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Archive for March, 2009

Avery Ale to the Chief

March 31st, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 17 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

The French Fry Rankings

I got into a never resolved drunken argument with a buddy last week, and since I have a public forum and he doesn’t, I’ll now get the final, definitive word (in your face, GW!)

My picks for the best french fries by style.

1.  The Curly Fry (seasoned or not)–Clearly the king of french fried pertaters (mmmhhh) the coiled shape produces splendid crevices for oil collection–much like the ruffled potato chip–creating a thicker, crisper, and more flavorful fry.  Coated with a flawless blend of hot spicy seasonings only makes these more sublime.  Throw in a cheese or mayonnaise based dipping sauce, and the seasoned curly becomes a work of art, though I will admit that the curly is not the sturdiest for the actual act of dipping.

2.  The Fresh Cut Fry–A much underrated fry that people rarely ask for by name yet are always excited to see on their plate, these are the most often served fry variant at finer pubs and burger joints or places that actually have chefs.  The smoky potato skin still remaining on the fry itself, for some reason these just seem fresher, even healthier, perhaps even fancy foreign (Belgian pomme frites).

3.  The Waffle Fry (seasoned or not), aka the Criss Cut Fry–The most varying in quality of any fry mentioned on this list, this style can be absolutely sublime or disgustingly terrible.  It all depends on how hot they are and how correctly fried they are.  Whereas most fries remain similar in taste as they cool, the waffle fry becomes less and less edible in a ridiculously quick pace.  These demand going straight from the hot deep fryer into your face within minutes, ignore your burger as there’s no time to spare.  Likewise, sometimes the waffle design’s countless crevices, if not monitored properly, collect so much oil and seasonings that it becomes a misshapen hockey puck of breaded yuckiness.  Another great fry for dipping what with its very sturdy design, the only problem arises when the idiotic restaurant presents you with ketchup or sauce in a tub with too small of radius to actually cram a fry into.

4.  The Shoe String Fry–The style of fry served by basically all fast food restaurants, these are rarely not good.  Simple, abundantly greasy and salty, what’s not to love?  They won’t blow you away, but never will they disappoint either.

5.  The Potato Wedge–A rarely utilized fry variant, this often seasoned style is always crispy on the outside and full of flavor.  Problems arise when undercooked, though this style rarely is.

6.  The Sweet Potato Fry–Another hit or miss fry style, at its best this variant is a nice, delicious change of pace.  At its worst, it’s still a french fry packed with fucking vitamins.  Seriously.  B6, C, and beta-carotene.  The biggest issue with this style is that it absolutely demands a dipping sauce while seeming to cool much quicker than normal potato fries.

7.  The Crinkle Cut Fry–The retarded cousin to the curly fry, I’m not sure if these accordion shaped monstrosities are actually served at a single restaurant in the world.  They seem to be solely owned by the frozen food conglomerates of the world.  In theory, these fries should work due to my aforementioned mention of the creviced collection areas as brilliantly employed by curly fries, waffle fries, and ruffled potato chips, but in this instance it simply doesn’t come together.  Perhaps because they are always prepared by your drunk uncle at a family BBQ and, of course, without the usage of a deep fryer.  Perpetually soggy, undercooked, and under-salted, these suck fries evoke memories of elementary school cafeteria meals.

8. The Steak Fry–BY FAR the worst fry variant, if I see this as a “comes-with-a-side-of” on a menu, I always ask for a swap to onion rings, tater tots, hell, even fruit salad.  Never cooked properly, steak fries are like tiny, skinless baked potatoes.  Each bite yields far too much chalky, flavorless potato interior and far too little fried grease.  You know why we eat baked potatoes slathered with butter and sour cream and shredded cheese and bacon bits?  Because a potato by itself kinda fucking sucks.  And so do steak fries, arguably the only french fry that no one is excited to get, the only french fry left standing on a plate at the end of a meal as none of your friends will even “help” you finish your order.

So that’s my list.  What’s your order of styles?  Did I miss any variants?

The funniest thing is, I think I kinda prefer fresh, greasy onion rings over all of the above.

Ale to the Chief

8.75% from a bomber

My friend Derek hooked me up with this special release from the Colorado brewer commemorating the recent Presidential election (Did I miss that one?  Who won?).  Citrusy with an abundance of cascade hops and honey malt which gave it a nice creamy sweetness which truly make this beer exemplary.  I tell you, just a half year ago I would have told you that Avery is nothing more than a mid-level brewery based on what I had imbibed from them, but lately–what with Maharaja, their Russian River collaberation, and especially Mephistopheles’ Stout–they have absolutely been knocking it out of the fucking park.  What a sublime beermaker.

A-

Here’s what the beer’s faux-parchment label read:

“Ale to the Chief! We the Brewers of Avery Brewing Company, in order to form a more perfect ale, require new leadership that can liberate us from our quagmires in foreign lands; embrace environmentally sound energy alternatives to imported oil; heal our ailing healthcare system; free us from tyrannical debt and resurrect the collapsing dollar. We hereby pledge to provide him with an ample amount of our Presidential Pale Ale to support in the struggle for the aforementioned goals! Hail to the New Chief!”

North Coast Old Stock Ale (2008)

March 26th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: North Coast, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Old Ale

My Super Sweet Sixteen (Not Featuring Annoying Little Twats*), Part II

Part I

If this was 1982, the Columbia Broadcasting System’s coverage of the NCAA Tournament might be considered state of the art, but now, in an era in which I can watch Paula Dean and her many chins cook artery clogging yet surely delicious fried foods on numerous high-definition channels (not advised), it is unacceptably bad.

Let me run down all of CBS’s crimes against sports viewers, starting first with the misdemeanors:

Studio show patter –  Amongst the unintelligentsia of sports studio shows, CBS’s troika of the fatter, kinder Gumbel, solid Greg Anthony, and smarmy Seth Davis is actually somewhat tolerable.  But it’s still unnecessary.  With so many things going on at once, us fans want to actually watch games, or at least highlights, not three guys analyze the most obvious shit we just spent the last hour watching ourselves.  At least CBS’s show isn’t a straight drunken giggle-fest like all the detestable NFL shows.  Seth Davis’s prognostications this year have been an abomination though.  Some “expert.”  Who will be the first network, what will be the first major sporting event, to eliminate the studio?  I think it could work.  Surprisingly, I’ve yet to have a complaint with any of this year’s announcers, all who seem to be doing steady, quality work.

Bland home courts — If it’s not bad enough that this year’s first round sites were either in cities that couldn’t give a shit about college hoops (see: Miami) or completely biased home team venues (see: Greensboro and Philadelphia), all of this year’s courts are exactly the same, bare bones parquet floors with nothing more than the off-centered (why?**) NCAA logo decal affixed at center court.  I’d like to see the typical, all-year floor markings for the school, the arena, whatever.  It’s what makes each place unique.  The NCAA doesn’t like uniqueness though, they just like everyone bowing down to their “greatness.”

