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Founders Nemesis 2009

March 3rd, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Grade: B plus, Style: Porter, Style: Stout, Style: Wheatwine

12% ABV bottled

You know, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I used to think that Founders Brewing Co. was, gasp…overrated.  The first two Founders brews I ever got my grubby little mitts on, oddly enough, happened to be their two most famous brews, Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast Stout, long-time Beer Advocate top 20 beers in the world*.  I was psyched to acquire these rare-to-me grown up sodas, so eager to suck ‘em down in all their glory, that when I tried them and didn’t spontaneously combust into knickers, I thought, “Ah, I see, another overrated brewery.”  Don’t get me wrong, I gave both those beers A’s at the time, I simply wasn’t OMFG floored.

So, whereas I tried my first two Founders beers with overly lofty expectations, I’ve tried my last dozen or more Founders efforts expecting nothing special.  But, damn, if those Grands Rapids boys haven’t won me over, and then some.  It started with their wet-hopped Harvest Ale, one of the most eye-opening drinking experience I’ve had in the last 365 days and a beer I’d put near #1 in the uber-hopped beer category.  I already can’t wait for the next release of it.

Every since that Harvest Ale, damn if every Founders beers hasn’t tasted absolutely glorious to me.  From their double and “triple” IPAs, Double Trouble (mind-blowing fresh on tap) and Devil Dancer, to their old ale Curmudgeon**, to countless more of some of the most disparate styles around.  They don’t knock everything out of the park–who does?–but they surely have a better slugging percentage than even a juiced-up Barry Bonds.

I’ve probably tried more different and new-to-me beer from Founders recently than from any other brewery and, now, my expectation levels are appropriate.  I now expect a good to great beer and I always get a good to great beer.  And since they seem to have a never-ending stream of releases, there’s always another Founders beer to try that I haven’t yet.  The only problem being that they don’t distribute in NYC at the moment.  Good thing I got good friends in Virginia, Minnesota, and other places who can hook me up.

My most exciting Founders acquisition of recent was their limited Nemesis release, the first in a new series.  I’d never had a wheatwine before, but as a barleywine nut, I was certain to like this effort.  And I did.  Probably not the most “normal” example of the style, Nemesis 2009 is maple bourbon barrel-aged using bourbon barrels which were once used to age local maple syrup.  The beer poured lighter for me than expected, much lighter than a copper barley wine, more the color of a golden ale of some sort.  The smell is straight boozy, just like I like it, with the flavor a combination of boozy bourbon, vanilla, oak, sweet syrup, and of course wheat.  Surprisingly more drinkable and less syrupy than I expected, this is a truly interesting creation.  I only wish I had another bottle!


Founders Imperial Stout

10.5% ABV bottled

It’s heartening to try a delicious imperial stout that can actually be bought on store shelves!  That isn’t a limited release!  And more things to add exclamation points to!!!  This effort from Founders stacks up with the best of the style, limited release or not.  Amazingly complex and rich, with a mild roasted bitterness and a nice chocolaty booziness on the back end.  This beer is just so silky, I loved to let it dance on my tongue and gargle in the back of my throat.  Arguably the best on-the-shelves, non-barreled stout in the market today.  Though, unfortunately, not my market.  Come on, let’s get Founders in NYC!


Founders Porter

6.5% ABV bottled

As I’ve mentioned a lot recently, the porter has become one of my favorite styles, even though I’m still not quite sure what differentiates them from stouts.  Kinda like how I can’t tell a real blond from a bottle blond.  I don’t ask and just enjoy them both.  This is a great effort with another great label–besides making great brews, Founders is in the running for best labels in the biz too and I love their squat little bottles for even more plaudits!  Rich and tingly, a strong-roasted flavor with next-to-no sweetness, smokey and earthy.  Full-bodied yet drinkable, quite enjoyable.  This is a no-frills beer, but there’s nothing wrong with that sometimes.


Now that I’ve fallen in love with Founders, now that it’s become one of my favorite brewers in America, in my mind one of the best in America, I’ve even gone back and tried those two famous beers, Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast Stout, with my now acceptable level of Founders expectations, and realized those two are truly glorious beers, some of the best of their styles.

In a world of such scrutiny nowadays, things aren’t overrated or underrated.  They are, for the most part, rated correctly.  It’s you, or me, that simply hasn’t encountered enough of the sample size to know that.  I know that now.  All hail Founders.

*Son of a bitch, why can I still not get a taste of Canadian Breakfast Stout?!?!?!?

