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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Russian River’ Category

Nebraska Reserve Series Apricot Au Poivre Saison Aged in Chardonnay Barrels

March 29th, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Nebraska, Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Blonde Ale, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

6.5% from a 750 mL

(I apologize for the sideways picture–my iPhone is fucked up.)

So…I write a novel, I’m feeling pretty proud about myself, about my career, and yet I keep hearing from people, I keep receiving emails:

“Why don’t you review beer any more?!”

I guess I thought novel > beer blog reviews in the world of writing and entertainment, but apparently, to many people, that isn’t the case and, in fact, I alienated many of my fans!  They didn’t care about my stupid novel (that took years to write), they care about my subversive reviews of craft beer (that take a few minutes to write).

Who am I to be the arbiter of my fan’s enjoyment?  Thus, I am back.  And, I plan to be back with new reviews every single week now.  My first “back” review, though, is of a great beer by some of my good friends in the industry, Nebraska Brewing Company.

Nebraska burst onto the scene in 2010 with two of my favorite beers of the year:  Hop God aged in Chardonnay Barrels and Melange a Trois, a tripel aged in, you guessed in, Chardonnay barrels.  Here’s another beer aged in Chardonnay barrels, this time using their Apricot Au Poivre Saison as the base.

Now, oddly enough, I’ve had all of Nebraska’s rare, high-end, and pricey brews–which, luckily, they ship to me, gratis–but I haven’t had that many of their regular line.  I was fortunate enough to finally try their IPA the other day and it is as good as anything on either coast, and last summer I sucked down plenty of the standard Apricot Au Poivre.  That was a nice little brew, but the chardonnay aging takes this one to a completely different level.

Flawlessly effervescent.  A slight tartness yet the apricot fruitiness comes through with just a hint of stinging black pepper.  I put back a 750 of this in about 750 seconds.  I was loving it that much.  Another huge winner from Nebraska that demands being searched for.  It still doesn’t even have a single review on Beer Advocate yet!  Come on people.

A

Is Nebraska one of the best sour beer makers in America?!  Hard to say, there’s so many great ones and NBC doesn’t quite have as large of catalog (yet) as some other, older breweries.  But they might be the best Chardonnay-barreled beer maker around.  Or, damn close.  At the moment, I’d rank them 2nd to the American kings of the sour beer game, Russian River, who also favor Chardonnay aging.

Interestingly, just a few weeks earlier I tried a Russian River beer aged in these beloved barrels:

Russian River Sanctification

This is a 6.5% Belgian Blond aged in Chardonnay oak with 100% Brett added.  And, whoa!, is it a nice beer.  Perhaps the best-looking beer I’ve ever had.  Looks like fresh squeezed OJ with the pulp removed.  Not overly complex, but flawless in execution.  Tart, crisp, with the fruity taste of a nice white wine.  Not too sour, and totally refreshing.  A beauty.

A

Russian River Temptation & Beatification

November 11th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Wild Ale

My favorite sport, college basketball, began this week which means it’s time for me to start drinking shitty beers.  I never mean to, but it always occurs.  Now I’m not exactly avoiding bars like Carrie Nation during the off-season, but once college hoops begins, it seems like I’m living in watering holes.  And, while in the off-season I’m a fixture at fine establishments such as Rattle ‘n’ Hum and Blind Tiger, drinking cask IPAs, quads, and imperial stouts, I’m forced to move to more, ahem, hoi polloi drinking establishments to watch games.  Good beer bars simply don’t excel at having good, if any, TVs to watch big games on (though Rattle ‘n’ Hum is passable) and I am fine with that.

Thus, I move to indistinguishable bars in the East and Greenwich Village that do have great TVs, all the obscure sports packages, but don’t have great beers.  Sure, this is Manhattan, and even the absolute most pathetic bars usually have Brooklyn and Sam Adams Lager on tap, a comically overpriced Chimay even on the bottle menu, but it’s impossible to avoid the $5 pitchers of Bud when you’re hunkering down for the next twelve hours to watch hoops.

And, you know, that used to trouble me.  The more refined my palate gets–I can’t believe I just said that–the less I’m able to even chug down a macro for pure drunken sustenance.  I used to think, the only thing that would make watching the great Syracuse Orange crush Georgetown yet again, would be if I was sipping a glorious beer while I watched the game, as opposed to the Miller Lite I held in my hand.  But now, I’ve come to realize, that I no longer believe that.  In fact, I know that’s patently false.  For you see, I think I maybe have become one of those douchebags that actually enjoys contemplating his fine beers.  Shit, I can’t have a TV blaring a silly game between a group of pituitary cases trying to stuff a ball through a hoop interrupt my beer enjoyment!  Thus, I think I am now thankful for shitty beer.  Thankful I can have something to do–like Jerry Tarkanian biting on his towel, Leo Mazzone rocking in his dugout seat, Jim Leyland smoking–to keep me occupied and keep my nerves at bay as I watch my favorite team in another nail-biter.  A pint of some obscure Belgian lambic simply wouldn’t do the trick.

