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Harpoon Octoberfest

September 19th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Harpoon, Country: America, Grade: C plus, Style: Oktoberfest

5.5% ABV bottled

In my mid-twenties I was friendless.  No, that’s not as bad as it sounds.  What I mean is that I was essentially friendless in the city I lived in, New York.  Through a weird confluence of events, several of my pals moved to Hollywood for greener pastures, several moved to other East Coast cities, quite a few got engaged or married and fled for the ‘burbs, and of my two most-usual drinking buddies one got shipped to Iraq and another picked up and moved with his fiancee to middle-of-nowhere New Jersey.  In seriously like a half-year I had gone from having two dozen friends and at least a dozen regular drinking partners to having no one.  But I still wanted to drink, I still wanted to go out, I still wanted to socialize, get in trouble, have stories to tell, and meet women, so I had to go out drinking alone.

Here are my tips for drinking alone.  On a Friday night.  In a packed bar.

1.  Arrive slightly early.  Just a few minutes before the rush because you absolutely have to get a chair at the bar.  This is incredibly crucial.  I will never drink alone at a bar unless I have a chair.  Guy sitting at bar drinking alone = passably normal.  Guy leaning against a pole in the corner drinking alone = creep.  Just the way it is.

2.  Gotta go to a bar with TVs so you have something to do when you’re still sober.  Some of these faux-dive bars that would be perfect for drinking alone don’t have TVs.  You know how hard it is to find something to do while sitting alone at a bar and still sober?!  You can only study the menu for so long.  You’re forced to stare vacantly ahead, usually at your reflection in the bar’s crappy schmutz-covered mirror, at the reflection of yourself.  The guy drinking alone.

3.  You don’t have to be too friendly and start conversations.  Big mistake drinkers-alone often make.  You don’t want to act like that one guy from your freshman dorm floor who went out of his way to say hello and introduce himself to literally every single person he came across in your first week of school.  God I hated that guy and so did everyone else.  Just sit there and like Ted Williams or Barry Bonds, wait for your pitch.  It will come.  The bartender will remark on something and you can respond.  You better be interesting, funny, smart, and certainly not needy, but it should be easy to quickly befriend the bartender.  Other bar patrons will follow suit.

4.  Nor do you need to lie about why you’re drinking alone.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with drinking alone.  You’ll get asked often, “Who you’re with.”  People that ask you this aren’t trying to play a cruel game of “gotcha” and make you tell them you’re a solo-sipping loser.  You’re not.  Yet a lot of people lie.  I don’t know why people think it better to tell someone that asks that they’re just “waiting for a friend” rather than drinking alone.  So you think it’s cooler to infer that you have been stood up by a friend or a date than that you are simply having a few by your lonesome?  Believe me, drinking alone is cooler and more sexy than you think.

5.  And not having to piss is more crucial than you think.  I used to have a massive bladder as a youth and never had to break the seal, but as we get older we all have to go out to water the horse a little more than we’d like.  Nothing sucks more than having to do that move where you put a cardboard coaster on top of your pint glass and then shuffle off to the little boys’ room, returning to find a happy hour group of seven people standing around your chair, considering taking your seat as you have to “excuse me, excuse me” your way to your barstool, the group staring needles through the back of your melon.

6.  Girls (and guys) will love you.  It’s probably apparent that my rules are pretty much written for males.  Look, I certainly have no problem with women drinking alone, but a lot of people do.  A lot of people call a woman that drinks alone a…prostitute.  So sorry for the malecentricity within my rules, but it is what it is.

The days of rugged individuals have long since passed and people are impressed by those that can exist as an island.  I go to bars alone, restaurants alone, and movies alone.  It’s not a big deal, it really isn’t.  But our pussified culture has gotten so used to hand-holding and the buddy system in all we do that most people simply don’t have the testicular or ovarian fortitude to be independent.  I do, and women are impressed by that.  But more importantly, people aren’t intimidated by someone drinking alone, they think he’s surely so hard up for companionship that he’d love to be approached by anybody and everybody and he will certainly be ingratiating.  And thus, they do all my work for me.  I never get approached when I’m with a group but when I’m alone at a bar I get bombarded with people coming up to me as if I’m an celebrity and they are an autograph seeker.  For some reason people want to know the guy drinking alone.  Men come up and shoot the shit with me, buying me drinks and introducing me to their girlfriends, and groups of girls come up to hit on me.  It’s kinda insane. People aren’t scared of someone drinking alone and it can be used swimmingly to your advantage.

