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Archive for August, 2010


August 23rd, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Maine Beer Co., Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: B plus, Style: Amber Ale, Style: Pale Ale

7.2% 500 mL bottled

I’ve been so busy with other projects I’ve had little time lately to review beer.  Which means, if and when I do write a review, one of two things has occurred:  I got free beer from a brewery and felt obligated to glowingly write about it in order to keep the gratis schwag flowing OR I just had my mind blown. In the case of Maine Beer Company’s Zoe, the latter is true, but perhaps my effusive praise will soon lead to the former being true as well!

I’m surely one of the best “forced” travelers around as there’s no location I’m fully upset to have to visit–all due to this pesky beer obsession.  So when I was “forced” to head up to the great city of Portland, Maine this weekend for a wedding, even though I wasn’t in much of a traveling mood during these dog days of summer, I was still buoyed by the chance that I might get to try some beers from the upstart nanobrewery newish to town.

My man Sam had tipped me off that the best beer bar in Portland is now Novare Res and he was so very right.  Accessed by a bit of an alley off a main Old Port street, the bar was a site to behold.  An enormous “Best of Portland” award-winning outdoor patio deck, but nuts to that as I like to drink in the cool dark and the inside of Novare has that in spades*.  A slightly below ground cellarish feel, warm and cozy with a large segmented two cornered bar buttressed by some classy brick columns.  Unfortunately, the mediocre to so-so Rogue Brewery (from nearby the “other” Portland) had monopolized all 25 taps for an event.  That was shockingly fine since Novare has a most prodigious list of bottles stocked in a cellar room just peekaboo visible behind the bar.  It was an amazing list full of semi-rarities like Cantillon Cuvee des Champions and Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek but my goal was to drink local.  Unfortunately, Zoe didn’t appear anywhere on the reference book sized menu.  As I scanned it, slightly disappointed, looking for something else, I heard a woman whisper to the bartender, “Another Zoe,” as if divulging a secret password.

When the bartender returned to me I curiously inquired, “You got Zoe?”  Indeed they did have the sexy thing in the thin and sultry needle-nosed bottles I’d heretofore only seen Pliny the Elder employ.  The pour was darker than expected, more deep purple than amber but the smell was all fresh and bitter grapefruity hops.  The taste was even better.  A bitter explosion in the mouth, perfectly carbonated and tingly, tastes of tropical fruits yet still balanced perfectly with a strong malt backbone.  Simply put, it’s the best amber out there now, even better than the quintessential one Nugget Nectar.  If I lived in Maine, I’d be drinking Zoe weekly.  (Which actually might be harder to do than you think, even if you do live in Maine!)


Afterward, I was lucky enough to meet the progenitor of “Zoe” and the progenitors of Zoe–Maine Beer Company co-brewmaster David Kleban and his wife whose daughter the beer is named after–who coincidentally happened to be drinking at the bar.  While David’s wife cutely and ironically informed me that she typically imbibes “girlie” cocktail drinks, David told me that Portland gets a mere 144 bottles a week of Zoe–all he and his co-brewmaster brother Dan are able to make–and it goes fast.  Heckuva nice couple and helluva great beer.  I implore you to do whatever you can to find this stuff.

I also tried David’s Peeper Ale.  A no-frills quotidian pale ale that was nonetheless quite delicious.  Citrusy and yeasty, a perfectly delightful session beer.  Unfortunately, I drank it after Zoe which I was still drooling over.


According to Beer Advocate, the Maine Beer boys have one other beer I’d sure kill to get my hands on, a draft only stout called Mean Old Time, which sounds like a perfect way to complete this exciting new brewery’s tasting trifecta.

*Novare Res instantly makes my top 10 beer bars (east coast) list and might be #1 overall in my ambience rankings.

Boxes of Beer Suicide Pool

August 10th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Boxes of Beer

The 1st Annual NCAA Tournament “Boxes of Beer” pool was a terrific contest and our World Cup BoB edition was an even more rousing success.  Now it’s time for our third installment and I expect this to be the biggest yet.