Commercials –  This isn’t exactly CBS’s crime, they’re just selling the spots, but seriously, businesses, companies, etc., if you’re going to buy hundreds of hours of commercial air time for the three weeks of the tournament, at least produce a variety of different spots.  Or at least interesting ones.  Novel concept, huh? Take what is clearly the most ubiquitous commercial of this year, the Buffalo Wild Wings spot where loser beer-bellies hate their at-home lives so much–and I guess enjoy chain restaurants to such an astounding degree–that they beg the world’s most connected and powerful bartender to assure the current game they watch on the big screen goes into overtime so they may eke out just a little more besotted fun that evening.  I have nothing against BWW, and in fact the one time I found myself in a location I actually really enjoyed the food and ludicrously cheap steins of macro-beer, but I have been so deluged with this commercial that I now have a guttural, Pavlovian hatred for the joint that were I to find myself in Omaha or Cheyenne with a hankering for some mango habanero boneless chicken wings and frosty mug of Coors Lite, I would probably just skip the joint.  It seems that companies think “raising brand awareness” even while annoying potential customers and wasting millions on a campaign is a good thing. Think again.

And onto the felonies…

Channel coverage — A few months ago, my Time Warner cable actually exceeded 1000 channels.  As recent as the turn of the century I remember having only double-digits.  I now have channels numbering into the 1900s.  1900s!  Yet the NCAA Tournament–perhaps the greatest multi-game sporting event in America–is only available on one channel at one time.  How fucking silly is it that fans have to spend all week trying to figure out what game their market is going to get?  Whether or not they’ll have to sprint to a sports bar at noon to watch their team compete.  (I pity my Syracuse friends now living in California who had to find a bar open at 9 AM on Friday in order to watch our opening round trouncing of Stephen F. Austin.)  How ludicrous is it that I can watch every single NIT game from the comfort of my home yet can’t do the same for the more important tournament?   ESPN fucking sucks in a multitude of ways, but at least the “Worldwide Leader” utilizes all of their channels–the Deuce, U, Classic, Espanol–to broadcast important and overlapping stuff.

Come on CBS, get with the times and use your own assets–the CW, CBS College Sports, even fucking Showtime–so that we can see all the games at once.

DirecTV package — Ah, but you say, “Aaron, you can see all the games at once, just don’t be a cheapskate and purchase the DirecTV package.”  Yes, I may be a cheapskate but I have friends that are not and do purchase the package (and then I invite myself over to their house to watch the games, drink their beers, and eat their food.)  Now this is an idea I’m perfect satisfied with and at $70 for the entire tournament that’s a perfect reasonable rate to assure you can watch every game.  Except…you don’t get to watch every fucking game!  Er, at least, you don’t get to watch every fucking minute of every fucking game.  And that’s because you don’t just get committed feeds of each game, something that would make sense, but rather the straight regional coverage of each which are still afflicted by the greatest demon of them all…

Cutaways — The anonymous, nameless, and faceless God-like entity–picture Ed Harris in “The Truman Show”–who decides when games should be cut from to go to other games deserves to be strung up by his hairless balls.  Last Friday late night I coincidentally found myself at a Union Square sports bar which was serving as the shared NCAA “headquarters” for both Ohio St. and Florida St. fans.  Amazingly, both teams were playing at the same time and, even more amazingly, both were in tight affairs, the Buckeyes heading into double OT with spunky Sienna, the ‘Noles going into OT with frisky Wisconsin.  And despite the dozens of televisions occupying all four walls in the bar, fans never knew which screen to glare at to follow their team’s game.

If I actually cared about these teams I would be infuriated–as all these fans indeed were–but instead it was simply comical to watch both schools’ alumni meatheads spinning around and swiveling and craning their necks every few seconds like cats watching a racquetball match and “It’s now on that screen!” as dopey CBS was constantly and frequently cutting back in forth between each game depending on region and market and the current timeout and commercial situation.  Once, even shockingly cutting away as a potential Ohio St. game-winning shot was IN THE AIR.  Unacceptable.  I thought there was going to be a riot in the bar, and this was before both games ended in the higher seeded, bar-rooting teams losing.  (I privately pumped my fist and give a subtle wink to the sole dude in a Sienna t-shirt; I had picked both the Saints and Badgers in my now-in-1st bracket pool.)

Look CBS, just commit to the feed of single games and eliminate the Goddamn cutaways.  This is 2009, we don’t need cutaways, we don’t need “live look ins,” we don’t need split screens and quad screens, we just need singular feeds of each ongoing game, each on a different channel–charge us if you want, that’s fine–and the relaxed luxury of turning that channel on and enjoying the game we want to watch from tip until the final horn.

Maybe one day you’ll get it right.  Morons.  At least your theme song is still awesome and gives me chills every fucking time a day of games opens.

What are your NCAA tournament, CBS, or sports coverage pet peeves?

Now my breakdown for the Friday/Sunday games:

MIDWEST

Much like Pitt, Louisville was another #1 seed that looked quite lackluster in rounds one and two.  I’m less concerned if I’m a Cards fan, though, because I guarantee Rick Pitino has gotten his boys back in line this week.  It also helps that they have the easiest remaining route to the Final Four of any #1.  Their tilt with faux-Cinderella (Pretenderella?) Arizona should offer a minor challenge early as they actually have the athletes and NBA bodies to compete with Louisville, but Louisville has the superior coaching and basketball players.  Louisville’s offense isn’t great but Arizona has the worst defense left in the tournament and thus the #1 seed’s superior depth and pressure defense will make this one a second half laugher.

Meanwhile, in a matchup from earlier this year won easily by the Spartans, Michigan State will yet again take on Kansas.  The defenses will be stout–and the offenses inept–in this game and you could see the winning team garnering only 55 total points (which would actually make for a blow-out in the Big 10).  Goofy Cole Aldrich will be the best player on the floor and may have 30 of those.  I can’t believe I’m saying this for as recent as the start of the New Year I thought they were fo’ sho’ NIT bound, but Kansas will indeed ascend to the Elite 8 (despite a huge coaching disparity between Izzo and Self).  An amazing achievement coming off a title and the loss of countless NBA-bound starters.  Nevertheless, the fun ends in the next round as Louisville will absolutely humiliate them.

