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.
TOP TEN BEERS I DRANK IN 2008
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.
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.
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.
A classic standard, the best trappist beer around.
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.
The monks make a tripel nearly as good as their dubbel. Another masterpiece that almost makes me want to believe in God.
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.
Perhaps my most anticipated beer release of the year, this one totally lived up to the hype, another bourbon-barreled classic.
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.
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):
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 cigar of the year: Padron Anniversary 1964 Maduro
WORST BEERS I DRANK IN 2008
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.
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.
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.
Beer and Clam Broth? La combinacion perfecta!
1. Corona Extra
This beer offends me more than racism.
Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer — honestly not as bad as I expected but still, come on, it’s a beer steeped with fucking pizza!
PERSONAL FAVORITE VICE BLOG STORIES FOR 2008 (AKA: HOW BIG OF EGO DO I HAVE?)**
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.
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.