Home     About Me    Most Beer Blogs SUCK     Top 10 Most Wanted     Very Best of the Vice Blog    

Archive for April, 2009

Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock (2008)

April 28th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Schneider, Country: Germany, Grade: A plus, Style: Wheat (Hefeweizen)

12% ABV bottled (#28600)

Last year a friend introduced me to Aventinus and I quickly fell in love with it, making the German brew one of those beers that I must have frequently.  I’m a man that gets off on novelty in all aspects of life and that is especially true of beer.  Even the beers I love I don’t drink more than a few times a year, much rather preferring to roll the dice with something new, yet I still manage to have Aventinus at least once a month.  Which shows how very much I like that beer.

Thus, I was quite intrigued when I found this semi-special bottling of Aventinus on the shelf at Whole Foods.  It looked pretty similar to the original with its iconic purple label.  The only difference seemed to be the limited edition numbering on the back.  As I’ve mentioned once before, I’m a huge sucker for gimmicks, so there was zero chance I wouldn’t pick up a specially numbered bottle, no matter what was inside.

When I got home, I did my research to discover just exactly how this bottling differed.  And, straight from the brewer’s website it’s story-tellin’ time:

Aventinus, the Wheat Doppelbock of Bavaria, has always been known to be the most intense and complex wheat beer in the world. This was the case for the past sixty years, but not anymore…

Up until the 1940’s, Aventinus was shipped all over Bavaria in containers lacking temperature control. Consequently, the precious drink partially froze during transportation. Unaware that the brew was concentrated by the separation of water from the liquid. People were baffled by this unique version of Aventinus. By chance, the first Aventinus Eisbock was created.  Well aware of this story, Hans Peter Drexler, brewmaster of the Schneider brewery, decided to recreate this classic “mistake” in a modern controlled facility. Thus, the Aventinus Eisbock is reborn sixty years later… Prost!

Certainly sounded intriguing.  And, with 8% “normal” Aventinus a top 100 beer, “supersized” Aventinus might bring me to orgasm.  Or at least make me Prost! in my pants.

My first sip of supersized Aventinus punched me in the back of the throat and I started coughing and snorting like some junior high kid taking his first hit from a bong.  After I composed myself, I greedily went back to the teet for more.  Goddamn was this good.  Packed with banana flavors, like liquized bubble gum and, oh so freaking boozy.  The smell, consistancy, and taste of a port wine, perhaps a Belgian dubbel, or we could just say a wheat barleywine, with hints of dark fruits and spices.  Phenomenal.

I am so glad an act of kismet–or marketing gimmickry–caused me to grab this beer because it is one of the best I’ve had this year.  Hell, it may be in my top ten of all time.  I’m gonna be stocking up on it while it is still around.  If you love Aventinus, you’ll be floored by this.  Hard to believe Aventinus can get even better but with this it has and it is.

A+

The Bruery Orchard White

April 27th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: The Bruery, Country: America, Grade: B-, Style: Belgian White

5.7% ABV on tap

I’m an egomaniac and a clinical narcissist and one reason I started this site is because I knew I would have a better beer blog than most of the other crap out there.  And now, I will write a better bar review than those written by the unpaid freelancing hacks at Shecky’s, et al.

THE PONY BAR

W. 45th and Tenth Avenue

After a soft opening two Thursdays ago, I decided to pay my first visit to Hell’s Kitchen’s newest bar exactly one week later.  A great drinking neighborhood, that is unquestionable, but the part of town westerly of Touristville is severely lacking in craft beer spots with only the two House of Brews to its name as well as Valhalla.*  The Houses of Brew (if I am to correctly pluralize) usually have a respectable enough beer lineup, but it’s not exactly a place I like to hang out as the ceilings are too low, the lighting too bright, the women too loud, the beer geeks too geeky, the food too beer-battered.  Valhalla is criminally underrated though, even if it is exceedingly dark in there and the bartenders are slobbering fools.

Upon first entering The Pony Bar I was impressed with the ambiance.  It’s quite unique with upturned barrels in the middle of the floor acting as little tables and all sorts of other faux-old-timey wood furnishings like an off-the-interstate Cracker Barrel.  It was also kinda like Al Swearengen’s Gem Saloon though I saw no canned peaches available for purchase.  Then again, the kitchen is not open just yet, though the menu on the wall looked respectable and economical.

I was quickly turned off by the bar’s paucity of pissing space with just a single commode for both men and women.  When I own a bar, there will be more places to piss than the number of dicks the Fire Marshall will allow in the building.

I’d been greatly anticipating my first visit to The Pony Bar as their website listed them as having The Bruery’s Orchard White and Black Orchard on tap.  One of America’s newest and brightest craft brewers, I’d yet to see these beers in Manhattan and was stoked to try them.  The Pony Bar’s nicely-designed website claims to offer “real time” updates about what is on their twenty taps at that very second, but by the time I had reached the watering hole, Black Orchard was no more.  So, unless that tap got changed out during my five minute walk, The Pony Bar are biliously lying to the bibulous.

Luckily, Orchard White was on tap and I ordered one post-haste.  I was disappointed to see it come in a mere 8 ounce glass but later learned that since literally every single beer at The Pony Bar is $5, some of the brews are served in smaller glasses.  There seemed to be no rhyme or reason though to what was served in these 8 ouncers.  It certainly wasn’t just high ABV stuff as Allagash’s sublime 7.5% Black was in a wee glass while Stone’s snotbox-punching 7.7% Ruination came in a full pint.  Nor, did it appear to be a rarity thing as some simple-to-find taps were in the itsy bitsy glasses as well.  But I quibble.

I found the Orchard White to be a quite fascinating witbier.  Spicy and medicinal, full of oranginess and a biting flowery lavender taste which overpowered me to a certain extent.  The prickly carbonation got to me as well.  Truth be told, I was somewhat glad this was served in a 8 ounce glass as I was ready for something else by about ounce 6.  A good beer, or at least an interesting one no question, I’m curious to try The Bruery’s other stuff.

It was easy to monitor the beers on tap and their ABVs and serving size as The Pony Bar has a splendid and large chalkboard covering the entire wall behind the bar.  One of my top bar pet peeves is when you enter a bar and ask a standard, “So what do you have on tap?” and the bartender gives an enormous eye roll followed by an abracadabra wave of her upturned palm as if to say, “The taps run the length of the bar, you can check them out for yourself.”  No one wants to run up and down the length of a bar, jutting their head between couples trying to ogle each tap, recognize ones you’ve never seen before, cull weird names from the askew heads.  Or, what about bars that list their beers on a dirty chalkboard, the various brews written in awkward pink or powder blue chalked atop the smudged black, made impossible to read by the dim lights of the bar.  It really irks me when bars don’t just have beer menus to peruse, and updated ones at that.

If only every bar would just do what The Pony Bar does with their amazingly easy to see beer wall which could be read despite the darkness of the establishment.  The on-the-wall ABVs are also great for a stat geek like me as it enables me to keep accurate tabs on my intoxication levels (”I’ve currently had 124 ounces of beer at an average of 7.1%!  Any one know a good massage parlor around here?”)

The lights were dark and the atmosphere jovial.  Though there was a gorgeous flatscreen TV in each corner, none were on, something I am not sure whether it had to do with the fact that the bar had yet to have the cable guy arrive–”Bars, they’re just like us!”–or whether it was to maintain a conversational atmosphere.  I will assume it is the former.  But a conversational atmosphere was certainly generated and the bar was packed to the gills with hot, hot women, all forced to order Ommegang Witte as it was the only “light” and “girly” beer on the current menu.  There’s hard liquor too, ladies, do not fret.

I’m the kind of guy that upon arriving at a beer bar immediately composes a “batting lineup” for my evening’s consumption.  No, I don’t go all the way 1 through 9 but I usually make it well past the clean-up spot.  I’d led off with Orchard White, slotted Stone Ruination in the two-hole in order to calibrate my IPA tastes before I planned on giving Blue Point Rastafar Rye a whirl.  Unfortunately, just as I was finishing my Ruination pint the bartender started hammering a boxing ring-type bell as if the judges’ decision was about to be announced by a Buffer brother.  I quickly learned that this bell was to alert a tap change.  I said to my drinking buddy, “Please say it ain’t the Rastafar Rye.”  It was and thus my batting lineup method lost in a unanimous decision.  Should have batted the Rastafar Rye higher.  Oh well.  The Pony Bar would change taps four more times that night, something I love.  True, they could just have five to ten more taps at all times, but just like you I’m a sucker and it excites me to watch thing change right in front of my very eyes.

The bartenders at The Pony Bar are friendly, though they don’t exactly seem to be fermented beverage experts.

AARON:  “So, how’s that Chelsea Hop Angel IPA?”

BARTENDER:  “Now that’s what we call an ‘IPA’ which stands for India.  Pale.  Ale…”

Consults notecard.

BARTENDER:  “…which means it will be quite…uh…’hoppy.’”

