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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Dogfish Head’ Category

Life and Limb

December 2nd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Strong Ale

10.2% ABV from a stubby bomber

The extended Thanksgiving weekend is a time of overindulgence, placation toward people you don’t really like, and ersatz enjoyment.  What I’m saying is, it’s a crash course on all that’s wrong with the television industry’s coverage of sporting events.

How do you fuck up televised coverage of sports?  Seems like you’d just need to find a good spot to place a camera or two, turn them on, then simply capture world class athletes doing world class things.  Yeah right.  Not even amateur pornography can be shot so haphazardly.

I won’t claim for a second that televised sports are worse now than they used to be.  Of course they aren’t.  Turn on ESPN Classic or check out an NFL Film and even games from the 1980s look so old that you half expect to see Knute Rocke or Vince Lombardi roaming the sidelines.  The graphics are comically bad, the font choices are laughably dated, the halftime sets more public access than “Wayne’s World” (that’s before they were sponsored by Noah’s Arcade, natch), and the basic footage is abominable.  Shit, even if you accidentally turn on a non-HD channel to watch sports nowadays you’re immediately like, “Mine eyes!  Mine eyes!!!” as if carbolic acid had just been poured on them.  How many times I’ve selected an inferior sporting event on an HD channel over a superior one only available on non-HD, ipso facto.

Nevertheless, despite the immense technological advances, today’s coverage of sports are not without their flaws.  Most of which can be summed up by the phrase:

TOO MUCH!

1.  Cutaways — Johnny Pointguard from Syracuse makes a nice layup.  CUT!  Johnny backpedaling downcourt with a smile on his face.  CUT!  Johnny’s parents–done come all the way from Plano, Texas–decked out in their brand spanking new ‘Cuse gear, lovingly cheering on their son.  CUT!  Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim observing the action, ostensibly happy.  CUT!  UNC coach Roy Williams observing the action, ostensibly miffed.  CUT!  Back to wide shot and we’ve just missed two steals, a monster dunk, and a three-point play.  If action is occurring on the court, WE WANT TO SEE THE ACTION OCCURING ON THE COURT!  We don’t want close-ups of players not currently involved in the play, craggy old coaches sitting stoically on the sidelines, coaches’ wives, parents in the stands, fans in the cheap seats, baby mamas, baby babies, fucking mascots, or even cheerleaders (unless they’re the USC Song Girls–vavavavoom!)  Just film the action please.  It’s what we’re watching this whole dog ‘n’ pony show for…the dog ‘n’ pony.  Not their wives.

2.  Graphics — On a similar note, enough with full-screen graphics.  Over the weekend I was watching one of those preseason hoops tourney tilts from some shitty tropical destination which is really just an outdoor American shopping mall with a Senor Frogs or two.  Any how, the game opened with one of those full scale graphic “Keys to the Game” things that look kinda like this:

The Funyuns Keys to Win-yuns

Kentucky

  • Dunk the ball a lot
  • Don’t point shave
  • Hope Coach Cal remembers to send 5 players out on the floor instead of 2 or 3

Bartlesville Tech

  • Recruit more athletes (black people)
  • Pray God exists and hates UK as much as everyone else
  • Poison opponents at half-time

The two D-list announcers were laboriously going over these most inane “keys” while underneath the graphic I’m hearing sneaker squeaks, rim clanks, and John Calipari’s hair grease dripping onto the hardwood like some sort of Greaseball Water Torture.

The announcers finally finish speaking, the graphics finally disappear, and we return to action, the score 5-2, 18:25 left in the half!

Networks cover sports as if a retarded person from another planet decided to watch his first game and needed to understand the most basic aspects of these contests.  When the fact is, 99% of people that follow sports–especially obscure early season games–know more about sports than 99% of these network buffoons running the show.

3. Speaking of buffoons, now would be the time you might think I would indict announcers.  But, you know, I really don’t have a problem with most.  Announcers are like politicians:  boringly mediocre.  Sure, there’s the incredibly dumb and annoying ones (I won’t name names), even more rare the remarkable ones, but most are just mediocre, a hair better than incompetent.  For the most part, people become announcers and politicians because they aren’t good at anything else in life.  (And I say this having very good friends thriving in both professions–I doubt they read here though.)

4. No, what’s annoying and awful when it comes to personnel are the sideline reporters and studio show schnooks.

Sideline reporters — The absolute paradigm of the “too much” conundrum in sports coverage, I’m not quite sure why these people exist.  To get the “scoop” on how Phil Jackson feels being up by 7 at halftime?  Uh…good?  It’s even more shocking when a sideline reporter is ugly.  (Aren’t they supposed to be a little eye candy to make us not feel gay for spending all day watching underdressed buff Adonises grappling with each other?)  Or male.  (Craig Sager and his sweet suits excepted.)  The one time we do need sideline reporters is when a player gets injured so that we may learn of the severity.  Yet what do they always say:  “Uh yeah, Craig, Polamalu was just carted off to the lockerroom, seems to be grimacing in pain.”  Well no joke, we all just saw that!  It’s no wonder the typically deplorable Fox baseball broadcasts have scrapped sideline reporters altogether and now just have some lackey strap a Madonna “Vogue”-era mic onto Joe Girardi or Mike Scioscia between half-innings to have them quickly espouse their state-of-the-art theories on the crucialness of the three-run homer, Earl Weaver eat your fucking heart out.

Studio show schnooks — Perhaps the absolute scourge of televised entertainment.  Have you ever met a single human being that actually enjoys studio shows?  Who wakes up early on Saturday or Sunday to specifically watch them?!  Would they be your friend for one second longer if they did?  Featuring some of the most deplorable and annoying people on planet earth–the bulbous ooze known as Chris Berman being the most egregious offender–these are nothing more than hours-long yuckfests with minimal entertainment, oft-repeated platitudes, and absolutely no insight.  This is perhaps best demonstrated toward the end of these shows, right before the “experts” make their weekly predictions, when said “experts’” season picks records are posted, usually looking something like this:

The Diet Mountain Dew Code Red Picks of the Week
(through week 11)

1.  KENNY   12-25

2.  KEITH   11-24

3.  CARL   9-26

4.  BOOMER   5-21-1

Having these standings end a studio show telecast is more of a stomach punch than the endings of “The Sixth Sense” or “The Usual Suspects.”  “You mean I just wasted three hours of my life listening to these experts?!?!?!?!”

Yes you did.

It’s enough to almost make you want to attend these games in person.  Then again, that would create a whole new set of annoyances.

