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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Alpine’ Category

Alpine Great

February 3rd, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Alpine, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Barley wine

14% ABV bottled

Overrated and Underrated Drinking Days

With Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, I thought I’d take a quick glance at what are the worst, and secretly best, days of the year to tipple.


6.  Christmas Eve — This drinking day has gained a lot of traction in the past few years but it is still mainly just a day for single Jews to get drunk with other single Jews, which in theory isn’t the worst thing in the world, until you realize that most of this Jew mingling has been collated into specially organized “Matzo Ball” events which are essentially just lame J-Date-esque mixers.*  The alienated loneliness just permeates the latke-aromaed air, believe me.  A positive:  Jewish women are normally pretty easy, but at the Matzo Ball…every little Jewish boy feels like Sandy Koufax entering a bar in Flatbush after pitching a no-hitter.

5.  Halloween — Halloween used to be an underrated drinking day at the turn of the century, back when most adults didn’t even consider the fact that they could celebrate this holiday, but the continued infantilizing of adults and the oft-repeated meme that “all women dress like sluts” on Halloween has lead to the bars being filled with a lot of moronic yahoos on both sides of the gender aisle, bumping into you because they have no cognizance of their costume’s spatiality.  A positive:  all women dress like sluts.

4.  Valentine’s Day — A certain kind of man will tell you that Valentine’s Day is an awesome day to go drinking because the bars will be littered with sad and desperate single women.  Well, actually, that kinda is the truth.  But, what no one ever considers is that the bars will also be packed with the kind of irredeemable douchebags that go to bars on Valentine’s Day simply because they think the bars will be filled with sad and desperate single women.  A positive:  Still better than going to some crummy $500 “romantic” prix fixe with your boring S.O.

3.  Super Bowl Sunday — The Super Bowl is celebrated by all.  The young, the old, the gay, the straight, the cool, the dorky, the carnivorous, the vegetarian, the married, the single, the drinker, the teetotaler, the sports fan, the Olympics enthusiast.  And when something is celebrated by all, that means that a lot of morons will be out and about as most of the world is obviously moronic.  Like #2 on our list, Super Bowl Sunday can be majorly enjoyable when celebrated in a sealed environment amongst a select group of close friends, but if you dare to watch it in public well then caveat drinker.  A positive:  the early start time for the game means one can and should be shit-faced by 8ish and will often be passed out in bed before midnight, making Super Bowl Sunday one of the few drinking holidays that doesn’t wreck your next day.

2.  New Year’s Eve — Shockingly, the quintessential Amateur Night is only #2 on my list.  Admittedly it is an awful, awful night of over-priced food and drink, dumb plastic \ 2 0 1 0 / glasses and noisemakers, and packed bars full of the kinds of suburbanites, aging farts, and tourists that choose not to have fun on the other 364 days a year and who don’t know the actual words to “Auld Lang Syne.  But, at least these people are fairly behaved because the bars are too packed and service is too slow for any one to get enough drinks to get lit up, not that I’d dare set foot in a Manhattan bar on December 31st.  A positive:  free champagne toast at midnight!!!!!  (Just kidding!  Why do bars thinks a 50 cent plastic flute of Korbel is some great attraction?!)

1.  St. Patrick’s Day I’ve written on this topic before, but the day designated for celebrating…uh…I’m not sure has truly become a yearly celebration of daylight hours obnoxious buffoonery.  A positive:  acts as a bit of a drinking eugenics for these kind of bozos, giving them such massive hangovers and “I nevah wanna drink agains” that the bars will be pretty devoid of these fools from the late evening of March 17th til at least the 23rd or so.  Capitalize on that.


5/6.  Fat Tuesday/Cinco de Mayo — Honestly, I have no idea what these holidays celebrate, nor even when they are celebrated–though I’m guessing the 5th of Mayonnaise for the latter–but damn if I don’t always somehow accidentally find myself in a bar on these two days.  And I always have a blast!  One would think these would just be the Cajun and Mexican versions of St. Patrick’s Day, a bunch of yahoos painting themselves purple/gold/green or red/white/green instead of orange/green, Creole stomping and Mexican hat-dancing instead of “woohoo” jigging, downing Hurricanes and tequila instead of Guinnesses, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  For some reason, I’ve only encountered cool and normal people looking to have a great–and more importantly, civilized-ish–time on these two fauxish holidays.  Plus, jambalaya and etouffee and burritos and chimichangas are vastly superior to rotten wet cabbage.  A negative:  Louisiana and Mexico pretty much only make shitty beers (I’m looking at you Abita and Corona.)