Finally, The Pony Bar offers growlers for sale of any and all beers they have on tap.  This seems to be a new “fad” in New York as in the last year or so at least a dozen bars have started offering this service.  Obviously, this is something I absolutely adore as I’m all for encouraging people to make impetuous purchases when lit up.  And, believe me, it’s quite easy to say, as you’re tabbing out your credit card:

“You know, could you just throw a growler of Double Bastard on their while you’re at it?”

Next thing you know you’re stumbling down 11th Avenue swigging straight from the 64 oz glass, stuck between the moon and New York City.

B+

*Seriously, Valhalla, it’s 2009, get a fucking website.  My mom even has one for God’s sake, and she’s a public school teacher.

AleSmith IPA

April 23rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: AleSmith, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

7.25% ABV from a bomber

My Quasi-Celebrity Girlfriend, Part III

(previously…)

“Just go hail a cab for us!”

We stood in the lobby of the Land O’Lakes Girl’s building, me in normal date attire, her dressed like the Land O’Lakes Girl.

“You know, you didn’t have to trick me into coming to this trade show with you.  I would have gone.  I got nothing better to do.”

A few feet away, the doorman and a building custodian snickered at the costumed Land O’Lakes Girl while, nevertheless, ogling her fantastic tanned legs.

“Yeah, well I’m sorry about that, I thought you might be freaked out.”

“I can’t believe a ‘celebrity’ like you doesn’t get limo service to the Javits Center.”

She rolled her eyes at me.  “I get reimbursed on my cab fare.  Now will you go hail us one?  I don’t want to be stared at by everyone.”

“I won’t go out there unless you come with me.”

On the sidewalk, as the Land O’Lakes Girl glared at me and shivered, trying to cover up her exposed skin as best she could, I tried to flag down a taxi, while neighborhood passersby paid my quasi-celebrity girlfriend…no attention.  This is New York City, mind you, nine out of ten people dress like assholes.

En route, the Land O’Lakes Girl admitted that she was always humiliated at working conventions so she was glad she would have some support from me.

“If you’re so humiliated by this, then why do you do it?”

“Hey, it’s for $500.  And I don’t get much work nowadays.”

She looked in the cabbie’s mirror and adjusted her feather headband.

“Any how, it’s a good networking opportunity.”

Good networking opportunity?

“Oh yeah, wait til you see.  There will be so many amazing, important, and powerful people here.”

Then we arrived at the packaged and canned foods convention.  And I saw all the amazing, important, and powerful people at the Javits Center.  There was Tony the Tiger and Cap’n Crunch and the Sun-Maid Raisin Lady and Chester Cheetah and one of the Keebler elves and hey, isn’t that Snap, Crackle, and Pop?  I can never tell those guys apart, but luckily they have their names on their hats lest you commit a major social faux pas and call Snap Crackle and Pop Snap.*

All these huuuuuuuge “celebrities” manning information booths while fat slobs wandered the convention floor amassing any free shit they could.

The Land O’Lakes Girl was shown to her booth and I helped her set up.  We laid out brochures and informational pamphlets and tiny free samples of Land O’Lakes butter for, I guess, those humans who have never sampled butter before and finally wish to just pop an unadulterated pat into their mouth sans toast or waffles or flapjacks.

Morons would come by, schmooze up the Land O’Lakes Girl, stuff a few pats of butter into their fanny packs, throw some pamphlets into their convention bags, schmooze up the Land O’Lakes Girl some more, and then ask for a picture.  There was a Polaroid camera at our booth and convention-goers were encouraged to get their photo taken with my quasi-celebrity girlfriend like she was some Playboy Playmate or a Hooter’s waitress.  It was shocking how many men wanted their picture taken with the Land O’Lakes Girl like she was someone important.  Each new photo-requester making her feel less and less important to me like indigenous Papa New Guineans believe cameras steal your soul.  Of course, I was the one forced to snap the Polaroids.  I intentionally framed them poorly.

After awhile, our booth hit a lull and for the first time since we had begun dating I actually looked at a Land O’Lakes box at the convention table.  Weird that I had never done it previously seeing as nowadays I over-Google every new girl I meet before any sort of relationship proceeds.  Then again, this relationship had been a torrent whirlwind.  I put the box up beside the Land O’Lakes Girl’s head.   You know, she didn’t really look like the chick on the box at all.

“What are you doing?” she sternly asked.

Would the 3-D Land O’Lakes Girl look like the 2-D Land O’Lakes Girl if she was shrunk down to one hundredth size?  Hard to say.

“Nothin’.  Will you autograph a box for me sometime?”

I smiled slyly.

She kissed me on the lips and grabbed the box from my hand.  She examined it, smirked to herself.

“They sure made my face look a lot fatter on the box.”

She tossed it aside.

Just then, on the other side of the convention floor, an enormous man in dark forest tights covered up by a leaf-garbed one-sleeved onesie ala Andre the Giant, strolled by in a gawky gait.

The Land O’Lakes Girl could barely contain her excitement.

“I used to have such a crush on him.”

I retracted.

“The fucking Jolly Green Giant?!”

She nodded.

“We used to be at a lot of the same events together.  I’d always flirt with him but he was never interested.  I think he had a girlfriend.”

“But he looks like a buffoon.  His tights aren’t taut.  They’re saggy and you can see he has a poor body.  Droopy man boobs and little chicken legs.  Plus, how can you tell what he looks like under that green grease paint on his face?”

“Oh I saw him without make-up once.  Very good-looking.”

She said the final line quite emphatically.

I’d had enough of this wacky pathetic convention and the Land O’Lakes Girl for the moment.  I was bored and hungry and a little perturbed and I decided to take a lap of the convention floor, hopefully to find some food.  I quickly realized I could piece together somewhat of a lunch with all the free samples from the booths:  granola bars and energy drinks and trail mixes and children’s fruit snacks.

I found myself at an Oscar Meyer booth absentmindedly looking through some pamphlets promoting the newest line of Lunchables pizzas when a rep at the booth–clad in a hot dog wiener costume natch–began schmoozing me up.

“So, you a rep?”

I looked up, confused.

“Huh?  Uh no.”

“In distribution?”

“Uhn uh.”

“School administrator then?!”

The wiener did an index finger gun point at me to emphasize what he thought was a correct guess.

“Naw.  Just looking for free samples.  I’m actually here because a friend of mine has to work.”

The wiener went into an Igloo cooler behind him and pulled out a box of Lunchables Maxxxed Out Peperoni Pizza.

“Friend, huh?  Any one I’d know?  I go to a lot of these dumb things.”

He ripped the cellophane off the top of the Lunchables tray and began preparing a piece for me, squirting some ketchup red sauce on a Matzo-cracker of a “crust” before adorning it was areola pink discs of low-grade meat.

Pure deadpan:  “Oh yeah, she’s pretty ‘famous,’ it’s the Land O’Lakes Girl.”

His eyes got huge as he handed me the pizza he had finished preparing.

“Yeah, she certainly is ‘famous.’”  He had accented the “famous” in a more mocking way than even I had.  I believe he was making fun of the Land O’Lakes Girl.  Hey, no one makes fun of my quasi-celebrity girlfriend but me!

“Great picture of her on the box, huh?”

I couldn’t tell if he was joking.

“Are you joking?”

He shrugged.

“So that isn’t her on the box is it?  Is that what you’re saying?  It sure doesn’t look like her.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

I eyed him, trying to get a read on what he was implicitly trying to tell me.  If he was trying to tell me anything.

“Well good to talk to you, pal.”

He smiled.  “It was good to meet Mr. Land O’Lakes too,” he said with a huge smile, trying to get my goat.

“These are terrible by the way,” I said as I frisbee tossed the remaining half of my slimy Lunchables pizza into his booth’s garbage.

“I know,” I heard him mumble as I headed back to the other side of the Javits Center.

Upon returning to the Land O’Lakes Girl’s booth, I found her no longer alone.  Nope, now The Jolly Green Giant was in the booth and they appeared to be canoodling, giggling with each other.  She looked surprised to see me, like she had forgotten I was there with her.

“Aaron, uh, hey…”

The Jolly Green Giant extended his hand.

“Aaron, this is Eric.”

I’d had about enough of this scene and wanted to leave, but if you know Manhattan then you know the Jacob K. Javits Center is way on the west side, nestled in that beautiful region boxed by the Westside Highway, the Lincoln Tunnel, and sexy Eleventh Avenue, also known as…the middle of fucking nowhere.  I’d have to walk forever or spend a shitload on a cab to get back to civilization.  I’d just grin and bear it and wait for the Land O’Lakes Girl and her reimbursable cab ride to take us home.

Luckily, the convention was dying down by now and the Land O’Lakes Girl decided it was time to clean up a bit and soon leave.  The Jolly Green Giant headed back to his booth to do likewise.

“Eric was thinking we should all go get a drink after this.”

“Who the fuck is Eric?”

The Land O’Lakes Girl gave me a look like I was a moron.  “Uh, The Jolly Green Giant.”