**Or another old ale, Black Biscuit, for that matter?!?

Bell’s The Oracle

October 22nd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Bell's, Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A-/B+, Style: IPA, Style: Pale Ale

?% ABV bottled

The 3XL Underwear Date

I never am late but I was running late for this latest first date, if I can evoke the white rabbit a bit.  This was back in the early-2000s when preparation for a big weekend date involved polishing off a six-pack of Yuengling while watching the tail end of the afternoon’s college football games, opening my eyes and regaining some energy by drinking a can of Sparks while I showered, and finishing it off with a nice cocktail as I got dressed.  Not exactly a recipe for running on a tight schedule nor for impressing these women I was supposedly wooing.  Then again, they were often more drunk than me.

On this particularly night, out of the shower, I quickly prepared myself a gin and tonic to enjoy as I garbed myself.  I reached for one of the fresh unopened packs of boxer briefs I had just purchased.  Ripped the pack open, grabbed a pair, and quickly pulled them up and…they fell back down to my feet. They were fucking huge.  I glanced at the label.  3XL.  Shit.  I grabbed another pack.  3XL.  And the third and final pack.  3XL.  Fuck!

Earlier in the day I had been downtown near price-choppin’ clusterfuck par excellence Century 21 when I had fortuitously recalled that all my underwear were dirty and I had a date that very night.  I could, of course, just have hurried home and done laundry, but eh.  I rushed into the mess of a department store, plowed over some slovenly Slavic tourists like Adrian Peterson hitting the hole, and grabbed a stack of $5 three-packs of Hanes unmentionables.  (Undergarments are the most egregiously priced of all clothing and thus, as a miserly Jew, I always make sure to buy them at Century 21 where they sell for like 75% discount.)

Alas, in my haste, I had stupidly forgotten to check the size of the boxer-briefs, partially assuming I suppose that one size fits most, but, what with Century 21 being a tourist mecca, of course the default sizes were for the typically girthy Nebraskan or South Dakotan rather than being an M or L like most New York stores would stock.  I should have known better.  But there was no time to damn my luck at the moment, I had to come up with a plan for my date.

Going commando was out of the question.  It was a sweltering 98 degrees out and going sans-knickers in the city of the Knickerbockers would be a surefire recipe for having a most swamp-like crotch before I’d even arrived at the bar.  There was my old standby of teeny tiny soccer shorts as a proxy for undies, but that had gotten me into major trouble the last time I’d done such a thing and I didn’t want that evening’s date shrouded with such an anti-talisman.  Perhaps a “cleaner” pair of dirty underwear?  No, that was too disgusting even for me.  Alas, I had no choice but to wear the 3XLs.

I don’t exactly wear drainpipe jeans now and I certainly didn’t back then, but I’ve always favored a slim fit as I hate the jostling from non-sleek clothing.  Suffice to say, it was near impossible to pull my denims up over this brand-new blousey girdle.  It entailed a lot of constant tucking and shimmying and smoothing before I was finally able to get my jeans up.  And even then, the waistband of the offensive boxer-briefs was exploding from my dungarees, like a mushroom cloud, forcing me to fold them over my belt line and into wearing a thick, longish shirt so as to hide the craziness.  If I ever forgot and accidentally did a big yawning stretch, revealing my littleclothes, my date would surely think me Mormon.

I go to some upscale-for-a-dopey-24-year-old bar and I meet up with Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha? but I’m unable to focus.  Unable to be my funny, charming, roguish self since I’m so concerned about my 3XL underwear, so uncomfortable with the saggy cloth surrounding my loins.  I’m can barely think of anything else, I can barely pay attention to my date, I’m writing my own prophesy as I almost don’t want my date to be a success for if it is a success of course we will go back to her place and start getting all inflagrante delicto and next thing I know she’ll be laughing at me and mocking me for my apparent sick fetish of wearing gigantic Pampers.

So I decide to drink heavily, which kinda eliminates my anxiety but which also makes me need to keep pissing which is another conundrum all to itself for once in the restroom I fear that if I pull too much of my pants and 3XLers too far down, then I’ll never able to get everything back in place again.  Meaning, I had to employ the most dreaded of all devices, the underwear piss hole.  I’m still have post-traumatic stress over that.

Amazingly, after countless cocktails I’m loosening up and Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha? is becoming charmed by my slightly fidgety neurotic besotted behavior, and maybe she’s a little drunk too, or wanting to use me as a slumpbuster, so she invites me back to her pad.  And, despite my fears from before, I accept.

I had drunk so heavily at dinner that I thought I’d be unable to get my lumber out of the bat rack but, amazingly, once Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha? started kissing me, all the biological things that are supposed to happen started happening.