However, when I’m not drinking shitty beer on game days, I’m gonna have to be tippling the shit out of the good stuff.  Like last week, when I was able to put together a pretty nice beer tasting leading up to game 6 of the World Series courtesy of friends DW (Beatification) and Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive (Temptation).

Temptation (BATCH #4)

7.25% ABV from a 750 mL corked-and-caged

Temptation, currently the 30th ranked beer in the world, is a blonde ale aged for nine to fifteen months in French oak chardonnay barrels.  A goldenrod color with a bubbly head.  Flavors of sour apples, white wine, oak and, of course, Brett, all nicely balanced together.  I didn’t find it to be that mindblowingly complex, but it’s nevertheless flawless for what it is.  Perfect for fans of wild ales that are smoother and less mouth-puckering.

A+

Beatification (BATCH #2)

6% ABV from a 375 mL corked-and-caged

A wordsmith, of course I love a beer that teaches me a new vocab word–”a state of supreme happiness”–as well as how to pronounce it–it’s bee-AT-uh-fi-key-shuhn not BEAT-uh-fi-key-shuhn as I dumbly thought–right there on the back of the label.  Currently the 85th ranked beer in the world, Beatification ages in the absolute oldest barrels Russian River has that no longer have any wine flavor or oak flavor left in them. Russian River notes, however, that “a cocktail of ‘bugs and critters’ (Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus & other wild yeast & bacteria) remains in the barrel.”  This is easily the most tart Russian River beer I’ve ever had, making Temptation seem soft in comparison.  Citrusy and earthy, I personally enjoyed this a tad more than Temptation, but, for you, it will all depend on how much you personally enjoy physically interacting with your adult beverages as this one will keep you puckered and wincing til the last drop.

A+

As it now stands, I’ve had four of the five Russian River -tion wild ales on the Beer Advocate top 100–Santification is all I’m missing, any one got a bottle to spare?–and perhaps I should be embarrassed, though I’m not embarrassed, that I have given them all unequivocal A pluses.  They are all that fine.  It’s amazing how unique each one is.  Russian River isn’t just pumping out the same wild ales and making different labels for them, no sir.  These are carefully crafted beers, each rather easy to different from one another, all worth going to the trouble to locate (and pay out the ass for!)  Russian River brings it ever single time, clearly in the argument for finest brewery in America.

And, just for the hell of it, my rankings at this second in time for their wild ales:

1.  Consecration
2.  Supplication
3.  Beatification
4.  Tempation

For anyone who has had 3, 4, or, lucky bastard, all 5 of the major Russian River wild ales, what are your rankings?

SAVOR

June 2nd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Odell, Brewer: Russian River, Brewer: Smuttynose, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale, Style: Quadrupel, Style: Wild Ale

Though I’ve had a slight compunction in the past in hanging out with the geekiest of beer geeks, this weekend I found myself at Washington, DC’s Savor beer and food “experience.”  Said experience was held in the lovely National Building Museum, a phenomenal space where smartly dressed people, and your’s truly, enjoyed fine beer and soggy finger foods.  A crowd seemingly consisting more of foodies, cultural scenesters, and folks that enjoy wearing blazers just for the heck of it, the beer geeks were easily spotted as those hirsute men taking copious notes in their Moleskines, spending far too many seconds with their noses inside the rims of their tasting glass before taking a sip, too scared to look any of the many attractive women in the eye, and those lads treating Tomme Arthur and the godfather of craft Jim Koch as if they were Dino and Frank (uh…guilty as charged*).

According to my count, I sampled 36 of the 118 available frat sodas, so take the following for what it’s worth.  My highlights from the “experience” include, in alphabetical order:

Avery’s aromatic and white-winey wild Brabant, Boulevard’s silky funky Saison-Brett, The Bruery’s bready and creamy Saison Rue, Foothills’s slightly overrated but still spectacular Sexual Chocolate (on tap!) and vastly underrated Hoppyum IPA, Great Divide’s decadent Espresso Oak Aged Yeti imperial stout, The Lost Abbey’s deserves-all-the-praise-it-gets Angel’s Share bourbon-barreled as well as their tart/sour/boozy Cuvee de Tomme, New Holland’s refreshingly zesty Golden Cap saison, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder which I had misjudged the first and only previous time I’d had it as this is an A+ worldbeater no question, and Two Brothers’s caramelly Cane & Ebel red rye.

Now the above “honorable mentions” are a smattering of A-’s and A’s and perhaps even an A+ or two, but my three Best in Shows in ascending order were:

3.  Smuttynose Gravitation (Big Beer Series) — By far my biggest surprise of the evening.  I knew the boys up in Portsmouth made good if not great stuff and I’d seen this one on shelves plenty of times, but who knew this 8.5% ABV quadruple was so goddamned spectacular?!  Actually, apparently no one knows that or even thinks that as it gets a pedestrian B user grade on Beer Advocate, but let me just state that this is one beauty.  A dominating explosion of sweet Belgian candi and sugary dark fruits, this beer still remains incredibly smooth and drinkable with absolutely no cloyingness.  Honestly, I really can’t think of a better Americanized quad out there, and lest you think I was already in the can and am thus overrating this one compared to seemingly everyone else…it was my first beer of the evening and next to nothing else came close to it for the next four hours.  In fact, periodically throughout the night I would revisit the Smuttynose booth to selfishly have a second and third and fourth pour.