I could definitely use a drink but I wasn’t sure I felt like hanging out with him.  Then again, even though I was getting sick of the Land O’Lakes Girl, no little fruit…er, vegetable…was going to steal her from me.

“Come on, he’s a nice guy, I swear.”

The Land O’Lakes Girl smiled at me and gave me a kiss and I remembered why I liked her in the first place.

And soon we were standing on Eleventh Avenue trying to get a cab, none, of course, to be found.

“I know a great bar within walking distance,” Eric, the Jolly Green Giant, chirped.

Jesus.

If you know anything about the bars way on the westside of Manhattan…well, if you know anything about those bars then you’re probably a low rent hooker, a stevedore, a junkie, or one real badass.  These are serious dive bars, son.  You may think you go to dive bars.  You may laugh at the surly bartender who gives you a slightly foggy pitcher of cheap macro swill.  You may be tickled at how grossed out you are by the unisex bathroom with a standing water floor and graffitied walls.  You may be real amused at the jukebox full of David Allen Coe and George Thorogood ditties.  But you don’t go to dive bars.  You go to faux-dive bars.  Saying you go to dive bars is like an eleven-year-old claiming he went to an authentic haunted house last October 30th when his parents drove him to that warehouse right off the highway and paid $35 apiece for some unsuccessful drama club failures to spook the youngster.  The dive bars you go to are essentially just Hollywood sets erected to cater to you and your need to “slum” it for a night.  Real dive bars aren’t nestled between a Zagat-rated French restaurant and a free trade coffee shop et fromagerie.**

Real dive bars are on Eleventh and Twelfth Avenue, nestled between storage facilities and motorcycle repair shops and secret brothels and hot dog cart supply companies.  They have names like Ollie’s and McCullough’s and Joe’s.  If they have names at all.  Most are anonymous, just a blacked out sign, a neon High Life light in the front tinted window, and a door with a few nine millimeter holes in it.  You can’t see into these bars from the street so it’s a gamble–a major gamble–every time you push the swinging door open and enter one.  Who knows what you’ll find, what seediness, sordidness, clientele. If you have ZERO chance of getting killed for accidentally looking at someone funny or for saying the wrong thing, then you are not in a dive bar.

We headed to one of these scary dive bars on Twelfth Avenue and the low Forties, the Jolly Green Giant proudly fucking strutting down the street as the few transients that far west stared at the freak.  The Land O’Lakes Girl walked beside him and I hung back a few steps, like I might not actually be with these two.  The Land O’Lakes Girl turned around angrily.

“Are you embarrassed to be seen with me, Aaron?”

“Nope.  Not you.”

Soon we were at the dive bar and, of course, as we entered–”So an Indian girl, a Jolly Green Giant, and a pissed off Jew enter a bar…”–all the beefy, flannel-clad roughnecks rubbernecked toward us.  The bartender with a Rollie Fingers handlebar mustache snickered.

“I’d ax for youse guys’ IDs, but then again it pro’ly wouldn’t mattah, eh?”

The completely male population of the bar gruffly chuckled, each tippling denizen seeming to base their own personal style off of that of a Major League relief pitcher of the last few decades.  There was the guy at the back pool table with a “The Mad Hungarian” Al Hrabosky mop of hair, the guy stuffing his Mitch Williams curly mulleted face with some pretzels, the guy chugging Wild Turkey shots and then slurping the excess whiskey out of his Goose Gossage fu manchu.

It was an uncomfortable scene.  At least for me as I wondered how my life got to the point where I was sitting on a barstool seat essentially made out of duct tape, alternating between swigs of Budweiser and Wild Turkey as two costumed freaks surprisingly seemed to be making friends with the entire dive bar who were somewhat tickled by the two.  The two huge celebrities also seemed to be coming together in a union the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the great DiMaggio and Norma Jeane Mortenson.

There’s probably a “Ho, ho, ho” joke in here somewhere regarding the Land O’Lakes Girl so cavalierly eschewing me.  Then again, I’m just an average Joe.

Eventually, the Land O’Lakes Girl headed off to the bathroom and The Jolly Green Giant sidled up beside me.

“So Aaron, you and Sara dating or just friends?  I can’t really tell.”

I thought about my torrid one-week relationship with a maybe-faux-quasi-celebrity and decided…

“Go for it dude.”

…it was over.

This story was not a fable because it was true and I am not Aesop and thus, unlike a fable, it has no moral, no significant principal culled, no lesson learned, no “one to grow on.”  I guess, the one thing to take away is to just not date crazy girls.  Or, just don’t date them for too long.  You’ll know when you’ve reached the precipice.

I winked at the Jolly Green Giant as I left the bar.  I finally understood why that bartender had winked at me just one week previous.  The Jolly Green Giant was in for quite a week I reckoned.

When I got home, free again, I popped a much coveted bomber of AleSmith’s highly rated IPA.  A smell so fresh, piny, citrusy.  Nicely carbonated and quite fizzy.  Strong grapefruit tastes with a very dry finish that lingers on the tongue with an awesome bitterness.  Very sticky, it makes your mouth and throat phlegmy like you’ve just had some freshly squeezed OJ, an oddly telling sign of a great hoppy IPA.  DIPA or IPA, who cares, this is freaking wonderful.  I have no quibbles but it’s not exactly transcendent either so I’ll give it “just” an…

A

*CLASSIC line on Wikipedia regarding the three pitchman elves jobs:  “opinion varies concerning Crackle’s occupation, but Snap is always portrayed as a baker and Pop as a marching band leader.”  I think Crackle is probably unemployed.  He looks like he spends most of the day sleeping and smoking weed while his more productive brothers make rent money.

**Real dive bars also aren’t featured in a handy dandy “guide” book written by some bitch named Wendy Mitchell.

Founders Dirty Bastard

April 20th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Scottish Ale

8.3% ABV bottled

My Quasi-Celebrity Girlfriend, Part II

(previously…)

“What are you?  Like a large?  Medium?”

“Large is fine.”

The Land O’Lakes Girl looked through a stack of clothes–men’s clothes–in her top dresser drawer.

“Here, try this.”  She tossed me a long-sleeve t-shirt promoting some coed beach volleyball tournament sponsored by a University of Buffalo fraternity several years previous.

You should always be a little concerned when a girl has plenty of men’s clothing in her house.  “What size?” is not a question you want asked, as in she has such an abundance of clothes left behind from lovers’ past that she can accommodate a medium or a large or even an XXL in a pinch like she’s running a Salvation Army or is the wardrobe girl on a film set.  She might as well just reveal what her “number” is.

Our initial one-night stand had some how become a one-day stand which had then punched a hole in the sky into the ultra-rare two-night stand.  I was the Johnny Vander Meer of bar pick-ups.*

Everyone knows the morning after a one-night stand can be fraught with regrets and excuses.  Or, at least, trite sitcoms would have us believe that they are.  I used to be like that myself, making any dumb reason possible to jet.  Then, I invented the straight-shooting, “So how you want to end this thing?  Handshake?  Hug?  Kiss on the cheek?” shtick which has begun to serve me quite well.  Both sexes wrongly always assume that they want out of the situation more than their counterpart.  This is not true at all.

However, something about the Land O’Lakes Girl and our magnetic rapport refused to let us separate.  We woke up that first morning euphoric, giggly, hooking up some more.  She offered to make me an omelet.  I don’t turn down an omelet.  We laid in bed all day watching classic movies in the dark.  There was nothing odd about it.  Uncomfortable.  Awkward.  Neither of us wanted to part.  We were having a great time, almost instantly soul mates it would seem it could be said if we were the kind of banal morons that said such silliness.  But we weren’t.

We were simply lonely.

As darkness fell and night two approached, I broached the subject of finally leaving.

“It’s late and you live on the other side of town.  You don’t want to deal with that.  Might as well just stay again.”

I laughed at her reasoning.  I did hate late night commuting across town.  She was right.  I told her we were now in two-night stand territory.  She laughed.  She didn’t know who Johnny Vander Meer was.  I was glad of that.

I told her, so long as I’m gonna stay, why don’t I grab a shower and then we can go out and grab a bite on the corner.

After my hose she lent me a previous lovers’ clothes, though, by now, she thought we should nix going out and just order in.  It was late and I was dressed like an asshole repping some frat I was never a member of, whose members had never teabagged me nor pissed on me at all during hell week.  She didn’t understand why I wanted to leave the house so badly.

“Because neither of us has been outside since like 1 AM.”

This would become a standard refrain.

For soon, I would see the first chink in this seemingly great girl’s armor.  She never left the house.  But I didn’t notice at the time.  Or, I didn’t care.  Because I really dug her.

She really never left the house.

She thought she was too famous for that shit.  Seriously.

I didn’t realize this was the reason until afterward.

She thought everyone recognized her.  Especially tourists.  Huuuuge Land O’Lakes enthusiasts.  I would learn that was why she had no interest in going to my just-off-Times-Square Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.

She never left the house.  Worked from home.  Maybe would go out once a week to get drunk alone.  Like when I met her.