I’m usually aggressive in bed but here, in this situation, I was being quite slow and tender, caressing and fondling Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha? with her clothes completely on because, despite my stoned state, I know once I take her clothes off, she will take my clothes off and see my most unfortunate parachute of granny’s panties.  This incredibly slow progression toward love-making thus makes me appear to be a man interested in an incredible amount of foreplay, which makes Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha? like me all the more as most men her age–including me when I was wearing boxer-briefs that fit–were probably a little too wham bam, thank you madame.

Eventually, Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha? reached a fever pitch of foreplay ecstasy and there was only one final frontier left to explore.  She excused herself to the bathroom to do whatever it is girls do when they excuse themselves to the bathroom right before coitus.

(My top three guesses:

1.  Last second depilatory work
2.  Vigorous gargling
3.  Quick Google search of my credentials)

This was finally my chance and I sprung to action!  I quickly pulled down my jeans and whipped of my dreaded 3XL panties which had somehow become stretched out to 4XL or perhaps even 5XL underoos in the last five hours as these babies were expanding faster than the universe.  I took the Hanes and tossed them under Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha?’s bed and then quickly pulled back on my jeans.

Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha? returned from the bathroom seconds later, placing some condoms on her nightstand.  She then attacked me, taking my fate in her own hands.  Although now I was at ease.  She pulled back down my Lucky’s and a pleased look came across her face.

“Commando…?  Mmmmm…sexy!”

Sexy is right.  I was finally free from my prison of skivvies and eager to celebrate my midsection’s liberation.  I pulled a perfect Cael Sanderson reverse and threw her to the mat, positioning myself on top of her.  She may have seemed a bit confused by my sudden personality change, but she was greatly enjoying it.

So was I.  I had done it!  I had triumphed over these Herculean jockeys determined to defeat me!

I reached for the nightstand and a prophylactic.  Expertly opened the package and put its contents on my manhood.

But something felt off.  Way off.

I looked down to see the condom hanging on my dick like a latex poncho.  Sagging and droopy, unweildy and unusable.  What the hell?

I grab the discarded packet off the floor.

Durex XXL.

Stacy or was it Laura or possibly Alisha? noticed the look of fret on my face, the tears now welling up in my eyes.

“Oh sorry,” she said, “I stole those from my roomie.  You should see her boyfriend.”

The Oracle

This limited, Michigan-only release from the legendary local brewers, was procurred for me by my good buddy the Drunken Polack.  With a meteoric rise onto the BA Top 100 putting it alongside Bell’s two other IPAs, Two-Hearted and the legendary Hopslam, I was certain The Oracle would be epic.  But all I can report is…eh.  I was great underwhelmed I’m sorry to say.  And you know that has to be the truth because I am nothing if not a grade inflater!  I found Oracle to have the nose of a malty barleywine, yet, oddly enough, one of the more dry and bitter tastes of any DIPA around.  But not in a good way.  I would hail Smuttynose’s “Finest Kind” to be the uber-bitter IPA The Oracle should aspire to be, but it’s simply just not quite as good.  A bit of a lacking-in-flavor grapefruit mess.  Oh well…at least you folks that will struggle to locate this beer don’t have to be too bummed out about that fact.  If you’re like me, I almost get excited when someone reviews a highly-rare, highly-sought-after beer that I shall never taste and then semi-slams it.



Founder Harvest Ale

6.5% ABV bottled

While we’re on the subject of hoppy beers, I got to make mention of by far the most enjoyable one I’ve had in the last weeks.  Oddly enough, BA lists this as a pale ale, but you know I hate to quibble about stylistic persnicketyness.  I’d generally liked all of Founders hoppy IPA-type beers I’d had in the past, but this was the first one that absolutely floored me.  One of the most fragrant beers I’ve ever had, with quite possibly even a more fresh piney smell than Pliny the Elder.  The taste is not quite as good as the otherwordly smell, but this is still some amazing shit.  Citrus, pine, and so much juicy hoppiness.  Wet-hopped beers are all the rage at the moment, even someone woke up the NYT to write an article about the phenomenon, and I finished off the sole four-pack I had of Harvest with a quickness.  Unfortunately, I can’t get Founders in NYC, but if I could, I would be absolutely plowing through bottles of this like some frat boy participating in a power hour until this fall season’s limited run was completely drank up.  It’s that good.  Not to be missed.


Founders Curmudgeon

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

9.8% bottled

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

Are Three Martinis Three Too Many?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indecorous, ha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E-mail: ccouch@nytimes.com

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


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

Founders Double Trouble & Devil Dancer

July 27th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

Double Trouble

9.4% ABV bottled

I’ve finally gotten more access to Founders beers which is a great thing because they make some fabulous brews wrapped by some of the best labels in the business.  (Turn your computer upside down to watch the faces change on this bottle.  I’m not responsible for any injuries if you have a desktop though.)  Two weekends ago I gorged myself on Founders double and “triple” IPAs all weekend, and here are my findings.

