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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Stone’ Category

The Stone Event at Blind Tiger

March 25th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Green Flash, Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Style: Chile beer, Style: IPA, Style: Smoked Porter, Style: Stout, Style: Strong Ale

Note:  any characters with similarities to persons living or dead (cirrosis?) is purely not a coincidence.

You go to enough beer geek events and you start wondering what “Piano Man” might have sounded like had Billy Joel hung around some of these creepy events stocked with some truly depressing lifeforms.  The events never start as late as nine o’clock on a Saturday, usually more like two in the afternoon on a Wednesday when the regular crowd shuffles in:

No man is ever making love to his tonic and gin (a spirit?!), but I always see this obese man with a minuscule Beetlejuice head atop his body stick his schnoz all the way into his tulip for a good minute before imbibing.  The mulleted Irishman at the bar may be named John, but he’s no friend of mine, in fact, his only friends seem to be a coterie of mental ward patients only allowed off Shutter Island for special craft beer events.  He’s never quick with a joke, and I doubt he smokes (would F up his palate), but he sure will bitch about the over-maltiness of a Double IPA.  Davy’s not in the navy but it looks like he eats gravy for every meal (what pairs well with that?) and he brags about being the first in line at every Captain Lawrence release (”I know Scott”).  The fat fat fat Italian lady doesn’t discuss politics but she sure will bitch at you if you get a bar seat before her (perhaps she’s…eternally pregnant?) and after five pints will start ranting in Italian.  Most of the guys aren’t real estate novelists–most likely in computers, or unemployed–and though few women would have them they have no time for a wife because there’s fucking wild ales to drink!  The tiny scraggly Asian quickly gets stoned on samplers of bourbon-barreled stout and never makes eye contact with any one, instead preferring to keep his nose in sci-fi pulp.  Then there’s the guy who looks like Jerry Garcia and wears shorts no matter the weather and the skinny ginger dweeb always passing out business cards for his crappy beer blog and the (male) Indian slob with bigger tits than Dolly Parton.

And the bar looks like a carnival (of side-show freaks) and the smelly British bloke is surely homeless yet he likes to brag about having surpassed 2000 reviews on Rate Beer…all these folks are sharing a drink called loneliness, well I guess it’s better than being a Trekkie queer.

I said Bill I believe these dorks are killing me, as the smile runs away from my face, well I’m sure I’d be full of more cheer, if I wasn’t into such fancy beer.*

Honestly, I always expect the worst and trod carefully when I go to beer geek events but the Stone one at Blind Tiger last night was stupendous–perhaps because I got a coveted bar seat in the mob scene, perhaps because I actually had an attractive girl with me (a site rarer than a bottle of Midnight Sun M amongst this crowd), perhaps because I quickly got loaded and entered my Stoic state–and I had some great offerings. Like most beer connoisseurs Stone was one of my first “idols” but, sadly, you get to a point where you don’t think they can impress you any more, you almost forget to drink them even.  I was wrong to ever be so blasphemous.

Chipotle Smoked Porter and Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean (cask)

Stone’s 5.9% ABV smoked porter is one of the best in the biz and I was curious to see what these additions would do to an already great beer.  A lover of spicy foods, the chipotles added a terrific zing to the brew which tickled my uvula and tingled the area behind my sternum as it went down.  Just liked Cigar City’s mindblowing Hunahpu’s Mayan Imperial Stout which is aged on pasillo and ancho peppers, I just love how these rich, maltier beers taste with a little chili heat.  (A-)  As for the Vanilla Bean, it had one of the best aromas I’ve ever encountered, just a luxurious and creamy vanilla smell, but unfortunately the taste didn’t quite stack up and was surprisingly mild in flavor.  (B)

Double Dry Hopped Double Bastard (2009)

Now I’m not exactly sure what double dry hopping means, but I do know that Stone’s highly limited, tap only Double Dry Hopped standard IPA has surged into the Beer Advocate Top 100, so I was intrigued to try this effort and it totally delivered.  A gorgeous ruby red grapefruit color but an incredible floral smell.  Kinda skirts the ground in between DIPA and barleywine, like a slightly aged Dogfish Head 90 Minute.  Whatever the case, an amazing beer.  (A)

Ruination w/ Simcoe and Amarillo (cask)

This DIPA was straight danky and just like pure liquid hops.  As I was drinking this, coincidentally, a vagrant passed by the open bar window smoking a spliff.  I gotta say, the joint paired well.  (A)

Old Guardian (2007)

Old Guardian was my first ever “favorite” beer and the beer that made barleywine my first ever “favorite” beer style.  Lately though I found each yearly release of Old Guardian to be a little “hot” (could you calm down on the scare quotes, Goldfarb?) and hoppy.  Thus, I was psyched to try a three-year aged version, probably the oldest version I’ve ever had.  This old friend had matured wonderfully into a silky, malty, cordial-like drink.  Lovely.  (A+)