At the least, while watching sports at home, you can ignore the televised miasma with a little help from delicious craft beers that sports stadiums would never sell you.  Such as the new rarer-than-I-expected Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada collaboration Life and Life.  I apparently got a bottle from one of only three cases in the entire city, and I feel eternally lucky that my friend Kevin tipped me off on when and where to score some.  I’d been greatly anticipating this beer as a Dogfish Head acolyte and it certainly delivered.  Life and Limb is made with pure maple syrup from Sam Calagione’s Massachusetts family farm and estate barley grown on the Sierra Nevada estate and fermented with both breweries’ house yeast strains.  I loved the rich smell and the brew tasted like a root beer, actually more like a birch beer in fact with it’s syrupy mouthfeel.  Silky like a brown ale with a barley wine-like malty sweetness on the back end.  A nice boozy bite but immenently drinkable.  Well worth the cost if you locate it, I really loved this beer.

A

VSK

November 19th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Birra del Borgo, Brewer: Dogfish Head, Brewer: Kuhnhenn, Brewer: North Coast, Brewer: Sixpoint, Country: America, Country: Italy

I began preparing for Blind Tiger’s VSK–their annual Very Special Keg event in which they roll out some of the oldest and rarest beer they have hiding in their cellar–a full week in advance in just four easy steps:

1.  I began growing some bad facial, a prerequisite for admittance into any hardcore beer geek event.  I considered a burly unkempt hockey play-off beard, perhaps some mutton chops, but ultimately settled on a patchy goatee.

2.  Tried to find a friend to accompany me.  With a 4:00 PM start time, a surefire paucity of women, and a most definite sweaty stinky crowd, no one agreed to join me.  Obviously.

3.  Began examining the VSK beer list to make a batting order.  With so many sought-after beers to try, I needed a game plan.

I first eliminated the need to try certain beers for a variety of reasons.

Allagash Interlude ‘07 (delicious, but have had numerous times)
Bear Republic Apex ‘08
Blue Point 10th Anniversary IPA
(readily available)
Brooklyn Backbreaker (cask)
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout ‘04
Brouwerij De Regenboog Wostyntje ‘08
(never heard of–too lazy to look up on BA)
Captain Lawrence Nor’Easter (delicious, but have had numerous times)
Chelsea Bourbon Aged Imperial Mild
Del Borgo/Dogfish Head My Antonia
Dogfish 120 ‘08 (via Randall)
(never had on Randall, but have 120 countless times)
Dogfish Pangea (never really enjoyed it)
Goose Island Demolition (had before)
JW Lees Harvest Ale aged in a Calvados Cask (Wooden Pin) (delicious, but had before)
Kuhnhenn All Hallows
Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barleywine
Lagunitas Barrel Aged Ruben and the Jets
(didn’t really dig the non-barrel-aged)
North Coast Old Rasputin 10th Anniversary
Rockies Fresh Trak
(ain’t never heard of it)
Rogue Chatoe Rogue Wet Hop

Sierra Nevada Limb and Life
(can’t wait to try, but readily available)
Sixpoint Gorilla Porter
Smuttynose Big A IPA ‘07
(readily available)
Southampton Saison
Stone Vertical Epic ‘06

Next, I tried to make a batting order:

MUSTS

1.  Southampton Saison
2.  Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine (long on my Most Wanted List)
3.  My Antonia
4.  Old Rasputin X
5.  Sixpoint Gorilla Porter

MAYBES, ASSUMING I WASN’T TOO WASTED

6.  Brooklyn Backbreaker (intrigued, but thought I could roll the dice that other bars would eventually get this new release)
7.  Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 2004 (have had delicious aged BCS countless times, but it never hurts to have again–still, not a priority)
8.  Bear Republic Apex

I arrived early, but still not early enough to get a seat as many geeks appeared to have camped out there overnight.  Wise to have grown my facial hair, my patchy goatee allowed to me to move with relative ease amongst these people, sliding like an eel in between beer guts aplenty, the geeks never the wiser about a non-nerd being on the premises.  If an outsider had poked his head in the door, he would have thought a bad beard convention was having a weekly meeting.  Of course, there was one, perhaps two, females in the house, save the bartenders, and luckily I was able to use my masculine wiles to seduce one for her barstool.

Savvily ordering half-pints, I was able to sample a ton more beers than I expected too.  And, here are my rankings in order*:

1.  Dogfish Head 120 Minute (via Randall)–I hadn’t even expected to order this one but, luckily, eventually a friend joined me and when he ordered one, I had to sneak a sip.  Good lord!  So glad I did as this was far and away the best beer of the night.  I’d long considered 120 a masterpiece, but Randall makes it even better.  Silky and boozy like a liqueur, about as packed with flavor as a beer can possibly get.  After loving 90 Minute via Randall as well, I’m beginning to think that crazy Randall machine could even turn Bud Light Lime into a masterpiece.  (A+)

2.  Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine–This was the beer I most coveted and it didn’t disappoint.  Absolutely delicious, packed with sweet caramel and hints of vanilla, nice and syrupy on the mouth, but, quite frankly a tad hot.  Could use a little age to smooth it out.  Whatever the case, Kuhnhenn has quickly become one of my favorite breweries, because they make beers the way I like them:  boozy.  (A)

3.  Sixpoint Gorilla Warfare Porter–A local beer I’d unfortunately never gotten to try, it was delicious.  Packed with rich coffee but not too roasted in taste, nice chocolate sweetness.  (A)

4.  Old Rasputin X–I’d, of course, long enjoyed the “regular” Old Rasputin.  And, I’d had the fortune to try their 12th Anniversary Rasputin earlier this year, but this two-year old keg of X beat them both.  Bourbon-barreled, and on nitro tap, this was quite creamy with sweet tastes of whiskey and vanilla, almost like a Jack and Coke.  The smell was world-class, better than the taste, and I have to give a minor debit for being a little thin on the mouth.  (A)

5.  My Antonia**–I’d honestly never heard of this collaboration between Dogfish Head and the Italian brewery Birra del Borgo, and even though I don’t really dig pilsners, I was informed this one was exceedingly rare, so, you know..sign me up!  A hoppy aroma but with a bready taste, this one went down quite nice and easily.  (A-)

6.  Brooklyn Backbreaker–I never miss a new Brooklyn release, and this cask offering mightily excited me.  I’d heard nothing about it and, heck, there still isn’t even a BA entry for it!  So I’m not quite sure what style it’s ‘posed to be, but I’d have to guess it’s a…an…English IPA maybe????  I don’t know, but it was quite nice.  Smooth and hoppy, with a great little sweetness.  Perfect for a cask offering.  (A-)

