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Archive for August, 2009

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

August 31st, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Grade: A regular, Whiskey

Unorthodox Orthodox

I live in a very Jewish part of town known as:  Manhattan.  And, after an incident on Sunday, and if I can stereotype a bit, here I recollect on the ten most atypical things I have seen an NYC Orthodox Jew do.

10. There was the time an Orthodox Jew sat beside me at a real hellhole of a Village dive bar.  It was nearing 4 AM and it seems he was depressed about something or other.  After a few shots of well whiskey he began to doze off in his barstool.  The bartenders at this joint, feisty tattooed dykes in tight wife beaters, had a habit of hosing down clientele with the water gun when they were so rude as to pass out.  As this Jew lolled his head where he sat, a bartender raised her gun, tentative.  It just seemed wrong, even to her.  “Should I do it?” she asked me.  “DO IT,” I smirked.  She nailed him right in the face, jolting him awake as he snapped his head back and ejected his yarmulke from his skull and to the sawdust covered floor.

9. The Orthodox Jew in my Hell’s Kitchen hood who road a big Harley, he enjoyed idling in front of his Synagogue and annoyingly revving his engine.  Never during Shabbos though.

8. The two Orthodox Jews I once saw nearly coming to fisticuffs over a parking spot.  A shoving match ensued, sidelocks jiggled, Coke bottle eyeglasses rattled, Yiddish profanity was unleashed.

7. The time a gaggle of burly Rockefeller Center construction workers cat-called a shockingly attractive female Orthodox in a standard ankle-length Tzniut dress which did nothing to mask her junk in the tuchus.  I swear I saw her self-satisfyingly grin.  Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

6. The Orthodox Jewish day school youngsters I caught heckling a WASPy little boy in a Christmas tree sweater around the holidays.  “You only get one day of presents!  You only get one day of presents!”

5. The Orthodox Jew playing pick-up hoops–with all “brothas” no less–while in his full Orthodox regalia, black wool suit, big clunky shoes, flapping-in-the-wind fringes, and a Shtreimel hat.  He was pretty good actually.  A deadly jumper from the elbow.

4. The Orthodox Jewish couple I saw passionately kissing out the top of a quite decadent Bentley stretch limo as it sped along the Westside Highway.  Her Tichel headscarf flapping in the wind.  My Middle Eastern cab driver got off his Bluetooth long enough to turn around and angrily say to me, “Do you believe this fuckin’ city?”

3. The Orthodox Jew I saw sharing a joint in an alley with some “normal” people as Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” played on a cheap ghettoblaster (shtetlblaster?).  The Jew kept Bogarting the joint I noticed, not passing it in a timely fashion.

2. And then there was the time I was walking down Broadway around 72nd street when I passed a smoking hot girl in her workout clothes, which were simply a sports bra and some borderline pornographic bicycle shorts, God bless her.  Being no better than any other lascivious male, I of course turned to ogle her backside as she passed me, what the gays calling “cruising” I believe.  And, of course, who do I see doing likewise, in identical synchronicity with me, but a Methuselah-esque bearded old Orthodox.  I saw him and he saw me and he winked at me as if to say, “I’d like to give her a little Shvanz if you know what I’m saying?”

1. Then, just yesterday, as I was jogging through an intersection on the UWS, an Orthodox Jew in a Cadillac floated a stop sign and nearly took my legs out.  Furious, he had the gall to vigorously honk me, then slowly follow alongside me down West End Avenue all the while unleashing an aggressive pumping middle finger at me for a good three blocks.  I wonder if he was a Rabbi?

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

47% ABV (distilled: 9/3/06; batch # 38)

I’d heard the rumors of this small-batch whiskey from Colorado’s only microdistillery, but never did I think I would get to enjoy some (though it apparently isn’t as rare and as “Colorado-only” as I once had thought).  So glad my friend DW hooked me up.  Stranahan’s is a remarkably interesting and unique whiskey, truly one of a kind, it can’t be categorized or compared to other whiskeys you’ve had.  So vanilla-y, even neat this charred-oak barreled spirit tastes like a bourbon-based cocktail.  It’s hard to believe there aren’t other ingredients mixed with it.  But it’s so goddamn hot and boozy you’ll quickly realize this is 100% malt.  At around $55 a bottle I’d call it perhaps a hair overpriced, considering you can get world class stuff at that point, but it’s damn good and well worth having a glass or two if you ever see it on a menu at your better restaurants, bars, and/or brothels.

NOTE:  Long in cahoots with Oskar Blues, the two have recently joined forces to produce a Ten FIDY aged in Stranahan barrels.  I’m getting a boner just thinking about that.

A

Bear Republic Racer X

August 26th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Bear Republic, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

9% ABV on tap

Aaron is Celebrity Spotted.  (Almost.)

The cute blond walked into the bar and instantly I knew that I knew her.  But how?  From college?  Naw, she was too young.  Had I drunkenly hooked up with her in my past?  No, too good-looking to forget.  Then what?  She sat five barstools down from my friends and then it hit me.

Nearly a year ago a girl had discovered my blog and sent me a nice e-mail.  We wrote back and forth a bit, semi-flirtatiously in that way people who have no chance of having anything ever happen write–she lived several state away–but we mainly focused on beer talk.  And oh boy did she know a lot about beer.  Far more than me.  Eventually, we friended each other on Facebook and I saw that not only was she smart, she was damn cute too.  Cute for a normal girl in society, smoking hot for a beer geek.  Alas, we eventually ran out of things to talk about and, thus, quit talking.  And now she was sitting ten feet from me.

There are obviously bad things about being a celebrity but the good far outweigh them.  Getting to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game.  Instantly turning women 500% more promiscuous.  And having people walk up to you and go, “Say, aren’t you…HIM?!”  As a shameless narcissist, I have always dreamed about having someone come up to me and go, “Say, aren’t you Aaron Goldfarb?!”  Now was my chance for this to finally happen.  But she just wasn’t looking my way yet.

I didn’t tell my two buddies what was occurring, wanting to blow their minds while acting super-smug if and when she finally approached me.  Their eyes agog as I responded, “Why yes, yes I am Aaron Goldfarb, but hey, keep it down, don’t want to get mobbed.  Here, I’ll autograph this cocktail napkin for you.”

But she still wasn’t looking my way.  I began jutting my head out well over the bar so she could see my face in all its glory.  Didn’t work.  I started laughing uproariously loud at my friend’s jokes.  Didn’t phase her.  I began inserting my name into my own conversations.  (”So then the guy looks at my driver’s license and goes, ‘AARON GOLDFARB?  That’s funny, my best friend’s name is AARON GOLDFARB, who would think there’s another AARON GOLDFARB in this city?”)  She remained unflappable.  My friends must have thought I was losing my marbles with my atypical behavior.

I began to pull out the big guns.  I loudly inquired about incredibly obscure beers on the bottle menu, even asking what vintage they were.  I made pedantic explanations of style to my layman drinking friends (”…and that is what differentiates a saison from a biere de garde…”)  Started throwing out all sorts of arcane beer argot (”I expected this one to be more phenolic and less diacetyl…”)  Quizzed the bartenders on the taps (”And what’s the original gravity of that?  Say, is that on nitro or cask?”  I began drinking my beers like a beer geek loser par excellence, histrionically swirling my glass, sniffing it with a aggressiveness more akin to a coke fiend, and slurping my sips with my tongue in order that it tickle each and every one of my taste buds.

