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Flat Earth Winter Warlock

March 17th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 26 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Flat Earth, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Barley wine

9% ABV from a bomber

I’m not sure if this will be a popular sentiment, but I fucking hate St. Patrick’s Day.  More specifically, I hate the buffoonery surrounding the faux-holiday.  Most specifically, I hate the buffoonery surrounding the faux-holiday celebrations in Manhattan.

As early as daybreak, college dropouts from all over the east coast deluge Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal, and the Staten Island Ferry before slowly woohooing their way toward midtown and Fifth Avenue, clad in their dumbass green t-shirts adorned with dopey sayings (”Erin Go Braless”), ludicrous floppy hats and preposterous glittery shades bought from a street vendor or the Spencer’s Gift at their local shitty mall, and all sorts of other unnecessary accouterments from wristbands to forearmbands to headbands to neckbands.  Perhaps even a special “drinking” glove.  All green, natch.  Many a cliched tattoo will be seen residing on these gents’ and ladies’ fakely tanned anatomies.  Very few non-accented sentences will be heard spoken.

My fellow New Yorkers aren’t a happy bunch on weekday mornings, clad in uncomfortable “work” clothing, crammed into mass transit, waiting in long lines for a coffee and a bagel, and nothing is more grating than some spiky haired dolt with a minimal grasp of the English language loading up on a Diet Red Bull mixed with an illicit hotel-sized bottle of Absolut getting in their way as they try to make it to their jobs.

Sitting in their offices, no matter how high of a skyscrapered floor, the bag pipes and plastic horns and drunkener woohooing will have made work today a near impossibility.  Looking out the window and seeing the top arc of some tramp’s areolae oozing out of her tank-top (”Irish You Would Buy Me a Beer”) will not make up for such a productiveless day.  Lunch will be ordered in so as to keep further interaction with these future reality show contestants minimal.

By now many of my friends are heading home, the end to a shitty day, trekking though the vomit of morons, stepping over the prone bodies of eighteen-year-olds that have never drank more than a few Solo cups of keg beer before today, gasping at the wasted frat boy from some community college digitally stimulating the shitfaced sorority girl from some cosmetology school right out in the open on a Hell’s Kitchen stoop.  The regular and usually sedate after-work bars now filled with the few retards whose mothers didn’t give them a curfew to get back home in time for supper.  The imbeciles perhaps pressing their luck to catch a later train back to Secaucus while they make one last ditched effort to score with the Rutgers University (major undeclared) chick they first met in some alley around noon as she tried to empty her bladder into a Gatorade bottle (32 oz).  Doing shots of Jaeger and slugging cheap macro swill doused with a one-cent drop of green food coloring which causes the chemical reaction of making the pint shoot up to $9 per.  At least the city’s tavern workers are making some nice money for a Tuesday.  I pity them nonetheless.

This day has obviously been a wash for any one with gray matter between their ears and a lack of venereal disease.  That’s life though when your home city is essentially America’s theme park.

Amazingly, I’ve had several people say to me today, “I’d assume you’d like St. Patty’s Day, Aaron.”  Do you really think that little of me?  Yes, I like booze, revelry, and women of questionable morals acting questionable, but that can be found any day of the week here in the greatest city in the world.  (I’d wager those things could be found in your cities as well.)

And as much as I like those things, I hate idiocy, loud obnoxiousness, unskilled imbibing, punny t-shirts and novelty clothing, and especially scheduled fun.  I detest St. Patty’s day just like I detest the scheduled “fun” of New Year’s Eve, Fat Tuesday, Saturday nights, and bachelor parties.

Don’t get me wrong, don’t think me a grumpy old curmudgeon, for I’m not above celebrating on those days, but they are just other days to me.  Why does one need an event to get drunk, have fun, try to see women’s bare breasts?  Do you have that little control over your boring life that you can only party on those mandated days?  I know you do, and that’s what makes you an amateur, and that’s what makes those days and nights into amateur days and nights.

As for me, I wouldn’t hit 5th Avenue or enter a Manhattan bar today if you paid me.  I’d rather sit at home relaxing and drinking a nice beer by myself such as Flat Earth’s Winter Warlock English barleywine.  Dirtyspeed over at Friday Night Beer hooked me up with the semi-rare local Minnesota brew I’d been curious to try for awhile as it is my favorite beer style.  Poured much lighter than expected though the bottle does label it a “golden” barleywine which I suppose explains that.  I typically expect good barleywines to be a rich amber, a glowing ruby color, so I was a little reluctant.  Nevertheless, Winter Warlock was solid.  A nice taste of pale malts and candi sugar with quite a bit of yeastiness.  Very little hops come through though.  The major debit is the beer’s thinness and lack of bite despite the ABV.  Pretty good effort though.