7.  Kuhnhenn All Hallows–Maybe our palates were all screwy by the time we had this one, but both my friend and I agreed that it tasted more like a slice of apple pie than the slice of pumpkin pie you’d expect from a pumpkin beer.  Not a bad thing though.  Cinnamony, but not overspiced like many pumpkin ales, the fruitiness of it was sweet with just a hint of sourness, again, more akin to a golden apple than a pumpkin.  Alas.  (A-)

8.  Bear Republic Apex–By this portion of the evening I was well into my “maybes, assuming I wasn’t too wasted portion of the evening.”  I was probably too wasted, but a Bear Republic IPA has NEVER steered me wrong.  And this is another splendid one.  Piney and bitter, fragrant as hell, but nicely-balanced, definitely deserves a place alongside Hop Rod Rye and Racer X.  (A-)

9.  Magic Hat Sour Notion–Probably the only beer I didn’t love during the evening, this fairly lame attempt at a wild ale, was still quite quaffable, just not particularly sour.  (B)

Afterwards, wasted on some high-ABV shit, my friend and I ventured over to the Times Square Toys ‘r’ Us to freak out tourist youngsters, admire McFarlane sports action figures, and purchase “Modern Warfare 2.”  I’m as shitty at shooter games drunk as I am sober.

*Unfortunately, Southampton Saison was not available.

**INT. BLIND TIGER — NIGHT

The bar is loud.

ME:  I’ll have a My Antonia.

BARKEEP:  Huh?

ME:  MY ANTONIA!

BARKEEP:  WHAT?!

ME:  LIKE THE BOOK!  MY!  ANTONIA!!!!!

BARKEEP:  There’s a book?

Stay in school, kiddos.  Or, actually don’t.  I wish I’d dropped out of school, didn’t know about Willa Cather, and was bartending at Blind Tiger.

Brooklyn Manhattan Project

September 16th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Rye Beer

8.5% ABV on tap

When I was a prepubescent I wanted to meet my favorites sportsmen, guys like Darryl Strawberry and Charles Barkley and Barry Sanders, and get their autographs on balls and cards.  When I became a pubescent I wanted to meet my favorite rock stars and learn why women loved them so.  When I was in college I wanted to meet my favorite filmmakers and writers and ask them about their craft, perhaps learn a thing or two.  But now that I’m thirty, I simply want to meet my brewing idols to thank them for making the sugary poison that enhances my life.  And by “enhances,” I mean gets me drunk and causes me to do funny things.

Luckily, yesterday I would get to meet my two biggest beer idols, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery–coincidentally the two most-reviewed breweries here on the Vice Blog–both making appearances at Blind Tiger and Rattle ‘N’ Hum respectively to celebrate New York Craft Beer Week.

I headed to Blind Tiger in the early afternoon to beat the rush but soon the place had become the typical Star Trek Convention-esque scene like most big beer geek events.  Men either incredibly lithe or incredibly burly, no one weighing anywhere in between (i.e. “normal”), all hirsute of face, in vintage t-shirts and Rivers Cuomo spectacles.  I came alone and, with no one to whisper mocking barbs to, was lucky enough to quickly find a compadre, the only girl at the event who didn’t have a look on her face of “I can’t believe my boyfriend dragged me to this nerdfest/I can’t believe he gets this excited for beer/I can’t believe I fuck this loser/Hey, is that the Vice Blogger over there?!”  She had shockingly come under her own cognizance.

With a full slate of Dogfish Head beers on tap, I sipped on some I’d had before, some I hadn’t.  I enjoyed:

Raison D’Extra (2008)–This 18% amped up version of Raison D’Etre is maybe the most boozy beer I’ve ever had.  But I like that!  Dried fruits, spices, strong malts, and an oaky vanilla finish, this brew pummels your throat like a bourbon neat.  A-

Black & Blue (2007)–Not nearly as fruity as I expected, nor boozy, especially compared to their great Fort, I found this one light and refreshing.  A sure “panty dropper” for the ladies as it’s a surprising 11%.  Not sure if aging does much for this one though.  B+

120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout (2007)–Though I’d had both ABV-asskickers (21% and 18% respectively) bottled numerous times, I’d had neither of these on tap before and was most excited.  120 Minute is a masterpiece any way you slice it, a true Hall of Famer in the beer world, and it was a pleasure to finally try it on tap where the hops come through more and make it far less the de facto barleywine it usually is.  As for World Wide Stout, I’ve always liked, but never loved “young” bottles of it.  Found them lacking in complexity and far too boozy.  But aged for a few years and on tap, this stout becomes a masterpiece that can surely be mentioned in the same breath as the other imperial stout big dogs of America.  both A+

Halfway through my World Wide Stout, the beer geeks started squealing like little girls do when a Jonas Brother enters the room, signaling to me that Sam had clearly arrived.  Perchance, I happened to be the first person he talked to and the most congenial man chatted it up with me for a good five minutes about his upcoming Life and Life collaboration with Sierra Nevada.  He was very excited for its November release, as am I.

(I was also excited to meet a surprise guest–pictured above with me and Sam–Achouffe brewmaster Chris Bauweraerts.)

After Sam moved on to placate some other geeks and avoid getting lice from their unkempt, greasy beards, someone remarked, “Wow, he was really nice.”

Uh, yeah, he makes and drinks beer for a living.  I’d be the nicest motherfucker in the world too if that was my life.

By now the scene at Blind Tiger was getting unruly with pencil-necked, raggedy-armed men gushing over Sam and making the line to get a drink at the bar at least a half-dozen deep on all sides, so I left to hotfoot it thirty-some-odd blocks north to Rattle ‘N’ Hum to meet beer legend #2.

After four straight double-digit-ABV Dogfish Head beer, I probably needed a respite, but audentes fortuna iuvat, fortune favors the bold, and any how, low ABV beers kinda suck.

Rattle ‘N’ Hum had a full slate of Brooklyn brews and I was stunned to see one I’d never had before, a DIPA, Brooklyn Blast Pale Ale, available on both cask and tap.  I opted to try both.  You know, science experiment reasons.

And wow, what a great beer!  An intense smell of pine and grapefruit, a wet and juicy hops taste with just a tad more sweetness on cask than tap.  Complex with just the right blend of maltiness and bitterness.  This might be the most “West Coast”-style IPA I’ve found on the East Coast as most of our DIPAs tend to gravitate more toward the malty sweet barleywine variety (see:  Southern Tier Unearthly or Dogfish Head 90 Minute, both divine though, don’t get me wrong).