Double Trouble is incredibly bitter in both smell and taste but remains very drinkable and very delicious for a double IPA.  Citric, zesty, and hoppy, with just a tad of tasteable maltiness, certainly less than most higher ABV DIPAs like Unearthly or 90 Minute.  Fairly carbonated with a nice mouthfeel, this is a really enjoyable beer that goes down quite easily.  Didn’t floor me but incredibly well-crafted and I’d love to add it to my rotation.


Devil Dancer

12% ABV bottled

The triple IPA is a somewhat phony style designation, but, then again, most style designations border on arbitrary so if Founders whats to have a triple IPA, then they shall!  Nicely amped up and ramped up from Double Trouble, Devil Dancer is also incredibly bitter on the smell but very malty on the taste as well.  If that paradox makes sense.  Hoppy and piney, thick and gooey, this beer is not super drinkable, but at that ABV what is to be expected?   A definite beast of a beer, it tastes a tad like a more quaffable 120 Minute (HA!) and is definitely worth seeking out.


Founders Dirty Bastard

April 20th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Scottish Ale

8.3% ABV bottled

My Quasi-Celebrity Girlfriend, Part II


“What are you?  Like a large?  Medium?”

“Large is fine.”

The Land O’Lakes Girl looked through a stack of clothes–men’s clothes–in her top dresser drawer.

“Here, try this.”  She tossed me a long-sleeve t-shirt promoting some coed beach volleyball tournament sponsored by a University of Buffalo fraternity several years previous.

You should always be a little concerned when a girl has plenty of men’s clothing in her house.  “What size?” is not a question you want asked, as in she has such an abundance of clothes left behind from lovers’ past that she can accommodate a medium or a large or even an XXL in a pinch like she’s running a Salvation Army or is the wardrobe girl on a film set.  She might as well just reveal what her “number” is.

Our initial one-night stand had some how become a one-day stand which had then punched a hole in the sky into the ultra-rare two-night stand.  I was the Johnny Vander Meer of bar pick-ups.*

Everyone knows the morning after a one-night stand can be fraught with regrets and excuses.  Or, at least, trite sitcoms would have us believe that they are.  I used to be like that myself, making any dumb reason possible to jet.  Then, I invented the straight-shooting, “So how you want to end this thing?  Handshake?  Hug?  Kiss on the cheek?” shtick which has begun to serve me quite well.  Both sexes wrongly always assume that they want out of the situation more than their counterpart.  This is not true at all.

However, something about the Land O’Lakes Girl and our magnetic rapport refused to let us separate.  We woke up that first morning euphoric, giggly, hooking up some more.  She offered to make me an omelet.  I don’t turn down an omelet.  We laid in bed all day watching classic movies in the dark.  There was nothing odd about it.  Uncomfortable.  Awkward.  Neither of us wanted to part.  We were having a great time, almost instantly soul mates it would seem it could be said if we were the kind of banal morons that said such silliness.  But we weren’t.

We were simply lonely.

As darkness fell and night two approached, I broached the subject of finally leaving.

“It’s late and you live on the other side of town.  You don’t want to deal with that.  Might as well just stay again.”

I laughed at her reasoning.  I did hate late night commuting across town.  She was right.  I told her we were now in two-night stand territory.  She laughed.  She didn’t know who Johnny Vander Meer was.  I was glad of that.

I told her, so long as I’m gonna stay, why don’t I grab a shower and then we can go out and grab a bite on the corner.

After my hose she lent me a previous lovers’ clothes, though, by now, she thought we should nix going out and just order in.  It was late and I was dressed like an asshole repping some frat I was never a member of, whose members had never teabagged me nor pissed on me at all during hell week.  She didn’t understand why I wanted to leave the house so badly.

“Because neither of us has been outside since like 1 AM.”

This would become a standard refrain.

For soon, I would see the first chink in this seemingly great girl’s armor.  She never left the house.  But I didn’t notice at the time.  Or, I didn’t care.  Because I really dug her.

She really never left the house.

She thought she was too famous for that shit.  Seriously.

I didn’t realize this was the reason until afterward.

She thought everyone recognized her.  Especially tourists.  Huuuuge Land O’Lakes enthusiasts.  I would learn that was why she had no interest in going to my just-off-Times-Square Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.

She never left the house.  Worked from home.  Maybe would go out once a week to get drunk alone.  Like when I met her.

I didn’t realize it til during my post-relationship analysis, but the Land O’Lakes Girl was batshit crazy.

On the second consecutive morning together, we finally parted ways for the first time.  She told me to come back later that night if I wasn’t busy.  I wasn’t.  Whatever.  I had nothing better to do at that lonely time in my life.  This time, however, I made sure to stuff a bag with with essentials:  my non-frat-promoting clothing, some craft beers, some classic movie DVDs.