A+

2.  Russian River Consecration — Already quite “famous” in its short period of existence, it deserves all its hosannas as this brew instantly replaces Allagash Interlude as both my favorite wild ale and red wine-barreled beer.  A rust red pour full of acidic tartness, oaky Carbenet flavors, green apple sourness, and some funky vinegar sensations this brew was shockingly refreshing and I could not get enough of its glory.  I’m also glad I didn’t have to pay the bloated costs for this one–reportedly around $25 a bottle–which perhaps led me to enjoy it at maximum capacity.

A+

1.  Odell Woodcut #2 Oak Aged Golden Ale — I’m embarrassed to admit I knew next to nothing about this Fort Collins, Colorado based brewery, had never had one of their beers before, and didn’t even have this brew on my fairly lengthy “to drink” crib sheet I was carrying around in my ass pocket.  Luckily, about halfway through the evening, I serendipitously ran into a beer geek friend and a seemingly innocuous question of “So…whadaya enjoying here?” let to him all but grabbing me by the scruff of my neck and dragging me over to the Odell booth where he claimed that easily the best beer in the house resided.  Quite skeptical, I took his word for it and, wow!, he was 100% right.  A handsomely champagned bottled with a slick label befitting the beer’s name, this is truly one of the most flavorful beers I’ve ever had in my life.  A creamy malt backbone with tastes of buttery toffee and caramel, clean oak, vanilla, and candi this beer is phenomenal and I feel lucky to have tried it.  Now I’m sorry I missed out on Woodcut #1 which my minimal research shows me was released last year in a stingy small case number.  I’d love to get my hands on a full bottle of Woodcut #2 but it doesn’t even appear to have been officially released yet and doesn’t even have a placeholder entry on BA yet.

Whatever the case, Odell hits a moon shot home run in their first at bat against me.  That’s a 1.000 OBP and a 4.000 slugging.  As good as it gets.

A+

*

Russian River Damnation

February 26th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 8 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

7% ABV on draught

My Sick, Perverted Fetish

No, it’s not as bad, or perhaps the correct word is as “weird” as BDSM or footjobbing or something hirsute-related, so I suppose my sexual fetish is more akin to dudes that love big asses or big breasts.  Let me backtrack for a second.  For my entire postpubescent life I have been most attracted to skinny, tall, long blond-haired, big-busted women*.  Ha!  Aren’t we all, you say?  But have I just been kidding myself?  Ignoring my true carnal desires?  No, I don’t completely think so, but I finally must come out of the closet and admit that, aside from the aforementioned archetypal women, I do have a secret outlier sometime fetish for a certain type:

Big-nosed Jewish gals.

Is it something in my Deoxyribonucleic acid?  An ingrained part of my Semitic libido?  I’m not sure but I can ignore it no longer lest I be considered a self-hating Hebe.

I no longer can deny that when I’m riding on the subway, sitting across from a big-beaked lady, kinky sidelock-esque hair cascading over her face like the Holy Ark’s curtains shrouding a nasal Torah, yeah, I get a little titillated.  And when I’m forced to party in Murray Hill, I may be outwardly smarting, acting vexed at being in the crummy establishment, when I’m secretly a little turned on watching the Toucan-faced recent GW or Michigan grad poorly shaking her gelt-maker to an ironic (or is it?) playing of R. Kelly’s “Ignition.”  Or when I’m grabbing some Jewish donuts on a Sunday morning at H & H on the UWS, I can’t help but feel like I’m in line at a Judaic orgy, a slew of sweatsuit and Uggs-clad equine-faced cuties spending their daddy’s shekels on a sack of cinnamon raisins.

Oh lord, Elohim, it’s only getting worse, my desire for these beautiful exotic creatures with their conical goat faces, too poorly bred or raised by too practical (cheap?) of parents to have gotten rhinoplasty for them as a Bat Mitzvah gift.  What can a boy do?

I know what you’re saying, “You are an insensitive asshole.”  Correct.  I know what else you are saying: “How can you like such flawed, if not downright ugly, women?”  Well first of all, fella, watch it with the anti-Semititism.  Second of all, though, I hear you.  I used to feel the same way, sort of.  But I believe you may be thinking about the absolute worst of the breed.  Those 4′11″ and squat, hippy and big-assed and huge titted, natch**, annoyingly nasal girls with hair like Hurley from “Lost” and a constant scowl on their mugs.

But I’m not talking about those Chosen lasses.  No, sir.

I’m talking ’bout Mayim Bialik as Blossom.