I ask, how is Blast not more “famous”?  It certainly deserves mention in the same breath with not simply the east coast’s best DIPAs, but all of America’s.  I sure wish this was a more common find in these here parts for it is truly superb.  Either on tap or cask, and I don’t typically love cask IPAs mind you, I could drink it all fucking day long.  A

Relaxed and bordering on post-coital after downing two separate Blasts, I was excited to see Garrett in the house and made my way over to shake his hand and cajole him into a “Can we smile big and pretend we like and know each other?” picture.  He kindly obliged.

He also gave me the scoop on his new bacon beer (none of us hoi polloi are ever gonna get to try it) and his upcoming $350 pairing dinner at Per Se (none of us hoi polloi could ever possibly afford it) before I had to be escorted away by security so that he could get back to enjoying a slider.  (Garrett Oliver eats sliders?!?!?!)

Besides meeting Garrett, though, I had come to Rattle ‘N’ Hum with one other major goal in mind, having one of the world’s first tastes of his new Manhattan Project, a beer still of this second without even a single review on Beer Advocate.

Lately Garrett has become obsessed with using his Brewmasters Reserve series to make experimental beers that taste like other, atypical to beer, things.  And, with the Manhattan being his favorite cocktail, he was curious if he could make a beer that tastes like that amazing concoction.  It’s by far my favorite cocktail too so this was right in my wheelhouse and I expected to make a mess in my pants over it.

A rye beer aged in Rittenhouse Rye whiskey barrels and then infused with botanicals from sweet vermouth and bitters, this beer smells spot-on like a glorious Manhattan and the taste is right there too.  It is a most interesting execution, something maybe only Garrett could come up with.  Really boozy, you can feel the rye.  A little too sweet in a cough-drop type way, but that’s a minor quibble.  A slightly uneven blending, with a tart cherry finish, this isn’t quite as seamlessly smooth as I’d like and I’d probably enjoy a thicker mouthfeel.  Or, maybe, I’d just enjoy a straight up 100 proof Manhattan.  Naw, this beer is great, a truly sui generis offering.  I hope it’s around for a long time to come.  It’s a beer I’m gonna remember for a long time.

A-

Dogfish Head Fort

September 3rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Fruit Beer

On the Manliness of Drinking Beer

Come on pussy, meet me out at the bar.  I don’t care if you got shit to do.  I don’t care if you gotta get up early.  It’s time to drink beers.  The manliest thing a man can do!  What’s so manly about drinking a shit ton of beers you ask?  I can’t believe you don’t fuckin’ know.  Uh, lemme count the ways:

1.  Doing something as many times as you can possibly do something is manly.  Giving it your all!  Whether it’s fucking tons of bitches, eating fifteen cheeseburgers, or drinking two dozen beers until you fall off your bar stool, all that shit is M-A-N-L-Y.

2.  Drinking a lot of beer gives you a beer belly.  Nothing more manly than that.  It also makes you burp, fart, shit, and sometimes even throw up.  Manly!  Except throwing up.  That’s for bulimic little fairies.  Unless you like do a ton of car bombs or somethin’, then it’s acceptable I guess.

3.  Drinking a ton of beers makes you do stupid shit.  Like get in bar fights and hit on ugly women and sometimes even get arrested.  And all that shit is manly.  You think a pussy would do that kinda stuff?  No way!  Only a drunk man’s man.

4.  But it’s most manly to not get drunk.  That’s the paradox.  Hey, I can’t even believe I know what the word paradox means but that’s the paradox.  That we’re going out to get drunk.  To get wasted, shitfaced, cocked, hammered, blitzed and three sheets to the motherfuckin’ wind.  And in order to save time and money you’d think we’d want to get drunk as fast as humanly possible.  But that’s not manly.  Getting drunk after a beer or two is more pussy than coming after two pumps inside a chick.  What’s manly is to take hours and hours on end, and drink beer after beer after beer, before you’re even buzzed.  Sometimes when I’m at the bar, I’m like on beer number ten and my friend is like, “Whoa, I’m getting buzzed” and I’m like, “Shit, I barely feel like I’ve drank anything.  I could go drive my truck right now flawlessly.”  And I think less of my friend from that point on.  You know why?  Cause I’m manly and manly men don’t get drunk until they’ve had like an entire case minimum.

Man I’m so manly, yeah, and you’re manly too I guess, but look at all these so-called men around us.  Look at all these pussies drinking their faggot beers.  I don’t mean “faggot” like homosexual, I mean faggot like GAY, bro.  That guy over there with his beer with it’s fancy foreign name.  If you don’t like American beer, like this Bud Light I’m drinking, then go back to wherever you’re from.  What’s that you say?  Your saison is an American beer?  And my Bud Light is actually owned by In-Bev, a Belgium company owned by Brazilians?!  So fucking what?  It’s the image that matters.  And Bud Light is manly and your frou-frou “saison” beer is womanly.

Look at that guy, he’s been nursing that dark beer for the last hour.  Hey!  Drink up you fucking pussy!  My lil’ sister drinks faster than you, hahaha!  What’s that you say?  You’re drinking an 19% Russian imperial stout?  Russian?  Jesus H. Christ, again with the foreign beers.  You say your beer is nearly five times as alcoholic as my Bud Light?  Yeah, so what?  I’m drinking tons more bottles than you and that’s all that matters.  I’ve drank like three in the time it’s taken youse to drink just one of those sissy Communist beers.  More beers drunk equals more manly drinker.  And that’s me!

And, another thing.  Beer isn’t supposed to be dark and warm like that beer you’re drinking.  It’s supposed to be yellow and fizzy and foamy.  And made out of shit like corn and rice, not oooh fancy organic local ingredients.  And you ain’t supposed to drink it out of that balloon bulb of a glass.  I’m embarrassed for you.  Straight from the bottle!  Like a man.  Like a manly man that doesn’t want to dirty up a glass and hafta wash the dishes like some little housewife later in the night.  (Uh, ’scuse my language, ladies.)

Oh, and check out that queer over there.  The one surrounded by the hot chicks.  He must be the biggest pussy of them all.  Drinking a fruit beer!  Just perfect.  A fruit drinking a fruit beer.

“Did I hear you making fun of me buddy?  It may be a fruit beer but it’s the world’s strongest fruit beer coming in at a whopping 18% ABV.  In fact, I’m not so sure I would even call this a fruit beer.  With it’s boozy alcohol burn and tastes of dark fruits highlighted by an overabundance of Delaware raspberries, this tastes more like a quad than a fruit beer too me.  Even at the high ABV it is quite drinkable and quite delicious.  Fruit beer or whatever, I don’t know, it’s simply fucking delicious.”