LOUISVILLE

SOUTH

UNC/Gonzaga is every square’s upset special of the weekend and you’ve no doubt been hearing a lot of, “You know, I think the Zags can actually give the Tarheels a run.”  Well, I’m a huge hater of the Spokane, Washington program–not cause of anything they do, but rather because the national media continues to act year after year like they are one of the big dogs on the college hoops landscape.  Little secret:  they ain’t.  It was over a decade ago that they had that singular, “magical” run to the Elite 8 and ever since then it’s been a ton of overseeded, crying-on-the-court flameouts–but I mildly concur.  Gonzaga’s defense is good but somewhat overrated, while UNC’s offense is great but somewhat overrated, especially with Ty Lawson still banged up.  UNC would have lost to any truly decent team last Saturday, but they will be more focused this week and should prevail by 10 or so.

I refuse to make a prediction on my alma mater versus the Sooners, but I will offer some analysis.  I’ve been unable to sleep all week for reasons two-fold:  1) due to a gluttonous opening rounds weekend I’ve decided to detox on booze til this game on Friday (falling asleep sober is tough!  Luckily there’s Jimmy Fallon!) and 2) I can’t get out of my mind the thought of the now stellar Cuse 2-3 zone forcing OU into bad shot after bad shot which leads to miss after miss…which leads to Blake Griffin rebound after Blake Griffin rebound for gorilla dunk after gorilla dunk.  However, were I an OU fan I’d be also up all night this week wondering how the hell the mediocre Oklahoma D can possibly stop the guard triumvirate of Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Andy Rautins.  This will be the highest scoring game of the Sweet Sixteen–much different than the 2003 Elite 8 waxing won 63-47 by the good guys–and if I wasn’t an atheist I’d be praying the Hall of Fame legend James Arthur Boeheim will prevail for career win #800.

The potential regional finals will almost certainly feature a one-on-one matchup I’ve been begging to see all year:  either Griffin versus Tyler Hansborough or Flynn versus Lawson.  Both UNC guys are biasedly more ballyhooed, but Griffin will absolutely massacre Psycho T and make him wish he was already riding the NBA pine, while Flynn should finally prove that he is the best point in the game.  Teamwise, I don’t think OU has the supporting cast to offensively hang with North Carolina, while UNC/SU could be a high-flying, high-scoring, All-Star game defense shootout for the ages.

????

(Have I mentioned that if Syracuse wins the title this year I have to get on my own body all the same tattoos Devendorf already has on his?  I’d do it with pleasure though having the name of another man’s child on the back of my neck could be a little odd.)

There you have it, UCONN, NOVA, LOUISVILLE, and ????, my Big East-biased Final Four.  I’ll be back next week to gloat about my awesome picks, or to make excuses for my prognostication failures in the same way smarmy Seth Davis do.  And to offer my Championship thoughts.

North Coast Old Stock Ale

11.7% ABV bottled

Stumbling upon this in the store, I’d mistakenly thought I’d made a splendid score.  I was mistakenly recalling their highly touted Old Stock Cellar Reserve, I presume the normal Old Stock bourbon barreled.  Nevertheless, this “normal” beer was still quite good.  A great strong ale smell and taste.  Caramel malts and a little hops, a thickness and richness like a weak cognac.  Flavor not quite as complex as I’d like but still quite good as most North Coast product is.

A-

*Save Greg Paulus.

**Hat tip:  KOIII

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

March 25th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: A-/B+, Style: IPA

My Super Sweet Sixteen (Not Featuring Annoying Little Twats*)

I went to the college with the best sports journalism program in the nation, but I never had any interest in the industry.  Nevertheless, my outsized ego still leads me to believe I’m a better analyst that any one in the field.  And, being that sports is one of my great passions, it’s about time I occasionally discuss them on The Vice Blog.

My breakdown of the upcoming weekend and the tournament in general as it’s the only thing on my mind right now.

WEST

Much like their insanely talented 2005 team that got upset by George Mason, I thought this year’s UConn squad simply didn’t have “it.”  Now, that’s not the most rigorous or intellectual of analysis, but sometimes these indescribable things just stand out:  a seeming lack of heart, a seeming lack of interest, a clear lack of a coach that isn’t a huge fucking asshole.  More specifically, I thought the injury to Jerome Dyson deprived UConn of their best non-AJ Price outside shooting threat and halfcourt player.  Then, when Calhoun missed their 1st round game with a mystery ailment (a brutal case of crabs?), I was sure UConn’s team was not long for this tourney.  Instead, they’ve been the most dominant squad of the first two rounds and should have no problem dispatching with Purdue despite the manly-cocktail-named team being well-coached by Matt Painter and featuring a solid back line with Hummel and Johnson.

In the region’s other game, every one will be taking Memphis, but recall that Mizzou will be the first “decent” team they have played since squeaking by mediocre Tennessee (can you be “decent” and “mediocre” in the same sentence?) in late January and the first truly good team they have played since losing to Syracuse in late December.  Memphis has arguably the best defense still in the tournament–I prefer Louisville or Team Thabeet–and also one of the best lead guards in Tyreke Evans, but I think the major conference Tigers not coached by a weasely cheater will prevail due to their ability to dictate the tempo and get a lot of transition buckets while lacking the turnovers that are crucial to poor-shooting Memphis’s game.

UConn will take Missouri down in the Elite Eight as the Tigers’s solid bigs in DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons will face bigger and better players in Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien.

UCONN

EAST

My pre-tournament favorite, I thought this was surely the year Pitt wouldn’t choke what with the second most dominant center in the tournament in DeJuan Blair, a great veteran point guard in Levance Fields, and a top-notch athletic swing in Sam Young.  This would be the year they’d finally beat a team better than a six-seed, the year they’d finally advance past the Sweet Sixteen–and admittedly they obviously still have the chance–but I’ve never seen a #1 team look so lackluster in the first two rounds.  Nevertheless, they should be able to slip by Xavier in a very low-scoring defensive bore-fest.

Nova/Duke will be a fascinating game as both teams play similar multi-guard, dribble-drive, kick-for-the-three offenses.  Nova has the vastly superior athletes–not to mention a mid-range threat in Dante Cunningham–but Duke pays the refs, so this one has to be a toss-up.  Jay Wright is one of the finest coaches in the game and should be able to get by a cryin’ and cursin’ Coach K.  (By the way, any one notice Krzyzewski saying a silent prayer before Duke’s matchup with Texas?  Weird.  I wonder who he was praying too, I thought he already sold his soul.)

In a rematch from earlier this year cheaply played at the Spectrum so that the Wildcats would be allowed to play in Philadelphia in the first two rounds, I again think the better coached, better skilled, less grabby Nova will take out Pitt as the Panthers struggle to match them score-for-score.