I’m talking ’bout Lizzy Caplan or Kat Dennings.***

I’m talking ’bout Leelee Sobieski, Sarah Silverman, and House’s boss on “House.”  Helen Hunt, Sarah Jessica Parker before she started looking like a drag queen (we’re talking “Honeymoon in Vegas” days), and Jennifer Grey in “Dirty Dancing” before she went under the knife and never got booked again.  And let’s throw in Soleil Moon Frye for good measure.

It’s feels good to finally admit this, to no longer have to agree with my friends that, yes, she’d be perfect if she just had a normal schnoz.  No, she already is perfect!

Finally, I know what you’re thinking, sicko, and, no, I don’t want them to do anything unseemly with their nose whilst in the bedroom, that’s not why I like them.****  It’s just something visceral.  Something that can’t fully be explained unless you feel the exact same way I do.

Now I guess I should finally meet one of these dames.  I’m heading to my local Hadassah meeting.

Russian River Damnation

My first ever Russian River beer on tap.  I’d heard a rumor that Philadelphia was one of the rare cities that would be getting the coveted Pliny the Younger on tap and, finding myself conveniently in town a couple of weeks ago, I had hoped to score some.  Scouring the city, however, I came up dry.  I did find Damnation, though, at the marvelous Tria and quickly ordered it with no prejudice.  Unfortunately, it was not as good as I had hoped and now stands as the first Russian River beer I haven’t unequivocally loved.  Thinner than expected and quite mellow.  Almost felt like a very weak tripel.  Not much taste, not much complexity, light Belgian spiciness, slight sourness, some citrusness.  It was closer to “refreshing” than delicious.  Not what you want from a 7% Belgian strong ale.  Comparing it to Country Time lemonade also is probably not what we’re looking for here.  Having said that, the across-the-board reviews of Damnation seem much better than my initial experience so I do hope to try it again.

B+

*And, yes, agreed, you should really like women for what’s inside of them.  Sure enough–and you should also probably like a movie for its plot and not how many fiery explosion, scatological jokes, and bits of gratuitous nudity they include.

**Yes, all Jewish women have gargantuan breasts.  It’s a stone cold fact.  I don’t know why this is, it just is, perhaps something in the Manischewitz, maybe an evolutionary adaptation dating back to the wandering the desert days when it would be quite swell to have two large milk canteens strapped to one’s chest.

***Ibid.  And, Holy.  Shit.

****Jewish women also have gargantuan sexual appetites.  Another empirical fact.  I have no explanation for this one either.  I welcome theories in the comments.

photo credit:  Brian B

Russian River Supplication

August 21st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Wild Ale

PREVIOUSLY ON MY TOP TEN MOST WANTED LIST

7% ABV mini-magnum (BATCH OO3)

THE VICE BLOG’S 2008 ELECTION COVERAGE

The Vice Blog endorses:

NOT VOTING

They say you can’t complain if you don’t vote. BULLSHIT. You can best complain if you don’t vote. And “Rock the Vote”? Fuck you MTV. It’s borderline criminal to encourage your retarded minions to just willy nilly pull the lever like some neanderthal at a one-armed bandit. You only do it because you know 90% of them will vote for the Democrat. But it doesn’t matter, both candidates suck. Both candidates always suck.

Here’s a little secret friends. Politicians don’t care about you. They care about attaining fame and power and on-the-sly affairs with skanky women out of their league, and a whole lotta Facebook friends. And, believe me, more power to them, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I pen my hilariously entertaining, provocative, and intellectually stimulating blog posts in order to attract the very same things. But I don’t pretend that I’m doing it for “you.” These politicians aren’t doing anything for you. Or for “us.” No politician ever has. Sure, some are better at faking compassion and empathy than others, but no, they don’t care about you.

If they really cared about us they would go get a real job. You know, something that actually benefits us. Something that benefits society. Like…say…being a fire fighter, or a doctor, a novelist, an architect, a chef, or even a garbage man. The only problem is, the kind of person that goes into politics goes into politics because they aren’t smart enough, skilled enough, or talented enough to do anything else. The quiver of their skill set is empty, not a single arrow. Politics is the grad school of the real world. People go into grad school because they aren’t competent enough yet to begin living a productive life and people go into politics for the very same reasons.

Hmmm…how can I use my intense ambition to gain fame and fortune without any talent? A reality show? Well…yes, but you’ll lose your dignity. Ah, politics. You lose your dignity there too but you get more fame and faux-power.

And it is faux-power. With rare exception, professional sports team mascots are far more powerful than politicians.

This is not anti one side of the other. This is anti all of corporate politics. Politicians are good at only one thing. Making worthless laws. Actually, they’re also good at being foolish little nerds that produce fodder for late night comedians. But all these fucking laws…

You can’t do anything nowadays. You can’t smoke anywhere, you can barely drink. You can’t eat fatty foods. You can’t get married if you’re gay. You can’t do drugs that only harm you. You can’t fuck hookers. You can’t take multiple wives. You can’t clone yourself. You can’t even commit suicide. You can’t, you can’t , you can’t, you can’t do anything any more.