I didn’t realize it til during my post-relationship analysis, but the Land O’Lakes Girl was batshit crazy.

On the second consecutive morning together, we finally parted ways for the first time.  She told me to come back later that night if I wasn’t busy.  I wasn’t.  Whatever.  I had nothing better to do at that lonely time in my life.  This time, however, I made sure to stuff a bag with with essentials:  my non-frat-promoting clothing, some craft beers, some classic movie DVDs.

I recall a story about Scorsese and Robbie Robertson from “The Band.”  This was during both men’s heavy drug usage days, we’re talking post-”The Last Waltz,” pre-”Raging Bull.”  So apparently the two move into some hovel together where they blacked-out the windows, did a ton of blow, and watched classic movies all day.  That was my life with the Land O’Lakes Girl for the next week, minus drugs, plus sleeping together, minus me making a concert film about her.**

We got drunk every night on good beer.  Plastered.  Stuff like Founders Dirty Bastard, the first “wee heavy” I’ve ever had in my life as far as I can recall.  An absolutely delicious Scotchy brew full of caramelized malts and a smokey booziness which still goes down quite easy.  We watched movie after movie after movie.  I was a better film buff than her, but she was no slouch.  We’d alternate between watching a favorite of mine, then a favorite of her’s.  Then, we’d discuss them.  We were like Siskel and Ebert, minus the bad sweater vests and turtlenecks, plus cuddling during screenings, minus sexual tension.

She liked movies about celebrities, movie stars, divas, crazy women.  “All About Eve,” “Sunset Blvd.,” “A Star is Born,” “Day of the Locust,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “The Player,” “Singin’ in the Rain,’ and Bunuel’s “That Obscure Object of Desire.”

She had wanted to be an actress once.  Right after she’d gotten out of school.  In fact, she had been “discovered” while waitressing at a Penn Station area coffee shop waiting for her thespian career to be handed to her.  At that coffee shop, a marketing director for Land O’Lakes had found her.  This was back at the turn of the millennium.

That first and only week between us passed quickly.  We’d blown through dozens of movies, done little to no work or anything productive, created an epic pyramid of beer bottle empties, used Seamless Web so much that we actually got an e-mail from customer service making sure that someone hadn’t stolen our information to order piles and piles of food delivery.

On Friday morning, the Land O’Lakes Girl sweetly and earnestly asked me if I would go on a date with her that Saturday.  I smiled.  Why of course I would.  Ha, we had been essentially living together for the past week and we still had never gone on a date.  On that first date.  We had skipped the courting stage and gone straight to the relaxed, lounging around in sweats stage.  Or, maybe we were both ashamed with each other, might as well keep our lives together private.

I asked the Land O’Lakes Girl where she wanted to go on our de facto first date, suggesting some of my favorite restaurants, bars.

No, she explained, she already had a place that she wanted to go.

(That she needed to go to is what she should have explained.)

Saturday afternoon, after a quick shower and change of clothes at my place, I returned to the Land O’Lakes Girl’s building to pick her up.  She was in a bathrobe when I arrived.  I sat on the couch watching some college football.  She took forever.

Finally, she emerged from the bathroom.

She wore a brown suede and fringed dress covered with ornamental beads, moccasins on her feet, necklaces and bracelets aplenty, her hair in two Willie Nelson-esque braided pig tails supported by a feathered headband.

Clark Kent had just gone into the phone booth and become Superman.

The Land O’Lakes Girl and I were going to a trade show where she had to work.

CONTINUED…

A-

*Nothing but love for you if you got the reference.  A regular Bill James you are.

**”THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD!”

Kentucky Breakfast Stout

April 17th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Stout

10% ABV bottled

My Quasi-Celebrity Girlfriend, Part I

If I told you her name there would be a 0% chance you’d have heard of her.  But if I showed you her picture, there would be a near 100% chance you would recognize her.  Let’s call her the Land O’Lakes Girl.  I met the Land O’Lakes Girl–a name I won’t shorten to the unfortunate LOL, though later you may Laugh Out Loud in pity at me–in the late fall.  I had sat Shiva for exactly one month over my previous failed relationship and I got back into the swing of things with a vengeance.

People always say you meet girls when you least expect it.  On line at the grocery store, sorting through the bargain books at Barnes and Noble, stuck in a rickety elevator.  Yeah, maybe for some people.  Maybe for rom-com movie characters.  But not for me.  I always know when I’m going to meet women.  If I need groceries or bargain books or an elevator ride, that’s all I’m focused on.  Not hitting on women.  You ever seen the kind of clown that’s always “on” around women?  It’s embarrassing.  Embarrassing for everyone involved.  She’s trying to peacefully do a crossword in the coffee shop and he’s all amped up, “So you from around here where you work where you go out are you married engaged dating single you like to drink????”

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with flirting with girls at atypical locations, in fact, that can be quite effective and advantageous.  I just don’t like to utilize it most of the time.  The bar scene has always been my playing field as it is most people’s.  The place where I can focus my energy and put it to good use.  Having said that, I’ve always been someone who likes to meet women alone.  When I’m out drinking with my friends I’m out drinking with my friends.  They are interesting, funny, and cool people so why would I want to desert them in order to go speak with a, in most cases, boring stranger?  I don’t.  It’s borderline rude even.  Every one has a friend that will throw away a guys’ night out if he even sniffs vagina.  No one likes that guy.  I’d rather goof around with my friends, get drunk, watch some sports, and maybe something happens, maybe it doesn’t.  So if I’m only in the mood to meet women, I fly solo.

I headed to a nearby neighborhood bar.  A Utopian place for me to meet women:  good beer list, convivial bartenders, perfectly dim lighting to make me look my most comely, correctly volumed music to allow for easy conversation, classy dames aplenty, and, most importantly, no television.  Of course, I typically love bars that have televisions.  I’m an information overload kinda guy and I always need to know what’s going on.  But if you’re out alone trying to find women, a televisionless place is grand because it forces you to talk to people if you want to find entertainment that night.  It’s walking a tightrope with no safety net.

I was on drink two or three, having a good conversation with the bartender about some of my latest rare beer scores between his derisive fetchings of Blue Moon for the other bar patrons.  I’d just had Founders legendary Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  A brew I’d been trying to get my grubby little paws on for years.  Top 10 on BA’s much-debated list, I expected an orgasmic experience, and, as usual, my personal over-hype marred my experience somewhat.  This was a great beer, no question, but it simply did not floor me as I had hoped.  A kinda thin mouthfeel and not as bourbony as expected, or hoped. Tastes of roasted coffee, vanilla, and chocolate malt.  Silky smooth with not even a tad of boozy bite.  I liked it the more I had it, but I still would have to put Bourbon County Stout and Black Ops ahead of it in the bourbon-barreled beer game.

Soon enough a fellow drinking soloist had bellied up to the bar beside me.  Blond, youthful, perhaps Scandinavian, dressed laid-back and funky, and reading a worn paper back copy of Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”  I don’t usually interrupt people in the act of reading–whether they are in the park, in a plane, on the can–but I couldn’t help myself.  Here was a great-looking gal reading one of my all-time favorites.

I leaned in:  “Thou mayest.

I took the nerd approach, quoting the most famous line in the novel, one of the most famous lines and concepts in American literature.  She would have to be a dope not to get my reference, while she would be my crush of the moment if she showed any sort of recognition.

She loved the reference.  In fact, she had just read that iconic section, Chapter 24, Part 2.  Steinbeck’s succinct and Midrashian explanation of man’s free will*.

She musta liked my exhibition of mine own free will because with a flourish her Garfield bookmark had been slotted into page 386 and her bar stool tilted 45 degrees toward mine.  Quickly, the rapport between us was palpable.  It was like we were best friends.  No, like we were drinking buddies.  And we were both sober.  Or, at least, soberish.

We liked all the same art:  “Fight Club” and Tom Wolfe, “Arrested Development” and “Twin Peaks,” Woody Allen, Billy Wilder, Bergman, Orson Welles, Hitchcock, and Kubrick.  Larry David and Ricky Gervais and Chris Rock.  “Lost” and “Mad Men.”  Warren Zevon and Brian Wilson and Simon but not really Garfunkel though we had to admit he was still needed.  Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Quentin Tarantino, and Paul Thomas Anderson.  Most specifically, the latter’s beautiful epic “Magnolia” which we both adored.

“I live on the corner, want to go back to my place, watch “Magnolia,” have a glass of wine?”

She said it all with the perfect level of casualness.  A level I had once delivered back in my younger days when I thought the only way to get a girl back to your place was through means of subterfuge.  Heck, maybe she did just want to watch “Magnolia.”  I accepted her offer.

“Great.  Let me go to the bathroom before we leave.”

When she was out of ear shot the bartender sprinted over to me.  He seemed both impressed but still also like he was about to offer a warning.

“Do you know who you’re talking to?!”

Who?

“You really don’t recognize her?”

No.  What’s the deal?

“Yeah, she looks a lot different in person.”

So who the fuck is it?

He smiled wide.

“The Land O’Lakes Girl.”