Soon, this day will be over and trains, cabs, and street sweepers will eject the St. Patty’s Day nincompoops from our fair city for another 364 more days.  And the buffoons will wake up tomorrow, green face paint embedded onto their pillow, woohoo just loud enough to not rattle their hangovers, and spend the rest of the year talking about “The most sick day evah, yo,” praying they can repeat it again next year and continue to annoy us all.

You know what I really like, going out on the day after these amateur drinking holidays.  Yeah.  That’s when the real pros show up.  Sunday night,  January 2nd, Fat Wednesday, and St. Patty’s day plus one.  So see youse tomorrow.  Woohoo!


Epilogue:  This is nothing against the actual holiday, which I quite frankly don’t even know what its purpose is.  But I’m sure there is one, or was one before it got bastardized by goofy trite white people.  I’ll go read about it on Wikipedia.

Flat Earth Convention Ale

September 17th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Flat Earth, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Belgian Pale Ale

5.4% ABV from a bomber

There’s two schools of thought on how to walk the streets of New York. You can be like Barry Sanders, juking and jiving your way around slow-moving tourists, sidewalk-hosing bodega owners, and fatsos in Rascals, cutting right to left, behind newspaper bins, using bus stops and fire hydrants as your blockers as your try to quickly traverse the street. This certainly works but it is tiring and certainly not cool. No one looks at someone jitterbugging down the streets and thinks, “Now that is one sexy motherfucker.” I mean, how bad would the opening to “Saturday Night Fever” have been if famous homosexual John Travolta had implemented the Barry Sanders walk through Brooklyn? Something tells me the movie wouldn’t have been quite the cultural touchstone it became.

A second school of thought is to navigate the street like G.O.A.T. Jim Brown, picking an opening and with head down and shoulders even lower, busting through the crowds and sending any one in your path flying. This too is an effective process for Manhattan walking but results in people thinking you the high school bully who never grew up, still pacing through the halls knocking nerdy freshman out of the way. Plus, with all the crazies in the city, this method has a high potential for fisticuffs erupting.

Now I am one of the finest walkers in the entire city and I think that is because I shirk the common schools of thought and use a third school, a hybrid of the other two, hoofing it down the sidewalks ala Walter Payton. When I need to juke, I juke, but never too much. And when I need to lower my shoulder or use a oh-did-I-just-bump-you forearm to clear the way, I can do that too. And just like Sweetness, I never go out of bounds (the street).

It seems like hybrids of opposing schools of thoughts are always the best way to go. My feelings on politicians are well discussed and even if I do decide ever to vote again, I can’t imagine it being for either a Republican or a Democrat, it would have to be for someone with a bouillabaisse of values. It simply doesn’t make sense to be too far extreme in any direction in regards to…well almost anything.

Now that is not always the case with beers. I love overwhelmingly hoppy IPAs and overly alcoholic barley wines as much as the next guy, but I also like those oddball beers you can’t really pigeonhole. Such was the case with Flat Earth’s Convention Ale, a Minnesota brew specially made to celebrate the area’s hosting of the GOP Rah-Rah-a-thon. Said to have “a conservative amount of hops and a liberal amount of special malts” the brewery itself calls it a red ale, while Beer Advocate labels it a Belgian pale, Rate Beer gives it the always-ambiguous “summer” beer label, and I found it to be something completely different. But more on that in a sec.

I didn’t realize this til after I had opened the beer, but this brew has had strange problems whereas quite a few of the bottles have spontaneously exploded, sending shards of glass everywhere. In fact, the beer has actually been recalled, and with only 9 total reviews on Beer Advocate at the moment, it would seem to be an increasingly rare pop.

Luckily for your Vice Blogger, the bottle was enjoyed without a hitch. A light straw yellow almost-macro pour with a very, very bubbly head. It had a mild smell and I was begin to wonder if this simply was a fancified macro.

It wasn’t. it was very carbonated and bubbly in taste, Belgian yeast and moderate hop bitterness (38 IBUs). Quite a bit sour, almost like a weaker version of a wild ale. I realize by definite it cannot be a wild ale, but that’s exactly what it tastes of, like a poor man’s Cuvee de Castleton. A chalky finish and low ABV are its demerits.

Whatever it is, boy is Convention Ale one oddball beer. Very interesting, almost like a champagne. It took me a while to figure out if I loved it, liked it, or hated it, but I sure kept drinking it, was damn glad to try it, and utterly sad to finish my sole bottle.