And I predict by the year 2025 we won’t even be allowed to eat meat. It’s coming folks, believe me.

What a fucking nanny state we live in. We have no freedom.

You say politicians protects us from vices? Poppycock. Those things are only vices because politicians say they are. I’d much rather write the Enjoys His Life blog.

Politicians aren’t economists but they think they can pontificate on the economy. They’re not scientists but they think they can make laws about the environment and medicine. And they’re not moral paragons by any standard but they hypocritically think they can dictate how we have to exist.

We’d be better off in an anarchy. We know best how to live our own lives.

Finally, voting is not cool. It’s just not. No one thought it was cool to vote in student council elections. And they were right, it wasn’t. I should know. I was once my high school class president, winning the (un)popular vote by I think something along the lines of a 6 to 2 total vote victory (in a class of some 700). Yeah, not exactly a good electoral turnout. And there’s no reason to turnout for a national election either. John and Barry are just as big of nerds as the people like me that were running for class office back when we were seventeen. You shouldn’t support nerds.

OK, fine, you want to exercise democracy. You want to get that stupid sticker that says “I Voted.” Wow, you voted today?! Like 130 million other people? Cooooooooool. I took a shit, masturbated twice, and ate a chicken salad sandwich. And you don’t see me affixing a sticker with all that info onto my cardigan’s lapel.

But maybe you feel bad, like I did (somewhat), when my emigre pal Ian derided me for refusing to vote when so many other people only can dream that they live in a country where they could exercise such power.

Fine, if you absolutely have to vote…

Then vote for BOB BARR.

He’s the closest to a laissez-faire candidate we have. And the closer to that, the better for us all. Plus, he has an awesome Errol Flynn-esque mustache and he makes fun of the bad breath of his very own supporters.

Ah, Supplication. I don’t know why Russian River calls it that, but it’s a perfect word to describe our election season. Supplication, a humble request from your dear Vice Blogger to not vote, and rather just sit back and enjoy glorious beer..

The great Marie said she had cellared this one for about a year. The bottle claims it’s a brown ale aged for fourteen months in pinot noir barrels. So if you do the math, that’s over two years of aging. Cool. Probably the most vintage beer I’ve ever had. Excluding that Chelada.

The label also notes that wild cherries, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus are added to the barrel during the aging process. Then, the Supplication is bottle fermented to add carbonation and make it like a champagne or sparkling wine. Yeast sediment remains in the bottle.

Supplication pours an absolutely gorgeous color. A very unique color for a beer. Like the juice of a blood orange. Unbelievable lacing.

You can definitely tell it’s a wild ale by its smell but it’s not that overpowering. Darker than the few other wild ales I’ve started to encounter in the last few months.

Wow, it’s tart. However, it’s tart but not sour. If that makes sense. Cherries are very detectable. The flavor is so pronounced and delicious. If your like tart cherries you will adore this beer. The oak and yeast are very much noted too. I like it much better than the Cuvee de Castleton wild ale I had recently, and that one wasn’t too shabby itself.

Supplication is more flavorful, just as tart, but more balanced with other components. Of course very fizzy like a champagne. But tastes like a red wine. The other wild ales I’ve had seem more like whites. Goes down smoooooooth. Not that alcoholic or potent in taste. And the more you drink it the better it becomes.

Maybe I’m a weirdo, maybe I’m an oddball, but I like to drink the yeast sediment. On bottle conditioned bombers, my first glass I usually do a slow (recommended!) yeastless pour. For the second glass I always add the sediment though and I always, to a glass, like the second one better. Maybe it’s all in my head, maybe I’m a weirdo, but it is what it is.

A very odd, strange beer that I don’t think Joe Sixpack would like. I’d like him to try it though. I’m sad I don’t have more of it and may never get to sip it again.

Because it is WORLD-CLASS.

A+

Russian River’s Blind Pig IPA

August 18th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

6.1% ABV from bottle

Call me a chauvinist, call me delusional, heck, call me a fucking asshole (but in the comments section, please), but after ten straight days of feasting on a smörgåsbord of Olympics, here are the female events I believe I could medal in or help a team medal in with just a month of training.

Field Hockey

Why?: I dated a girl once who played high-level collegiate field hockey for what I understand is a national power. After school she continued to play on a very competitive club team in the city. I tagged along once to watch a practice and afterward dicked around with her stick seeing how well I could strike the ball. The answer was quite well.  In fact, much better than any of the long-time-playing woman there. And I was a much faster runner than all of them too, though my “dribbling” was admittedly a little shoddy. Thus, this leads me to believe I would be the Wayne Gretzky of women’s Olympic field hockey, pelting the net with my screaming shots as the opposing defensewomen cowered to the ground in fear of bruised thighs and battered egos.

Why not?: Like most men who have played sports their whole lives, I have a fairly bad back, and thus I can’t imagine being hunched over in that awkward stance for an hour and half long game. Also, my legs would look so great in my short sporting skirt that inevitably my teammates would be thrown off and unable to concentrate on the competition at hand.