Here’s the deal if you missed out on the first two:

To enter into this suicide pool your “fee” is simply beer.  You just need to offer up a nice local beer from wherever you live.  Doesn’t have to be rare, doesn’t have to be expensive, doesn’t even have to be good (although, what kinda dickhead would offer up a shitty beer?)  You live in Wisconsin, offer up a bottle or two of New Glarus.  California, how about some AleSmith?  Kansas and a Boulevard Smokestack would be divine.

This year’s NCAA pool saw winners receive such beers as Surly Darkness, The Lost Abbey Angel’s Share Grand Cru, Bell’s Hopslam, and other swell local niceties from terrific brewers such as Captain Lawrence, Russian River, and others I’m surely forgetting.  The World Cup winner has already received boffo prizes from breweries such as Cigar City, Southampton, and Brooklyn.

Now I’m not saying you have to be as generous of course (though EVERYONE was quite generous for the previous two pools).  I don’t want this be a burden or expensive, and I’m sure most if not all previous entrants will agree that it isn’t.  A bottle or two of beer, plus shipping, will cost you max $10-15, around the same as any NCAA or other sports office pool.

If you don’t know how an NFL Suicide Pool works, here youse go:

  • Each entrant chooses one NFL team each week.
  • You may only pick a team ONCE per season.  Once you’ve used that team, you can never use them again.
  • Picks are made “straight up”, not using a point spread system.
  • You get two misses before you are eliminated from contention.
  • The goal is to be the the last member standing at the end of the season.
Sometimes these pools end at week 12, sometimes they make it to the final week of the season.  Assuming there are more than one contestant standing at the end of the NFL season we will go to two tie-breaks.
  • Contestant with least wrong picks (thus, if two people make it to the end of the season but one person has ZERO misses and another had a miss, the person with zero would win.)
  • Assuming the tied contestants all have the same number of misses, then it would go to who made it the furthest into the season with ZERO misses.
  • If it’s still tied after that, we will go to a play-offs suicide pool, or the tied contestants can just choose to negotiate a draw.
Weekly picks must be e-mailed to Mike at mjz119@comcast.net.  You have until kick-off of the game featuring your team for the week to make your pick and your time-stamped e-mail must prove this.  If you don’t make a pick during the week it’s an automatic loss, no bitchin’.

If you’re entering this contest, please e-mail Mike to introduce yourself and say you want to be in the pool so he can start creating a spreadsheet.  No one’s forcing you to enter, so please, if you do enter, don’t be a jerk and not live up to your end of the bargain if and when you most likely lose.  I believe only one or two people didn’t pay up (yet) for the NCAA and World Cup pools.  I’ll be really pissed if that happens again.  (Goes without saying that you can’t enter this pool if you were one of the people that didn’t pay up for the other pools yet.)  And I’ll be insanely jealous at the thought of the winner receiving box after box after box of beers all throughout the end of winter and start of spring.


*Of course, you must be 21 or older.  My lawyers are making me say that.

**You also must have a US address to recieve your boxes should you win.  I’m not making any one ship internationally.

Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout - Laird’s Apple Brandy Barrel

August 8th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Cigar City, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Stout

11.5% from a growler

The Vice Blog just keeps racking up the awards. (Or getting spam emails.) To wit:

Dear The Vice Blog,

Congratulations! Madison here, and your blog, The Vice Blog, was determined to be one of the blogs to learn about your topic, and has received our 2010 Top 30 Alcohol Blogs award!

You can see your name amongst our winners here at: [redacted]

Winners were chosen through a scoring system led by internet nominations, which came from your reader base!

You can let your readers know you won by embedding the badge code to one of the different awards graphics found at: [redacted]

If you choose to accept or decline the award, please let me know.

Please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions. Many questions can be answered at [redacted].

Again, Congratulations, and I hope to see your badge soon!

Madison Evans

Thank you, Madison.* I am honored. So fucking honored to be a recognized leader in my “topic.” And I have chosen to…take my talents to South Beach. I mean, I have chosen to…

ACCEPT the award.