Arrogant Bastard Aged in Bourbon Barrels

Gotta say, did not see this one coming.  How could such a glorious beer aged in bourbon barrels not be startling?  It was startling, just startling in the wrong way–this was easily my least favorite beer of the night.  The bourbony flavors simple did not meld well at all with the legendary strong ale.  (B)

Imperial Russian Stout (2007) and Imperial Russian Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels (2008)

Despite all the amazing beers I had last night, comparing an already monumental imperial stout now aged and/or bourbon barreled (!) to everything else I had was just not fair.  Not much else to say.  Both were as good as you could imagine, probably better.  (A+ and A+)

So I batted 16 for 16 last night and tried every single Stone offering, not to mention the swell Green Flash tote Le Freak (a very spicy, yeasty saison) (A-/B+) and Pallet (sic?) Wrecker (a tap only rarity that is one of the best DIPAs I’ve had in a while) (A).  I stumbled home and may or may not have watched three straight hours of “Life” on my DVR pretending I was on a drunken safari (”Look out, ostrich!”)

*I’m not exactly Al Yankovic but I’d love if someone musically talented out there could write this song.

Stone Collaborations

November 13th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: BrewDog, Brewer: Cambridge, Brewer: Ken Schmidt, Brewer: Maui, Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Country: Scotland, Grade: A-, Grade: A-/B+, Style: Pilsner, Style: Porter

Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter

8.5% ABV bottled

Like corned beef, chopped liver, lox, and gefilte fish, macadamia nuts are one of those foods us Jews innately like for some reason.  But, unlike corned beef, chopped liver, lox, and gefilte fish, which you gentiles often don’t quite have a taste for, all human beings love macadamia nuts, arguably the world’s best nut.  Thus, I was quite excited for the first beer, I’m aware of, to be made using luxurious macadamia nuts.  As Morty Seinfeld once said, “They’re like 80 cents a nut!”  I’d really enjoyed the previous Stone collaboration beers I’d had–their Special Holiday Ale with Nogne O and Jolly Pumpkin and their Belgian Triple with Mikkeller and Alesmith–and luckily The Drunken Polack was able to secure me a bottle of this treat too!  This beer is cool in that one of the collaborators is a home brewer, the aforementioned Ken Schmidt, who won a contest Stone put on, crafting a beer so good the big boys from San Diego decided to try and recreate it on a larger scale.  This porter–as mentioned earlier this week, a “new” favorite style of mine–is getting near universal acclaim, but I wasn’t quite as floored as the masses.  And, I’ll readily admit, that’s probably due to my expectations.  What with its massively long name, essentially listing all the ingredients at once, I assumed the most prominent flavors would be of macadamia nuts and sweet coconut.  So, when I got a beer that was actually prominently focused on the Kona coffee, I was confused at first.  Eventually, being a big fan of coffee beers though, I grew to really enjoy this one.  This is very much a roasted, dark and rich beer ala Peche Mortel.  Not a hair of sweetness.  Really got only the slightest hint of slick sweet coconut and macadamia nuts on the finish, but maybe those with niftier pallates can extract those flavors better than I can.  Nonetheless, another great one from Stone.

A-

Juxtaposition Black Pilsner

10% ABV bottled

Better and more succinctly named than the previous Stone collab, but equally hard to photograph with a non-label label I’m still not sure whether I like or not–major pain in the ass to have to get your magnifying glass out to figure out which of the collaborations you actually have–this was another beer sent to me by Drunken Polack.  A Stone completist, I absolutely needed to try this joint offering with BrewDog and Cambridge, but I actually wasn’t that excited for it.  A pilsner?  Bleh.  I was so wrong though, this was quite delicious.  After you get over the fact that you’re tasting an incredibly hoppy dark beer, you can see Juxtaposition for it brilliance.  Floral and piney on the smell, some added roastiness on the taste, shockingly drinkable for the ABV.  This isn’t quite the iconoclastic beer Stone seems to think it is–aside from the coloring–but it’s awesome nonetheless.  I wish I had more bottles of it.

A-/B+

Keep the collaborations comin’!

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic

October 6th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Cure for the Common Cold

The say you should treat the common cold with lots of fluids, tons of medicine, and plenty of rest.  Yeah, that shit never works.  But a thing that does work is binge-drinking.  Think about it, does not heavy imbibing of beer handle the “lots” of fluids, “tons” of medicine, and, eventually, force you to have “plenty” of rest?  Swimmingly it does, I might add.