I recall a story about Scorsese and Robbie Robertson from “The Band.”  This was during both men’s heavy drug usage days, we’re talking post-”The Last Waltz,” pre-”Raging Bull.”  So apparently the two move into some hovel together where they blacked-out the windows, did a ton of blow, and watched classic movies all day.  That was my life with the Land O’Lakes Girl for the next week, minus drugs, plus sleeping together, minus me making a concert film about her.**

We got drunk every night on good beer.  Plastered.  Stuff like Founders Dirty Bastard, the first “wee heavy” I’ve ever had in my life as far as I can recall.  An absolutely delicious Scotchy brew full of caramelized malts and a smokey booziness which still goes down quite easy.  We watched movie after movie after movie.  I was a better film buff than her, but she was no slouch.  We’d alternate between watching a favorite of mine, then a favorite of her’s.  Then, we’d discuss them.  We were like Siskel and Ebert, minus the bad sweater vests and turtlenecks, plus cuddling during screenings, minus sexual tension.

She liked movies about celebrities, movie stars, divas, crazy women.  “All About Eve,” “Sunset Blvd.,” “A Star is Born,” “Day of the Locust,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “The Player,” “Singin’ in the Rain,’ and Bunuel’s “That Obscure Object of Desire.”

She had wanted to be an actress once.  Right after she’d gotten out of school.  In fact, she had been “discovered” while waitressing at a Penn Station area coffee shop waiting for her thespian career to be handed to her.  At that coffee shop, a marketing director for Land O’Lakes had found her.  This was back at the turn of the millennium.

That first and only week between us passed quickly.  We’d blown through dozens of movies, done little to no work or anything productive, created an epic pyramid of beer bottle empties, used Seamless Web so much that we actually got an e-mail from customer service making sure that someone hadn’t stolen our information to order piles and piles of food delivery.

On Friday morning, the Land O’Lakes Girl sweetly and earnestly asked me if I would go on a date with her that Saturday.  I smiled.  Why of course I would.  Ha, we had been essentially living together for the past week and we still had never gone on a date.  On that first date.  We had skipped the courting stage and gone straight to the relaxed, lounging around in sweats stage.  Or, maybe we were both ashamed with each other, might as well keep our lives together private.

I asked the Land O’Lakes Girl where she wanted to go on our de facto first date, suggesting some of my favorite restaurants, bars.

No, she explained, she already had a place that she wanted to go.

(That she needed to go to is what she should have explained.)

Saturday afternoon, after a quick shower and change of clothes at my place, I returned to the Land O’Lakes Girl’s building to pick her up.  She was in a bathrobe when I arrived.  I sat on the couch watching some college football.  She took forever.

Finally, she emerged from the bathroom.

She wore a brown suede and fringed dress covered with ornamental beads, moccasins on her feet, necklaces and bracelets aplenty, her hair in two Willie Nelson-esque braided pig tails supported by a feathered headband.

Clark Kent had just gone into the phone booth and become Superman.

The Land O’Lakes Girl and I were going to a trade show where she had to work.



*Nothing but love for you if you got the reference.  A regular Bill James you are.


Kentucky Breakfast Stout

April 17th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Stout

10% ABV bottled

My Quasi-Celebrity Girlfriend, Part I

If I told you her name there would be a 0% chance you’d have heard of her.  But if I showed you her picture, there would be a near 100% chance you would recognize her.  Let’s call her the Land O’Lakes Girl.  I met the Land O’Lakes Girl–a name I won’t shorten to the unfortunate LOL, though later you may Laugh Out Loud in pity at me–in the late fall.  I had sat Shiva for exactly one month over my previous failed relationship and I got back into the swing of things with a vengeance.

People always say you meet girls when you least expect it.  On line at the grocery store, sorting through the bargain books at Barnes and Noble, stuck in a rickety elevator.  Yeah, maybe for some people.  Maybe for rom-com movie characters.  But not for me.  I always know when I’m going to meet women.  If I need groceries or bargain books or an elevator ride, that’s all I’m focused on.  Not hitting on women.  You ever seen the kind of clown that’s always “on” around women?  It’s embarrassing.  Embarrassing for everyone involved.  She’s trying to peacefully do a crossword in the coffee shop and he’s all amped up, “So you from around here where you work where you go out are you married engaged dating single you like to drink????”