Handball

Why?: Have you watched these matches? Have you seen how slow these women throw?! How little of velocity they get on their shots?!! Well that wouldn’t be a problem for me.  I may have a rag arm now in my old age but it’s still a veritable Dan Marino-type cannon compared to Olympic women’s handballers. Women’s handballers throw like the kid that sucks at grade school dodgeball. The kid that tells his mom to write a letter to the principal excusing him from participating in the masochistic game due to the trauma it inflicts on him.

Why not?: I really can’t think of a reason why not. Maybe the fact that I don’t know the rules and would probably just quickly scan handball’s wikipedia entry fifteen minutes before my team’s first match? Yeah, I would probably commit a lot of infractions I wouldn’t be aware of. And you know the officials would call me for a lot of BS fouls too.

Javelin:

Why?: The world record currently stands at 71.7 meters by one Osleidys Menéndez of Cuba. Please. I could throw an unsharpened number 2 pencil that far using my left arm while seated in a rolling desk chair.

Why not?: Because I have no idea where to buy a javelin. You think Modell’s sells them? I doubt my fellow competitors would lend me theirs for the competition. Especially since I’m gonna be kicking their asses. Hmmm…wonder if I can get a deal on a good used one on ebay?

Fencing (Saber)

Why?: As exciting as it was to see Beca Ward, Sada Jacobson, and the oddly sexy Mariel Zagunis produce a USA sweep of the medals at this year’s games, I was stupefied by how slow the womens’ footwork was during parries and ripostes. They lumbered around, moving as if their trousers were full of shit. And, come to think of it, looking at some pictures, maybe they had in fact soiled their drawers. Now, I may not be Barry Sanders or anything agility-wise, but I’m a lot nimbler than these gals. Not to mention, my reflexes are highly acute due to always being alertly wired on the Voltaire-esque amounts of caffeine I consume every single day. I would be poking these women in their sextes and quartes so quickly during my balestras that they wouldn’t know what to do!

Why not?: A much bigger body surface area than my fellow competitors would make it a lot easier for them to get scoring hits. Plus, I’m a little concerned about how good of vision I would have through one of those beekeeper’s-like masks they wear.

And one women’s sport I would be terrible at:

Trampoline

Why?: I’m a stoic so I’m not frightened by many things, but I have been scared shitless of jumping on trampolines ever since I was a little kid. I was always fearful of mistiming a leap, losing track of where I was on the bouncing surface, and falling into the open void in between canvas and base, thus getting my entire lower body stuck between two of those menacing coils. Ouch!  You can imagine that I never did anything more difficult than little six inch vertical bunny hops on the trampoline bed, too scared to put the pedal to the floor and see how high I could go. I wouldn’t even get on the trampoline with other kids, too worried that numerous youngsters bouncing at once would cause a ridiculous exponential recoil affect that would propel me far off into the ether. I always admired the kids with the balls to do back flips and stuff, for I was too chickenshit of those damn coils. Hey, why’s this a sport any how?!

Of course, like any good armchair sportsman, I came to all these realizations while lazily lounging on my sofa in my boxer briefs, stuffing my face with Flipz (sweet white fudge coating with a nice salty pretzel core–they are delicious!) and drinking beers. The brew for the day was Blind Pig IPA, another Russian River selection from the package sent to me by the amazing Marie. In fact, she told me she actually prefers it to Pliny in bottle form.  Intriguing.

Right of the bat, it has a great smell. Very bitter IPA, fresh and well-balanced with some powerful hops, kinda like Ruination. Grapefruity and I detect a slight minty flavor as well. It has to be said, it simply doesn’t taste quite as good as it smells. It’s very drinkable though and I think it could make for a splendid session beer. Nice and cold (as ordered by Russian River on their bottle) it was indeed tasty.

Blind Pig is good, damn good, but I just don’t find it super flavorful, interesting, or complex enough to be considered the masterpiece a lot of people seem to think it is.

A-

Pliny the Elder

August 15th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

PREVIOUSLY ON MY TOP TEN MOST WANTED LIST

8% ABV bottled

I am now a felon.

At least I think I am.

Eh, maybe it’s just a misdemeanor. But I doubt it. I fucking disobeyed the fucking United States Constitution. Article 2 of the 21st Amendment to be more exact:

“The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.”

After my Cuvee de Castleton story, a barrage of beer fans across the globe e-mailed me, offering anything and everything to get an extra bottle from me. One person stood out, a San Franciscoan named Marie, offering me a shit-ton of Russian River stuff.

Beer swapping is a big hobby nowadays, but this would be my first time to ever get involved, and I was a little nervous. A little nervous about everything.

Firstly, how to know if you’re getting a good deal? There sure isn’t a Beckett Price Guide for rare beer bottles. And, though I may talk the talk on this site, this Marie person was absolutely awing me with his/her knowledge of beer.