A quad?  A quad?!  A quadruple what?!  Like I’m s’posed to know what that shit is?  Maybe you’re just a quadruple pussy.  Now I’m gonna go slam my Bud Light and leave this pussy bar.

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.

Three Floyds Blackheart

July 8th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Brewer: Three Floyds, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Grade: B plus, Style: Brown Ale, Style: IPA

9% ABV from a bomber

Almost any time I saunter into a typical BYOB party, a six pack of craft under my arm, some wiseguy sipping a Stella always has to look me up and down, a sneer on his face.  “So, what are you?  One of them beer snobs?”

How is this something to mock?  And why does drinking good beer make one a “beer snob”?

If I’d walked into the party with an attractive women on my arm would the same chap have queried me:

“So, what are you?  One of them pussy snobs?  Can’t be content just fucking boring, average women?  Need to get your dick wet on something a little more sexy, huh?  Yeah, I see.  Snob.”

Luckily, last weekend’s July 4th party was hosted by a beer “snob” just like me and further luckily he’d just returned from Chicago with one more suitcase than he’d flown into town with.  That new suitcase packed to the gills with Three Floyds bombers.

I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never even heard of Blackheart, but an employee at the (what I understand) is amazing Binny’s, had all but shoved a bomber of this in my friend’s cart and said it was a must buy.  So glad that man did, because this beer was silly good.  Named after their parlor and with a sick label by San Fran tattoo artists Tim Lehi and Jeff Rassier, this is one aromatically robust IPA.  English IPA for that matter which I, honestly, can’t really differentiate from our Yankee IPAs.  This is probably the most flawlessly balanced IPA I’ve ever had.  The perfect amount of pine, grapefuit, hops, and malt.  It’s not a “bomb” of any sort, just dangerously easy drinking deliciousness.  I almost wept when the split bomber was finished.  We were slurping it back like Gatorade after five sets of tennis.

Why is this beer not more “famous”?  I honestly think its better than Three Floyds’ much more regarded Dreadnaught. Hell, I think this is one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had.  Exquisite and not to be missed.  Stock up.

A+

Three Floyds Broodoo

5.5% ABV from a bomber

Next we went with Three Floyds’ “harvest ale” Broodoo which is actually just a typically hoppy IPA.  Solid, no question, but it quite frankly pales in comparison to the Blackheart.  It almost felt unfair to drink anything after the glory of Blackheart but Broodoo had to be the sacrificial lamb.  Though I did like this beer, I could see myself enjoying it scads more if it were my first or only beer of the night.  A tasty biting and spicy hops bitterness that tickles your tongue, this beer still remains remarkably drinkable (seems to be a theme with 3F stuff and I’m not complaining!)  Then again, at a mere 5.5%, this one felt a ton more boozy than the Blackheart.  A little too over-carbonated as well.  But these are minor quibbles and this is a nice, expertly-crafted brew.

B+

Popskull

10% ABV from a bomber

My final brew from my impromptu Three Floyds Weekend troika was actually a collaboration beer with Dogfish Head.  Doesn’t your dick get hard just hearing those words?  Two of my favorite brewers, two of America’s finest brewers.  I’m such a sucker for collaboration beers even though these gimmicky brews are usually nothing special, and in fact, with rare exception–off the top of my head I’m thinking of Collaboration Not Litigation and Stone’s collabs with Mikeller, Nogne O, et al–most are just mediocre.  And, I hate to admit it, but such is the case (somewhat) here as this “Threeheaded Floyddog Production” is nothing special.  It’s a flavorful but not really mindblowing brown.  With less hype and fanfare, I’d call this a very solid example of an (imperial?) brown ale.  It’s very drinkable, has a nice little sweetness, tastes of roasted and sweet malts, a hint of vanilla.  It didn’t really taste that complex to me despite the wood aging.  Which, speaking of, makes me just realize that I would much prefer to simply have Dogfish Head’s own Palo Santa Marron, a truly exceptional brown ale.  Seems that in the beer collaboration world, too many cooks spoil the broth.  Eh, but I’ll keep on buying them nevertheless.  A sucker may not be born every minute, but I’m unable to control myself when it comes to over-priced, over-hyped collaborations.  (Now when are Miller and Coors going to team up for their special collaboration beer????  AMERICA IS WAITING!)

(And, yet another hat tip to The Captain for grabbing me one of these bottles on Dark Lord Day.)

B+

So what did I learn over the weekend?:

1.  “Snobbiness” is very sexy.

2.  Adults that still ooh and ahh fireworks are fucking morons.

3.  And Three Floyds is clearly one of the best brewers in America.

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

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

18% ABV bottled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A-

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

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

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

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

March 5th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Brown Ale

12% ABV bottled

I turn out bartenders like Iceberg Slim turned out hos.

And that’s a good thing because the price of a pint is a handsome penny in Manhattan and your resident Vice Blogger is thrifty with the nickel.

It was only recently that I started noticing how whenever I go out drinking I am awarded countless free rounds if not flat out comped most of my beer and liquor.  So I started analyzing why this is.  I figured that perhaps every drinker gets treated as I do.  In New York it’s a pretty standard unwritten rule that fourth round’s on the house.*  But I had been doing even better than that.

I thought maybe it flukily had to do with the fact that I eschew paper money and solely use cards.  What with a busy watering hole the bartender could easily forget to add a round or two to my tab, maybe even accidentally add my adult beverages to a card belonging to some other poor schnook with a Jewy sounding last name.  Again, though, I don’t think that was it.

Likewise, it’s not to score a huge tip from me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fine tipper, a highly competent tipper even, especially when I’m wasted, but I’m not throwing my bills around like Shaq nor making it rain like Adam Jones.

Nor am I getting any sort of “regular” treatment.  I’m known by name and face at a good half-dozen bars in the city by at least a baker’s dozen of drink slingers but I don’t patronize any place with a frequency and ubiquity that merits me getting treated like family, that merits me getting to say things like, “Throw in on my tab” in that 1940s way that means, “I won’t be paying for these drinks any fucking time soon.”

No, I’ve finally come to realize that the reason I drink with such discount at most bars is an incredibly simple one:  I’m nice, I’m cool, and, most importantly, I quickly establish a legitimate rapport with the bartenders**.

That seems like nothing, right?  Believe me, it is something and it is something huge.  Next time you go drinking, watch how most people treat the bartender.  Few are outright rude, but most all are curt.  Most barely cordial enough to throw out some pleasantries, look the bartender in the eyes.  Most simply wishing they could attract the bartender’s attention in order that they may quickly pronounce their order in an abrupt fashion.  “Stella two gee and tees Blue Moon no orange five Jameson shots.”