7.  Soon enough you’ll be part of a group and no one will have even remembered you came alone.  You’ll be treated as just an old friend and asked if you’d like to join them at the next bar.  Of course you would.  This has happened to me countless times. And the best part is that these are just ad hoc friends so even if you make a fool of yourself–like you usually do–by morning none of these folks have your number or email address to call you or write you and ask what the fuck you were doing, thinking.  So you have no excuse not to at least attempt to be the life of the party!  Oh, and you will be!

Luckily, my friendless state only lasted for like a half-year or so before I had re-formed a crew.  Having said that, living in NYC one is forced to drink alone for at least 30 minutes stretches quite often when friends are late in arriving.  So these tips are good for those times too.

Such was the case just last week as my friend got caught in traffic and I hate to wait him out at the bar.  I sipped on Harpoon Oktoberfest, finding it kinda boring, but decent.  No real bite or flavor but smooth.  Malty.  Doesn’t exactly taste like a true Oktoberfest, and I wouldn’t want another, but it’s not offensive or anything.  I don’t know why some of these American breweries don’t think we can handle a full-bodied Germanic Marzenbier, but for Christ’s sake, we can!

C+

Harpoon IPA

June 23rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Harpoon, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: IPA

5.9% ABV on draught

Next on my Friday night IPA orgy was the selection from Harpoon, something I expected to be mediocre. Not sure why that was my thinking as I’ve enjoyed plenty of Harpoons in the past, but that was just my gut feeling. I must immediately admit, I was wrong and pleasantly surprised.

Before my review though, I’d like to give a little shout out to the great Lansdowne Road which has one of the coolest little “frills” I’ve ever seen at a bar, something known as an ice rail. I’ve never seen any other bar before that has this but it is literally a rail running the length of the bar which acts as an icy “coaster,” for lack of a better word, where one can rest their drink when not holding it up to their face in order to assure that the beer never becomes room temperature.

Now, I know what you’re saying, “But, Aaron, why would you and your potent machismo need an ice rail to keep your beers from getting warm? Don’t you drink at a rate faster than the one at which liquid warms?”

Well, yes, of course I do (unless I’m savoring some potent masterpiece of a brew). I just mainly like the rail so I have something to fiddle with when I’m bored with other people’s conversations, It is then when I begin to slalom my pointer and ring fingers through the icy snow as if they are Alberto Tomba’s skis. However, for the less accomplished drinkers I think this is truly a genius invention that really improves a night out slugging beers. Whatever the case, it is definitely one cool conversation piece.

Back to Harpoon’s IPA. This beer doesn’t actually taste like a IPA. It’s very fruity and has no bite, no real hops sensation. Tastes a bit like some banana Laffy Taffy which I know is a comparison I’ve used more than a few times to describe the flavor of certain beers. Incredibly drinkable for an IPA but still has a decent enough ABV. Also, I was surprised at how complex this brew was as it did have a lot of stuff going on in it, including floral, citrus, and pine tastes. I don’t think this is a very good example at all of an American IPA, but I can’t deny that I really enjoyed drinking it and will almost certainly drink it again in the future. It’s very refreshing.

B+

UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen

June 7th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Harpoon, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Fruit Beer

5.1% ABV

My love of fruit–not fruity, fruit–beers is fairly well documented. Now it might be considered quote unquote “gay” to like fruit-packed brews, but when you’re often also throwing back 12% ABV bombers with abandon, I’m not sure you need to prove your drinking mettle. In fact, a lot of these so-called fruit beers pack a bigger punch that a Budweiser. And ain’t no one gonna call that truck driver at the end of the bar drinking Buds some sort of sissy.

If I buy any sort of beer on a whim, it’s gotta be fruit beer. Oooh, raspberry hefe? Sign me up. I’m a sucker for a fruit beer, the stranger the fruit the better (I love Saranac’s Pomegranate Wheat but really struggle to find it). The only problem with most fruit beers is that they simply aren’t fruity enough. I’m not asking to be pelted with fruitiness like from a Lindemans or even a Kastel Rouge–though I adore both of those–but I still want to taste the frikkin’ fruit that is supposedly in the beer. A lot of these fruit beers just taste like a bad ale with like a single, puny berry squeezed into them.

That’s not the case here, however, this one tastes like a delicious, juicy raspberry. Although, I wouldn’t call the beer mind-blowing or anything. Not really wheaty at all. Though considered a hefe on it’s bottle, I’m loathe to even categorize it as one. This is most clearly a fruit beer. Probably smells a little better than it tastes. Worth giving it a shot though. I’d like to mix one up with a Blue Point Blueberry and make the gayest berry berry beer cocktail evah!

B

(Hopefully you’re not as big of dope as me. I’d seen the UFO label on certain Harpoon beers for ages. I just assumed it was cool little name for a certain line of their brews. Uh uh. It actually is an acronym for UnFiltered Offering. Hey, good to know.)