Didn’t matter.  I got nuttin’.  She totally ignored me.  I thought about going up to her, tapping her on the shoulder, “Hey, aren’t you a fan of mine?!”  But I figured that was uncouth.  Not to mention it kinda negates the coolness factor if you celebrity spot yourself.

Eventually she left and I was left with just my beer.  Bear Republic’s Racer X.  A draught-only offering I’d been wanting to try for quite awhile.  This is a bit of an oddball of an IPA.  Actually smells like a barleywine, while tasting like a DIPA.  Bitter and slick with an intense sweetness on the back end, I greatly enjoyed this beer.  And, following it up with Bear Republic’s 7% Rebellion IPA–I found it very bitter and not complex at all, a little too light and watered-down as well (B)–I got a good comparison for how very good it is.  The Racer X absolutely dwarfed Rebellion.  Still, I’m not sure if it’s a Top 100 beer in the world–and I’m pretty sure I prefer the smells-like-a-dimebag hoppy freshness of yet another Bear Republic IPA, Hop Rod Rye–but this is a very good brew nonetheless.

A-

Dogfish Head 90 Minute via Randall (amarillo hops)

August 24th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 11 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

9% ABV on tap via Randall

I was pulling out all the drunken tools in my seduction arsenal.  I asked kindly.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I whined.  I cried.  Offered money.  Solicited.  Played the “Don’t you know who I am?!” card.  I enlisted my lady friend to help out.  She fluttered her peepers.  Showed some cleavage.  Insinuated sexual favors.  Eh, it was no use.  The Blind Tiger’s bartender would not be swayed.  Could not be cajoled.  He simply refused to let me go into the basement keg room.  (Something about breaking New York City health codes.  Yeah, like I’ve never done THAT before.)

And why did I want to go into the keg room?  For no reason other than to be face-to-face with Randall the Enamel Animal.

And who is this Randall fella you ask me?  Why none other than “an organoleptic hop transducer module.”  Say what?!   “A three-foot-long, cylinder-filter packed with a half a pound of whole leafhops [affixed] to the beer line leaving a keg.”  In this case, the beer was Dogfish Head’s legendary 90 minute and the whole leafhops were of the amarillo variety*.

I didn’t get to see this process take place in the keg room, nor did I get to snap a picture–the one above is from DFH’s website–but I did get to try the motherfucker.  And whoa Nelly!  What a beer!  I’m an inveterate 90 Minute fan but the Randallizing of the beer makes it even more spectacular.

Whereas 90 Minute has a strong, almost barleywine-like malt backbone propping up its pungent citrusness, the oily soaking of the amarillo in the Randall module smooths out the whole beer making it far more balanced, surprisingly bitter for the ABV, and remarkably drinkable.  It was truly a treat to have, and truly a one-of-a-kind drinking experience.  The kind of experience that you can only luck into in a place like Manhattan.  I had meager Sunday night drinking plans, and never in a million years did I expect to run into a beer I had so long desired.

Sam Calagione is without question the mad scientist of the craft beer world and his invention of the Randall is yet another avant garde touch that I simply adore.  Now some of you may think this is nothing more than a gimmick, but I can most certainly assure you that it is not.  The Randallizing of 90 Minute turns an already great beer into something sui generis and spectacular.

I hope you all are lucky enough to try it one day.  Hell, I hope I’m lucky enough to get to try it again.

A

*Some other noteworthy Randalls in the past have been filled with stuff such as lemongrass, mint & bourbon balls, melon & assorted fruits, pine & spruce, roasted pine nuts & dried oregano, and warrior & Columbus hops.  Wow.

Cigar City Jai Alai IPA

August 21st, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Cigar City, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: IPA

7.5% ABV on tap

Presented in ascending order, my most desirable American breweries to try a beer from, that I’ve never had a beer from.  Did that make sense?  So these are breweries–or tiny brew pubs in many cases, no surprise–in which I have never had a single beer from, yet are ones that I most would like to have a single beer, any beer, but preferably many beers, from.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Shorts, Midnight Sun, Alaskan, Sweetwater, Aaron’s Imaginary Microbrewery

10. Pisgah (Black Mountain, NC)

9.  Flossmoor Station (Flossmoor, IL)

8.  Central Waters (Amherst, WI)

7.  COAST (North Charleston, SC)

6.  Moonlight (Fulton, CA)

5.  Live Oak (Austin, TX)

4.  Barley John’s (Minneapolis, MN)

3.  Bullfrog (Williamsport, PA)

2.  Kuhnhenn (Warren, MI)

1.  Cigar City (Tampa, FL)

For whatever kooky reason, I’ve wanted so badly to try Cigar City beer from since even before they’ve been a brewery.  Seriously.  I started following their splendid blog over a year ago as they day-by-day cataloged their “trials and tribulations of opening a brewery in Florida.”  Then, when the brewery did finally open early this year and immediately started getting boffo reviews for its first releases, I was even more smitten.  The fact that they had a meager, meager distribution arm made them even more enticing.  Heck, my sister lives in Florida, Fort Lauderdale to be exact, and even she wasn’t able to get Cigar City for me.  These beers were playing hard to get and I was captivated.

So imagine my surprise when, just this week, Cigar City finally, ahem, penetrated the New York City market.  I rushed to the great Rattle ‘N’ Hour at the first hour I found happy on Thursday, the first day they tapped New York’s first Cigar City offering, the highly regarded Jai Alai IPA.

And I was bitterly disappointed.  The IPA I tasted had a mild, mild carbonation almost bordering on cask ale.  I assure you it was straight from the tap and I believe it was tapped correctly.  The most muted of piny–not Pliny unfortunately–and hops smell with just a hair more flavor than aroma.  A decent hops bitterness and a tad of malt sweetness to smooth it out on the back end.  Reminded me of a poor, poor man’s Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA.  I felt this IPA was made very cowardly, with the weakest of flavors in all capacities.  I can’t express how gravely disappointed I was.  One compliment, and only one compliment, is that I am stunned how high the ABV is.  Jai Alai rolls down your throat like a 5% beer, again though, perhaps due to the real lack of biting carbonation.

I hate to be arrogant, I hate to reveal my big city elitism in all its inglory, but the mediocrity of this beer yet again makes me question the veracity of highly rated brews coming out of the exact opposite of beer oasises.  Oases?  (OK, that isn’t underlined in red so I must have spelt it right.)

Beer geeks that live in New York or Philly or Chicago or San Diego or Seattle, etc, have access to countless great brews.  So if a new upstart comes on the market, it better be fucking good or it simply will not survive the Darwinian beer race.  But Florida and specifically Tampa has shitty beer.  A new brewery hits the scene and even if they’re just making B+ quality beer, the locals go nuts.  (Sure better than Corona!  Or well mai tais!)  They’ve never had anything this great before.  And don’t deny the rah rah local homerism either.

I get how this works.  I grew up in Oklahoma City.  Not exactly the Paris of the southern USA dining world.  Afloat in a sea of chain restaurants, any time some halfway decent “exotic” Chinese or Thai or Japanese or “New York style” pizza place would open, locals would flip their culinary shit like they were wielding their fork or chopsticks at Thomas Keller or Ferran Adria joints (not that they would know who those master chefs are (good lord, could I be more arrogant?!))  For the simply reason that they only had the deplorable Applebee’s and Panda Express at the mall food court to compare these places too. These places would be nothing more than also-rans in New York or San Francisco, but in a less competitive place they were superstars.  And I’m starting to believe the same goes for some of these purely local breweries out there.