They treat the bartender like a means to an end.

Now, I’m not exactly one to talk.  In pretty much every other aspect of consumer life I try to deal with as few of people as possible.  I order most things off the internet in order to not have to go to stores and when I do go to stores I use self check-out if I can.  I hate having to have a human middle-man between and my product.  But until a computerized bar comes into existence–not the worst idea in the world actually–the beer and booze will always have a gatekeeper.  A human being known as the bartender.  And I seem to be one of the few people that talks to him, gets to know him, fuck, even learns his name***.  And that’s appreciated.

Also appreciated is just being a cool, interesting, funny person.  Women aren’t the only people on the planet that a man has to amuse and seduce.  What’s so wrong with entertaining another man, especially one that can reward you with free bourbon?  So while the other horndogs at the bar are slobbering over the butterface female bartender in the hot pants, drunkenly throwing out the lamest lines and the most bloated tips, I’m in the corner getting to know the bored male bartender–who usually hates his female cohort by the way–shooting the shit with him and getting free drinks in the process.

This is a lesson that could easily be applied to women.  Most guys treat women like they treat bartenders.  Again, as a means to an end.  This time the end being sex.  In the same way they over-tip bartenders to try and finagle free drinks they over-spend on women to try and inveigle their way to the bedroom.  Instead of bringing something, anything, to the table–a funny anecdote, a witty observation, a bon mot!–they just sit still like a boring slug, hoping the woman will like them, expecting the woman to like them for simply being in her presence, in the exact same way they expect the bartender to slobber over them simply because they have a few twenties in their pocket and want a macro pint.  World doesn’t work that way, fellas.  Start trying to give as much as you take.  What’d Paul McCartney say in “The End”?  “The love you take is equal to the love you make?”  There’s some parallel there, but I’m too drunk on Dogfish Head’s delightful Palo Santo Marron to figure it out.

Brown ale is not usually a style that you think can reach heights of greatness.  There’s plenty of decent ones–Newcastle, Brooklyn Brown, even DFH’s Indian Brown–but they’re all kinda ordinary.  Tasty enough, sure, but lacking in complexity, bite, flavor.  That why when a brilliant brown like Surly Bender or especially Palo Santo Marron comes around your mind is blown so hard.  Is it any wonder that, as per usual, it’s Dogfish Head destroying these beer barriers?  I never knew a brown could be so good and quite frankly I would have guessed this was a very complex stout if I didn’t know beforehand.  Roasted and malty with very pronounced wooden tastes from the Palo Santo tanks the brew is aged in.  A great vanilla and caramel sweetness gives the brown a bourbon stout like boozy taste which reminded me greatly of Goose Island’s brilliant Bourbon County Stout.  This a beauty of a beer and I highly recommend you pick it up.  Another job well done, Dogfish Head.  Bravo.

A

*In authentic (as opposed to “authentic”) Irish pubs it’s often third round gets you a knock on the bar.

**When I’m not getting 86ed from piece of shit establishments.

***Female bartenders are a whole ‘nother story.  99% of my bartending friends are male and 99.9% of bartenders that give me free drinks are male.  Not to sexually stereotype, but it seems like female bartenders are both more “by the book”–as in against tossing around free drinks–and money-grubbing.  I may cover this topic someday but most female bartenders, even the ones that are my friends, are closer in mentality to strippers than to other service industry pros.

Dogfish Head Immort Ale

January 23rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Strong Ale

11% ABV

I hate bar crawls.  So lame.  I know that’s going against conventional drunkard wisdom but I just don’t like them.  A bunch of fat guys and ugly girls that never drink decide to make some t-shirts on Zazzle or at Kinko’s, mob together around a nebulous idea or celebration, say “Woohoo!” a lot, and pretend they are having a caaaaaaaaaaaa-razy time on a Sunday afternoon while the rest of us are just trying to have our steak and eggs and watch some college hoops.  Then, by the third or fourth bar, one guy is passed out in the corner, some chick has pissed her pants, and two friends are making out in a booth.  Boring.  That’s why I invented something truly interesting:

The 86ed Bar Crawl

Here’s how it works:  One may not head to the next bar until they have been ejected from the previous bar.

Sounds simple?  It’s not.  Especially when I list a few things you are NOT allowed to do.

1.  Use curse words or epithets — That’s too easy.  Any one can just throw out a few n-words or f-bombs or…cunts, and get tossed.  So have some creativity.  Say things that sound like curse words.  Like niggardly.  Dumb people think that’s an offensive word when it just means stingy or miserly.  Tell the black barkeep, “Jeez, pal, quit being so niggardly with your bourbon pours.  You only gave me like two fingers worth!”  You’ll be on your ass on the curbside in no time.

2.  Intentionally throw something or break something — As some one who likes to do these things when I am lit up, I will tell you that they often quickly lead to ejections.  For some reason, when I’m wasted I find it hysterical to “make it rain” using bar napkins or tiny red straws, grabbing an entire stack and throwing them in the air.  Yes, this is why no one likes me, especially service industry professionals.  You can however, legally, accidentally, drop your pint glass a time or two, but I will note that that action will actually not lead to many tossings and just causes a mess which will make you feel bad when you see the lonely bar back getting the mop out.

3.  Physically altercate someone — Everyone knows the easiest way to get thrown out of any establishment — bars, sporting venues, Synagogue — is by coming to blows with another human or employee or the Rabbi, so that is why fighting is simply not allowed.

4.  Actively try to goad someone into physically altercating you — This is a debatable issue but I don’t think it’s fair to get in some one’s face — especially a musclebound Red Bulled-up meathead — and encourage them to slug you.  Hitting on their girl, making fun of their sleeveless T and orangey fake tan, and slyly lampooning their drink choice (”Huh, you usually don’t see men order Sex on the Beach shots.”) is perfectly acceptable though.

5.  Tip poorly – Just not fair to the bartender or waiter.  Tipping with change or weird coinage (a buffalo penny?) is probably not verboten but it is pretty uncouth.  Then again, most all is fair in love, war, and the 86ed bar crawl.

So there you have it, your guidelines for the 86ed Bar Crawl.  Now venture out there, impressionable youngsters, and have some fun with it.  How many bars do you think you can get 86ed from in a night?  As for me, I do an ad hoc 86ed bar crawl nearly every time I go out drinking.  I think my one-night “record” is four establishments.  I really need to grow up.

How would you get ejected from each venue during an 86ed bar crawl?

