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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Sierra Nevada’ Category

Life and Limb

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

10.2% ABV from a stubby bomber

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

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

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

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

TOO MUCH!

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

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

The Funyuns Keys to Win-yuns

Kentucky

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

Bartlesville Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.  KENNY   12-25

2.  KEITH   11-24

3.  CARL   9-26

4.  BOOMER   5-21-1

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

Yes you did.

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

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

A

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

March 25th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: A-/B+, Style: IPA

My Super Sweet Sixteen (Not Featuring Annoying Little Twats*)

I went to the college with the best sports journalism program in the nation, but I never had any interest in the industry.  Nevertheless, my outsized ego still leads me to believe I’m a better analyst that any one in the field.  And, being that sports is one of my great passions, it’s about time I occasionally discuss them on The Vice Blog.

My breakdown of the upcoming weekend and the tournament in general as it’s the only thing on my mind right now.

WEST

Much like their insanely talented 2005 team that got upset by George Mason, I thought this year’s UConn squad simply didn’t have “it.”  Now, that’s not the most rigorous or intellectual of analysis, but sometimes these indescribable things just stand out:  a seeming lack of heart, a seeming lack of interest, a clear lack of a coach that isn’t a huge fucking asshole.  More specifically, I thought the injury to Jerome Dyson deprived UConn of their best non-AJ Price outside shooting threat and halfcourt player.  Then, when Calhoun missed their 1st round game with a mystery ailment (a brutal case of crabs?), I was sure UConn’s team was not long for this tourney.  Instead, they’ve been the most dominant squad of the first two rounds and should have no problem dispatching with Purdue despite the manly-cocktail-named team being well-coached by Matt Painter and featuring a solid back line with Hummel and Johnson.

In the region’s other game, every one will be taking Memphis, but recall that Mizzou will be the first “decent” team they have played since squeaking by mediocre Tennessee (can you be “decent” and “mediocre” in the same sentence?) in late January and the first truly good team they have played since losing to Syracuse in late December.  Memphis has arguably the best defense still in the tournament–I prefer Louisville or Team Thabeet–and also one of the best lead guards in Tyreke Evans, but I think the major conference Tigers not coached by a weasely cheater will prevail due to their ability to dictate the tempo and get a lot of transition buckets while lacking the turnovers that are crucial to poor-shooting Memphis’s game.

UConn will take Missouri down in the Elite Eight as the Tigers’s solid bigs in DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons will face bigger and better players in Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien.

UCONN

EAST

My pre-tournament favorite, I thought this was surely the year Pitt wouldn’t choke what with the second most dominant center in the tournament in DeJuan Blair, a great veteran point guard in Levance Fields, and a top-notch athletic swing in Sam Young.  This would be the year they’d finally beat a team better than a six-seed, the year they’d finally advance past the Sweet Sixteen–and admittedly they obviously still have the chance–but I’ve never seen a #1 team look so lackluster in the first two rounds.  Nevertheless, they should be able to slip by Xavier in a very low-scoring defensive bore-fest.

Nova/Duke will be a fascinating game as both teams play similar multi-guard, dribble-drive, kick-for-the-three offenses.  Nova has the vastly superior athletes–not to mention a mid-range threat in Dante Cunningham–but Duke pays the refs, so this one has to be a toss-up.  Jay Wright is one of the finest coaches in the game and should be able to get by a cryin’ and cursin’ Coach K.  (By the way, any one notice Krzyzewski saying a silent prayer before Duke’s matchup with Texas?  Weird.  I wonder who he was praying too, I thought he already sold his soul.)

In a rematch from earlier this year cheaply played at the Spectrum so that the Wildcats would be allowed to play in Philadelphia in the first two rounds, I again think the better coached, better skilled, less grabby Nova will take out Pitt as the Panthers struggle to match them score-for-score.

VILLANOVA

I’ll be back tomorrow with my analysis of the Midwest and South regions and how embarrassing CBS’s coverage truly is.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

7.2% ABV

Sierra Nevada’s first new and regular release since the company began in 1980, I was stoked to try this “extra” IPA.  And it was pretty solid.  Citrusy with mild hops and a thinness and smoothness which made surprised at the ABV.  Drinks like a single IPA which I suppose can be a good thing.  Ultimately, I found it not even as tasty as their iconic Celebration.  I guess you got to admire Sierra Nevada for not trying to go “extreme” like all the other breweries are going nowadays.  Unfortunately, I like extreme.  I like hop bombs that numb my tongue.  Still, it’s refreshing to know I can find this in most every single bodega and deli in my neighborhood so now, even in a pinch, at any hour, walking just a block or two, I will always be able to get a decent IPA.