So thus, I am now leery of the other highly rated Cigar City beers, and the incredibly highly rated Live Oak stuff coming out of Austin (not exactly Ghent), and all the other A-level beers coming out of places like Des Moines and Little Rock and Tulsa and Utica.  No offense.  Wait, yeah, OFFENSE.

Ho hum…I plan to give both Jai Alai and a few other Cigar Citys another shake this weekend.  I hope I have my tastebuds swayed.

So, what are your most desirable breweries to try a beer from which you have never tried a beer from?  Maybe we can get some local trades going, quid pro quo and shit for everybody.

B

Equinoxe du Printemps

August 20th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, Cigars, Country: Canada, Grade: B plus, Style: Scottish Ale

8.5% ABV bottled

What Makes Sammy Strip?

I was at a networking event which is interesting because I absolutely loathe “networking” and can’t think of a typically less interesting answer in the world than that to the question:  “So, what do you do for a living?’

Alas, the event had cigars, booze, splendid food, and a world-class skyscraper roof deck view to keep me sated.  Alack, the event was sans women in a “old boys club” kinda way, so I had no choice but to get loaded and talk to dudes.  How unseemly!

In fairness, it was a nice crew of upwardly mobile urban professionals dressed in nice clothes and living nice lives.  Most all with nice wives back at their nice (and owned) homes and apartments which meant the chicanery was at a lower–more “respectable” you might say–level than I’m accustomed to.

I was quiet and behaved, unable to speak much as the majority of conversation topics dealt with things I’ve never dealt with in my life nor may ever deal with:  seventy hour work weeks, nest egg creation, sweater vests, marriages, honeymoons, intended pregnancy.  I just sat back sucking down a Rocky Patel Ocean Club, a Holt’s Cigar company exclusive and a mini-masterpiece of a smoke, while tippling my second career beer from Canada’s brilliant Dieu du Ciel brewery, makers of the legendary Peche Mortel.  A “wee heavy” made with Quebec maple syrup, this brew has an unbelievable nose.  I expected greatness.  However, the taste is a little more muted.  Caramel malty and complex, but not an overwhelming explosion of flavors.  Nevertheless, an interesting and beautifully crafted winner.

I enjoyed my beer and smoke while enjoying the company, trying to learn a thing or two, decipher fancy business terms, acronyms, and unnecessary argot, vicariously living through these other men.  “Hmmmm…could I live this man’s life?” I wondered each time a I met a new, swell gent.

I didn’t think I could, but oh how quickly the sands go through the hourglass.  You never know.  Then, Sammy approached me.  A diminutive but jacked Indian, he was so aggressive in running up to me that I thought I was either being hit on, or that, more likely, Sammy was one of those hardcore networkers.  The kind of guy with a perpetual smile painted on his face, an overly happy demeanor oozing with artifice, an abundance of faux-enthusiasm that manifested itself in a lot of head nodding, “uh huh”-ing, and question asking.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  What do you do?  What can I do for you?  Oh, how do you know him?  Do you know her?  Gimme a card.  Shoot me an e-mail on Monday.  Let’s grab coffee.  Let’s get lunch.  Let’s do business together.  let’s facilitate a relationship.  Let’s make things happen.”

But, Sammy wasn’t like that.  Sammy had just entered the world of suits and ties, cubicles and offices, meetings and conference calls and coffee breaks.  He found the world of business quite boring.  But that was great for Sammy.  Sammy liked that.  For you see, Sammy’s previous job, career, occupation, vocation was a little more…interesting.

Sammy had been a male stripper.

I don’t know how the topic came up, I don’t know how we began discussing it, but as you can imagine, a besotted transgressive like me had plenty of questions to ask the man, it was almost as if I was interviewing Sammy.  And lucky for us, he was quite forthcoming in the sort of blase way that shows you he is so unimpressed with himself that he is surely being 100% honest.

“It’s a standard rule amongst male strippers:  no coming.  For some reason, these women have no problems with rubbing a strange man up and down, fondling him, touching him, pleasuring him, but the second he ejaculates, it’s like the record scratching at a party in old TV shows.  Now all of the sudden, the women are quickly sober and disgusted.  Not with themselves.  But with me!”

So you just have an erection for hours on end?

“No, a man has his needs.  And I could only take so much.  So I just decided to break the industry rules and let it fly.  But never in the face.  Never in the face.”

How did you get into this…field?

“I was poor.  Poor as dirt.  Working a shitty job at a shitty restaurant.  I became friends with one of the bus boys and one day he’s kinda staring me up and down.  What the fuck?  ‘You have a pretty nice body, dude.  Muscular.’  Is he hitting on me?!  No, he’s recruiting me!  Invites me to join him that night for a bachelorette party.  I couldn’t believe the bank.  How much cash I left with that night.  I was hooked!”

How much were you making?

“This is Ontario mind you, not New York City, but I was pulling $600, $1000 even a night.”

WHAT?!  Then why the fuck aren’t you still doing it?

“It was far too humiliating.  Embarrassing.  All these gross old ladies slobbering over me.”

You gotta be drunk, right?

“I’d drink a whole bottle of Patron before I went out there.  The naked part wasn’t the worst part it was all the dancing to cheesy music.  So fucking embarrassing.”

But all these women want you.  Doesn’t that make you feel good about yourself?

“I tell you bro, it’s hard for me to respect women after all the shit I’ve seen.  Women blowing me mere seconds after meeting me.  Grandmas, mothers, wives.  Fucking fiancees sucking my dick one day before their wedding.  It’s disgusting.  I can’t trust any women after that.”

None?

“None.  I guarantee you, most all the women you meet have done the same shit before.  Think of how nasty us men are.  Well women are worse!  They are all disgusting whores.”

Did they ever have sex with you?

“They all want to.  But I never did.”

Why?  Morals?

“Economics.  You never have sex with a client because once you pop, then you’re done.  How you gonna keep making money dancing with a deflated balloon hanging from your groin?  Not to mention all the women you don’t fuck are going to be jealous of the one woman you did fuck and are going to want to spite you.  So you tease all of the women, make each and every women think that she is the one you most want to fuck.  You tease them, milk the money, let them milk you, but never have sex with them.  Unless they are mindblowingly hot.  And then, only at the last second before you leave, after you’ve maxed out your earnings.”

“Pretty fucked up, huh?”

Absolutely.  I’m kinda disgusted with the human race myself.  Did you ever feel bad the next day?

“No.”

No?

“I felt rich.”

Uh, so you want to go another bar and try to pick up some girls?

“No.  I don’t have one night stands.”

B+

Cantillon Gueze Monk’s Cafe Cuvee

August 19th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 8 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Cantillon, Country: Belgium, Grade: B plus, Style: Gueze

5% ABV on tap

Tastes Like Beer

(inspired by the Drunken Polack)

I was drinking with a girl sometime earlier this summer who appreciated my appreciation of beer.  She was a beer appreciator appreciator.  But she didn’t really drink the stuff herself.  More of a cocktails and wine kinda gal, she found beer bland.  Fizzy, foamy, bloating, watery, and flavorless.  “Not what I drink,” I told her.

“Show me.”

I started with a bottle of the brilliant Boulevard Smokestack Saison-Brett.

“Tastes like beer,” she said.

But it has funky Brettanomyces in it!  Without question you have never had something with Brett it in before.