4.  Sunday nights – What kind of degenerate has all weekend to go out but waits until Sunday around 10:00 PM to do so?  What kind of subjugate goes out drinking on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and goes, “You know what?  That simply wasn’t enough” and heads out for some more?  What kind of unemployed, underemployed, or self-employed transgressive decides there’s no better way to start off his week than by waking up late Monday mid-morning with a wicked hangover?  I’ll tell you who–the kind of person we like!  A negative:  aside from the aforementioned, Sunday night bars can also be full of sloppy fat guys in tight football jerseys who have been drinking and eating wings since the 1:00 o’clock games and have just forgotten to go home.

3.  Christmas Night –  Christmas Eve may be a shitty Hebrewic drinking night but Christmas Night is incredible with bars full of true drunks of all religions and bar staff so upset they have to work they’ve decided to get sloshed, not give a damn, and over-pour your drinks and under-charge your bar tabs.  A negative:  most bars are usually not open or have limited hours.

2.  4th of July — While all the nimrods are standing outside slack-jawed and staring up into the dark sky, you’re inside avoiding the lame fireworks you’ve seen for the last 30 years–has there been a single technological innovation in fireworks in the last million years?!–getting loaded with the kind of people that realize drinking a good American beer and hitting on a bar floozy is patriotism to its core.  A negative:  you just end up watching the fireworks on the bar’s TV.  Which is actually kinda lamer.

1.  Thanksgiving Night — Now most everyone is “allowed” to go drinking on Thanksgiving night, but only a certain kind of person chooses to and these are the kind of people I really like spending time with.  The kinds of people that spent all day getting loaded to stave off the pain of having to deal with their annoying relatives and who now want to spend the evening getting even more loaded while commiserating with strangers about how annoying their respective relatives were that day.  A negative:  so bloated with Thanksgiving food you can’t find any more room to cram beer into your body.  Another positive:  not needing to pick up a drunken pizza slice at 3 AM but instead being able to go home to raid the fridge for leftovers which you of course eat straight from the Ziploc bags using your bare hands.

And maybe the most underrated time to drink is simply by yourself and at home, where I do most of my tippling.  I mean, it’s not like bars are going to be selling the delicious Alpine Great, generously provided for me by my main man in San Diego, Jesse the Hutt.

The smell of Great is right in my wheelhouse, powerfully intoxicating like J.W. Lee’s Harvest Ale, you can smell this one from across the room.  Awesomely boozy with a dark fruity richness, burnt molasses, toffee, and syrupy caramel.  It finishes with a bourbon vanilla scorch (though it’s actually Jack Daniels barreled which of course isn’t a bourbon but a Tennessee whiskey if we’re being pedantic).  A perfect dessert beer this one is just crazy complex, surprisingly smooth and drinkable for the thickness and ABV.  Minor bite on the finish but other than that no real complaints.  This one would surely be flawless with a little age to smooth out the slightly rough edges, but even youthful it’s one of the best barley wines I’ve ever had.  Sure wish I had another bottle!


*Remind me to tell you my best Matzo Ball story some time soon.

Alpine IPAs

January 15th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 16 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Alpine, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

A year ago at this time I’m not even sure if I’d heard of Alpine Beer Co.  That seems hard to believe now–now that they have four beers on the Beer Advocate Top 100–but even just a year ago they were a tiny tap-only outfit near San Diego worshiped by locals, not really known by outsiders.  Luckily, just last summer, a great man named Jesse the Hutt insisted I let him send me a growler of Alpine’s Nelson and my IPA world was rocked–it was probably the best I’d ever had.

Alpine finally started bottling stuff in the last few months, and in a recent trade, when Jesse asked what I wanted sent to me from the other coast, I pretty much just screamed:  “EVERY SINGLE ALPINE IPA POSSIBLE!”  And, indeed, last week I received Alpine’s four bottled IPAs, all of which I drank as fresh as possible last weekend.

Pure Hoppiness

8% ABV from a bomber

Seemingly Alpine’s flagship brew, I started my Friday night with this “mega-hopped” bad boy which uses hops in the boil, more hops in the giant hopback, plus an incredible amount of dry-hopping.  Honestly, I wasn’t that blown away at first, but just like Nelson, the more I drank it the more I noticed its complexities and really started to enjoy it.  Pure Hoppiness is a very citrusy hop bomb with just a tad note of sweetness. An odd but not unpleasant thin, cask-like mouthfeel too allowing it to go down easy with minimal bite.  I loved it, but was not OMG floored.