I say his/her because, though Marie is typically a woman’s name, I was so impressed with the abundance of knowledge Marie was displaying that my chauvinistic, misogynistic, and all sort of other -istic sides came out and I figured I was just dealing with a man with some weird name. No doubt a European. Like, Jose Marie Olazabal or something. Yeah, that made sense. Europeans know tons about beer.

However, later, when Marie started talking about all the homebrewing he/she does, I was even more blown away. I had to ask this person–positive it was a man–what sex they are.

I’m sure you know the answer, Marie was very much a woman. Obviously the coolest woman in the world. One that knows tons more about beer than me AND FURTHERMORE brews her own beer! Wow. I knew absolutely no other facts about her, not her age, not what she looked like, nothing, but I was still absolutely smitten. I had to ask her to marry me. (And my ex-girlfriend says I have commitment issues, ha!)

She obviously declined. She’s read my blog. It’s better that way. I consider having to cross Park Avenue a long-distance relationship. Much less crossing the country. Ah well. Maybe she’ll send me some of her homebrews one day.

Eventually, I had to capitulate to my own fears and face a single fact about a potential beer trade with Marie: I was overwelmingly ecstatic with the beers Marie would be sending me and I wasn’t too unhappy with sending away a Cuvee de Castleton bottle. So if we’re both happy, then no one’s getting ripped off, and the deal is more kosher than Hebrew National.

I accepted the trade, getting three beers from my most wanted list–Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig IPA, and Supplication–two of which are in Beer Advocate’s top 20 beers in the whole world while the third makes the top 40. Incredibly rare, this is in fact the first batch of bottled beers from Russian River, a brewery that still limits its distribution to only San Francisco and Sonoma County.

Now, the hard part came — packaging the brews. As mentioned before, sending beers interstate is absolutely a crime. Go to the US Postal Service and try to do and I’m sure the Postal Police will immediately throw you in the clink. So you have to use a private carrier. Still not technically legal, but the potential rammifications are much smaller. Thus, you have to pack these motherfuckers well. Not only so they arrive in perfect shape for your trading buddy, but also so beer doesn’t begin leaking out of your package mid-route and start raising red flags.

I was freaked out about packing up the bottles so I probably overdid it. Of course, I ain’t gonna pay for packaging so I went over to FedEx and grabbed about 15 bubble wrap bags, a small box, and one large box. Then, I grabbed about fifty Metros from a newspaper box. I first wrapped the bottle nicely in several swathed newspapers, paying specific attention to the delicate neck. I taped that tight. I put all that in one bubble wrapped envelope and sealed it tight. Then another. Then I put that thing in a small box, filling the empty space with even more crumpled newspapers and plastic grocery bags. Then, I put the small box into the bigger box, again filling all the open space with countless wadded up newspapers and plastic bags. Finally, I covered the entire box with several brown paper bags and then I used about fifteen rolls of packing tape to seal the whole thing up. It was going to be like opening a Russian matryoshka doll to get to my beer.

I was impressed with my wrap job. It was secure, no rattling whatsoever. I mimicked an oafish FedEx worker manhandling my box. I carelessly tossed it a few times on my bed to make sure it could take a hit. It could take one like Walter Payton turning the corner.

Onto FedEx where I expected to have to pay $30plus for ground shipping. But, first, I had to answer the proverbial question, “So what’s in the box?”

Here’s a hint, you don’t answer “illegal beer I am illegally shipping out of state.”

But you don’t want to lie, so you stretch the truth.

“Uh…it’s a gift for my friend.”

“And what IS the gift.”

“Fragrances, cooking supplies. They’re in glass bottles so handle with care please.”

Yes, pricey beers are fragrant and, of course, they can be used for cooking supplies. Even better, the whole shipment only cost me $7. Amazing!

Five days later, the FBI arrived at my door. Duh duh duh…

No, that’s not true, but that would have made the story really freaking awesome.

Instead, Marie’s glorious package arrived. I thought I had packed well but she had packed the box like it was going to be tossed thousands of feet from a helicopter onto a beer-starved country in nouthern Africa. An absolutely enormous box filled with these remarkable air cushion type things which I had never seen before. The entire box was like a Moonwalk. It was a remarkable packing job, twenty times better than mine.

Now I was scared shitless my bottle would arrived shattered. The next day, however, Marie got her end of the bargain and it too was flawless. Bottles are actually quite hard to break it seems.

Brief interlude to rip on the government like some kind of militia-man anarchist:

How stupid is it that a legal product–beer–cannot be mailed to a buddy? The goddamn goverment is so intent on preventing us from pleasure. The government hates it that people are enjoying themselves. They are so intent on taxing every thing in this world. If they can’t get a piece of the pie than no one can. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Among everything else, that was the best thing about this little experiment, being a scofflaw. Being a scofflaw is awesome. Just cause the United States has retarded laws doesn’t mean you have to follow them. No one gets harmed if beer is shipped, so be a scofflaw. Mail off beers, smoke some weed, spit on street corners, jaywalk, buy sex toys, get a bookie, and don’t report your gambling earnings to the IRS.