“Tastes like beer,” she reiterated.

I switched to a Trappistes Rochefort 8.

“Tastes like beer.”

But it’s a nearly 10% Belgian strong dark ale.  Packed with dark fruits and sweet malts you have surely never encountered before in the Miller Lights you’ve drank your whole life.

“Tastes like beer.”

I amped it up a notch with an Oak Aged Yeti.

“Tastes like beer.”

I’m stupefied.  The men who have bought you drinks your whole life have absolutely never given you a barrel-aged imperial stout as dark as squid ink.

“Tastes like beer.”

This was a derisive statement to her.  “Tastes like beer” was akin to “Tastes like shit.”  Which is funny, because most of the time when I give a man a taste of one of my “fancy” beers–say a barley wine or a nearly-flat 15% stout or even a real hoppy DIPA–I get a completely different reaction:  “Why this isn’t beer!  What is this?!”

So, I suppose, in that regard, I should be impressed that this women recognized these fluids as, in fact, beer, but distressed that she found them all to be just slightly different iterations of the same common garbage that is most commonly defined as “beer” in this country.  Fizzy, foamy, bloating, watery, and flavorless adjunct ingredient canned products.

I’d be curious whether she’d think the Cantillon Gueze Monk’s Cafe Cuvee just “Tastes like beer.”  Surely not.  How could she?  I had this beer on my first ever visit to arguably America’s most famous beer bar, Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia.  Cantillon makes this special oud gueze specifically for Monk’s owner Tom Peters, and it is also only available at the bar*.  Nothing excites a dope like me more than buying something that is incredibly limited and rare.

“Would you like to try our special Cuvee de Dogshit, Mr. Goldfarb?”

“Gross.  No way.”

“This is the only keg of it in the country.”

“I HAVE TO HAVE A GLASS OF IT!!!  CHARGE ME WHATEVER YOU WANT!”

This special Monk’s Cafe Cuvee tastes nothing like beer.  No.  It takes like acid indigestion.  It is soooooo sour.  Puckeringly sour.  Burns the throat going down, punches your uvula like a speed bag, and hits your innards like a napalm bomb.  It sizzles inside of you like Pop Rocks.  That full pint glass was far too much for one little man like me.  But goddamn was it one of the more interesting beers I’ve ever had.  One of the more unique drinking experiences too.  And though I couldn’t finish a full pint, and never really want to have it again, I am so thankful I got to try it.  It’s truly one of a kind.

B+

*“Tom blended this gueuze at Cantillon in February of 2006. This is a one of a kind oude gueuze. Monk’s owner, Tom Peters and Cantillon owner & brewer, Jean Van Roy, tasted every cask of beer in their vast cellar in Brussels (it was a tough job, but I was up to the task). The 3 year old cask offered up the Cantillon House Character of barnyard Brett. The two year old cask offered a medium mouthfeel and a softer version of the house character but with some earthiness. The one year old cask offered considerable citrus, hop aroma and freshness. This is very softly carbonated. It offers citrus and lots of funky, musty, earthy, barnyard notes and it is certainly acidic. One of the most approachable Cantillons made, but it is not for everyone.

Cantillon St. Lamvinus

August 13th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Cantillon, Brewer: Brauerei Weihenstephan, Country: Belgium, Country: Germany, Grade: A plus, Grade: A-, Style: Lambic, Style: Wheat (Hefeweizen)

The Indiscreet Charm of Brooklyn

Cat ears.  Across from me sat a man wearing cat ears.  Like those furry headband numbers chicks wear on Halloween when they want a slutty costume.  Aside from that, he looked fairly normal.  A little bit of a early-1990s “Reality Bites” grunge thing going on with a flannel unbuttoned shirt and some combat boots, but otherwise, fairly normal.  Except for those cat ears.  All the man was lacking was a makeupped on black nose and whiskers.  Cat man called for the check and his wee little “hee hee” Asian girlfriend picked up the tab courtesy of a Hello Kitty credit card.  I was the only one in the entire place rolling my eyes at the ludicrous behavior around me.

I sat in Radegast, a German beer hall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I had finally decided to make the scary plunge.  Manhattan may be a great beer town, but Brooklyn is often considered one of America’s beer utopias.  And me, being absolutely awful with direction, scared to go to any place without numbered streets, certain I will get lost if I ever travel below Houston, especially while lit up, had never been drinking in Brooklyn.  For shame.

I needed to pop my Brooklyn beer cherry sometime, and chaperoned by new friend KD, there was no time like the present.  Radegast wasn’t on my list of “must try” Brooklyn places, but KD insisted.  So glad she did.  Radegast is a beer garden that is surprisingly intimate, not a word often associated with beer gardens.  It has both a nice indoor and outdoor area and your standard Americanized beer gardeny things:  hilariously large glasses, picnic table seating, ___wursts of every kind (which I unfortunately forgot to sample), condom machines in the bathroom, and men in cat ears.  It’s also very dark in Radegast, again, mood lighting not something one usually associates with German beer halls, but a Brooklyn quirk that a squinty eyed drunk like me greatly appreciates.

There, I had a glass of Weihenstephaner Vitus, an absolutely lovely weizenbock that can deservedly be mentioned in the same breath as the legendary Aventinus.  Full of rich banana and bubble gum tastes, yeasty and boozy, this one goes down so, so nice.  A-

Foreground: the finished Vitus/Background:  man in cat ears

Foreground: the finished Vitus/Background: man in cat ears

From there, KD and I hoofed it to dba Brooklyn, using a trusty Google map she had printed out since we are apparently the only two people in the world without GPS-enabled iphones, which is something we could each greatly use.  dba Manhattan, in the East Village, was one of my major stomping grounds back in the mid-2000s with their stellar beer, bourbon, and Scotch lists, but I eventually grew sick of the jam-packed poseur crowds, surly bar staff, and hard to read libations chalkboards.

Well, I can proudly say that dba Brooklyn eliminates all the problems I have with their East Village location.  At this new dba location, similar in look and layout, one will have no issue with reading the massive chalkboard beer and spirits listings because the bar is as florescently bright as a Porsche showroom.  And there’s no poseurs to worry about rubbing ironic suede elbow patches with because…there’s no one in the fucking bar.  KD and I were the only drinkers there at 9 PM on a Thursday, and thus, it was downright impossible for the bar staff to be surly.  They were just psyched to see us and to have more than some spare change as their night’s gratuity haul.

We took our drinks to this backyard patio where a few other people were throwing back a few.  Including a man who, unceremoniously removed his t-shirt right in the middle of a date, reached into his man bag for a fresh one to put on, all the time not breaking conversation, nor having his drinking companion go, “W the F?!”

Ill at ease, we cut our dba visit abrupt and walked aways, under the roaring BQE overpass, to perhaps New York’s, maybe even the entire East Coast’s, most famous beer bar, Spuyten Duyvil.  I’d long heard about this beer mecca and I have to say…it met absolutely zero of my expectations.  Which is not a bad thing and which is not to say I didn’t like it.

I was surprised by how conspicuous of facade the bar had, the name barely noticeable.  A creaky swinging front door more akin to the screen door on some cracker’s porch, the interior of the place is shockingly small and fairly indescript.  Decorated like a hipster’s beat-up rec room, packed with thin weirdo grumps in drainpipe jeans, half of whom look like David Cross, the other half of whom look like a Flight of the Concords member.  At a robust 5′11, 175, I was a fucking leviathin amongst these little Brooklyn pixies.