VILLANOVA

I’ll be back tomorrow with my analysis of the Midwest and South regions and how embarrassing CBS’s coverage truly is.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

7.2% ABV

Sierra Nevada’s first new and regular release since the company began in 1980, I was stoked to try this “extra” IPA.  And it was pretty solid.  Citrusy with mild hops and a thinness and smoothness which made surprised at the ABV.  Drinks like a single IPA which I suppose can be a good thing.  Ultimately, I found it not even as tasty as their iconic Celebration.  I guess you got to admire Sierra Nevada for not trying to go “extreme” like all the other breweries are going nowadays.  Unfortunately, I like extreme.  I like hop bombs that numb my tongue.  Still, it’s refreshing to know I can find this in most every single bodega and deli in my neighborhood so now, even in a pinch, at any hour, walking just a block or two, I will always be able to get a decent IPA.

A-/B+

*Save Greg Paulus.

Portsmouth Belgian Dubbel

March 24th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Portsmouth, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Dubbel

8% ABV bottled

I don’t claim to be an expert at anything, save disappointing my parents, but my rampant autodidacticism has allowed me to become somewhat knowledgeable in quite a few fields.   Beer is one of them.  So is film.  Talking to women is yet another thing I seem to be fairly decent at.  And, you know, after something that happened to me a few weeks ago, I’m starting to think I’m actually falling better than “fairly decent” on the talking to women bell curve.  Though that has less to do with me and more to do with the rest of the populous.

Scooter, a good friend I rarely see, invited me out to a happy hour for his company over in the Turtle Bay part of town*.  I’d never met any of his work chums being that they are [blank] fund guys and rarely get out of the office.  Which also meant that they are still kinda fresh-faced when it comes to normal New York bar culture.  Not nerds by any means, certainly not by their mere appearance.  Not asocial either, just a little…out of place and wide-eyed if you got talking to them.

Nevertheless, we were all having a good time, especially the miserly Vice Blogger since these well-to-dos were putting his glasses of Jameson 18 neat on the company card.  Any how, after a few drinks everyone becomes virtually the same.  The sharp and cool become more bumbling and thus less cool, the stuffy and nerdy become looser and thus cooler, and pretty soon every one is pretty close to each other in a besotted middle of sophomoric behavior.  Alcohol is the one true equalizer in this world, especially the more it is drunk.

At one point, Scooter headed to the bathroom leaving me alone for the first time all night in a circle with his chums.  Conversation died down for a bit as we watched a first round Horizon League Tournament game on the big screen.  I’d been admiring a girl at the bar for the previous few minutes.  Actually, I hadn’t been capable of admiring the girl as her back had been to me the whole time as she swigged a vodka martini, but I had been admiring her eye-popping boots on her legs hanging and dangling from the bar stool.

Finally, she turned to mindlessly look around the bar and I stepped in.

“Hey, I like your boots.”

She smiled wide and pulled me to her.  Fifteen minutes later, after our pleasant conversation had run its course, I returned to my new friends who were absolutely busting at the seams, greeting my voyage back to the group circle with a raucous round of high-fives as if I had just hit a game winning shot in Bruce Bowen’s face.

“Holy shit, how did you do that?!”

“Scooter, is your friend for real?”

“That was caaaaaa-razy!”

What in the world were they talking about?

“And that ‘boots’ line you started with!  Amazing!”

Oh, I see.  They were actually impressed I had talked to an attractive girl.  Even more impressed I had just cold opened with her using a “line.”  But you see, that wasn’t a line.  I did actually like her boots.  Bright, shiny, red cowboy boots.  Not ostentatious or anything, but with the rest of her conservative outfit they really popped.  Made her seem interesting, quirky, unique, or, at least, manufactured sui generis.

Even more amusing, I hadn’t hooked up with her, made plans with her, hell, even gotten her phone number or e-mail address.  Or caressed those lovely cowboy boots.  I had simply had a nice, little conversation with her.  Yet the [blank] fund guys were impressed with me.  Which raises the point of how sad it is how most men interact with women.  How most men think one has to interact with women.

Listen up:

YOU CAN’T “FAIL” IN A CONVERSATION WITH A STRANGE WOMAN.

How silly does that line read in print?  Incredibly silly.  Yet I meet so many men that are absolutely frozen and lock-jawed at the idea of simply talking to a woman they may or may not have an interest in.  They think they need strategies and “games” and lines, but it’s not that hard.  Conversation is incredibly basic.  Does one struggle to speak to an elderly woman or a dude or the guy at the deli counter?  Well, maybe the last one, his accent is very thick.

But you do talk to all those people without nerves and sometimes the conversations are great and sometimes they are terrible but you never “fail” in them.  Because you pretty much can’t fail in a conversation.  I’ve talked to thousands of strange women in my life–as have you–and what’s the worst thing that has every happened?  The worst?  Maybe the girl was a slight bitch to you?  Maybe she walked away?  Maybe she snickered at you with her friend once you left the scene?  Wow.  Big deal.

If that’s the worst that happens that ain’t so bad.  You can’t fail in a conversation.  You simply can’t.  You can only succeed if you want to, but you can’t fail.  So don’t worry about coming up with a perfect line, don’t worry about strategies, and for God’s sake don’t pay attention to what nerdy and creepy pick-up artists on VH-1 or the internet say.  Don’t be scared and just start conversations with women the same way you do with men, taxi cab drivers, and the guy slicing you some roast beef.  Next thing you know you’ll have a whole website full of stories.

And if you ever see a girl wearing some boots you like, go up to her and say, “Hey, nice boots.”

Portsmouth Belgian Dubbel

The same friend that scored me some Kate the Great also grabbed a bottle of the brewery’s dubbel when he was up in New Hampshire.  As much as I love a artistic label, I kinda dig how Portsmouth humbly uses the same label for every single beer they produce and then simply Sharpies in the style of beer.  (Notice how it only says “imperial stout” on the Kate the Great with ‘09 penned in.  Most breweries would celebrate such an iconic beer with a flashy label and a wax dipping and all sorts of other bells and whistles, but not Portsmouth.)  I was slightly disappointed with this brew as I’m a huge fan of dubbels.  A splendid smell but a little thin on the mouth. Still a nice taste of fruity banana esters, dark fruits, and candi sugar.  Thought it lacked a certain richness and boldness though, but still a worthwhile effort.

B+

*Have you ever heard ANY ONE call it Turtle Bay in conversation?!

Surly Coffee Bender

March 19th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 12 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Brown Ale

5.1% ABV from a can

Today, March Madness Thursday, is probably my favorite day of each calender year, assuming July 1st doesn’t all of the sudden become National Aaron/Scarlett Johansson/Megan Fox threesome day (observed).