A-/B+

*Save Greg Paulus.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine (2001)

March 6th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Barley wine

9.6% ABV bottled

A friend down in San Juan for the World Baseball Classic just sent me a text:

“medalla light tastes like puerto rican bath water.”

That got me thinking about good names for beers that (yet!) do not exist:

PUERTO RICAN SHOWER ALE

This high ABV ale tastes like cheap cologne because it’s main component actually is cheap cologne.  Be thankful though, the pungent cologne smells actually mask the even more potent body odor hints in this beer.

GOLDEN PARACHUTE LAGER

While CEOs and other upper-level executives get gigantic severance packages upon being fired or let go, us lonely plebes use to have nothing to look forward to but living on the streets and getting drunk on mouthwash.  Until now.  Golden Parachute Lager is the world’s cheapest beer, made from adjunct ingredients so poor they make rice and corn seem gourmet.  Packaged in handsome cardboard “drinky” boxes typically used for children’s juices, Golden Parachute is the only beer one is actually allowed to purchase with government food stamps.

LIGHT LITE (draught only)

The beer created for the discerning consumer who always approaches the bartender and asks, “Whadaya got light on tap?”  For the drinker that actually worries about the caloric content of their beer.  Ah, do not fret any more as Light Lite is a NO calorie beer that is crystal clear in color.  (Light/lite enough for ya’, Jack?!)  That’s because it’s actually tap water, garnished with an orange wedge because the same motherfucking idiots that ask for light beers are the same ones that think fruit slices should be in their adult beverages.

Now Bigfoot, that’s a great fucking name for one of the more legendary beers in the craft brewing world.  A stupendous looking brew with a glowing ruby color and possessing a world-class smell, I found this bottle a tad too boozy in taste.  But it was still quite good.  Spicy and hoppy, but lacking a little sweetness I prefer in my favorite barleywines (Old Guardian, JW Lees Harvest, GnarlyWine, etc).  Still, this is one of the best on the market.

Boy, I’d love some graphic logos for my aforementioned beer creations.  That sure would be cool.

But what about you?

I want to hear if you got any good, funny ideas for beer names.  Tell me in the comments.

A-

A Cornucopia of Christmas Beers

December 15th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Abita, Brewer: Blue Point, Brewer: Coors, Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: B-, Grade: C plus, Grade: C-, Style: Belgian Pale Ale, Style: Brown Ale, Style: IPA, Style: Winter Warmer

Feeling a little bit frisky on Saturday afternoon, I decided to buy every single Christmas/winter seasonal beer I had yet to have from the local supermarket and prebar with a cornucopia of the typically-spiced brews.

Blue Moon Full Moon

5.6% ABV

It is well-known how much I really kinda detest Blue Moon–Coors’ hush-hush attempt at trying to make microbrews–thinking it everything wrong with beer. Meant to be “good,” but in reality just mass-produced stuff that chickens out and appeals to no one. Too lame for real beer geeks, too non-watered down for novice drinkers. Though a lot of girls seem to like it if plenty of orange slices are added. I don’t know why I thought Full Moon would be better. The label actually almost convinced me with its claim to be an “abbey ale brewed with a hint of dark Belgian sugar.” Boy, the gall! I realized almost immediately what a con artist this bottle was. Well, not immediately. The first thing I realized was–beer snob alert!–this has to be one of the first twist-top bottles I’ve had in months. Kinda nice actually, I can never find my bottle opener and always need the Nigerian kid next door to bite my caps off. The second thing I noticed was that Full Moon poured quite dark, like a legit dubbel or something, whatdayaknow? Surely one of the darker American macros I’ve ever seen. The taste is all wrong though. Blue Moon again acts cowardly by ostensibly starting off with good intentions but by then pulling punches to try and appeal to the masses. What this actually tastes like is a decent dubbel that has been mixed with 50% tap water. Imagine that.

C

Abita Christmas Ale 2008

Unknown ABV (seriously Abita, list your fucking ABV, it’s like the only stat we all care about!)