I searched my mind for past encounters with “her.”  I could kinda picture the iconic yellow butter box with the bucolic landscape of a rolling green hill and the blue sea, a young Indian girl kneeling down on it, garbed in ceremonial clothes, presenting the world with her churned milk fat in a box that looked exactly like the box she was on.  Like when you see a mirror within a mirror within a mirror.  The “Droste effect” if I am to be pedantic.  Odd.

“Think about…” the bartender goaded me on.

I was thinking about it.  Her.  And why did Land O’Lakes use a Native American pitchwoman?  Were they famous for butter?  Wasn’t that more of an Amish or Quaker thing?

I couldn’t fully reconcile what the bartender had told me, it seemed feasible but not exactly true.  Wasn’t that character made up?  Hadn’t it been around for a century?  ”

“They update the ‘look’ every few years,” he noted.  “She’s the newest model.”

He was so damn sure that I accepted it.

The Land O’Lakes Girl returned from the bathroom, grabbed my arm, and we headed out, the bartender offering a conspiratorial wink to me and only me as we exited.  I didn’t like that wink.  It was a wink that said to me, “Enjoy her.  The rest of us already have.”

On the sidewalk outside, I just blurted it out.

“So the bartender told me you’re the Land O’Lakes Girl?”

She stopped and turned toward me, a grumpy exhale.

“Yeah, that’s true.”

“That’s pretty cool.”

“No it isn’t.  It’s terrible.”

For the rest of the walk she explained that though she was the face of an iconic character she had only made marginal money from the use of her likeness, certainly no royalties, had achieved a worthless and empty “fame,” and, in fact, needed a normal day job.  She felt that the Arden Hills, Minnesota-based agricultural collective had really ripped her off.  Her visage in two out of three houses in America, yet never more than three figures in her bank account.

Back in her small studio, she searched her massive DVD collection for “Magnolia” while I looked around the twenty by ten shoe box.  Once in a new apartment the first thing I always ogle are a person’s book shelves.  It’s a quick and easy way to learn a lot about that person, to snoop on them.  Zero books, books with pink covers, airport trade paperbacks, and you can tell you aren’t exactly dealing with a scholar.  Luckily, the Land O’Lakes Girl had a potent collection of notable novels aside her Dewey Decimalized selection of books on a variety of academic topics.  Hey, if we weren’t going to hook up, at the least I could “borrow” some of her tomes on my way out the door.

“I don’t feel like wine any more, wouldja go grab us some beers in the fridge?”

I did as asked, noting with glee upon opening the refrigerator that there was not even a miniscule pat of Land O’Lakes residing in the butter tray in the door.  Nope, instead a spritzer of Smart Balance substitute butter spray sat on the top shelf.  The Land O’Lakes girl was either watching her figure, had zero culinary tastes, or a deep-seated hatred for her impresariol company.  She had a solid taste in beer though as I grabbed two Victory HopDevils and headed back to her sofa just as the New Line Cinema logo spun onto her television screen.

As the Ricky Jay narrated prologue began we sat most chastely on her cheap futon, a full arm’s length away.  As Aimee Mann’s haunting cover of “One” exploded during the title sequence, the Land O’Lakes Girl had tucked her feet up under her and scooted near me.  By the John C. Reilly cop character’s voice-overed opening scene we were snuggling.  And, some fifteen minutes later, when Tom Cruise’s sleazy “Seduce and Destroy” pick-up artist Frank “T.J.” Mackey knee-slid into the fore-frame of P.T. Anderson’s camera we had begun making out.

“Respect the cock!,” shouted Frank “T.J.” Mackey.

She crawled on top of me.

“And tame the cunt!  Tame it!”

She ripped my clothes off.

“Take it on headfirst with the skills that I will teach you at work and say no! You will not control me! No! You will not take my soul! No! You will not win this game!”

I returned the favor.  Quid pro quo, yo.

“Because it’s a game, guys. You want to think it’s not, huh? You want to think it’s not? Go back to the schoolyard and you have that crush on big-titted Mary Jane.  Respect the cock!”

In flagrante delicto.

“You are embedding this thought. I am the one who’s in charge. I am the one who says yes! No! Now! Here! Because it’s universal, man. It is evolutional. It is anthropological. It is biological. It is animal.

We…

are…

men!”

And soon frogs were raining down.  It was incredible.  Hilarious.   A hook up set to a soundtrack of the maniacal rants of perhaps the most misogynistic character in film history.  Later, we would laugh about the dichotomy.  We did a lot of laughing together in the next week.

The only week we ever saw each other.

For the next week would bring me one of the most accelerated and bizarre relationships of my life.

CONTINUED…

A

*”Now, there are many millions who in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win…and I feel I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing — maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent towards the gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed — because ‘Thou mayest.’”

Sixpoint Dubbel Trubbel

April 14th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Sixpoint, Country: America, Grade: A-/B+, Style: Dubbel

9.6% ABV from a growler

This beer was so hot off the presses when I tried it last week while watching the NCAA national title game that it still did not yet even have a Beer Advocate entry.  I’m not saying it lacked a single review, I’m saying it did not yet even have a placeholder for future reviews.  Now a week later, its internet presence is still pretty meager as it finally has a BA entry with just two reviews anda few more on Rate Beer, yet not a single mention of the brew on Sixpoint’s own website.  In fact, I’m not even one-hundred percent certain what this beer is actually called as in some places it pops up as “Dubbel Trouble.”  I prefer the more clever and elegant neologistic rhyming name which heads this post.*

If you’re one of the many people that sift through my Vice Blog entries like an archeologist, dusting aside the dirt of the staid beer review in order to get to the true gems, tales of humiliating dates, late night mayhem, transgressive behavior, french fry analyses, or funny technical terms for coital acts like “bag-piping,”** then I have to apologize, for you won’t find any of that here today.  Yep, this is just a boring old beer review.  But not to fear, I have a slew of tales to unleash in the coming weeks.  March Madness was madness indeed.

My friend forced his wife to pick us up a growler of this at the legendary Whole Foods Bowery Beer Room.  A 64 oz. growler ran a stiff $22, but it ended up being pretty much worth it.  Poured out in the nice “standard” dubbel raisin color.  A potent smell of dried fruits, dark cherries, and just a little spiciness.  Added tastes included Belgian candi, cocoa nibs, some banana esters, and a thick yeastiness.  Very boozy.  The beer was good, a success even, but ultimately just a little “off” for my tastes.

Sixpoint has emerged as one of the newer breweries to watch in America–though I should note that with Dubbel Trubbel this “newer” brewery was amazingly commemorating its 4th Anniversary–and they already have quite a few stellar creations.  I only wish they’d actually bottled stuff.  Hmm…I wonder what their predicted 5th Anniversary tripel will be called?***

After halving this, I was so drunk when I left my friend’s high-rise ’round 1:00 AM that I spent a good twenty seconds trying to open the front door before the doorman was forced to yell at me.

“PUSH!”

Ah yes, free at last.

Why is it always one’s natural inclination to pull when he’s drunk?

Something to ponder.

A-/B+

*I’ve never really understood why the brewery is Sixpoint as opposed to Six Point or Six-Point either.  Sixpoint what?  Where I’m from the logo is just a Jewish star tipped on end.  Ah, perhaps it’s a drunken Star of David that fell on its side from all the 6 point ABV and higher brews?  Har har.

**Axillary intercourse.

**The Tripel Crippel?  Trippel Nippel?  Trippel Rippel?  Nope:

Sixpoint Tripel Tippel.  Natch.

Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Stout

April 8th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 14 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Stout

8.5% on draught

There seems to be a common refrain that you can never have a happy future with a girl you picked up at a bar. People always snicker, “Huh huh, wouldn’t want to meet your future wife there.”  Well why not?  I have at least four friends–conservative friends even–that met their wives at bars and all of them currently have swimmingly longstanding relationships. This is 2009, not the fucking Roaring Twenties.* You can most certainly meet your future wife at a bar.  Just depends what kind of future wife you want.  And what kind of man you are.

DIVE BAR

She: is an underemployed alcoholic with a minor STD or two whose face you’d never want to see in the  harsh daylight and who ends each night vomiting wherever she sees fit.

You: are an emetophiliac.

FAUX DIVE BAR

She: is into drinking pitchers of beer and isn’t concerned about her shoes getting sawdust on them.

You: are the kind of guy that enjoys the romantic bohemian notion of being a Bukowskiesque barfly but has too much cowardice to start drinking at 9 AM, get into alley brawls, and ruin your liver because even though you fucking hate your accounting job you really don’t want to lose it and have to tell your mother.

MIDTOWN HAPPY HOUR BAR

She: rarely goes out to bars and only did this one time because her co-workers forced her and now she’s done and gotten drunk off of two white wine spritzers and will soon enough start loudly singing along to trite songs like “Brown Eyed Girl” even though she thinks its opening line is “Hey there, Rodrigo!”