From the second the brackets are announced on Sunday night and Jay Bilas starts calmly, rationally, and wisely arguing with a maniacal Dickie V while Digger picks his nose with a fluorescent pink magic marker, I am in the throes of anxious anticipation.  Obsessively studying my team Syracuse’s route to the Final Four.  Speculating on the minutiae of each and every of the 63 games yet to be played.  Debating with friends about the merits of this team we never saw play and that team we never saw play.  (”What?!  You’re taking Texas A&M over BYU?  You gotta be fucking kidding me!  The Aggies will never stop…”–checks internet–”…6′7″ guard Lee Cummard and his 16.8 point per game.”)

As the week goes on, the tournament closer, the wait is maddening, the possibilities endless.  This is the best time in the world to be a college basketball fan.  Even a Binghamton supporter can probably convince themselves that somehow someway they could maybe win it all if everything falls into place.  I will scrutinize my tournament pool picks countless times, making little tweaks here and there (”Hmmm…maybe Clemson is better than Michigan.”), talking myself into and out of Final Four picks, making sure the bracket isn’t too “chalk,” nor too obscure.  Two #1 seeds in the Final Four is just a correct number to seem possible yet not ludicrous.  And not win either.  Never win ever.  Let’s be honest, it’s all a crap shoot and a moron always wins the loot.*

The week goes on and I’m watching every single highlight show, reading every single breakdown of every single game on every single website and blog.  Inhaling as much as I can about Syracuse’s chances.  Blatantly ignoring the writers and analysts that don’t pick us (”He’s always HATED us!  Asshole.”) and awarding MENSA memberships to those that do have the Orange going far (”I’ve always liked him.  So intelligent and even-handed.”)  I’m also barely eating or drinking, saving my body for the Thursday through Sunday gauntlet of gluttony and vice.  That wasn’t that hard of a task this year as I was sick as a dog all week after completing a Big East tournament bender from the previous Wednesday through Saturday:  four games, seven overtimes, all my greasy and fried meals ate in Madison Square Garden area bars, hundreds of beers consumed, and zero attractive UConn fans espied.

Now we are T-minus three hours until tip-off between LSU/Butler and the aforementioned BYU/TAMU tilt (play-by-play announced by buddy and fellow Cuse alum Carter Blackburn!)  I will gather with fellow hoops nuts** at a friend’s pad where we will toggle between the games on the DirectTV package, noting how every team sucks except for Syracuse and whoever we picked to win in our pools.  We will flip the fuck out at the ad nauseum airings of commercials promoting some new crappy CBS show that you’ve haven’t heard of this very second but will already fucking loathe by the end of the weekend (my money’s on some schlock called “Harper’s Island.”)  We will have numerous brackets spread out in front of us, laptops flapped open to garner any bits of useless info, Bacchanalian spreads of snack food and comical greasiness.  We will over-caffeinate to stay hyped up, and slug beer like we’re in a contest.  I may start early with something most apropos, Surly’s Coffee Bender.

My unofficial Surly dealer, The Captain, scored me the Coffee Bender as he has likewise got me every single other glorious Surly I’ve ever had, including the original Bender which I adored.  This version is that brew steeped cold for 24 hours in coarsely ground coffee beans from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation in Guatemala.  Pours dark and tastes more like a stout than a brown ale.  Actually more like a rich iced coffee sans sugar and milk.  And, with a fairly low ABV, you could probably convince someone that this is indeed one.  (Aproposly, on this can, Surly’s usual motto of “Beer for a glass, from a can,” cutely becomes “Beer for a mug, from a can.”)  Roasted, dry, and quite earthy.  Delicious, though for coffee nuts only I would advise.

I’d go so far as to say this is the second best brown I’ve ever had after DFH’s Palo Santa Marron.  I’m not sure if Surly makes quite enough total beers to be considered among the best breweries in America, but on a per capita basis they are certainly up there as I haven’t given one of their five releases I’ve tried any worse than an A-.  I can only imagine that if and when they up production in both quantity and different styles that the great Minnesota brewery will rightfully be called one of the best beermakers around.

One final thing that is best about this March Madness Thursday is that Syracuse doesn’t play til tomorrow.  So ain’t nothing bad that can happen to me for the next twenty-four hours!

A-

For the record:  I have The Cuse losing in the Elite 8 to UNC though I think Ty Lawson is more injured than Roy is letting on and they are ripe for an upset.  The rest of my Final Four includes the indomitable Pitt, Slick Rick’s Louisville, and in the South I took a flyer on Mizzou.  I don’t particularly like UConn or Memphis this year–could that be cause the Orange beat both of them?!–and see some oddball team coming from this region.  Mizzou’s tempo control could conquer the South as UConn greatly misses Dyson and Memphis hasn’t played a big dog in months.  I’m taking Pitt over the Cardinals in a title game I would never ever never watch.

*Unless it’s me of course.  This is my year!  I feel it!

**I pity you if are working today.  You couldn’t call in sick?  Come on, man!

Flat Earth Winter Warlock

March 17th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 26 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Flat Earth, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Barley wine

9% ABV from a bomber

I’m not sure if this will be a popular sentiment, but I fucking hate St. Patrick’s Day.  More specifically, I hate the buffoonery surrounding the faux-holiday.  Most specifically, I hate the buffoonery surrounding the faux-holiday celebrations in Manhattan.

As early as daybreak, college dropouts from all over the east coast deluge Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal, and the Staten Island Ferry before slowly woohooing their way toward midtown and Fifth Avenue, clad in their dumbass green t-shirts adorned with dopey sayings (”Erin Go Braless”), ludicrous floppy hats and preposterous glittery shades bought from a street vendor or the Spencer’s Gift at their local shitty mall, and all sorts of other unnecessary accouterments from wristbands to forearmbands to headbands to neckbands.  Perhaps even a special “drinking” glove.  All green, natch.  Many a cliched tattoo will be seen residing on these gents’ and ladies’ fakely tanned anatomies.  Very few non-accented sentences will be heard spoken.

My fellow New Yorkers aren’t a happy bunch on weekday mornings, clad in uncomfortable “work” clothing, crammed into mass transit, waiting in long lines for a coffee and a bagel, and nothing is more grating than some spiky haired dolt with a minimal grasp of the English language loading up on a Diet Red Bull mixed with an illicit hotel-sized bottle of Absolut getting in their way as they try to make it to their jobs.

Sitting in their offices, no matter how high of a skyscrapered floor, the bag pipes and plastic horns and drunkener woohooing will have made work today a near impossibility.  Looking out the window and seeing the top arc of some tramp’s areolae oozing out of her tank-top (”Irish You Would Buy Me a Beer”) will not make up for such a productiveless day.  Lunch will be ordered in so as to keep further interaction with these future reality show contestants minimal.