Spuyten Duyvil is known for their remarkable–ahem “remarkable”–beer selection, but I quickly learned that they should be more known for their remarkable ability to list beers, which are all greatly overpriced, even by Manhattan standards.  Indeed, I was at first impressed by the massive amount of rare bottles they claimed, though greatly unimpressed that they only have six taps and one cask offering.  (Seriously?!)  I found myself greatly flummoxed when I tried to order from their bottle list.  I was a little tipsy and feeling jovial, so I tried to buy a rare $46 bottle from Cantillon.  “Sorry, we’re out,” said the hirsute hipster behind the bar.  I tried to buy a $26 bottle of Fantome Saison.  “Out of that too, but that beer sucks.  Have the Fantome Chocolate, it’s much better, dude.”

I smiled and said no thanks, I wasn’t in the mood for that particularly beer, which angered the wee bartender who booked it away from me.  Then, I noticed a Cigar City bomber on the back counter.  Cigar City is a new brewery from out of Tampa that has quickly garnered great acclaim despite their miniscule distribution reach.  I’d been trying for most of the year to score any of their product and this was the first time I’d ever seen it in person.  Excited, I flagged down another bartender.  “Excuse me, what is that Cigar City beer back there?”  Like I had just interrupted him while he was watching an Apes and Androids show, he turned around with a scowl.  “I DON’T KNOW!” he yelled at me and scurried away.  I asked another bartender if I could buy the Cigar City beer and he looked as if I was quizzing him with some Mensa level stuff:  “Look, I don’t know, I’m not sure, I don’t think so, no!” he exhale moaned and stormed away.

I continued staring at the menu, trying to figure out anything to drink.  The first bartender returned, pissed off.  “Look!  Are you EVER going to order something?”

I menacingly looked him straight in the eye, restraining myself from grabbing him by the collar of his vintage snap button cowboy shirt:

“Motherfucker, I just tried to buy a $46 and $26 bottle of beer, both that you were out of.  Gimme a fucking break.”  He smirked but his demeanor quickly changed.

From that point on the scuzzy drinkslinger gave me the respect I so desired.  I finally ordered what I should have in the first place, Cantillon’s most famous offering perhaps, St. Lamvinus…on tap!  Score.  I found it a lot less fruity that I expected.  A subtle red wine grape taste but with an effervescent carbonation.  Mild funk and sourness, a true treat.  I also had Ithaca’s delicious Brute on tap for the first time, and though that still remains a great one in my mind, St. Lamvinus just blew it away.  A true granddaddy of a lambic.  Not to be missed.

I also found a $20 bill on the floor and a pregnant women drinking in Spuyten Duyvil’s back room so I ain’t sweating things much.  Look, I won’t lie, Spuyten Duyvil certainly deserves much acclaim and I will certainly go back there again, but with its paucity of taps, high prices, lack of bottles of which it claims to have, and absolute fuckheads working there, I see absolutely no way we can consider this a better NYC beer bar than, say, Rattle ‘N’ Hum or Blind Tiger, both which have superior tap lists, perfectly respectable bottle lists, clientele that doesn’t smell like clove cigarettes, and bartenders that treat you like human beings.  I’ll probably only return to Spuyten Duyvil in the future when they have a particularly rare and limited offering.

Well lit up at this point and it now 2 AM, KD and I decided to press on to one more stop, nearby Barcade.  Again, my expectations were completely different, but, this time, this was a very good thing.  I was absolutely shocked at the size of the bar.  A huge warehouse type industrial space with every single wall tightly packed with vintage arcade games, several dozen in fact, surrounding a bar in the middle.  A solid tap list, I grabbed a delicious Avery Hog Heaven and a stack of quarters and KD and I went to work.  I must say, shit like “Tetris,” “Ms. Pac-Man,” and “Q-Bert” are exceedingly hard when you are wasted yet still guzzling high ABV barley wines.

My last memories are Q-Bert falling off the side of his staired pyramid, KD and I trying to find a gypsie cab back to her place…

I shall return to Brooklyn again.

A+

Founders Curmudgeon

August 11th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Old Ale

9.8% bottled

Hat tip to reader Kyle who pointed me toward this I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-satire Q&A from the increasingly more irrelevant, growing grayer and grayer old lady, the inglorious New York Times.  This comes from the “Career Couch” section where some moron whose only job it is to answer dumb questions dumbly, claims expertise in the wild world of employment.  In this week’s installment, aforementioned moron Eilene Zimmerman tackles the terrifying world of drinking (not-exactly) on the job in the hiiiiiilariously titled:

Are Three Martinis Three Too Many?

Q. You are new to the corporate world and not sure what to do at business functions or after-hour gatherings where alcohol is present. If everyone else is drinking — including your boss — should you drink, too?

Eilene says (and seriously you GOT to see the pathetic artwork with this one):

A. For those new to the professional world, the line between a work event and a social event is often unclear. You may see all the trappings of a party — food, music, even dancing — but any gathering where colleagues are present is business and you should stay sharp and avoid alcohol, said Jody Queen-Hubert, executive director of cooperative education and career services at Pace University in New York.

“Don’t be fooled,” she warned. “You are always being scrutinized by colleagues, so professionalism at all times is a must.”

Cy Wakeman, president of a human resources consulting firm bearing her name in Sioux City, Iowa, says that when it comes to drinking with colleagues, “the risk is very high that something negative will come out of it.” She says that it’s acceptable to have one or two drinks but that it is best to stop there.

“I even advise staying out of photographs with groups of people drinking,” she added, “because it could wind up online somewhere, like Facebook.”

Everyone you interact with while drinking has the potential to affect your career. A colleague today may be your manager six months from now and will likely recall any indecorous behavior.

If colleagues regularly have drinks after work, order what everyone else is having but sip it slowly. “Make it last all night,” Ms. Queen-Hubert said. “Holding a drink without drinking is a way to feel like part of the crowd without compromising your judgment.”

Indecorous, ha!

First of all, the only advice I’m going to taking from a hyphenated-named Pace prof is where the closest subway stop is to get the fuck out of the gross downtown-spooning-with-the-Brooklyn-Bridge-area of Manhattan and to a more happening part of town.

“Don’t be fooled,” I note.  “In any job I’ve had I’ve scrutinized my nerdy coworkers and made fun of my lame colleagues that tried to exhibit such nebulous traits as ‘decorum’ and ‘professionalism’ versus absolutely punishing a free open bar and trying to make inroads with the new intern.”

Meanwhile, can you believe the glorious Times has to fucking call some rube all the way out in Sioux City just to get a pull quote?!  I mean, seriously, Cy, I understand why you’ve come to think it risky to drink with colleagues.  In fact, I would be on my best behavior if I was drinking near you.  And I most certainly would not want pictures of me to appear on Facebook if I was seen drinking with some hag that looked like you.*  Personally, in the Cys I’d rather fuck category, Young wins over you.  I’d rather drink with Cy Young too.

Revel in the glorious puffery of our Cy who self-describes herself as “a dynamic, well-respected national keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and trainer.”  Meanwhile, she looks like she just swallowed a fart.  Or maybe she’s just mad that I have more Twitter followers than her.

Seriously, how boring of fucking evening would one have if they had to go out drinking at the Sioux City, Iowa Applebee’s bar with Cy and with Ms. Queen-Hubert whose just trying her darn tootingest to fit in by HOLDING HER DRINK WITHOUT DRINKING IT.  FOR THE ENTIRE NIGHT!