To wit some mo’:

Dear The Vice Blog,

Congratulations! Madison here, and your blog, The Vice Blog, was determined to be one of the best blogs to learn about your topic, and has received our 2010 Top 50 Clubbing Blogs award! [...]

Whoa, Madison, I’ll accept that sucker too. And to think I thought no one had been noticing all the great topical clubbing content on The Vice Blog!

And check out these sweet “badges” I have been awarded to trick out my site. Score!


Get a load of this beaut. I may make that into an actual badge to stitch onto my Ed Hardy shirt and wear out when I’m doing all this award-winning clubbin’.


Now that I’m an award winner–TWO TIME AWARD WINNER–I will have to carry myself differently. Classier and what not. In the manner befitting a two time award winner of a spam email contest. I’ll start that by now sloppily putting up posts, ones with photos that aren’t even correctly turned.**

I’ll also continue to drink incredibly rare and delicious beer, only rarely deigning to tell you about it. The Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout aged in Laird’s Apple Brandy Barrels is one I just had to brag about trying though. Only coming in at 89 total lottery-issued bottles, I was lucky enough to score a taste from one of a mere (reported!) twelve 64 oz growlers that the brilliant new Hawthorne’s Cafe filled a few months ago. They have one of those special growler fill stations so a thick and boozy stout can keep almost indefinitely and indeed our growler opened with a nice pffffft!

Now the first ever Cigar City beer I drunk and reviewed, their flagship Jai Alai IPA, I didn’t particularly love and said as much on this here AWARD WINNING blog. Joey Redner, Cigar City founder, was nice enough to write me and chew me a new asshole but eventually we came to a nice understanding and even became somewhat of online buddies and he even said he’d send me some more beers for review (they never arrived. Sad face emoticon.)

But every since that Jai Alai, literally every single Cigar City beer I’ve had has been good and most have been great, highlighted by the epic 30plus Cigar City beer event Rattle ‘n’ Hum put on this February which I still think is the best overall beer event Manhattan has ever seen.

At that event, in which my besotted grade-inflating ways awarded eleven beers an A- or higher, my two biggest winners for the day were the much ballyhooed “normal” Hunahpu’s, a most unique imperial stout aged on pasillo and ancho peppers as well as vanilla, cinnamon, and cocoa nibs and–totally unexpected to me–Cigar City’s Warmer Winter Winter Warmer Old Ale aged on Laird’s Apple Brandy. I previously knew nothing of this beer and simply ordered it to fill out a foursome flight, but it was far and away my favorite beer of the evening and currently in the running for my #1 overall beer of 2010. A true masterpiece I will never forget. So as you can imagine, I was most excited for that masterpiece of Hunahpu’s aged on that very same Laird’s Apple Brandy. And the shit didn’t disappoint one bit.

Amazingly, the spiciness of the base Hunahpu’s still comes through quite nicely but is somewhat neutralized by the delicious and slightly sweet apple brandy which adds an insane complexity. The thick and chewy mouthfeel reminded me of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout–I’d love to see a Brandy County Brand Stout!–and it was so amazingly luscious. There’s really nothing else on the planet like this beer–all the more reason we need some other brewers to try apple brandy barreling. The beer improves greatly as it warms and I relaxingly indulged in a good 1/3rd of the growler on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I still like the Laird’s aged Warmer Winter a tad better, but this beer will most likely make my top 10 beers for 2010 as well.

I’d encourage you to go find it, but like most of Cigar City’s experimental beers, you probably won’t be seeing this anywhere. Then again, neither will I again.


*Fun fact: The classic 80s comedy “Splash” actually popularized if not created the name Madison. Daryl Hannah’s (spoiler alert!) mermaid character takes her name from Madison Avenue after walking past the street sign. In the years since the film was released, the name’s popularity has skyrocketed by the kinds of parents who name their children after a mermaid slut from a Ron Howard movie.

**In all honesty, blame the iphone’s fucked up new OS for that quirk. Any one else having problems with this shit? I’m going to be really pissed if I have to dig my digital camera out of some drawer.