By now many of my friends are heading home, the end to a shitty day, trekking though the vomit of morons, stepping over the prone bodies of eighteen-year-olds that have never drank more than a few Solo cups of keg beer before today, gasping at the wasted frat boy from some community college digitally stimulating the shitfaced sorority girl from some cosmetology school right out in the open on a Hell’s Kitchen stoop.  The regular and usually sedate after-work bars now filled with the few retards whose mothers didn’t give them a curfew to get back home in time for supper.  The imbeciles perhaps pressing their luck to catch a later train back to Secaucus while they make one last ditched effort to score with the Rutgers University (major undeclared) chick they first met in some alley around noon as she tried to empty her bladder into a Gatorade bottle (32 oz).  Doing shots of Jaeger and slugging cheap macro swill doused with a one-cent drop of green food coloring which causes the chemical reaction of making the pint shoot up to $9 per.  At least the city’s tavern workers are making some nice money for a Tuesday.  I pity them nonetheless.

This day has obviously been a wash for any one with gray matter between their ears and a lack of venereal disease.  That’s life though when your home city is essentially America’s theme park.

Amazingly, I’ve had several people say to me today, “I’d assume you’d like St. Patty’s Day, Aaron.”  Do you really think that little of me?  Yes, I like booze, revelry, and women of questionable morals acting questionable, but that can be found any day of the week here in the greatest city in the world.  (I’d wager those things could be found in your cities as well.)

And as much as I like those things, I hate idiocy, loud obnoxiousness, unskilled imbibing, punny t-shirts and novelty clothing, and especially scheduled fun.  I detest St. Patty’s day just like I detest the scheduled “fun” of New Year’s Eve, Fat Tuesday, Saturday nights, and bachelor parties.

Don’t get me wrong, don’t think me a grumpy old curmudgeon, for I’m not above celebrating on those days, but they are just other days to me.  Why does one need an event to get drunk, have fun, try to see women’s bare breasts?  Do you have that little control over your boring life that you can only party on those mandated days?  I know you do, and that’s what makes you an amateur, and that’s what makes those days and nights into amateur days and nights.

As for me, I wouldn’t hit 5th Avenue or enter a Manhattan bar today if you paid me.  I’d rather sit at home relaxing and drinking a nice beer by myself such as Flat Earth’s Winter Warlock English barleywine.  Dirtyspeed over at Friday Night Beer hooked me up with the semi-rare local Minnesota brew I’d been curious to try for awhile as it is my favorite beer style.  Poured much lighter than expected though the bottle does label it a “golden” barleywine which I suppose explains that.  I typically expect good barleywines to be a rich amber, a glowing ruby color, so I was a little reluctant.  Nevertheless, Winter Warlock was solid.  A nice taste of pale malts and candi sugar with quite a bit of yeastiness.  Very little hops come through though.  The major debit is the beer’s thinness and lack of bite despite the ABV.  Pretty good effort though.

Soon, this day will be over and trains, cabs, and street sweepers will eject the St. Patty’s Day nincompoops from our fair city for another 364 more days.  And the buffoons will wake up tomorrow, green face paint embedded onto their pillow, woohoo just loud enough to not rattle their hangovers, and spend the rest of the year talking about “The most sick day evah, yo,” praying they can repeat it again next year and continue to annoy us all.

You know what I really like, going out on the day after these amateur drinking holidays.  Yeah.  That’s when the real pros show up.  Sunday night,  January 2nd, Fat Wednesday, and St. Patty’s day plus one.  So see youse tomorrow.  Woohoo!

B+

Epilogue:  This is nothing against the actual holiday, which I quite frankly don’t even know what its purpose is.  But I’m sure there is one, or was one before it got bastardized by goofy trite white people.  I’ll go read about it on Wikipedia.

Kate the Great

March 16th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Portsmouth, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Stout

9.5% ABV

HIQ:  Hungover Intelligence Quotient

I was slurring my words, unable to form complete sentences, a screwed up syntax, barely able to even move my mouth and tongue in the correct way to ejaculate words.  I had the most mild form of brain damage:  a massage hangover.

Thursday was one of the more epic days of my year.  Kicked it off around 4:00 PM splitting a bottle of Portsmouth Brewery’s legendary Kate the Great with my friend Derek who had actually trucked up to New Hampshire to secure it earlier in the year during KTG Day.  Currently BA’s 5th ranked beer in the world, I too was blown away by it.  Coca Cola dark with a beautiful smell of booziness.  Tastes of sweet molasses, rich chocolate, and a little spiciness to go along with a slight fizzy carbonation and some alcoholic heat.  Imminently drinkable, this masterpiece still doesn’t quite touch Surly Darkness in my all-time stout rankings, but it definitely battles for the #2 slot along with luminaries Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Brooklyn Black Ops, and Avery Mephistopheles’.

After catching our collective breath from our Kate the Great orgasms, we headed to 33rd Street for several hours of manly drinking before entering the World’s Most Famous Arena where, getting further lubricated on The Garden’s $8 Labatt Blue pints, we watched perhaps the Greatest College Basketball Game of All Time.  Euphoric in joy, somewhat sobered up being that MSG’s last call for brews was some TWO hours before the game actually ended, we headed back to Stout for some aggressive tippling and victory celebrating in that special hooliganistic way unique to upstate New Yorkers.

By 6 AM I somehow found myself in a luxury hotel room with three adorable Pitt fans I’d met earlier in the day, polishing off overpriced mini-bar M&Ms and impromptu vodka and Ocean Spray cran-whatevers.  I awoke the next day in the Park Avenue establishment feeling like I’d taken a shotgun blast to the head.  Still reveling after watching the greatest event ever in the history of tattooed pituitary cases placing round objects in peach baskets, I triumphantly walked up 42nd street, a slight limp in my gait from a groin pull which I’m still not certain whether I acquired during or after the game.  Still wearing my beer and sweat soaked team logo hat and T-shirt from the previous night and receiving countless compliments from spectators for picking such a grand school to matriculate at, numerous high fives were released.  But I didn’t have much time to relax and recover back home on the couch, a sack of ice on my crotch, watching back-to-back replays of the game on ESPN Classic, for I had to head back to the Mecca that evening for the Cuse/West Virginia semi-finals tilt.

To say my Friday was a tough one would be putting it mild.  My brain was absolute mush.  My vocabulary had to be at best at a fourth grade level, we’re talking maybe two syllables max per word.  Comprehending a dinner menu was tough, remembering how to take the subway tricky, understanding the rules of basketball an impossibility.  My trademark wit was sapped from me and I had become a retarded dullard on par with Charly Gordon with a jaw full of Novocaine.  I couldn’t even get my brain to execute the hand-eye coordination needed to simply claps my hands together after a made basket.