6.75% ABV from a bomber

Saturday afternoon I lugged Duet and Nelson over to an NFL playoff party at a friend’s apartment who, though he is a bit of a beer connoisseur, just doesn’t dig on IPAs.  Has never been able to enjoy that certain hops bitterness we all love.  I, of course, am constantly trying to force-feed him great IPAs and figured I’d give it one last go with these beauties, assuming that if couldn’t enjoy these, he truly would never enjoy hoppy beers.

My gamble paid off as Duet opened his eyes to the brilliance of the IPA.  It opened my eyes too.  I’ve drank hundreds of IPAs in my life, but never anything like this before.  An incredible smell of Simcoe and Amarillo hops “in harmony” (hence the name.)  Sticky and sweet, Duet is one of those great hoppy beers that causes two side-effects that you would think would be bad, but which always seem to denote a great IPA:

1.  Burping–hoppy beers always make me belch as the bitterness tickles the back of my throat and, you know, it’s not entirely unpleasant to keep “re-tasting” a great hoppy beer long after you finished drinking it.

2.  Phlegm production–hoppy beers can also be like a really pulpy glass of  fresh-squeezed OJ which causes the insides of your mouth to form sticky spiderwebs of throat snot, make it a struggle to just open your mouth.

Remarkable how much body and complexity comes out of a “mere” 6.75% beer.  I don’t like to quibble between single and double IPAs, but it’s hard to believe a single IPA could be better than this.



7.1% ABV from a bomber

My first time to have Nelson from a bottle and it totally stacked up to it straight from a fresh growler.  Much lighter and fizzier than Duet, almost looks like a macro beer in fact on the pour.  It’s amazing how different two IPAs of similar strength from the same brewery can be.  Nelson is far more bitter and grapefruity than Duet and lacks that sweet tinge of a finish that Duet has, but this is still a masterpiece and definitely a hallmark for those that prefer their IPAs drier.


Exponential Hoppiness

10.5% ABV from a bomber

I saved them granddaddy of the all, the brilliantly named (it uses multiple kettle hop additions with the technique of doubling the hop amount each addition, thus exponentially) and beautifully labeled Exponential Hoppiness for last.  I saved this one for me, me, and only me, as my macro-swilling friends drank some Bud Light tallboys on Sunday afternoon.

Bluntly put, this is now the best IPA I have ever had.  It’s like a boozier Duet.  Sticky sweet with a bitter finish and the slightest hint of the oak chips its aged on.  Can Pliny the Younger seriously be better than this?!?!  I truly hope to find out in the next month or so.


My final rankings:

1.  Exponential Hoppiness
2.  Duet
3.  Nelson
4.  Pure Hoppiness

and the first three would probably be in my top 5 or so IPAs of all time.  Alpine is the KING of IPAs!

On Monday I e-mailed Jesse to praise Alpine and ask him if they made any more delicious IPAs.  He quickly rattled off “O’Brien’s IPA, Bad Boy, Sippin on the Dock of the Bay, Tuatara, and a steam IPA called California Uncommon.”  Unfortunately, all tap-onlys.  I’ll try ‘em one day.

Alpine Nelson Rye

June 1st, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Alpine, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: IPA

7.1% ABV from a growler

A Tough Nut to Crack, an Easy Slut to Sack

I flipped open my cell, scrolled to her number in my Contacts, put my thumb on the “Send” button, and…paused.  I realized I had no idea what I was doing.  Shit, I hadn’t done something like this in years.

For awhile I’ve thought I had pretty decent “game.”  Now I’m no Giacomo Casanova or anything, but I’ve always been a deep studier, a student, an autodidact, and a tinkerer and after a decade-plus of noticing my many failures and successes in the world of women, I thought I had developed some pretty decent skills.  In fact, I’d felt for the past few years that I’d made these skills, these dos and don’ts, such an ingrained part of my persona that I could just successfully exist around women on autopilot, which is a great thing when you’re often loaded.  I’d gotten pretty damn good at soliciting reciprocal intrigue from strange women that I was attracted to, at culling contact info from them, landing dates and outings, which typically lead to in flagranteness.  Each of those steps a chance to flounder, to have the process aborted on me, yet I was still putting up both great contact and power numbers.  We’re talking a .350 AVG, maybe a .450 OBP, and a slugging percentage that would make Jimmie Foxx blush.

That is until I met Miriam.

My god was she gorgeous.  Just silly attractive.  About as good-looking as a girl could be without you thinking she must surely be an actress or a model, though, then again, when you actually meet actresses and/or models you’re often like, “That’s it?!”  But I digress.  I was in a piece-of-shit Murray Hill sportsbar killing some time one night when I heard violent shouting to my right:

“Goddammit Ilgauskas, could you defend the fucking the pick-and-roll?!  Big Baby is torching you!”