You: are not into loosening your tie just one millimeter before heading into the bar because you think women are actually impressed that you have a job that necessitates wearing a suit even though most wealthy people nowadays don’t wear suits while such occupations as doorman, movie theatre usher, parking attendant, and rent-a-cop security guard are always besuited.

HIPSTER BAR

She: listens to bands you’ve never heard of, reads books you’ve never read, has lots of skinny and scruffy platonic male friends who bitch about the fact that the bar sucks ever since it replaced its shitty old-fashioned quarter jukebox for one of those awesome digital Bose ones that hold 100,000 songs, and lives in Brooklyn on her parents’ dime.

You: have no issues with pretending you’ve heard of her obscure bands, read her obscure books, hanging with her “platonic” friends that you are certain fuck her and make fun of you behind your back for ordering Tom Petty from the Bose jukebox, and having two-borough walks of shame in the morning.

IRISH PUB

She: is a bit chubby, a prodigious drinker, eats most of her meals at the bar, and gives frequent mouth congress.

You: consider romance to be dates that begin with a shared Shepherd’s Pie followed by countless pints of Guinness and relationship that ultimately culminates in a dream wedding which includes you dancing your first dance to “One” because you’re a fucking moron that doesn’t realize the song is about breaking up.**

GAY BAR

She: is so annoying no women will be friends with her.

You: are into faking you are a homosexual in order to capitalize on insane Men’s Night drink specials (2 for 1 WooWoos?!) and are willing to capitulate to an “Ivy League rub” at the end of the night if you strike out with the bar’s fag hag or two.

LESBIAN BAR

She: is a lesbian.

You: are too daft to notice the giant rainbow decal on the bar’s front door and wonder why the place is so packed with stuck-up bitches you can’t spit game to.  Or, you are just way into standing on the sidelines during tribadism sessions.

HOTEL BAR

She: is an aging recent divorcee that had a tiresome day window shopping on Fifth Avenue and is very much into scoring a self-esteem boost before returning to Tulsa.

You: are into intentionally guessing that women are fifteen years younger than you know they really are (”48?!  No way!  You look 35 at most.”), drunkenly making out while the piano player pounds out “Lover’s Sonata,” disgusting the old men bartenders that wear aprons, breaking your personal “record,” and ordering a $25 room service Western omelet in the morning on her tab after having killed her minibar at 4 AM the previous night.

AIRPORT BAR

She: likes killing times during long layovers by drinking Bloody Marys cheaply made with Mr. & Mrs. T’s mix and Absolut, wanderlusting, and flirting with strangers.

You: always kill time by getting drunk at the nearest bar, flirt with anything that will listen, and have enough hubris to think that telling her you are from New York will get her to drop her panties in the airplane lavatory for you.

KARAOKE BAR

She: is a slightly overweight drama queen with a lot of gay friends.

You: are a slightly underweight and majorly effete dude that thinks performing an ironic duet of Neil and Babs’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” will sufficiently stand as foreplay before heading back to her apartment for some mammarian outercourse.

WINE BAR

She: is a snooty, pretentious, lush that still lives her life according to “Sex & the City” and has a bookshelf at home with predominately pink covered books about the “dos” and “don’ts” of dating.

You: are either on a date at the very moment or a homosexual.  Seriously, no single man goes to a wine bar.

STRIP CLUB

She: is a stripper.

You: are a rapper or professional athlete with a tattoo and fake tit fetish who wants a few more illegitimate bastards in your life.

CHILI’S BAR

She: lives in the kind of crappy burg that doesn’t have any place better to drink at, forcing her to sit at the overlit chain restaurant bar swigging margaritas and praying that this is the night a man finally walks into the bar that she didn’t go to high school with.

You: are in some shitty town on business and couldn’t find any other place to get a drink.  But, seriously, Chili’s margaritas are fucking delicious.

FANCY RESTAURANT BAR

She: is the kind of gal that sits alone nursing a $15 Manhattan (heavy on the sweet vermouth) waiting for some rich and aging pathetic loser to offer to buy her dinner.  Or, she’s a high-priced hooker.

You: are the kind of rich and pathetic loser that can only obtain female companionship by offering to buy a steak for them.  Or, sex from them.

SPORTS BAR

She: is either a legitimate “guy’s girl” that truly has a passion sports (10% chance), a girl that likes watching the big game and knows she looks cute in a tight football or basketball jersey (40%), or thinks it pretty savvy to go looking for dick at a bar with a 90/10 male/female ratio despite the fact that the former is intently watching the game while sloppy on beer and covered in wing sauce.

You: are the kind of guy that doesn’t subscribe to the “bros before hos” credo and will, at the drop of the hat, quit watching a game you supposedly passionately care about to flirt with a marginal girl who doesn’t even know who Lebron is, raising your friends’ ire.

LOUNGE

She: is the kind of girl that will assume you’re rich and come talk to you if you wear a blazer and get bottle service.

You: are the kind of fool that gets bottle service and can only ejaculate via irrumation.

DANCE CLUB

She: doesn’t like to wear underpants and can only seduce men who never get a chance to hear her speak.

You: are a bad conversationalist, ugly, dumb, maybe wealthy, don’t like your ear drums, enjoy dance floor frottage, possess drugs.

JUST-OUT-OF-COLLEGE BAR

She: is semi-annoying but fun, thin and in shape, and likes doing shots until she is slurring.

You: are a successful beer blogger that will put up with a semi-annoying little pop tart because she is fit and fun and you know she has no interest in getting married, having kids, and moving back to Poughkeepsie any time soon.

CRAFT BEER BAR

She: is either the bartender or not in such a geek hangout.

You: are drinking alone with other beer geeks.

Such as where I had Brooklyn’s newest release, their glorious Intensified Coffee Stout.  Wow.  By far the most aromatically coffee brew I’ve ever had.  As the bartender slowly drew it into a snifter, the entire bar began to smell like a little mom & pop cup ‘o’ Joe joint.  I knew I was in for a great treat.  And the taste was even more phenomenal.  Not an overly complex beer, just simple and splendid ingredients–Stumptown Guatemalan Full City Roast Coffee Beans and chocolate malts–flawlessly put together.

At the bar, I started to again ponder something I’ve wondered for a while:  are coffee beers caffeinated?  So, when I got home I decided to send a slightly tipsy e-mail straight to the source, Brooklyn’s always affable brewmaster Garrett Oliver who quickly wrote me back:

“Though we have not had it tested, our calculations are that the beer contains, per volume, about one-third the caffeine of brewed coffee. We based this on the volumes, our technique, and the coffee we use. It’ll certainly give a little boost to your day!”

Indeed it did, especially for a beer, coffee, and caffeine fiend like myself.

Currently only on limited draught, I truly hope this becomes a regular release.  Up there with Black Ops and Brewmasters Reserve Extra Brune as my favorite beer they’ve ever made.

A

*Though I certainly wouldn’t mind a flapping Zelda Fitzgerald type in my life.

**U2’s “One” that is.  Although a wedding first dance to Metallica’s “One” would actually be pretty awesome.  That song still rocks so hard.

Samuel Adams Imperial Series

April 6th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Boston Beer Company, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: B plus, Grade: B regular, Style: Belgian White, Style: Bock, Style: Stout

Within the last month, Sam Adams released a new series of imperial brews in order to “offer beer lovers’ an intense version of some of their favorite traditional beer styles by boosting the ingredients and testing the limits of each traditional style” said the press release robot employed by the brewery.*

I was excited to try all of these as I can’t help but love Sam.  Sure, they aren’t the most adventurous beermakers in the world–save the brilliant Utopias–but they always make quality stuff and you have to admire the heights they’ve attained in the world of beer while not making watery swill.

Double Bock

9.5% ABV

I don’t particularly love most bocks, but this was a pretty good effort.  Incredibly malty, the bottle actually claims you could make a loaf of bread with it.  I believe that!  So rich, I honestly struggled to finish the bottle and liked it less and less the more I drank it I was so overwhelmed.  Though the initial flavor is admittedly pretty solid.  Robust and syrupy tastes of malts, caramel, and spices.  Worth trying, though I’d recommend splitting a bottle.

B

Imperial Stout

9.5% ABV

Inexplicably, Sam had never had a major release stout before this.  Odd for one of the most common and desired style.  Thus, I was excited to see what they could accomplish with this release.  I found it very boozy and harsh tasting for the not-to-so-high(-for-an-impy-stout-at-least) ABV.  Still, not bad.  High level of roasted coffee notes and malted chocolate but not much else going on.  It actually reminded me of a less polished version of Founders Breakfast Stout with a mouthfeel and a drinkability like a Guinness Extra Stout.  This would be a splendid “starter” imperial stout to give to a friend you are trying to get into craft beer. A worthy effort fo’ sho’.