This got me thinking.  How dumb exactly had one of my all-time massive hungovers made me?  Minus 10 IQ points?  20?  I’d dare say it was more like a loss of 30 to 40.  I’ve never had such empathy for the dolts in this world if they have to walk around 24 hours a day like I was feeling on Thursday, their neural synapses misfiring more often than Leno during his monologue.

The stat nut that I am, I now want an actual quantitative measurement of my hangover induced dumbkopfism.  I know my approximate resting, sober IQ–something I just confirmed via an online test–so from now on dear readers, any time I am moronically hungover, I will take a similar online test and see how I fare, posting the results.  This should be a fun experiment.

Wow, taking IQ tests with a pulsating booze-created headache, what a way to spend a Saturday!  Much more exiting than ordering in some greasy diner food and watching a “Tool Academy” marathon.

A+

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

March 10th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 16 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Stout

18% ABV bottled

My favorite line from “Fight Club”–the book, not the film, though I guess it somewhat appears in both media–is “The things you used to own, now they own you.”*  And that’s the way I’ve pretty much always lived my adult life.  In the most spartan way possible with not many more possessions than a set of golf clubs and a huge stack of used books.  It’s also why I like beer.  Something I can only “own” until I pour it down my gullet and filter it through my liver.

But what about mental “ownership” of things?  This is where it gets tricky for the things I used to mentally own, in other words used to unabashedly love, have gotten harder and harder to enjoy the more discerning  my tastes get.

A movie buff, no longer can I simply relax and enjoy a film.  Nah, they all fucking suck.  Even the so-called good ones.  I need a cinematic masterpiece to cause any of my synapses to fire.  Most of the “funniest” movies of the year barely make me chortle once.  The most dramatic of the year barely raise any emotion from me.  In fact, I’d say of the three-hundred-plus flicker shows I watch per annum, I’m lucky to have a dozen of those rattle my core.**

Television is even worse.  Just background noise for 99% of the week.  (Then why do I watch so much?!)  Ten minutes into most shows, even ones I supposedly “like,” I have lost interest, started texting, reading a magazine or book, my mind wandering.  It’s the rare program–a “Lost,” “30 Rock,” a tip-top “Friday Night Lights”–that can make me drop everything and stay fully locked in.

Ditto sports.  Aside from Syracuse, the Yankees, and the Giants–”my” teams–who I am lifetime signed up to watch and root for, I can barely enjoy other events.  Been there done that.  Oh, another dunk, another home run, another annoying T.O. press conference.  Just doesn’t inspire me like it used.

Food has become simple nourishment unless it is truly mind-blowing.  Luckily I live in Manhattan, so I dine well, even on the cheap, quite often.  But still many of my week’s meals seem to just be boring fuel.  It’s even worse when I’m in other cities as I often feel like I’m Oliver Twist in the gruel line at their “Zagat-reviewed” restaurant.

Women may be the worst of all!  And I live in maybe the most attractive city in America!  Certainly on the East Coast.  Lately, I’ll be out for hours and hours and not see even a single woman I would date.  No matter how great her personality is.  Oh boy, and in bed she better be more uninhibited than a drugged-up porn actress and more pliable than Olga Korbut.  I just don’t got interest any more with the 6-out-of-10 sober, lights-off, missionary position, “The Very Best of Chris Isaak” on the iPod dock, vaginal intercourse.  I’d rather just masturbate to voyeur porn.

Why have my standards raised so high?  Why have I become so jaded?  Am I just getting old, grumpy, and curmudgeonly?  Do I no longer have a libido that still fires on all cylinders?  Believe me, it’s not a good thing to be bored and unimpressed with 99% of things in life.  Who am I to have such arrogance, to be so critical, so discerning?  I’m not so great.***

Now we get to beer, specifically World Wide Stout which is a good beer, perhaps even a great one.  But I couldn’t enjoy it in the least because that very same day I’d enjoyed two masterpieces and the Dogfish Head just didn’t stack up.  What dangerous thinking!  It’s like being mad you’re dating a nice, cute girl next door and not Freida Pinto.  Being unable to watch the brilliant “Damages” because it ain’t quite as good as “Lost.”  Not enjoying Tarantino’s latest because it will never reach the heights of “Pulp Fiction.”  You see how this is a bad way to go through life?

So I will try to stop.  No, not just look for the good in everything, but instead savor that good in everything, no matter how good and savorable it is (Leinenkugel beers excepted).  World Wide Stout is famous as one of the most alcoholic beers in the world made by one of the most extreme beer maker on this planet.  Dark, rich, roasted, and malty.  Yes, I didn’t find it quite as complex or flavorful as Mephistopheles’ or Dark Horizon, but shouldn’t I just enjoy it for what it is as opposed to what it isn’t?  Yes, I probably should.  I think an average-looking girl I was once dating said the very same thing to me once when she caught me eyeballing a knock-out crossing our paths on a Soho sidewalk.  Naw, my average-looking girl was annoying.  I was right to stare.

A-

*In the film it’s slightly changed to “The things you own end up owning you.”  I think the used to in the literary version is incredibly important.

**Coincidentally, a rare orgiastic cinematic experience happened just last night with a viewing of little seen 2008 documentary “Dear Zachary:  A Letter to a Son About His Father.”  I didn’t expect much from this film and don’t even recall putting it on my Netflix queue.  Thank heavens some force of kismet did put it there. It’s one of those films where at the beginning you’re barely paying attention–checking e-mail, snacking, cleaning the house–and next thing you know you can’t tear your eyes from the screen.  An absolute jarring work, I ran the gamut of emotions from one minute to the next as more and more facts from this unbelievable story are masterfully revealed and woven together.  As for countless critics, both online nobodies or “professionals,” that call this work amateurish, those folks have clearly never made a film before because this is an absolute tour de force of both footage acquired and edited together. Heck, the editing alone is virtuoso. The best documentary I’ve seen in the last fifteen months or so, how was this not Oscar nominated?!  Not to be missed, I will NEVER forget it.

***Yes, I am.  Just trying to be humble for once.

Schafly Reserve Barleywine (2007)

March 9th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Saint Louis/Schlafly, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Barley wine

10.2% ABV from a handsomely boxed 750 mL bottle

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”  -HST

It was 3:15 AM as I drunkenly approached the bartender.

“’scuse me, you guys got a pair of scissors I can borrow?”

Not even regarding my question the least bit oddly, the bartender thought to herself–”Hmmm…yeah, I think we do.”–before opening a drawer near the register and retrieving the clippers for me.

How boring must others’ lives be?  There’s no way to say that without sounding like a supercilious dick.  Yet it seems every time I go out with my friends for what I, what we, consider to be a “normal” evening, some stranger who has found him or herself inexplicably drafted into our events blurts out “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!”  Or, “This is the most insane night I’ve ever had!”

Really?