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with flirting with girls at atypical locations, in fact, that can be quite effective and advantageous.  I just don’t like to utilize it most of the time.  The bar scene has always been my playing field as it is most people’s.  The place where I can focus my energy and put it to good use.  Having said that, I’ve always been someone who likes to meet women alone.  When I’m out drinking with my friends I’m out drinking with my friends.  They are interesting, funny, and cool people so why would I want to desert them in order to go speak with a, in most cases, boring stranger?  I don’t.  It’s borderline rude even.  Every one has a friend that will throw away a guys’ night out if he even sniffs vagina.  No one likes that guy.  I’d rather goof around with my friends, get drunk, watch some sports, and maybe something happens, maybe it doesn’t.  So if I’m only in the mood to meet women, I fly solo.

I headed to a nearby neighborhood bar.  A Utopian place for me to meet women:  good beer list, convivial bartenders, perfectly dim lighting to make me look my most comely, correctly volumed music to allow for easy conversation, classy dames aplenty, and, most importantly, no television.  Of course, I typically love bars that have televisions.  I’m an information overload kinda guy and I always need to know what’s going on.  But if you’re out alone trying to find women, a televisionless place is grand because it forces you to talk to people if you want to find entertainment that night.  It’s walking a tightrope with no safety net.

I was on drink two or three, having a good conversation with the bartender about some of my latest rare beer scores between his derisive fetchings of Blue Moon for the other bar patrons.  I’d just had Founders legendary Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  A brew I’d been trying to get my grubby little paws on for years.  Top 10 on BA’s much-debated list, I expected an orgasmic experience, and, as usual, my personal over-hype marred my experience somewhat.  This was a great beer, no question, but it simply did not floor me as I had hoped.  A kinda thin mouthfeel and not as bourbony as expected, or hoped. Tastes of roasted coffee, vanilla, and chocolate malt.  Silky smooth with not even a tad of boozy bite.  I liked it the more I had it, but I still would have to put Bourbon County Stout and Black Ops ahead of it in the bourbon-barreled beer game.

Soon enough a fellow drinking soloist had bellied up to the bar beside me.  Blond, youthful, perhaps Scandinavian, dressed laid-back and funky, and reading a worn paper back copy of Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”  I don’t usually interrupt people in the act of reading–whether they are in the park, in a plane, on the can–but I couldn’t help myself.  Here was a great-looking gal reading one of my all-time favorites.

I leaned in:  “Thou mayest.

I took the nerd approach, quoting the most famous line in the novel, one of the most famous lines and concepts in American literature.  She would have to be a dope not to get my reference, while she would be my crush of the moment if she showed any sort of recognition.

She loved the reference.  In fact, she had just read that iconic section, Chapter 24, Part 2.  Steinbeck’s succinct and Midrashian explanation of man’s free will*.

She musta liked my exhibition of mine own free will because with a flourish her Garfield bookmark had been slotted into page 386 and her bar stool tilted 45 degrees toward mine.  Quickly, the rapport between us was palpable.  It was like we were best friends.  No, like we were drinking buddies.  And we were both sober.  Or, at least, soberish.

We liked all the same art:  “Fight Club” and Tom Wolfe, “Arrested Development” and “Twin Peaks,” Woody Allen, Billy Wilder, Bergman, Orson Welles, Hitchcock, and Kubrick.  Larry David and Ricky Gervais and Chris Rock.  “Lost” and “Mad Men.”  Warren Zevon and Brian Wilson and Simon but not really Garfunkel though we had to admit he was still needed.  Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Quentin Tarantino, and Paul Thomas Anderson.  Most specifically, the latter’s beautiful epic “Magnolia” which we both adored.

“I live on the corner, want to go back to my place, watch “Magnolia,” have a glass of wine?”

She said it all with the perfect level of casualness.  A level I had once delivered back in my younger days when I thought the only way to get a girl back to your place was through means of subterfuge.  Heck, maybe she did just want to watch “Magnolia.”  I accepted her offer.

“Great.  Let me go to the bathroom before we leave.”

When she was out of ear shot the bartender sprinted over to me.  He seemed both impressed but still also like he was about to offer a warning.

“Do you know who you’re talking to?!”


“You really don’t recognize her?”

No.  What’s the deal?

“Yeah, she looks a lot different in person.”

So who the fuck is it?

He smiled wide.

“The Land O’Lakes Girl.”

I searched my mind for past encounters with “her.”  I could kinda picture the iconic yellow butter box with the bucolic landscape of a rolling green hill and the blue sea, a young Indian girl kneeling down on it, garbed in ceremonial clothes, presenting the world with her churned milk fat in a box that looked exactly like the box she was on.  Like when you see a mirror within a mirror within a mirror.  The “Droste effect” if I am to be pedantic.  Odd.

“Think about…” the bartender goaded me on.

I was thinking about it.  Her.  And why did Land O’Lakes use a Native American pitchwoman?  Were they famous for butter?  Wasn’t that more of an Amish or Quaker thing?