Immort Ale

I would never claim to have tried every Dogfish Head beer, they make so goddamn many I could literally have a Vice Blog devoted solely to that brewery, but I thought I had at least heard of all their offerings.  Apparently not so as I was a bit excited to spy this on the shelves.  Arguably my favorite brewery, I never miss a chance to try another of their inventive offerings.  This was quite good, though not transcendent by any means.  It’s a very nice strong ale accented with juniper berries, vanilla, and maple syrup which gives it just a hint of sweetness that makes it feel almost like a strong ale/barley wine hybrid.  DFH claims it is oak barrel aged but I didn’t detect those tastes.  Very good.

A-

“On your deathbed, it’s your virtues, not your vices, that you’ll resent.”

(Author unknown.  I was cleaning up some papers just this morning and found this written in one of my notebooks.  But who said it?  Me?!)

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

December 19th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 8 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

10% ABV bottled

This may or may not become a weekly, monthly, yearly, or whenever-I-feel-like-flaggelating-myself series.

MY WORST HOOK-UPS OF ALL TIME, Presented in Random Order

#2. Jersey City Heights Lows

Oh I used to be so innocent, so fresh-faced, so idealistic, and optimistic. My early twenties. Going out still meant something. It was still exciting to me. I ritualized it to extreme levels. Now? I’ll go out on a moment’s notice. Throw on some filthy jeans with a hole in them, a dirty t-shirt, old sneakers caked in mud. I don’t care. I may not even brush my teeth. But back then, no way. Joe DiMaggio, when asked why he played so hard, famously remarked: “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time. I owe him my best.” Well back then, I thought if I didn’t try my best and look my best, ain’t no way I could possibly meet a girl that was seeing me for the first time. Of course, now I realize that’s terrible thinking.

I lived in Hoboken.  My roommate back then was Freddie, a clean-cut kid one year my junior who just looked well-scrubbed, the All-American boy. His hair was flawless, as if it was actually part of his head like a Ken doll, never a strand out of place yet it seemed as if he never needed a hair cut nor used any gels, mousses, or sprays. The hair simply was. Freddie made Richie Cunningham look like Marilyn Manson. He wasn’t necessarily good-looking, but he always looked good.

We’d start prebarring after dinner, always splitting a six-pack, usually of Yuengling. We were so concerned with our later-in-the-night dealings with women that we refused to allow ourselves any more than three beers while at home. We thought that to be the appropriate number of brews to have in one’s system before entering a bar, the correct amount of beer needed to correctly seduce a girl. Cause, man, if you had a fourth beer–a fourth beer?!–before you left the house, fuck, who knows how sloppy and insane you’d be once you got to the watering hole. You’d totally be too sloshed to have any sort of wit or repartee need to slay and lay a lady.

We’d pop beer #1 and begin shining our shoes. Yes, back then we actually wore shoes to the bar that necessitated shining. We actually had instruments. Smallish shine boxes. And every single time we went out we wanted the toes of our shoes to look like fucking mirrors courtesy of Spit Shine Tommy. On the day in question of this story I had just gotten a new pair of Kenneth Cole shoes I was quite proud of. $175 dress kicks that were on sale for only $80.

Beer #2 and one of us would head for the showers, taking our beer in with us, resting it on the sink ledge as we hosed off, reaching outside the plastic curtain for a tug every so often. The other man would watch TV. Then, the reverse would occur. Freshly showered, we’d pop #3 to imbibe as we got dressed. Always in a “nice” button down shirt with brand new collar stays added. In warm weather we’d ever-so-slightly roll our sleeves up in that way on-the-road politicians do to try and look like a “Man of the People” when they’re at an auto parts plants or meeting with a sports team. We all know, though, that if they were real Men of the People, they’d probably be wearing a Jimmie Johnson t-shirt and some Crocs. Likewise, if we had actually been cool back then we wouldn’t have dressed like such fucking tools. But I digress.

We’d finish beer #3, brush and gargle, ogle each other up and down to make sure we be lookin’ good, and head out. To the bar across the street from our apartment. Full of drunks and scumbags in Giants jerseys despite the fact it wasn’t a game day. Despite our naivety, despite our foolishness, we always did quite well with women back then. Freddie more so than me. A fact that always vexed me.

I thought to myself, neither of us is great looking, but we’re both decent looking. And I’m much more the talker than him. Much more the female strategist.  He was fine in talking with the boys, but somewhat shy and bumbling around ladies. I’d do the approaches for us, get us set up with women, and he’d kinda just coast on my coattails. Or so I thought. But the most attractive women always latched onto him, not me. I was perpetually confused.

On this occasion, an absolute knockout 10-out-of-10 with 400 ccs of sexiness proudly displayed on her chest just came over and literally dragged him away from me and our conversation, not a word even said.

After I regained my composure, found my bearings, I realized I’d had enough.  I had to know.  And when Freddie went to the little boys room, I approached the knockout, Katie.

“Let me ask you. Beautiful women like yourself always approach my friend Freddie…”

Histrionic pause.

“Why?!!”

As Freddie returned from the bathroom she studied him as if he was a model on the catwalk.  She deviously smiled at me.

“He’s just so innocent looking. We all want to defile him.”

If they only knew. He may have been innocent looking but he was just as depraved as me and every other guy our age.

Soon, with little effort on Freddie’s part, Katie was all over him and he was all quid pro quo back at her.  In the brief seconds in which the three of us actually conversed, we learned that Katie had just sold her company and was seemingly now quite loaded, despite being just 28. An age that actually seemed ancient and “MILFy” to us.  I was getting whiplash shaking my head in amazement at the beauty of Freddie’s life.

That was it, I was tired of my jealousy, I had to compete with the Joneses. Luckily, Katie had a friend. Not a knockout, but pretty damn cute. I would take her down.  Back then, I needed to hook up with women to feel good about myself.  I don’t believe that’s true any more but I could be wrong.

Of course, I quickly floundered, and the Silver Medalist rebuffed me with no prejudice, soon leaving to speak with a much taller, muscular, and stupider man.  Thus, I was left talking to Katie’s second friend who I, who Freddie, and even who Katie, had been ignoring the whole night, and who the world had probably been ignoring for her lifetime.  Katrina, a friend visiting from out of town.

Coco Chanel had a famous saying, “There are no ugly women, just lazy ones.”

I used to subscribe to that theory. Any women with a bit of a workout regime, a bit of pride, and a bar of soap in her house, should at least be passable. In fact, I’d always felt that so long as a women is within ten pounds of her BMI she could rate no worse than a 5 out of 10 on my scale.