“Would a little hustle be too much to ask, Delonte?!”

“Yep, me too, Lebron, I’d be shaking my head in dismay too if I was playing with these bozos.”

The shouting was female.  I turned and saw her.  5′2″, 110 pounds, flowing golden locks, emerald green doe eyes, high cheek bones beset on a flawlessly symmetrical face, the flattest stomach I’ve ever seen peekabooing from just under the bottom of her tank top as she pumped her fist in the air after Anderson Varejao took a charge.  Who was this divine creature?

“Big Cavs fan, huh?”

She didn’t even respond to me, as if she was ignoring me completely.  But she wasn’t, because the second the game went to TV timeout, she turned to me with the sweetest smile on her face, the softest voice, kindly explaining that, no, she wasn’t a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, not in the least, she was just a sports fan.  An addict.  Who was this dream girl?  I was intimated.  Good lord.  Both by her attractiveness and sports acumen.  Now, I’m no chump in the sports knowledge department, not in the least, but when a 10-out-of-10 beauty turns to you and matter of factly says, “Am I crazy or is Mo Williams overplaying Rondo to the left?,” there’s not much you can do besides go, “Uh… so would you like a drink or sumpin’?”

Not that I usually ever buy drinks for girls because I am an insensitive cheapskate and I’m not a sap and I am a guy that always usually knows what to say and offering to buy a drink is the last refuge of the sap and guy with no clue and, shit, now I was a sap with no clue what to do.

Unfortunately, she didn’t drink.  Didn’t drink?!  Who doesn’t drink?  I mean she drank liquid, water and Gatorade and ginger ale, she was in no danger of dehydrating don’t fret, she simply didn’t drink al-kee-hawl.  She wasn’t religious or a recovering alcoholic, just very much into fitness and energy and health and she didn’t find that alcohol fit anywhere into that lifestyle.  My plea that alcohol makes sure your blood is thin and pumping, didn’t even convince her.  So I awkwardly sat there trying to flirt with this teetotaling, gorgeous, sports savant, no clue what to do…but get loaded myself.  I drank so quickly and nervously that I don’t really recall much of how that night ended, but I guess she liked me somewhat because before I left she coolly handed me her card and said, “Call me.”

Call her?

Shit, I hadn’t called a girl in years.  My modus operandi for the longest time had been to get girl’s e-mail addresses.  A lot of people make fun of me for that, but it’s so much simpler.  Besides the fact that I hate talking on the phone, I also don’t like dealing with things in a time sensitive manner.  Nothing better than shooting off an e-mail in the morning and giving the gal all the time she wants to respond for the rest of the day.

I first realized I had a power with words back in 11th grade.  I knew I was a good writer, even then, but I didn’t know the effect my words could have.  That was until the last day of class that year when during a yearbook signing period I quickly scratched out a message to a girl I had an unrequited crush on.  Now, I hadn’t written anything romantic or perhaps even creepy, if that’s what you’re wondering, I had just slopped down a nice “good to know you” message.  The kind of message I would slop down for any one, guy or girl, that I honestly felt it was good to know.

I thought nothing of that message until later that night when the girl called me–she never called me!–to tell me that her and her mother had been rereading over my message all night, it had moved them so much, to tears even, and she just wanted to thank me for my beautiful note.  From that point on, I realized how I could affect people with my writing, and I began wielding my pen like an epee.

And now I was being handicapped, one of my greatest skills taken away from me!  I hadn’t called a girl to ask her on a date since like 2002.  How did one even go about doing such a thing?!  I was actually getting nervous!  I don’t get nervous for anything any more.  Shit, what to do?  I went to Facebook to look at her page.  Maybe she wasn’t as good looking as I recall.  Perhaps she was not truly that interesting.  Maybe she listed her religious affiliation as Wiccan.  But she didn’t even have a page!  The hell?  What twentysomething chick doesn’t have a Facebook profile?  Well, at least I knew she didn’t have any children, cause no new mother nowadays can possibly avoid posting zillion of pictures and inane status updates about their miserable rugrats.

Should I just text her?  Naw, that would be cowardly.  And, I later found out, impossible.  She didn’t even have a cell phone.  I called the number she gave me, a landline, and fought through the nerves to arrange a date.  She had only one rule:  we had to go to a bar with plenty of TVs, and good ones, she wasn’t going to miss that night’s Nuggets/Lakers game.