Firstly, drinking oodles and oodles of ounces of ounces of the cocktail made with two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen is so boring and unflavorful.  Not like beer.  Secondly, swallowing big ol’ horse pills of ear, nose, throat, and head pain relievers is no easy task.  Unlike throwing some beer down your gullet.  And no one likes to force themselves to rest, so why not drink yourself into a sleepy oblivion?

I mean, why do you think ER patients in intense pain are sometimes forced into a coma?  So that they won’t have to experience all the terrible things happening to them as the recover from trauma.  Why have a “lost weekend” when you’re well?  A lost weekend when you’re in tip-top shape will involve missing all sorts of fun.  Hanging with friends, partying, playing with girls, and general revelry.  When you sober up and hear what you missed while you were blacked out you’re always inevitably pissed.  But, a “lost weekend” or week, in some cases, while you’re sick?  Why that’s genius!  Start drinking heavily and next thing you know you will have missed several days of a groggy head, pulsating sinus pressure, hacking up a lung and ejecting all sorts of green stuff from your nose, as well as being forced to watch daytime TV (although “Family Feud” continues to be hypnotizingly addictive).

As someone who is currently sick from the common cold, I can tell you that nothing can and will heal this pain save time.  So, I’ll just have to ignore it.  I will have to become a sort of drunken time traveler.  Start drinking heavily right now, and next thing I know, I’ll have woken up flawlessly well on Friday morning, totally having avoided the expected misery of this week.  Like a bear hibernating through the coldly harsh months.

The only drawback to drinking while sick is that your sense of smell and taste are too FUBAR to fully enjoy the great craft beer you’re drinking.  Alas, everything does have its debits.  Then again, some beers are so aromatic and so flavorful that even a man without a face could enjoy them.  The new Stone Vertical Epic comes to mind.

I’ve kinda been down on Stone lately.  Stone was the first craft brewery I loved and I’ve long considered it THE best craft brewery in America, but lately I’ve been fairly disenchanted with them.  I was beginning to wonder if Stone could just no longer compete with some upstart breweries or whether the ubiquity of Stone products and the amount of each of them I’ve enjoyed over the years had finally made me familiarly contemptuous of them.  Glad to say that with their recent super-hopped 13th Anniversary Ale, and now especially 09.09.09, Stone is still firing on all cylinders.

09.09.09 is quite a subtly unique little beer.  Like a dubbel mixed with a banana rich weisenbock in a way.  Flavors of mixed orange and chocolate with hints of vanilla bean as well as some oakiness too.  A very nicely crafted beer and certainly not to be missed.  All hail Stone, they are certainly still the kings.  And if they had a stupid little 200 bottle special release party for some new wild ale or tequila-barreled porter, they’d go back to getting the attention they rightfully deserve.  Shit, I just hope I can get a bottle of that tequila-barreled porter!

A-

Stone Cali-Belgique

March 2nd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

6.9% ABV from a bomber

My Lesbian Wingman

We were hitting it off amazingly.  We agreed on everything, had the same likes, and, more importantly, the same hates.  The same ideals, beliefs, hopes, dreams, and favorite songs.  We were soon inappropriately dancing dirty in the stuffy pub.  Then even more inappropriately groping and making out in a corner booth.

Then, she told me she was a lesbian.

It was Sunday night and I had been drinking for twelve straight hours.

The day began early with some brunch, beers, and college hoops.  I enjoyed Stone’s Cali-Belgique belgian IPA, a beer I’d been searching for forever due to my immense love for Stone but which I’d eventually become disinterested in as it continued to get middling reviews.  I shouldn’t have been as it is another stellar Stone offering.  Gorgeous yeast aroma with a similar creamy taste, just a hint of citrusness and hops.  I have no idea why this beer has gotten such lackluster reviews as it is absolutely delicious.

As darkness overcame the city, my friend and I headed to the Gramercy area for a charity benefit for another, older friend.  There, as drunken fortysomethings mingled, my friend and I polished off some of the best sliders in the town.

After scarfing down enough appetizers to sate an offensive line, we set our sights on some women, specifically a troika at the booth adjacent to our’s.  I began running the numbers in my head, making prisoner’s dilemma (seducer’s dilemma?) calculations on which of the three to go after, throwing all the variables into my algorithm:  best looking, most interesting, the one I have the best rapport with, drunkest, most apparently transgressive, and countless other factors you have probably never even considered.

I couldn’t help but be enraptured by the second best looking of the three, a 4′11″ fireball named Rebecca.  Though she was doing the least talking, she had a mischievous look on her face, a scheming glint in her eye, that made me reckon we would soon be friends.  However, my finely tuned gaydar* was blipping a little, a fact I shouldn’t have ignored though instead quickly dismissed in my drunken state.  And, the mere fact that the energy between us was palpable seemed to tell me all I needed to know.