First, I had to try the Pliny the Elder*, one of the most sought after beers in the world, new to being bottled after years of it only being on tap in the San Francisco area. Bottled on July 10 of this year, the label is full of whimsical warnings such as “Respect your elder…drink fresh” and “Pliny the Elder is a historical figure, don’t make the beer inside this bottle one!” Yeah, they want you to have as hoppy of beer as possible.

The smell isn’t that potent, just a nicely balanced DIPA. And the taste is similar. Hops, pines, floral. Flawlessly balanced. But that disappointed me a little. I expected mindboggling and I simply got very great. It’s as good as, say, a Ruination, a Maharaja, or a Captain Lawrence’s DIPA, but I’m not actually sure I can say its better. Not what expected.

With all the hype, with all the anticipation I’ve had for years dreaming of trying this one, I end up with the least pleasing “A” beer of my life. Still, it’s no doubt one of the better DIPAs in the world. I just think its mad scarcity leads to it being slightly overrated. I wonder how its ranking will change as it become more ubiquitous?

Marie claims it’s better on draft. I believe her, she knows everything. I think I’m going to enjoy my second bottle of it a lot more now that my expectations are more muted.

A

*The real Pliny the Elder was an awesome dude who named the hops plant and who died during the famous 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. I want to die by volcano, what a badass way to go.

Collaboration Not Litigation Ale

June 4th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Strong Ale


8.72% from a bomber, Batch #2

(from Avery Brewing Company/Russian River Brewing Company)*

A few years ago I tried several of the major Avery releases. I recall liking them all, but not really loving any and thus I had pretty much ignored the brewery ever since then. That all changed when one of my favorite beer blogs, Fermentedly Challenged, mentioned how much he had loved this brew. His review most intrigued me because he noted something I hadn’t known, that this beer was a collaboration between Avery and Russian River. For the longest time, Russian River beers (predominately Pliny the Elder and Younger) have been at the top of my “most wanted” list. For whatever reason, Russian Rivers simply do not seem to make it to the east coast—as far as I can tell—and thus I have never had a single beer from that brewery. This would be my first chance to kinda have one. I immediately went to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods and was lucky to find one sole bottle left. (I found several other great beers on this trip as well).

It pours a much bigger head than I expected yet isn’t as dark as I thought it would be. Nice little fruity smell almost like a barley wine. But it also has Belgian-esque “hints” in it. So many complex flavors in its taste. Very alcohol-y the more you drink it, which is something I like indeed. The aftertaste is a tad bitter. Quite frankly, the more I drink it, the more I feel almost like I’m drinking a weak bourbon neat. In fact, halfway through drinking this I realized I had no idea what style of beer this was. I thought it kinda tasted like a barley wine, kinda tasted like a Belgian ale, perhaps a stout…? (It is in fact a strong dark ale.)

It might not be an exact science, but one way I do like to judge alcohol is by the borderline arbitrary pseudo-standard of “how good it makes me feel” as it gets me drunker and drunker. Allagash Interlude is perhaps the king of this sensation. I feel like I’m floating in the clouds by the time I’m done with a bomber of Interlude. Collaboration gave me a similar feeling. I felt sensational by the time I was done with this one. And that was not exactly a good thing because I had several more craft beers I had wanted to sample that evening and was thus unable to because I don’t like to try new beers while bordering on blotto. Thus, I was forced to nightcap my evening by stealing from my ladyfriend’s stash of Bud Light Lime. Quite a difference, no doubt. Like starting your evening by making out with Scarlett Johansson and ending the night in bed with Kathy Bates.

After drinking Collaboration not Litigation I may have to revisit the rest of the Avery bottlings to see if my opinions have changed (while I continue dreaming about one day trying Russian Rivers beers.)

Overall, this one is fantastic. A minor masterpiece.

A

*Salvation. The name of two intricate Belgian-style ales, created by us - Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing. After becoming friends a few years ago, we realized that we both had a Salvation in our line-ups. Was it going to be a problem? Should one of us relinquish the rights? “Hell no!” we said. In fact, it was quickly decided that we should blend the brews to catch the best qualities of each and create an even more complex libation. In April 2004, in top-secret meeting at Russian River Brewing (well actually it was packed in the pub, and many were looking over our shoulders wondering what the hell was going on), we came up with the perfect blend of the two Salvations. Natalie, Vinnie’s much more significant other, exclaimed, “We should call this Collaboration, not Litigation Ale!” “Perfect!” we shouted. We celebrated deep into the night, (or is it morning?). Fast forward to November 14, 2006. After talking about it for over 2 years we finally decided to pull the trigger and Vinnie flew out to Avery to brew his Salvation exactly as he does in his brewery. This was blended with Avery’s Salvation December 11th, 2006. We hope you enjoy it as much we enjoyed brewing and blending it.

Fast Forward to 2008. After incredible demand from fans of beer across the country Avery and Russian River have teamed up to do it all again. This year’s batch will become available mid February, marked by a release party at the Avery Brewing Co tasting room, Boulder Colorado 2/12/2008.