The craziest?  The most insane?  Sadly, I don’t think these people speak in hyperbole.  They just live really fucking boring lives.  The same thing happened again Saturday night.

Graig, Sal, and I had begun drinking early with a 2:00 Syracuse/Marquette tip-off and by 8:00 were all worn out.  I suggested hitting the Village Pourhouse for one final drink before parting ways which soon led to us drinking rum and Cokes to stay awake which lead to us drinking full pint glasses of rum and Cokes to stay even more awake which lead to us getting absolutely loaded and over-caffeinated and having a hefty $400 tab.  (”The Village Poor House,” Sal joked.)

Throughout the whole day, I couldn’t help noticing Sal’s new hair cut.  Whoever had snipped it had gravely fucked up in the front as several wisps of stray hair were skirting over his forehead like miniature bangs, making him look quite foolish, and irking an obsessive compulsive like myself.

For hour after hour and round after round I continued imploring Sal that we had to cut his hair and he kept turning me down.  By 3:15 AM I’d had enough.  I told him I was getting scissors by any means necessary and snipping his errant coiffure myself*.  That is when I marched to the bar to retrieve my school supply which was so easily obtained.

Mind you, it’s the end of a Saturday night with a room full of wasted people–yours truly included–in a bar that isn’t exactly the Ritz Carlton’s piano lounge but one more akin to a underage college joint with a laissez-faire carding policy, a floor covered in sloppy suds, the jukebox full of songs that everyone knows every word to and has an uncontrollable urge to prove that fact**, women too shit-faced to be anything more chaste than a slut (though most are pushing the threshold of “skank”), and vomitus and buffalo wing detritus scattered in any place a person isn’t sitting, standing, or dry-humping.

You may think the bartender gave me some scissors at 3:15 AM because I have an “honest” face.  I don’t.  I always look like I’m up to mischief.  I do have one thing going for, though, and that is a remarkable ability to compose myself, even for just a few seconds, when I’m drunk and need to not sound that way when speaking to a figure of any level of authority.  Likewise, I’m a pretty confident confidence man.  I knew she’d give me the scissors if she had some.  But why?

Why in the world would a bartender give a drunken person scissors?  What if I had stabbed someone?  Or just cut…well anything?  Or anyone?  Hell, I’m having a hard time right now thinking of a single legitimate thing to do with scissors at 3:15 in the morning while drunk.  Make some fucking paper dolls?!

Well, I guess I can actually think of one thing, the thing we did, cut Sal’s hair to make him look less like an asshole.  As I toed the line above his bar seat and put his sloppy wisps between my forefinger and middle to line it up like a moyel about to snip off the foreskin, Sal chickened out.  “No, you can’t.  I don’t trust you!”

I won’t lie, I was going to give him a perfect cut, but I can still understand his reticence as I am a prankster par excellence.

Luckily, a girl Sal was flirting with stepped up and agreed to do the snipping.  Sal liked that idea much better, and though she did a far worse job than I would have, I believe Sal was pleased with the new cut, especially as he scored a date with the besotted impromptu barberess as a bonus.

Our general area of other bar patrons was buzzing after the events.  Personally, the events, the haircut, didn’t seem that odd to me.  Just necessary.

One guy, a stupefied look on his face, finally spoke up: “A haircut in a bar?!  That’s the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”

“Crazy” and “insane” from an outsiders’ perspective just seems par for the course in my life.  As does giving a man sorely in need of a haircut one at 3:15 AM in the middle of a packed bar.

I don’t know.  Maybe my friends and I are jaded.  Have been doing such “crazy” and “insane” things for so long that the weird now seems normal.  But, you know,  I don’t think that’s so.  I just think we “live.”

As a returned the scissors to the bartender I looked her deep in the eyes, shaking my head in disapproval:

“Why in the world would you give a drunk man some scissors?”

She just shrugged.

Schafly Reserve Barleywine

After the rousing success of Schafly’s Reserve Imperial Stout, I was stoked to try their barleywine.  Big badass imperial stouts are probably my second favorite style of beer, but barleywines still reign supreme in my eyes.  Their stout I had was a 2008 bottling while this barleywine was a year earlier.  I sampled it the same night I had Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine (2001) and I found the younger and less “famous” beer to be the better offering.  Nice and sweet yet still hoppy, the oak barreling shines through in this tremendous beer.  Incredibly drinkable for the ABV.

A

*I’d previously given two drunken haircuts in my life.  One great, one terrible.  The great one netted my friend hearty compliments for a week straight.  The terrible one got another friend laughed out of a family wedding.  So, yes, there is apparently something that goes over worse in church than a fart.

**”Santaria,” “Free Fallin,’” “Sweet Caroline,” etc.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine (2001)

March 6th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Barley wine

9.6% ABV bottled

A friend down in San Juan for the World Baseball Classic just sent me a text:

“medalla light tastes like puerto rican bath water.”

That got me thinking about good names for beers that (yet!) do not exist:

PUERTO RICAN SHOWER ALE

This high ABV ale tastes like cheap cologne because it’s main component actually is cheap cologne.  Be thankful though, the pungent cologne smells actually mask the even more potent body odor hints in this beer.

GOLDEN PARACHUTE LAGER

While CEOs and other upper-level executives get gigantic severance packages upon being fired or let go, us lonely plebes use to have nothing to look forward to but living on the streets and getting drunk on mouthwash.  Until now.  Golden Parachute Lager is the world’s cheapest beer, made from adjunct ingredients so poor they make rice and corn seem gourmet.  Packaged in handsome cardboard “drinky” boxes typically used for children’s juices, Golden Parachute is the only beer one is actually allowed to purchase with government food stamps.

LIGHT LITE (draught only)

The beer created for the discerning consumer who always approaches the bartender and asks, “Whadaya got light on tap?”  For the drinker that actually worries about the caloric content of their beer.  Ah, do not fret any more as Light Lite is a NO calorie beer that is crystal clear in color.  (Light/lite enough for ya’, Jack?!)  That’s because it’s actually tap water, garnished with an orange wedge because the same motherfucking idiots that ask for light beers are the same ones that think fruit slices should be in their adult beverages.

Now Bigfoot, that’s a great fucking name for one of the more legendary beers in the craft brewing world.  A stupendous looking brew with a glowing ruby color and possessing a world-class smell, I found this bottle a tad too boozy in taste.  But it was still quite good.  Spicy and hoppy, but lacking a little sweetness I prefer in my favorite barleywines (Old Guardian, JW Lees Harvest, GnarlyWine, etc).  Still, this is one of the best on the market.

Boy, I’d love some graphic logos for my aforementioned beer creations.  That sure would be cool.

But what about you?

I want to hear if you got any good, funny ideas for beer names.  Tell me in the comments.

A-