Wow.  Is that really who you want to work with?!  An adult who pretends to drink in order to fit in but is too chickenshit to actually drink and have fun?   Christ on the cross.

Q. How do you politely decline to drink, especially if others are urging you to have one?

A. A simple “no, thanks” should suffice, said Debra Benton, a career coach and author of “C.E.O. Material: How to Be a Leader in Any Organization.” If everyone in your group is ordering a drink, get a soda or a tonic and lime.

You don’t need to make excuses, she said, or give a reason that reveals personal information, like “I’m on medication.” You can, however, give the reason if it is less personal — you will be driving, for example, or you need to finish some work when you get home.

If you are at a dinner where bottles of wine are ordered, you don’t want to protest because it will bring unwanted attention, said Debra Condren, a business psychologist and president of Manhattan Business Coaching. “You want to fit in, and that might mean getting a glass of wine and having a few sips or just letting it sit there,” she said.

Cy, Ms. Queen-Hubert, and now Debras Benton and Condren. My lord, these bitches are so boring, such wet blankets, they make Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers seem like Dorothy Parker and Tallulah Bankhead.

Methinks these four were not exactly cool growing up what with all their concerned talk about “fitting in.”  I’ll tell you what ladies, and I may not have any made up titles behind my name like “career coach” or be the president of a phony institute, but the best way to fit in is to fucking relax and not act so goddamn inhibited.

Funny though, usually my friends, when they say at the bar, “I’m on medication,” aren’t making an excuse to turn down a drink, they’re just preparing me for the shit show that’s about to follow from them mixing Vicadin with Jameson.

As for me, I only decline a drink if it’s something real shitty and I feel like being a snob.  I’d never turn down something delicious from the Michigan greats Founders though.  I was thus excited to try their Old Ale, Curmudgeon.  Old Ale is a style I’ve recently gotten into, enjoying it’s somewhat suped up barley wine qualities.  This is a nice example too.  Sweet and flavorful with a slight bitterness, malty and sugary, boozy but not too hot, and fairly drinkable.  Another enjoyable effort from Founders.

Q. When you attend business-related social events with more-senior colleagues, they always seem to be holding a drink. Could your refusal to do the same draw attention to your youth and inexperience?

A. In some corporate cultures, having a scotch or bourbon is a way to build relationships, a way to take part, Ms. Condren said. “If you are at a high-profile event and all the executives are having a drink, you may feel you need one to be part of the club,” she noted. “That being said, you can still drink very little of it or have one drink and then switch to water.”

It’s essential, however, to know your limits. If you’re inexperienced in such situations and your clients or bosses are throwing back Johnnie Walkers, you can’t follow their lead, Ms. Condren said. If you try to keep up, you will likely drink too much and act unprofessionally — definitely drawing attention to your youth and inexperience.

Here’s some advice:  quit being such a fucking pussy and learn to drink.  What exactly were you guys doing at college?!

Q. If you wound up overdoing it at a company event, what’s the best way to deal with it the next day at the office?

A. If you offended or insulted anyone you must make amends, but do so privately. Making an apology to the entire office or department is unnecessary and can seem self-indulgent, Ms. Wakeman said. “Talk to people individually, saying you drank too much and learned a valuable lesson and that it will never happen again,” she said. “And remember that if it does happen again, you will lose your credibility.”

I usually just send a mass cc’ed e-mail:  “If you’re wondering…yes, yes I did.  And Cy gives terrible head.  Maybe if she drank more she’d be a little looser.  Ha, no pun intended.  LOLOLOLOLOL!”

If some dweeb came to me and said they learned a “valuable lesson” from the previous night’s tying one on, I’d immediately have them transferred to the Vice Blog’s Sioux City branch.

Q. Is it acceptable to call in sick if you are suffering from a bad hangover?

A. No. Even if the culture is one of “playing hard,” there is also an expectation you will work hard the next day, Ms. Queen-Hubert said. Use your trusted hangover remedy and soldier on.

If you are too sick to get out of bed, you will have to meet with your boss when you return and find some way to make restitution, said Dallas Teague Snider, founder of Make Your Best Impression, a business etiquette consulting firm in Birmingham, Ala. “Offer to work an extra day or take your sick day as unpaid vacation instead,” she said. “Your boss may say you don’t need to do that, but you should still offer.”

Absolutely!  No one gets “sick” any more.  Hangovers are the NEW sick.  And if you’ve unfortunately blown threw all your vacation and sick days already, start your day with a mimosa to turn the old engine over, a liquid lunch to keep you going.

(Seriously, the Times quoted a “business etiquette” firm out of Alabama?!  OK, they have GOT to be fucking with us, right?  Right?  Doesn’t business etiquette in Alabama start and end with wearing your best golf shirt to important meetings and making sure there’s no Carl’s Jr. sauce stuck in your mustache before speaking to clients?)

Q. How can you tell if you have a drinking problem that needs to be addressed?

A. If you can relax at professional events only by having a drink, that could indicate a problem, Ms. Condren said. “If you are embarrassing yourself or sometimes don’t remember your behavior,” she said, “it’s a good idea to seek professional counseling.”

You may be using alcohol as a crutch when navigating uncomfortable social situations, Ms. Wakeman said. Rather than relying on alcohol, find a co-worker who is naturally adept at mingling and ask if he or she could help you develop those social skills, too.

What does it say about me if I need alcohol as a “crutch” to read this column and am now using it as an even bigger crutch to help write these acerbic barbs?

Seriously, this section of the Times shouldn’t be called the “Career Couch,” it should be called, “How to be a Big Sniveling Vagina that Will Never Get Invited to Work Happy Hours.”  Well done, NYT!

E-mail: ccouch@nytimes.com

I’m just drunk enough right now to think that a good idea.

A-

*I love how Cy has already added this very article to her “In the Media” section of her ugly website.  Prestigious!  Maybe she’ll have more Twitter followers than me soon!

Port Wipeout IPA & 3rd Anniversary

August 10th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Port, Country: America, Grade: A-/B+, Grade: B plus, Style: IPA

Carl and I arrived by car late.  Around 7 or so on that particular Friday evening.  The huge cabin was already packed with every single other person we would be sharing it with that weekend.  Most had arrived early in the morning and immediately launched into the festivities, which were still underway.  And by “festivities,” I mean near-suicidal drinking of keg beer and cheap rum.

We were at a cabin in the middle of nowhere, the kind of place so removed from the rest of society that you don’t even quite know where you are on the map.  You find yourself continually asking those around you, “So where exactly are we?  What state are we in?”  New York?  Pennsylvania?  West Virginia perhaps?  Eh, it doesn’t matter, could be any one of them.  The nearest major city hours away.  The nearest town some twenty dirt road miles away and all that’s there is a gas station with pumps that still have analog numbering like a 1960s alarm clock and a single diner whose hours are 7 AM til noon, Monday through Thursday.

Upon entering, Carl and I were immediately handed a Solo cup of beer and urged to accept the two empty slots for an upcoming game of Flip Cup.  Which I thought was a little gay–not a word I use often–being that the game consisted of all men.  In fact, the cabin visitors were all men save one, who I will discuss just one paragraph from now.  Flip Cup is a coed drinking game for reasons twofold:  1.  men play drinking games of actual skill (beer pong, quarters, uh, I guess that’s it…) because they have actual skills.  2.  men play drinking games of no skill such as Flip Cup because it gets women drunk, and quickly, and thus turns them libidinous.  At least we think it does.  When we’re younger.