I couldn’t fully reconcile what the bartender had told me, it seemed feasible but not exactly true.  Wasn’t that character made up?  Hadn’t it been around for a century?  ”

“They update the ‘look’ every few years,” he noted.  “She’s the newest model.”

He was so damn sure that I accepted it.

The Land O’Lakes Girl returned from the bathroom, grabbed my arm, and we headed out, the bartender offering a conspiratorial wink to me and only me as we exited.  I didn’t like that wink.  It was a wink that said to me, “Enjoy her.  The rest of us already have.”

On the sidewalk outside, I just blurted it out.

“So the bartender told me you’re the Land O’Lakes Girl?”

She stopped and turned toward me, a grumpy exhale.

“Yeah, that’s true.”

“That’s pretty cool.”

“No it isn’t.  It’s terrible.”

For the rest of the walk she explained that though she was the face of an iconic character she had only made marginal money from the use of her likeness, certainly no royalties, had achieved a worthless and empty “fame,” and, in fact, needed a normal day job.  She felt that the Arden Hills, Minnesota-based agricultural collective had really ripped her off.  Her visage in two out of three houses in America, yet never more than three figures in her bank account.

Back in her small studio, she searched her massive DVD collection for “Magnolia” while I looked around the twenty by ten shoe box.  Once in a new apartment the first thing I always ogle are a person’s book shelves.  It’s a quick and easy way to learn a lot about that person, to snoop on them.  Zero books, books with pink covers, airport trade paperbacks, and you can tell you aren’t exactly dealing with a scholar.  Luckily, the Land O’Lakes Girl had a potent collection of notable novels aside her Dewey Decimalized selection of books on a variety of academic topics.  Hey, if we weren’t going to hook up, at the least I could “borrow” some of her tomes on my way out the door.

“I don’t feel like wine any more, wouldja go grab us some beers in the fridge?”

I did as asked, noting with glee upon opening the refrigerator that there was not even a miniscule pat of Land O’Lakes residing in the butter tray in the door.  Nope, instead a spritzer of Smart Balance substitute butter spray sat on the top shelf.  The Land O’Lakes girl was either watching her figure, had zero culinary tastes, or a deep-seated hatred for her impresariol company.  She had a solid taste in beer though as I grabbed two Victory HopDevils and headed back to her sofa just as the New Line Cinema logo spun onto her television screen.

As the Ricky Jay narrated prologue began we sat most chastely on her cheap futon, a full arm’s length away.  As Aimee Mann’s haunting cover of “One” exploded during the title sequence, the Land O’Lakes Girl had tucked her feet up under her and scooted near me.  By the John C. Reilly cop character’s voice-overed opening scene we were snuggling.  And, some fifteen minutes later, when Tom Cruise’s sleazy “Seduce and Destroy” pick-up artist Frank “T.J.” Mackey knee-slid into the fore-frame of P.T. Anderson’s camera we had begun making out.

“Respect the cock!,” shouted Frank “T.J.” Mackey.

She crawled on top of me.

“And tame the cunt!  Tame it!”

She ripped my clothes off.

“Take it on headfirst with the skills that I will teach you at work and say no! You will not control me! No! You will not take my soul! No! You will not win this game!”

I returned the favor.  Quid pro quo, yo.

“Because it’s a game, guys. You want to think it’s not, huh? You want to think it’s not? Go back to the schoolyard and you have that crush on big-titted Mary Jane.  Respect the cock!”

In flagrante delicto.

“You are embedding this thought. I am the one who’s in charge. I am the one who says yes! No! Now! Here! Because it’s universal, man. It is evolutional. It is anthropological. It is biological. It is animal.




And soon frogs were raining down.  It was incredible.  Hilarious.   A hook up set to a soundtrack of the maniacal rants of perhaps the most misogynistic character in film history.  Later, we would laugh about the dichotomy.  We did a lot of laughing together in the next week.

The only week we ever saw each other.

For the next week would bring me one of the most accelerated and bizarre relationships of my life.



*”Now, there are many millions who in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win…and I feel I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing — maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent towards the gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed — because ‘Thou mayest.’”

Founders Breakfast Stout

December 2nd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 13 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Founders, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Stout

8.3% ABV bottled

Drinking Injuries

Last night at 5 AM, after a girl threw me out of her apartment, I found myself alone, in the middle of nowhere in Queens, calmly walking down the street, wondering how the fuck I was going to get back to Manhattan when…I fell ass over teakettle on the sidewalk.  As I rolled and skidded, I woke up the only other persons on the street at the time, two sleeping transients who quickly came over to help me up.  I threw the bums a dime, and with my jeans’ knee now ripped I was no longer dressed so fine.  I was just confused.  There was nothing that tripped me, no one that had pushed me, I just had fell.  In theory that makes no sense, you say, until I tell you that I had begun drinking some ten hours earlier, starting my Sunday afternoon with a rare bottle of the legendary Founders Breakfast Stout.