Abita is another brewery that really rubs me the wrong way. Oh, how many times I’ve bought one of their beers, one of their countless new releases, thinking, “Hmmmm…that sounds interesting, that sounds good.” It never is. Abita is surely one of the shittiest prominent craft breweries in America. Nice labels, but everything they make is mediocre at best to absolute dreck at worst. Don’t tell that to a Louisianan though! Yet again, Abita tricked me here with their slick hologram-esque, unphotographable label*. This beer was just garbage. Not bad-tasting or anything, just not-tasting. Called a brown ale, it did indeed look that way, but tastes of absolute water. If the World Beer Championships ever held a contest to see who could make the darkest colored beer with no flavor, I think we might have our winner here. You fooled me yet again, Abita. What’s the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for like the forty-fifth time, Abita, and…yeah, I’ll probably still take a whirl on your next shitty seasonal selection.”  Got anything in the works for Valentine’s Day?  Perhaps a beer steeped with those chalky little candy hearts?!

C-

Blue Point Winter Ale

4.5% ABV

With all these shitty Christmas beers, I was starting to be happy to be a dirty Jew. Also because I don’t have to hang out with people I hate on December 25th, I can just go to the movies, eat steak, get wasted, and hang with sexy Jewesses (no, that’s not an oxymoron you antisemite). Blue Point, unlike Blue Moon and Abita, is a brewery that I have actually found to have made some respectable stuff in the past. No masterpieces or anything, but alotta solid efforts. Here is another one. Good hops and seasonal spices, this is probably the only legit “winter warmer” out of any of these four. I liked but didn’t love this one. Needs a higher ABV quite frankly to keep you toasty during the Yuletide season. At a minimum, though, Sam Adam’s and Brooklyn’s winters are better.

B-

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

6.8% ABV

OK, nice red label with a wreath framing a pastoral picture of a snowcapped log cabin and the name “Celebration” would certainly make you think you’re getting a winter beer, full of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and other egg-noggy type things. Nope. This is pretty much just a standard double IPA. And a good one at that. What in the world is Sierra Nevada thinking in making this their special winter seasonal? Who knows. But thanks, I guess.  Delicious and overhopped in a good way, sticky and full of citrus sensations, this one is worth searching out. As a “winter” beer this is an abject failure, but just as a beer, it is probably the best Sierra Nevada I’ve ever had and a damn fine IPA.  I can’t wait for Sierra Nevada’s summer beachtime seasonal release, tentatively slated to be a 13% ABV dark chocolate and coffee stout that actually give the inside of your stomach a sunburn.

A-

Final thought:  when are they ever gonna make me some Hanukkah seasonal beers? Perhaps a nice strong ale with tastes of potato latke, chocolate gelt, and dreidels? YUM.

*Perhaps they make unphotographable labels so that one can never actually prove they drank a shitty Abita beer?

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale

August 28th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Pale Ale

6.7% ABV from a bomber (1st release)

If your dad came home every day from the office, loosened his tie, grabbed The Economist, and drank a nice wine…well then you grew up pretty rich and were probably loved.

And if your dad came home every night and drank a single malt Scotch…well then you probably only got to see him every other weekend and fucking hate his new trophy wife that was a senior at your high school when you were a sophomore.

And if your dad came home every night and waited until dinner at Chili’s to have a single bottled domestic…well then you grew up middle class.

And if your dad came home every afternoon from the factory/auto body shop/Hardees shift and immediately went to the old fridge in the garage to grab a can of Keystone/MGD/Busch then proceeded to plop down on the Laz-E-Boy and polish off beer after beer after beer (throwing empties at his bastard kids’ heads) straight through supper until passing out in front of the wood cabineted boob toob at 10:30…well then you probably grew up pretty poor.

And if your dad came home every night and shook up a dirty, dirty martini for himself…well then he probably left your mom and moved in with his “friend” Ricky once you left for college.

And if your dad came home every night and drank a Gatorade and then headed off to play tennis with a bunch of old ladies…well then you are me and that’s my pops.

And if some man came home every night and drank a nice craft beer like Sierra Nevada and you aren’t even aware of this man because your mother told you that she used to be a “bit of a party girl” back in her early 20s in New York so your father could be any of a number of fellas…well then that estranged man would be me. Please don’t get a DNA test.

Southern Hemisphere Harvest has an incredibly nice smell. New Zealand hops and North American malts. Not the hugest pale ale fan, but I like this one. Bitter and tasty. Citrusy and very spicy. A very solid special release from what is often called the oldest craft brewery in America.

B