Meeting up with her that evening, she was just as gorgeous as I recall.  I pounded Sierra Nevada Celebration Ales while she drank cranberry juice.  I quizzed her on her seeming lack of technology, her Luddite values.  She didn’t have a Facebook page because she thought it was childish, a time suck.  I couldn’t disagree with that.  She didn’t have a cell phone because she didn’t like to be reached at any time, any place.  She also thought it was rude to have your ears and eyes glued to a device while out with other people.  Again, couldn’t disagree with that.  As for e-mail, she only checked it once a week, so sending her messages was borderline pointless.

I soon realized, I had no fucking clue what to do.  I’d followed a very simple pattern with the previous zillion women I’ve dated:  get e-mail address, send pithy and humorous message the next day or so, meet at bar around happy hour, get loaded going drink-for-drink with a girl I outweighed by fifty pounds at least, be funny, be interesting, and by midnight or later I was usually in bed with said female.  I had a system, a damn good system, but now I was flummoxed.  Especially, when at 9 PM, Miriam told me she had to get to bed.  As in, go to bed alone.  Seems she wakes up every morning at 4 AM to work out in order to be at her job by 7 AM.

Who was I dealing with?!

She quickly kissed me on the lips and sprinted from the place, leaving me there to reassess what went wrong.  Our chemistry had been solid enough, sure, but I never felt like we were making a full connection, she seemingly more interested in Carmelo Anthony’s shooting that night than in my hilarious anecdotes.

I typically wouldn’t even continue going after a girl like Miriam after such a modest failure of a first date, but she was too goddamn hot.  Maybe she was just shy, nervous herself.  And did I always have to take the easy way out?  The easy sluts to sack or the tough nut to crack?  I needed to try to pick up my game, swim in the deep end without any floaties on my biceps.  You can only get better at things if you challenge yourself, right?

Forced to call her again for a second date, I would have to show up and be as charismatic as I’ve ever been, and be aggressive and sexy and manly.  I’d have to work quick, cause I’d only have til her witching hour of 9, but I could make it work.  I’d barely drink as well, flip the tables on her.  Yes!  Maybe she was only so intimidating, so cocksure, because she was a sober beauty dealing with drunken buffoons like me, each pint we drank knocking five points off our IQs until Miriam was dealing with a borderline retard.  But I would flounder again this time, too self-conscious at my behavior, my lack of drinking, her placid and sober demeanor.  After we again chastely kissed goodbye at 9:00 on the dot, I knew it was over.

Walking home up Ninth Avenue, I came to the realization that I must have no game.  Sure, I’m good at meeting women, good at getting them to meet me out, and good at–I guess–taking semi-advantage of them while we’re both equally drunk.  And, once a women’s slept with you once, the hard part is over.  Even if she doesn’t like you once you’re already one of her “numbers,” a tally on her sexual abacus, she figues you guys might as well forge some sort of relationship out of this fact, whether you become as much as boyfriend and girlfriend or just sometime besotted bedmates.

In fact, it could be said that chemically, once you’ve slept with a woman that first drunken night, the bond has been formed for the immediate future as Oxytocin is released into the women’s nervous system during distension of the cervix and hopefully for her sake orgasm, causing her to have a mysteriously uncontrollable and intense need to bond with you.  Even for a night.

I went home, dejected and popped the top on a growler of Alpine Nelson which the great Jesse the Hutt had procured for me.  Macro straw clear with a head like a root beer float yet otherwise minimal carbonation.   Likewise minimal bitterness and smooth sweet rye taste accented by prominent hints of citrus and mango.  Dangerously drinkable, I quickly took down half the growler on that first night and spent the whole next day thinking about the second half I still had to enjoy.  Shockingly, my second day of the Nelson growler was even better and truly put this number over the top.  It had become even sweeter and almost completely lacking in carbonation now it had the mouthfeel as if it was off cask.  Simply one of the best single IPAs I’ve ever had, right up there with Pliny the Elder, Masala Mama, and Sixty Minute.  You absolutely have to find this beer if you can.

This weekend I went back to hanging out with the kind of sweetheart of a girl that will completely communicate with me via text and e-mail, the kind of girl that has a Facebook page, that will drink hard with me til 5 in the morning, slowly getting drunker and drunker, more and more into me.  Predictably, I of course, found amatory success with that time-tested formula and we had a swell night.

Yes, I may not truly have any game, but at least I’m goddamn good at meeting attractive and technological savvy drunkards that are allowed to sleep in.  I’ll stick with them for the foreseeable future.