world, surely it couldn’t live up to the hype. You’re right, it exceeded it! The best stout I have ever had in my life.

3. J.W. Lees Harvest (1998 Vintage)

Is it cheating to include a beer I drank in 2008 that was actually bottled a decade previous? Perhaps, but this was one of the best beers I have ever had in my life.   So sweet, so smooth, so unique.

4. Westmalle Trappist Dubbel

A classic standard, the best trappist beer around.

5. Samuel Adams Utopias (2007)

The most alcoholic brew ever made, this is more akin to a port, sherry, or cognac, and is banned from being sold in fourteen U.S. states.  Unreal.  I fly a thirty-six star flag over my mansion because I can’t respect any territory where Utopias is illegal.

6. Westmalle Trappist Tripel

The monks make a tripel nearly as good as their dubbel.  Another masterpiece that almost makes me want to believe in God.

7. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

It has been jokingly called “beer-barreled bourbon” it is so damn boozy.  Just how I like it.  So potent this can barely be called a sipper.  One should probably get an eyedropper to sprinkle the smallest amount of the beer onto the tongue when imbibing this Chicago classic.

8. Brooklyn Black OPS

Perhaps my most anticipated beer release of the year, this one totally lived up to the hype, another bourbon-barreled classic.

9. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Black OPS cost me $20 for a bomber while Brooklyn’s “regular” stout is almost exactly as good, runs around $2.50 a bottle, and can be found in just about every deli, grocery, and bodega in the city.  The steal of the year and by far the “cheapest” beer on this list.

10.Allagash Interlude (2007)

The only red wine-barreled beer on the list, this is a glorious Portland, Maine brew unlike anything you have ever had before.

Honorable Mention (alphabetical):

Avery Maharaja
Captain Lawrence Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA
Captain Lawrence Cuvee de Castleton (2nd batch, 2008)

Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel

La Fin Du Monde

Port Hop 15
Russian River Pliny the Elder

Russian River Supplication
Schafly’s Reserve Imperial Stout


Favorite liquors of the year:  Scott’s Selection Royal Brackla 1976 and The Glenlivet Nadurra

Favorite cigar of the year:  Padron Anniversary 1964 Maduro


5. Michelob Golden Draft

The same man that procured for me the second best beer on this list, also implored me to try this swill, noting that “It’s basically horse piss, but all the mullets around [Minnesota] drink it like it’s their job. I wouldn’t touch it with someone else’s lips.”  Unfortunately, I did.  I needed a lip transplant afterward.

4. Landshark Lager

Jimmy Buffett’s attempt to make people throw up.  Rather, his liquid attempt to make people throw up, not his musical attempts which just cause wrinkly oldies to dance while hopped up on margaritas.

3. Trader Jose Preium Lager

Trader Joe’s is-it-racistly-named-or-not Corona clone which smells so skunky the second I took the cap off my face was hit with such a explosion of repellent stench that my neck snapped back like I was in a head-on collision.

2. Bud Light Chelada

Beer and Clam Broth? La combinacion perfecta!

1. Corona Extra

This beer offends me more than racism.

Inglorious mention:

Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer — honestly not as bad as I expected but still, come on, it’s a beer steeped with fucking pizza!


1. My Porno Hook-Up — Even as we get older, sometimes we still just “get lucky.”

2.  The Vice Blogger and the Alkie — The universe decides to play a practical joke on the Vice Blogger, forcing him to live with a full-blown alcoholic for nearly a month.

3.  Bangladeshi Mystery Whiskey and the Lost and Found Cell Phone — What happens when I drunkenly lose my cell phone in a cab one Saturday night?  Why I’m forced to head out to Queens on Monday afternoon to retrieve it from the Bangladeshi cab driver.

4.  Pitch ‘n’ Putt ‘n’ Get Yourself Drunk — The Flushing Meadows public course is like a bar that you just so happen to be able to golf at.

5.  Aaron Visits a “North Country” New York Wal-Mart, He Will Never Be the Same — The title says it all.  Rereading this one just now made me realize that I’m a bad person.  But at least I’m not fat and dumb.

Honorable mention:

The X-Rated Tale of an Ex
The Hooker Lottery
The Most Annoying Person in the World:  the Fat Girl at the Bar
The Freaks Living Amongst Me in My Hell’s Kitchen Walk-Up
Sunrise on a Murphy Bed
Tips for a “Successful” First Date–#1. Arrive in Another Man’s Underwear
My Ex-Beloved Gets Hit By a Car
Aaron Tries Too Hard at Friendly Drinking Games.

And there you have it.  My year in vice.  Feel free to criticize it, debate it, celebrate it.

Now I’m interested in what were some of the best (and worst) things you drank, smoked, inhaled, and fucked this year.  Let me know–and feel free to link to your own blogs–as I light up a cigar to celebrate the end of the year, showing off my sexy chest hair.

*It has never actually won an award.

**List based on a quick survey of my friends.

4 Responses to “The Vice Blog 2008 Wrap-Up”

  1. Kyle says:

    Looks like you got your hands on some kick-ass brews in 2008; little suprised Russian River didn’t make the cut. If Consecration doesn’t make it in 2009, I’ll be outraged. Also awesome you got to try Utopias – Jim Koch is the man.

    BTW, I joked about being the Carrie Bradshaw of beer writing…as a beer writer that so incorporates sex, I hope that didn’t piss you off ;)

  2. Kyle:

    The only Russian Rivers I’ve had in my entire life are Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, and Supplication, all of which I loved. All of which were in my top 20 for the year!

    I would kill for Consecration–or any other Russian Rivers–unfortunately NYC doesn’t really get them. Do you have access????

    You can keep being the Carrie Bradshaw! But what does that make me???

  3. Kyle says:

    My grocery store now carries Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, Damnation and Collaboration (which I saw you also tried) – and bottled Consecration should be available in this area pretty soon. I also plan to make several more trips to RRBC this year so will be filling some growlers. Next time I’m in NYC (I go about twice a year) we can probably work something out! What good craft beers should I be coveting from your neck of the woods?

    And, dear god, please don’t actually label me as the Carrie Bradshaw of beer writing; I was just trying to make fun of myself for sounding like her writing style. But as for what you are, I don’t know, I’m thinking Beer “Vice”roy?

  4. I’ve been dying to try Damnation too. Would love to make a swap or something next time your in NYC.

    I believe everything you could possibly covet from the East Coast already makes it to California:

    Dogfish Head
    Brooklyn Brewery
    Southern Tier???

    Captain Lawrence would probably be the brewery you guys don’t have access too. Shit, I live 30 minutes from the brewery and I struggle to get their beers. Great stuff.

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