But the one woman at the cabin for the weekend was not playing Flip Cup.  Nor did she appear particularly drunk as she slowly sipped on a rum and generic diet cola in the corner, staring at the window.  Kathy was really attractive in a bit of a bohemian manner.  Long curly hair and a knit mosaic shirt but with Nikes on her feet.

Back then, in the first few years of this century, I really didn’t know how to attract a woman.  How to seduce her.  My gamplan was pretty much:  be around her, and near her, more than any other competing man was around her.  Or near her.  I think that’s the same strategy bonobos employ and those chimps gets laid a fuck ton.  Well I didn’t back then, but, surprisingly, that passive strategy worked on occasion.  Especially if alcohol was involved.

So we’d grill up some burgers and hot dogs on the patio.  And I’d stand beside her.

We’d hike through the woods.  I’d hike next to her.  Our arms or bare legs occasionally, accidentally, brushing each other.

We’d canoe and I’d be in the oar position behind her.

Beer pong in the cabin, I’d be her teammate.  Give her overenthusiastic, a little too long, high fives when she sank a shot.  “Yay, we won!” lift her off the ground hugs in victory.

And when we roasted s’mores around midnight, I sat on the very same log with her.  Chivalrously helped her thread her marshmallow onto a twig.

My strategy was not without opposition though as seemingly every other man on our trip was pursuing Kathy.  And I couldn’t guard her at all times!  I’d go to piss in the woods and come back to find Steve playing horseshoes with her.  I’d take a quick shower and return to find Tony teaching her how to shotgun a can of beer.  Help start the campfire and now Mikey was side-by-side her in a game of Flip Cup.

To be fair, only one of us men was not pursuing, more like not harassing surely from her eyes, the great Kathy.  Only one man seemingly had no interest in her.  Carl.  No, Carl was too busy getting wasted.  He was polishing off a beer seemingly every ten minutes and was well lit up as darkness rolled in.  Bumbling and stumbling in the cabin and around the cabin.  Talking nonsense.  Singing to himself.  Laughing and joking solo.  He was wasted but active.  Bursting with energy like he was hopped up on something.  By now we were pretty much ignoring him.  He wasn’t annoying us by any means, but he had just become a ubiquitous camp jester, always in sight.

Did I think I had a shot with Kathy?  Eh.  Who knows?  Back then I truly got “lucky.”  Nowadays, assuming I’m not too drunk and too out of sorts, I can quickly and easily assess a situation.  Whether a girl is disinterested in me, just toying with me for an ego boost, whether she wants to take me home, chastely make out with me in the corner, fuck me all night long, bear my child, etc.  Sure, there’s the occasional surprise, erratic behavior, sexual Black Swan Omega 3 event, but I pretty much always know.

But back then, I had no fucking clue.  Was Kathy grinning at me because I was staying stupid drunk shit?  Or because she was imagining me naked?  Was she patting my back because she thought I was choking?  Or because she wanted my dick in her mouth?

I had no idea.  Nor did I have any idea how to transition from me, her, and half a dozen other drunken dudes sitting around a campfire at 2 AM, to just me and her being in my small bedroom-for-the-weekend on the third floor of the cabin.

If it was just us two, surely I wouldn’t bungle it, I could do a mild gamble, make somewhat of a move, feel out the sexual situation, but in this situation, I had no idea how to separate her wheat from the chaff of my friends.

So I would just have to wait them out.  Stay up later than them and hope she did too.  Unfortunately, my friends were as inept as I, and had the same terrible plan as me.  Like those “Hands on a Hardbody” competitions at hick county fairs, our incompetent attempts to get laid by a most-likely unwilling and unwitting participant continued.  Whereas at the fair, a half-dozen men in cut-off jorts, sleeveless shirts, and Dale, Jr. hats tried to see how long they could keep their hand on a cheap pick-up truck in order to win it, we all tried to outlast each other to hopefully, before day break, get to have our hands finally on Kathy’s hardbody.

First Mikey broke.  Then Gerry.  The end was nigh.  I was getting a second wind.  My ability to not get too sleepy from alcohol has always been a great attribute and now it was a God send.  And Kathy was going strong too.  Sitting under an Afghan with me to stay warm.  “Stay warm.”

Steve dozed off where he sat.  Tony went to piss and never returned.  Gary, a defeated look in his eyes, called it a night.

And finally, sometime around 4 AM, it was just me, Kathy, and Carl.  Victory was mine!  Just as soon as Carl had the dignity to pass out.  But this motherfucker simply wouldn’t!  Like a rhino with five tranquilizers darts in its ass that inexplicably keeps charging, Carl with thirty beers in his system kept dancing around, acting all silly, chatting our ears off.

I simply could not outlast this motherfucker.  My friend was agitating me.  He would surely go all night.  I know his marathon drinking abilities.  Finally, I had to make a closing salvo to claim my prize.  A histrionic yawn.  An overdramatic stretch.

“Oh boy am I tired.”

“Me too,” she said.

I looked Kathy in the eye.  Trying to accentuate just the right words.  “I think I’m going to bed NOW.”

I stood.  Expecting, naw, hoping, Kathy would catch my drift, would be into my drift, and would follow.

“OK, goodnight.  I’m gonna go in a sec but you know, it’s already 5 AM.  Might as well watch the sun rise.”

From somewhere off in the darkness, I heard a drunk Carl calls out, “Yah!  Great idea, count me in!”

I walked slowly to my room, looking back at Kathy several times.  Angry at Carl for ruining a sure thing.  I lay in bed, having already gone all in and failed I couldn’t change my mind and watch the sun rise.  Now that would be humiliating.  But I could still hope Kathy would come into my room after she did.  However, I was out like a log before the sun ever popped up.

The next morning, that very morning I suppose, just a few hours later, I awoke, tired as hell.  Groggy and grumpy.  Entered the kitchen to find Kathy making some coffee.  We could barely grunt at each other in good morning.

I was too tired to make any effort toward Kathy and just went about our day of “fun,” coffee instead of beer now always in my hungover hands.  The rest of the group was tired too.  Kathy had turned us into sexual zombies in our attempts to land her.  At least we weren’t in Carl’s boat, vomiting and rolling around in agony all day, we barely saw him.

Hungover, unproductive days pass by amazingly quickly and all of the sudden, “Oh shit, it’s 7 PM?!  We’ve done nothing today!”  And by midnight, everyone was asleep and I was finally feeling well again.  I love how tiredness and hangovers always dissipate in time to drink and get hungover again.  That is the truly beautiful version of circadian timekeeping.

Again, I found myself with Kathy, in a hammock, passing a bottle of wine back and worth.  Finally alone.  This time, it was so easy.  Drinking, hugging, rubbing, kissing, “I never do things like this,” in bed, whoa!  It was great.

She must have snuck out of my bed sometime in the middle of the night.  Perhaps to again watch the sun rise.

In the morning, we all said our goodbyes, shook hands, each man gave Kathy a kiss of defeat on the cheek and we got into our separate vehicles.

On the car ride home I felt like a legend.  I had defied the odds.  In a demolitan derby of male-female pairing I had outlasted all of them.  But I kept it to myself.  For awhile.