Big ups to my friend BDH, a prince of a man who scored me this coveted beer, currently the #15 ranked beer in the world, on a recent business trip to Detroit.  The Vice Blog will permanently hold a special place for BDH in our corroded heart.  The stout is perfectly balanced but, oh!, so complex, so many different flavors, all put to splendid use. Aptly named as it just feels like a breakfast beer.  Coffee lovers like myself will love this one as the smell of Joe is most prominent.  Roasted flavors with hints of subtle chocolate flakes and oatmeal.  Incredibly drinkable for the ABV.  A great beer, no question, but I’m not sure that it’s one of the twenty best in the world, though it is a world-class American stout.  So glad to have tried it though, and glad to hopefully have more soon.

As I type this, I am only able to use my right hand, my left hand badly cut and gashed from last night’s tumble.  A sack of ice on my right knee where a big bruised bump protrudes.  A medium-level drinking injury, no question, but I’m still in a bit of pain.  Any one that is a steady drinker has got to have a history of tumbles and spills, trips and slips, which have led to scars, wounds, sprains, and breaks which may just last until the next day, or which may afflict one for the rest of time.

The older we get the more foolish of injuries we receive from drinking.  Heck, just Tuesday night I spent ten hours hunkered over a bar watching college hoops.  I knew at the time the bar stools were uncomfortable and the bar layout poorly conceived, forcing me to lean way too far over to drink.  I awoke Wednesday with incredible back pain, forced to scuttle around the next day like I had scoliosis, a hungover Quasimodo.

Any one that drinks has chipped a tooth on a beer bottle.  If you haven’t, you don’t drink enough or you somehow have incredible dexterity, suppleness, and hand-eye coordination while intoxicated.

Falling down stairs is another common drinking injury.  One that’s claimed me many times.  Seems 50% of Manhattan bars have their bathroom downstairs.  Tight, narrow, small stairs without handrails.  I’ve fallen, slid, and ass-bounced my way down all of them.  Why oh why, when oh when, will bars gets escalators to the loo?  It’d sure be a lot safer and save me from numerous embarrassing injuries.  My worst stair fall being when I rolled on top of my thumb and seemingly dislocated it.  I was forced to ask the bartender to bag me some ice when I returned.  Never cool to be the guy in the corner of the bar icing his digits.

I recall a Saturday I had spent all day drinking and watching sports while my sweet girlfriend painted her apartment.  I stumbled over at 10 PM to see that she’d pretty much finished everything save for the hard-to-reach ceiling/wall edging work, something her lack of height prevented her from accomplishing.  Thus, I was enlisted to finish this up.  Drunk and uninhibited, I brazenly climbed onto a rickety step stool to do the work and though my girlfriend said “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall,” you can, imagine how this story ends.  As I somersaulted off the stool backwards I remember thinking, “My God, I’m going to die.”  Nope, I just hit a cabinet and landed on my neck, some of the worst pain of my life.  I was laid prone for the next two hours, but at least I got a sensual massage out of it from my lady.

My absolute worst drinking injury though involves a wee hour piggy back ride.  Returning from a $1-a-drink special, a girl I was with implored me to give her a piggy back ride.  I’m the kind of guy that thinks even the most innocuous inter-gender touching is just a ploy for a woman to transition herself into bed with me, so I was obviously game for it.  When the girl hopped on my back though she got too high up and we became top-heavy as I walked.  We started to teeter and soon I was falling forward.  She was able to jump off my back like a passenger abandoning a sinking ship but I ate concrete with my face.  So, instead of ending the evening by hooking up, by even having a nice at-home night cap, I spent the hours of 3 AM to 4 AM sitting on the shut toilet lid as the girl Neosporined my face and bandaged me up.  I looked like absolutely hell the next day.  Like a guy who had literally washed his face with gravel.  I was exfoliated almost to the bone.  The next day also happened to be Passover and I obviously had to feign an illness to skip the family Seder up in Westchester.  For the next two weeks I told any one that asked–oh, and everyone did ask–that I had gotten into a fight on the basketball court with some hoodlums over a disputed foul call, too embarrassed to tell the real truth.  To this day I still have an ever-so-slight scar at the corner of my left eye, the only wound still remaining from a decade of drinking follies.

I suppose my drinking injuries aren’t too terrible and could certainly be worse.  But I want to know, what’s your worst all-time drinking injury?