B+

Imperial White

10.3% ABV

What a shocker!  I was least interested in trying this one of the three.  I mean, what do you think of when you hear American white beer?  You probably think nothing.  Flavorlessness.  The bland faux-micro macro Blue Moon.  Again, nothingness.  No flavor, just nothing.  Imperializing a white seems like an oxymoron.  How can something so bland be made “bigger” and “bolder”?!   Ultimately, what I’m saying is that I hate whites and much like two times zero still equal zero, I figured two “times” white would still equal shit.  It’s like imperializing tap water.  I saw no way this would be good.   Boy was I wrong.  This was incredibly flavorful, complex, interesting, and potent.  Tons of orange with strong coriander notes.  A hyooooge mouthfeel and body.  And the ABV!  Wow.  I will definitely get this again, and, actually, I kinda want one now. Truly one of the bigger beer surprises of the year.  I don’t even feel foolish saying this is one of a kind.  Beer Advocate actually may now have to create an “imperial white” style category.

A-

*He cost $2.5M to design but his brilliant and totally human-sounding statements meant to inspire customer loyalty and create a new fan base has paid off ten-fold!

Voodoo White Magick of the Sun

April 3rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 17 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Voodoo, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Belgian White

The Teetotaler’s Turn-On

I woke up with a pounding hangover and did the first thing I always did back then after a night of heavy drinking…I made sure I was still in possession of all my possessions.  Cell phone?  Check.  Keys?  Check.  Wallet?  Yep, that too, and inside I was still in ownership of my driver’s license, debit and credit cards, and oh look there’s a receipt for two slices of pizza purchased at 3:30 AM, don’t recall that and…a crumpled bar napkin.

“s.milligan@[blank]mail.com” sloppily scribbled on the napkin.  S. Milligan?  Did I know an S. Milligan?  Do I recall meeting one the previous night?  Nope.  So I’ll just throw the napkin away, right?  Not a chance.  For this was back in my first few months out of college when I was majorly hard up for some action.

I wasn’t born a natural when it came to women but I’ve always had a quick learning curve with anything and after four years of female study in college I was firing on all cylinders by second semester senior year, habitually in the zone, like MJ said, “When the rim looks like a big bucket.”  And I easily expected to make a seamless transition once I entered the real world of non-college girls.  Oh, I didn’t know how wrong I was.  My hubris has always bit me in the ass.  I was like an ace from the National League switching to A.L. batters and a DH and suddenly finding his ERA exploding.  In my case, finding my consecutive nights alone streak ballooning faster than any Baldwin brother.  “Real world” women didn’t put up with the simple seduction tactics of college buffoons.  Thus, I came to realize, I didn’t have any tactics aside from going round-for-round with pints of Long Island Ice Tea until I won the war of sexual attrition and a girl decided she had nothing better to do than go back to my Euclid Avenue apartment to “watch a movie” with me at 3 AM.*  Too bad women quit drinking LITs once they get their diplomas.

I was now about three months out of college with nary a success.  How had I met S.?  For the last three months when I was sober, or even semi-sober, none of my lines, my shtick, had been working.  And drunk?  Not a chance.  Nowadays, drunk or sober, it doesn’t really matter, I can just flip the autopilot switch and the ghost in my machine can make friends, meet women, you name it, and I don’t even have to really “be” there.  I’m frequently amazed to hear stories of how “on” I was on a night I mentally blacked-out.  It’s like hearing about another person you don’t even know.  You can literally admire yourself.  But back then, back in 2001, I could barely order a drink and find my way home when I was “Memento” shitfaced.

What if S. wasn’t even female?  Now that would be embarrassing.  The first person I pick up in my post-collegiate life is a man.  Some dude who said he could help me get Yankee tickets, or get me some freelance work, or a date with his hot sister.  I’d have to write an ambiguous e-mail to this mystery person.

“Hey!…”

No, the exclamation mark made it too “gay” and flamboyant if I was actually writing a man.

“Hey,

Good meeting you Friday night…”

God, let’s hope it was good meeting him or her.  What if I got the person’s e-mail address and then got in a blow-out fight with them  afterward?  Eh, they were probably as drunk as me.

“Good meeting you Friday night, you still interested in grabbing a drink this week?”

I was taking a gamble.  They wouldn’t probably recall whether or not they had truly expressed interest in grabbing a drink.

“Later,

Aaron.”

It was ambiguous, unisex, and if it was to a woman it was so damn aloof and blase she might even be impressed by my total lack of typical young twenties male over-exuberance toward the fairer sex.

Almost immediately I got an e-mail back.

“Great meeting you too, Aaron!  I was hoping you would write.  Yeah, let’s definitely grab a drink this week, you name the time and the place!

XO
Stacy.”

Recall, this was back in the dark ages of the internet.  Nowadays, I wake up all the time with names, numbers, and e-mail addresses from girls I met the previous night.  Some I recall meeting, some I don’t.  Doesn’t matter.  I just throw the info I have into Google or Facebook, Twitter or Myspace, official company websites, and now I pretty much know everything I need to know both internally and externally about a person before going on a date with them.  Countless times have I called off a date, or, rather, simply not contacted someone, because of something I discovered online.**  I gotta think it was a lot easier for fat, ugly, annoying women to get dates–first dates at least–back before the social networking revolution and Google image search function.  Sorry ladies.

But as I said, I was hard up back in August of 2001, and even if this girl was gross, I’d probably try to bust my slump.  If you’re batting oh for your last thirty-five, you don’t look down on a Texas Leaguer.

I’d have to pick a dark bar and get their way early, couldn’t chance entering the place with Stacy already there, coming face to face with her, and then not recognizing her.  I’d have to be drunk too in case she was heinous.  Naw, check that, I’d have to be sober and sharp and on my game in case I had lied to her on the night we met.  I don’t believe in lying to women in the least nowadays, but back when I was 22 I was shameless.  Never flat out lies, but straight up embellishments, braggadocio, bravado, and foolish boasts.  Not an attractive quality and since it didn’t help me ever succeed, only a dope wouldn’t have ditched the lame tactics.  Blatant honesty is both disarming and sexy.

I got to Bar Eight early, a place so motherfucking dark it was like a haunted house.  I sat at the bar and started drinking vodka Red Bulls, my secret drink at the time as the caffeine would keep me sharp while the potent vodka made me uninhibited.  I always felt like Alex DeLarge when I swilled it.

Stacy arrived.  Stacy found me in the packed dark bar somehow.  Stacy was cute.  Stacy didn’t drink.

Let me repeat that:  Stacy didn’t drink.

Are you fucking kidding me?

How had blackout me, childish, dopey, idiotic, drunken young me picked up such an attractive teetotaler?  I had to have been slurring, had to have been slobbering, had to have been acting moronic.  I was scared to ask for that night’s highlights.  So I didn’t.

I just started drinking hard, because I felt like I was on a date with an alien.  It was nerve-wracking.  I didn’t know any one my age who didn’t get loaded back then.  Was she religious, allergic to alcohol, I didn’t know.  Again, I didn’t ask.

But she liked me, she really liked me.  I hadn’t lied and told her I was famous, rich, important–I was un(der)employed at the time even and I had honestly told her that–but she thought I was hilarious, awesome.  Sometimes, you just thank your good fortune and don’t ask questions.  When you’re young you do at least.  When you get older you realize there’s no such thing as a free lunch and there’s no such thing as a teetotaling, attractive girl that could like a insane, immature alcoholic and still be normal.

That first date we had a decent enough time and I again got blackout drunk and woke up the next morning in Stacy’s bed.  I was batting 2-for-2 in remembering how my nights were ending with Stacy but it didn’t really matter because I was hitting it out of the park each time.

Later, I would come to realize, to learn, that of course Stacy wasn’t normal.  She didn’t drink because she had been drinking since she was 14 or something and she couldn’t control herself on the sauce.  One drink led to a zillion which lead to her dancing on bars and filling her belly-button with cheap liquor to be slurped out by gross men and to one night stands and to getting her stomach pumped.  Frequently.  Stacy was indeed crazy.

So she had quit drinking totally, but she still loved the craziness surrounding the lifestyle.  She was drinking vicariously through me.  She goaded me to get drunk, drunker, drunkest.  Bought me my drinks even, got mad if I wasn’t drinking them fast enough.  “Back, when I was drinking, I’d be three vodkas up on you right now!” she’d taunt me.  Stacy actually only liked me when I was drunk.  That’s fine, I used to only like me when I was drunk too.

I was drunk a lot back then.

Our “relationship” lasted a few months.

The Road to the Final Four

Quick, boastful recap on last week’s basketball predictions.  You should have followed the Vice Blogger, yes you should have.  Make that your mantra in all areas of life.  For you’d be a rich man as I got every single Sweet Sixteen pick right, and only missed one game all weekend (Michigan St. over Louisville.)

Let’s discuss Tom Izzo, who now has a strong claim to being the best coach working today.  5 Final Fours in 10 years (with a bonus Elite Eight during that time) all with relatively sub-par talent.  Incredibly.  I mean, has he had as many future NBA players under his helm in the last decade as say Roy boy has had this year alone?!  And what about Roy Williams, now in his 7th career Final Four.  A terrible in-game tactician, no question, but how can you deny his greatness if he gets a 2nd title?  Or what if that scumbag Calhoun wins his 3rd?  Makes me sick to my stomach to think of it but you would have to then rate him as, at worst, the 5th best coach in college basketball history (and I’m even including old fucks like Henry Iba and Branch McCracken in the debate)**.  Finally, Jay Wright, destined to be the best coach in the game sooner rather than later.  A title at such an early age would put him on a legendary path.