But I was young, braggadocios.  If no one else knew something happened, then it didn’t!  In my mind.  And I couldn’t let Carl not know.  I was still mad at him for having stupidly wasted my Friday night and postponing it to Saturday.  I kinda wanted to rub it in.

But subtly.

“That was weird, huh?”

“What?” wondered Carl.

“All of us dudes and only one girl.”

“Yeah, I guess that was kinda strange.  She was cool though.”

“She was.  Lotta odds to defy, you might say.”

“Odds?”

“You know, to the one victor goes the spoils.”

Carl looked at me and smiled.  “Not bad, huh?”

“Yep.  It was not bad at all.”

“How did you find out?”

“How did I find out?  How wouldn’t I have?!”

“You know what happened?”

“No.  Wait, do you know what happened?”

“What are you talking about, man?”

“What the fuck are you talking about, Carl?”

“That I hooked up with Kathy.”

“No, I hooked up with Kathy.”

We stared at each other confused.

“You did?”  “You did?”

“I did.”

I groaned.  “I did too.  But when?”

“Friday night after everyone went to bed.  You?”

“Saturday night.”

That was the last words of our drive.  We stared straight ahead the rest of the ride home.

Wipeout IPA

7% ABV from a bomber

Picked this up at the great Monk’s in Philadelphia for a reasonable $9.  Its smell is a wonderful blend of citrus and fresh pine but the taste just doesn’t quite stack up.  Nevertheless, still pretty good.  Five different hop varietys create a nice little bitterness with a smooth malt backbone.  Easily drinkable and solid, but certainly not world class.

A-/B+

3rd Anniversary Double IPA

10% ABV from a bomber

Yet another DIPA from Port, this I received in trade from San Diego’s finest Jesse the Hutt.  Just like the Wipeout I found the smell wonderful.  Very fragrant and fruity but, again, somewhat dead and bland in taste. Very bitter and boozy. Could use some malt sweetness to round it out.  Nevertheless, another solid effort, though if only these two DIPAs from Port tasted as good as they smelt, we’d have some major, major winners on our hands.

B+

Southampton Grand Cru

August 6th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Southampton Publick House, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

9.8% ABV from a 750 mL bottle

Here’s a little tip:  if I’ve “heard” of some “good” restaurant, or store, or part of some town that we need to visit, check out, see…don’t listen to me.  Or, at least, realize that I’m simply trying to secretly steer us near a desired beer.

Such was the case earlier this week when my mom was visiting my sister way out on the tip of Long Island in Port Jefferson.  They invited me to take the two-hour EXPRESS–God lord!–train out from Manhattan for dinner one night and I agreed.  You see, I had a plan.

“So, Aaron, what kind of food would you like for dinner tomorrow night?”

“Oh, you know, mom, whatever.”

“Whatever?  Thai?  Italian?  American?”

“Yeah, something like American food is fine.  I’m really easy, just whatever.”  PAUSE.  As if I had just had a great realization.  “You know…now that I think about it, I believe I recently read about a great little restaurant that just might be out that way.”

I sent my mom and my sister a link to the Southampton Publick House’s PDF menu and, wouldn’t you know it, they liked the looks of it.

So, early in the afternoon on Wednesday, I took the train all the way to the end of the line where my sister and mom picked me up in the car for a 45 minute ride through Long Island farm lands and sleepy hamlet after snoozing village before we finally arrived in the tiny town of Southampton.  There, we found ourselves on a residential neighborhood’s cul-de-sac street where what appeared to be a former mansion had been converted into greatness.

(Always puttin' on the Ritz, Aaron calls ahead to assure that exposed knees and socklessness are not against establishment dress code)

The Southampton Publick House is massive, nearly palatial, a whole estate with a lawn and outdoor seating galore and an infinite amount of different dining rooms inside, highlighted by a huge bar up front.  Upon entering my mom saw the working brew vats displayed off to the side through a window and she noticed the beer bottles on the wall with Southampton’s name and logo on each and every one.  A leery glare at me.

“This is some sort of brewery, huh?”

She then smiled at me.  She knows her son.  She had probably let me dupe her into going there.  What a great mom.

But what a great restaurant.  Not just a brewpub with a 100% focus on beer and an inept menu of greasy food simply for soaking up the booze so that you may drink more, the Southampton Publick House is surely fine dining.  A teetotaler could even have a great night there, and since the majority of diners were blue-haired blueblood Hamptons WASPs, I’d say I may have actually been the only person there to get loaded.

I got to sample a variety of delicious menu items including the Irish nachos (essentially a mix of some of the best French fries I have truly ever had, topped with nacho fixin’s), Thai spiced jumbo duck wings with orange ginger dipping sauce (could easily replace buffalo wings and bleu cheese as America’s ubiquitious bar snack), the gorgonzola-crusted pub steak (a flawless blend of stinky cheese and juicy meat), and a rack of baby back ribs (so gigantic and smoky I was sure they were beef, but a smell and succulent taste that was 100% pig.)

But one particular beer was why I had really come to Southampton…

I’d had some other Southampton brews in the past and found them nothing more than mediocre to slightly above average, though, admittedly, I had never tried any of their pricier big bottle selections.  The one brew I had connived my way to town for, though, was the 93rd ranked beer in the world, their Grand Cru selection.  Though, I was somewhat dubious at the lofty positioning of this beer, I was nevertheless anxious to try it.

And…I was floored!  It was truly delicious.  Such an unexpected surprise.  Sure I thought it would be good based simply on its esteemed standing, but Southampton had shown me nothing in the past to make me think they had this much greatness inside of them.  And one doesn’t usually expect such heights to be reached by a Belgian pale ale.  An imperial stout, a bourbon barreled beer, a DIPA, sure.  But a Belgian pale?  A Belgian pale made by a little Long Island brewpub with middling distribution?  Crazy.  Usually Belgian pales are just yeasty, a tad spicy, and, though palatable, somewhat boring.  But Southampton’s Grand Cru is absolutely packed with flavor and complexity.  Dried orange peel, coriander, star anise, pineapple, mangoes, a touch of sweet malts, and a slight delicious mustiness.  For the ABV this is as drinkable as lemonade and I had to slow myself down so I could actually properly savor it.

Yes, I am being a tad enthusiastic, and I wasn’t even sure whether this was an A or A+ as I greedily slurped it down.  My enthusiasm probably came from the fact that, though it’s local, I never thought I’d have the Grand Cru or even drink at the Publick House and I was having a truly great evening.  We were having a truly great evening.  My mom and sister even greatly enjoyed the Grand Cru and, for the first time, I saw an “AHA!” look in their eyes which was them finally “getting” how I could have such a beer passion.  How beer could achieve such heights in my mind.  Maybe I no longer will have to dupe them into going on beer adventures with me in the future.  (”So long as you don’t write about me on your blog!” says mom.)

I think this might be the best Americanized Belgium beer around and I wish I could send a bottle to every non-NY beer geek I know so they could see for themselves.  Whatever the case, even if the next time I have it I’m not quite as blown away, I do think it’s up there with the best of the style, even better than Brooklyn’s splendid Local 1.

Afterward, I had a flight of all the taps on the menu I had yet to try–L to R:  Tripel, Bavarian Wheat, Summer kolsch, Secret Ale altbier, and Lager–and though I could tell they were all good, solidly crafted beers, the Grand Cru was so fucking delicious, was still lingering so much on my palate, that it had turned these fine brews into tiny shots of dirty bathwater.  I simply wanted more Grand Cru.

A