Good lord was I wrong. This girl didn’t have an ounce of fat on her 5′5″ frame and she was the ugliest non-retarded, non-violently scarred human being I had ever encountered.  I don’t even wish to describe her.  Think of the ugliest female you have ever seen, now put her eyes, nose, and mouth in different places, make her hair even more like a bird’s nest, and her body even more like a Kenyan marathon runner.

And now I was forced to talk to her exclusively as Freddie and Katie had begun gloriously making out and pawing at each other in the corner. I’ll say one thing, Katrina may have been ugly, but at least she had a great personality. Ha. No she didn’t. Her personality was worse than her alopecia.  Worse than the hairy mole on her neck.

It’s commonly thought that less attractive people have better personalities than attractive ones. That’s not exactly true. I get why people think that. They believe that the Brads and Angelinas of the world have no need to develop a good personality since they can coast by on their looks in all facets of their life since day one. Meanwhile, a, say, Tina Fey would have to develop a great personality early on if she ever wanted to succeed at things. True. But at a certain point, an ugly person is so heinous that they don’t have a chance at constructing a good personality because no one wants to be around them. You can’t develop a good personality sitting in your room alone talking to your dolls.

I wanted to go home but Freddie forced me to stay.  Finally, last call came and I was free to go.  Wrong.  Once outside the bar, knowing his situation was potentially precarious–as all hook-ups are–Freddie became like Dr. Octopus, somehow using one arm to flag down a cab, another arm to prevent Katie from leaving without him, and yet another to stop me.

I was all but sprinting home and Freddie got right in my face.  “Katie won’t let me come over unless you come too.  She doesn’t want Katrina to have to be alone on her couch.”  He stared at me with a “Come on motherfucker, help a brother out” look.  I glared over Freddie’s shoulder at Katrina who was picking her nose.  “I’ll owe you.”  “You’re goddamn right you will.”

I have no problem “sitting on a grenade” so that a friend can hook up with an attractive pal.  It’s certainly been done for me, though I never expect it.  But Katrina wasn’t just a grenade, she was a fucking landmine.  We cabbed out of Hoboken, climbing up to Jersey City Heights and arriving at a stunning three-floor town house which Katie had just bought.  A panoramic view of Manhattan from her living room, it was one of the nicer apartments I had ever been in.

Once inside, Katie got through the formalities as fast as possible, not even speaking commas–”There’s the couch there’s the TV remote beer’s in the fridge liquor’s in the cabinet pillows sheets towels in the closet good night”–before ushering Freddie up to her bedroom on the third floor where they loudly began humping, rocking the entire house.

I stared at Katrina.  Shivers went up my spine.  I went to the kitchen and poured myself several fingers of Katie’s expensive Port.  Threw it down my throat with authority.

After all I’ve told you, what I reveal next won’t make much sense but you must remember that back at this point in my life I did not cut my losses.  And if I took the wrong fork in the road I never turned back, I always forced my way on.  I returned to the living room to find Katrina watching “The Parent Trap” on the Disney Channel.  I sat next to her on the sofa.  She didn’t react.  I moved in to kiss this cold, ugly fish.  She immediately responded and began tonguing me down with a ridiculous force, she surely hadn’t kissed a man in ages, perhaps in her life.  The inside of her mouth tasted like a mix of Certs, burnt coffee, and cigarettes.  Yet I hadn’t noticed her smoking once that evening.  It was like making out with the high school janitor.

I retracted my head as far away from her face as possibly as I began to disrobe her.  She must have been drunk or simply didn’t care because when I unclasped her bra, tissues fell out.  She was stuffing like some 12-year-old.  And I soon saw why.  A chest so flat it was concave, topped off by areola as big as hockey pucks.

Yet I surged on.  A “treasure” trail creeping all the way past her outie belly button should have tipped me off, but I was still such a fool.  I’m sure some man has found the end of the rainbow only to see not a bucket of gold but a pile of shit.  I am that man.  Plunging my middle and index finger into something so coarse, so prickly, it was like trying to finger one of those “pin art” things executives had on their desks in the 1980s.  And her legs were so wooly I was getting cuts on my shins.

I had had enough.  But even in this I didn’t get to control my own destiny as she spoke up first.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t have sex on the first date.”

HA!  Who knew this was a date?!

I rolled off the couch like I was a suicidal lemming plunging off a cliff, turned my back on her, and went to sleep fully clothed on the hardwood floor, using my new shoes as a pillow.

A couple of hours later at 6 AM the sun starts coming in through those same glorious panoramic windows, scalding me as I sleep on her floor. I have to get the fuck out of there. I stand, put my shoes on and go outside.

My cell phone is dead, I can’t call a cab, I don’t know how the bus system works, I don’t know where to get a bus even, so I have to walk. The three or so miles from Jersey City Heights back to Hoboken. It’s hot out and my feet must be swelling because my new and unbroken-in shoes are so damn tight, barely even bending with each step. I’m in intense pain.

At noon, I’m laying on the couch, hating life, icing down my bloodied and bruised feet, when I see a candy apple red Porsche pull in front of our apartment. Then, Freddie walks in, grinning ear-to-ear like he’d lost his virginity all over again. I could have killed him.

“Why’d you leave so early? You should have stuck around. Katie made Belgian waffles.  Fresh fruit, whipped cream, they were amazing!”

I could have murdered him.

“Oh, and those fake tits!  WOW!  Best I’ve ever seen.”

I could have defenestrated him.

“You should have seen her bed. California King, pillow top, sexy canopy. Unbelievably comfortable.  She even had a skylight above her bed.  Ha!”

I could have bludgeoned him.

“What’d you do?  Walk?!  It’s like four miles!  Katie would have given you a ride home in her new Porsche.”

I could have pulverized him.

“Oh, hey, you took my shoes by accident, we have the same pair. $80 on sale, right? Of course, you have a size 12 and I got a 9.  Ha, good thing I didn’t have to walk home in these big boats.”

I could have killed, murdered, defenestrated, bludgeoned, and pulverized myself.

BURTON BATON

I’d been anxious to try this beer for quite awhile now, especially since my friend Dave considers it maybe his favorite brew on the planet.  This is a blend of oak-aged English strong ale and DFH’s 90 Minute I.P.A., one of the most perfect beers around, one I will certainly give an A+ to whenever I get around to officially reviewing it.  Citrus notes from Northwestern hops meld with vanilla notes from the oak.  Very creamy but I felt that the boozy agressiveness of this one muted any hops.  This tastes far more like a strong ale than an IPA.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Quite frankly, while this beer was great, it wasn’t as unique as I expected it to be and wasn’t completely a tour de force.  I prefer the 90 Minute.  Burton Baton is still damn good though.

A