I’m rooting for no one, but I’ll predict UConn over Mich St., UNC over Nova in a game the Wildcats will really want vengeance for due to the 2005 screw-job (but unfortunately won’t get), and UNC over UConn.  I don’t think even Roy can fuck up here.

My wishful thinking prediction includes Jim Calhoun crying, tearing apart the press conference room, and retiring before UConn goes on probation.

Voodoo White Magick of the Sun

6% ABV from a bomber

Yet another Voodoo sent in trade from Sickpuppy at Should I Drink That?, I was grateful to acquire it, but sad to admit I didn’t really love it.  Whites just aren’t my style.  They’re always too weak for me, and such is the case here.  Now, I don’t mean “weak” it terms of ABV–6% is certainly respectable enough, especially for a witbier–but I mean more in terms of bite, complexity, and boozy flavor.  The hops don’t really come through here nor does the spiced coriander, bitter orange peel, and juniper which is supposedly in this one.  Voodoo also claims this brew possesses “Jeremy’s favorite [mystery] spice,” again, something I didn’t really taste.  Not that I’d know what to be looking for!  The fruit doesn’t really come out, I hate to say it.  I suppose this could make for a decent summer beer on a hot day.  And, as Voodoo claims:  “Blows away carbonated water!!!!!”  Fair enough.

B-/C+

*Oh college girls, how many times they actually came back to my room drunk at 3 AM and literally and quizzically said, “We aren’t really going to watch a movie right?”

**And I assume the same has happened in return to me.  Hello ladies!

***Current list:

1.  John Wooden (despite UCLA’s easy west coast regional route to championship games and blatant Sam Gilbert cheating)
2.  Adolph Rupp
3.  Coach K
4.  Bobby Knight

Voodoo Wynona’s Big Brown Ale

April 2nd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Voodoo, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Brown Ale

I write from what is surely the loudest Starbucks in the world.  The life of a writer can be solitary, boring, us existing for most of the day only in our minds, on our paper, the computer screen, perhaps our only words spoken aloud for eight straight hours being, “Large coffee, black.”*  That is why so many of us go to coffee shops, simply to be around other humans.  We don’t want to talk to them–each other–or even mingle with them, we simply want to be near other living breathing folks to let us know we are not alone, perhaps to have a fleeting exchange of half grins, head nods every so often.

Now, I kinda detest Starbucks coffee–too charred and unflavorful–but I can’t deny that they provide a splendid atmosphere for getting work done in public.  Usually.

Not so though at the ‘bucks closet to my house.  Yeah, the interior is just like any other:  a near-romantic level of dimness perfect for my sensitive squint eyes and oft-hungover brain, nice comfortable wooden chairs and tables, a clean interior, smooth jazz on the overhead Muzak system, and an abundance of space.  But the pleasantries stop right there.

[Mind you, this Starbucks is in what Forbes magazine rates as one of the top 100 richest zip codes in America.**]

Firstly, this particular Starbucks is overflowing with UWS housewives–the real Real Housewives of New York City except these bitches are legitimately rich–wheeling around SUV-sized Bugaboo and Stokke strollers that are triple the cost of the computer I currently write on, yenta-ing it up with their friends as they swig frothy caloric coffees and allow their asses to exponentially expand (sure hope they didn’t get roped into a prenuptial).   Or, these same housewives’ Jamaican nannies, everyt’ing irie-ing it with fellow babysitters, neither of these parties paying attention to the warbling children sleeping in the luxury beds on wheels, to the crying toddler who just pissed his expensive “organic” diaper connected to their wrist via leash.

There’s the little school girls that don’t seem to ever go to school, Double-Dutching it up loudly in front of this Starbucks’s countless windows, you can’t help but pay attention to them, constantly in your eyeline.  They occasionally even entering the coffeeshop to play Hop Scotch–I shit you not–as their faux-gangster boyfriends make clumsy passes at them.  Why are just Bat Mitzahed girls in an adult coffee shop?!  I didn’t become addicted to the substance til my early twenties.  Oh, that’s right, because no one drinks coffee any more, hell, barely serves it even; everyone now drinks what is essentially a milkshake acting under the guise of a coffee drink.  That’s why everyone’s so fat.  And, I’m the weird one that always gets a look when I only want a large coffee black.

The place is also overrun with bums.  No, they don’t hang in the Starbucks or even panhandle inside, but they visit the public bathroom like it’s a goddamn peep show and they hold more quarters than a dormitory laundry machine.  I swear, these motherfuckers either masturbate more than can even be imagined or they have the bladders of a college sorority girl that just played five straight games of beer pong using Natty Light.  They stink to high holy hell as well, a single file line of them currently snaking through the floor area, culminating inches from my table.  A man only wearing what appears to be a burlap sack looking over my shoulder trying to read my screen as I write this fucking word.

Behind me is a door, the “employee’s only” entrance to the back–no clue what goes on in “the back”–that slams with the force of a bank vault every single time an employees goes in there.  Which is literally every two minutes or so.  They must surely be doing some back room coke.  The door is in desperate need of an air break.

The lone male barista just returned from his smoke break with a Subway $5 footlong which he is now inhaling, in my sight and every other customer’s sight, right behind the counter, next to the lemonade machine, the overflowing bed of discolored lettuce cascading out from the poorly sliced Italian loaf and onto the floor.

But that’s OK, because the other male employee is on nonstop mop duty.  After much observation I think I’ve figured out his scam.  Him casually and slowly mopping all day so that he may never be assigned more taxing work.  Admittedly, the floor is always clean enough to eat off of–I haven’t, don’t worry–only problem is this guy is always in the way, especially with his nappy mop head which he has no compunction in tossing its wet, sudsy tendrils right under the table I sit at, dowsing my Nikes in the process.  I’ll remember next time to wear my boots that could use a good polishing.

The three other baristas are these fat fucking bitches.  They gab non-stop and laugh so much you would think Chris Rock was a co-worker.  Not quite.  Nothing funny is happening, or being said by them, believe me.  I now understand why painfully unfunny Tyler Perry movies are packed to the gills with guffawing crowds and have made him a $100millionaire.***

My head is about to fucking explode.  I can’t take it any more.  I’ve gotten no work done for at least an hour.  I am fuming.

But where else can I write?  The McDonald’s next door?  I actually like their coffee, but the interior is just so goddamn bright.  The overhead fluorescents could grow hydroponic marijuana and the place wreaks of ketchup.  Dunkin Donuts?  Again, superior coffee to Starbucks but too many Munchkin-poppin’ fatsos hogging the booths.  Public library?  Ick, don’t get me started.  Bums, mega-nerds, old folks, and cheapskates, the dirty stench of decades old paper and people that chronically shit in their pants.  Plus, they close at like 4.  And I certainly can’t write at home.  Too many things to do that are far more interesting than writing:  television and Netflix to watch, video games to play, beers to drink, music to dance to, and a dick to jerk off.

The final straw has just occurred, the entire crew now loudly singing along and dancing no less (!) to the song that has just come on the Muzak.  Oh, and it ain’t fucking “Build Me Up Buttercup” either.  Unbelievable.

Look, if I wanted to try and write while fat, uncoordinated, and ugly employees danced to music, I’d be currently sitting in a booth at motherfucking Johnny Rockets.

That’s it, after I hit “publish,” I’m slamming my laptop shut and heading out for good.  I’m gonna go write at a bar down the street.  Can’t be more annoying than this.

Wynona’s Big Brown Ale

7.3% ABV from a bomber

My new buddy from the best beer podcast (”brewcast” ahem) around, Should I Drink That?, hooked me up with this beer in a recent trade.  I had been reading a lot about the Voodoo Brewery from out of Meadville, PA and was curious to try some of their stuff, none of which makes it to the Tristate area.  Here’s their version of a brown ale, a style I generally enjoy but am never that blown away with as it’s usually executed in a most basic way (save DFH Palo Santo Marron of course!)  And, indeed, this is a solid, well made brown that I enjoyed drinking quite a bit.  Mildly hoppy, a shit load of smooth brown malt with the feintest hints of chocolate.  Well crafted, I’d certainly drink it again, but it’s not a beer I’d bend any one’s ear in talking about.  Nevertheless, I very much look forward to trying further Voodoo brews, specifically their award-winning stouts.

B

*I don’t say “venti.”

**For the record, I live in the just two-blocks-away yet different zip.  It’s not in the top 100.  And I’m certainly not rich.

***Lest you think that was a racist joke, the employees I refer to are a veritable Rainbow Coalition of colors.  In fact, most of these loathsome employees are white.  Sure, “urban” white, whatever that means, but still “Caucasian” is what these people most definitely check on their law school applications (har har).****

****OK, that was “classist.”*****

*****But funny.