I slid into the booth beside Rebecca and we began to play a little game of “Do you like to?”

Do you like to get drunk and belligerent?

Do you like to be the center of attention?

Do you like to mock morons and castigate idiots?

Do you like to throw pint glasses?

Do you like to get thrown out of bars?

Do you like to carve your own hilarious path through life?

She liked all these things!  In fact, she liked all of these things far more than even I did.  She was my doppelganger, and being a clinical narcissist, I was obviously in love with this hyper-aggressive dynamo.

“Rebecca, do you want to be the Bonnie to my Clyde?  We’ll lay waste to this island, going from bar to bar like dangerously bibulous satyrs, throwing alcohol down our gullets and wreaking havoc on the fools in this town.”

She noted that she had never seen the movie** but got the reference and enthusiastically agreed.  I was incredibly excited.

I took off the hat I’d been wearing all day to reveal an epic case of hat hair.  Rebecca told me I looked like Robert Smith of The Cure.  I’m happy-go-lucky but I still love The Cure and grabbed Rebecca’s arm, taking her to the jukebox where we ordered up some “Just Like Heaven.”  Soon, Rebecca was showing me, showing me, showing me some lascivious tricks in the corner of the bar.  We were groping, fondling, kissing, and disgusting our friends.

We sat back down in the booth were she continued to kiss me and flatter me.  And, then she stopped and retracted.  She grabbed both my hands, looked me solemnly in the eyes, and…

“I am so sorry, Aaron.”

For what?

“I think you’re great, but I’ve given you the wrong impression…”

Histrionic pause like we’re in a soap opera.

“I’m a lesbian.  I’m so sorry.”

Sorry?!  I was ecstatic.

I told her she had nothing to apologize, this was great!  I instantaneously had had an Archimedes “Eureka!” moment and seen the future.  My future.  Our future.  On the spot I improvised a plan whereas she would be my lesbian wingman and me visa-versa.  We would travel from bar to bar, seducing women from all ends of the spectrum, sometimes for threesomes, sometimes just to help each other out.  It was a brilliant plan, a devious plan, and she loved it.  I thought new ground was for sure being broken and so did she.

Having great male wingmen is one thing, but they still come with issues, jealousy, competition, and too much testerone.  An opposite sex, opposite persuasioned wingman would negate those errors.

Rebecca and I decided to meet again to fully hatch our plans.  However, though we did get together a few other times, the partnership never fully came to fruition, was never full realized or put into action.

But I still love the concept.  And I still want a lesbian wingman.  So I’m now accepting application to be mine.  Please send your resumes and headshots to theviceblog [at] gmail.com.  Please, no fucking PDFs.

A-

*I don’t know why I have such good gaydar.  Perhaps it’s due to living in Manhattan or maybe I’m just a bigot who likes to stereotype people.

**She should see the movie.  It still stands as one of the most significant contributions to 20th century film.

Stone/Jolly Pumpkin/Nøgne Ø Special Holiday Ale

January 8th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Jolly Pumpkin, Brewer: Nøgne Ø, Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Country: Norway, Grade: A-/B+, Style: Winter Warmer

9% ABV bottled

Argue with me if you must, and I roundly encourage it, but Queens is clearly New York’s most fucked up borough.* And, by “fucked up,” I mean it’s the borough where you are most likely to encounter some crazy “Am I in a movie?” “Did I just see that?!” oh-I-wish-I-had-my-camera-on-me bullshit. Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good thing. You may not, however.

Last time I was in Queens was a month or so ago. A girl had just ejected me from her apartment at 5:00 AM and I was drunk, banged-up, stuck in the middle of nowhere, and had no clue how to get back to Manhattan. After ten minutes of stumbling around looking for a cab, my savior arrived. A gypsy limousine. Literally I suppose.  The Egyptian driver rolled down his window and all but ordered me: “Get in. Front seat.”

A weird request if you’re sober, but not when you’re drunk and lost. I sat down, “What a night, have I got a story for you,” I lamented. The driver interjected, “No, brother, have I got a story for you.” As we drove back toward Manhattan he lit up a joint which we passed back and worth while he spun the tale of his previous passenger. Seems he was chauffeuring around a married couple having a night on the town. Midway through the evening, the husband told the wife he wanted a divorce, they argued, he hopped out of the limo, and hailed another cab.

So, of course, she did the only natural thing one would do in that situation…she told the driver to pull over so she could fuck him as an act of revenge toward her husband. “Happens all the time,” he lasciviously smiled at me.

By the time we had crossed the 59th Street Bridge, the joint was finished. “How ’bout another?” said my new friend. I nodded. So, of course, he did the only natural thing and pulled off to the side of the 2nd Avenue where he proceeded to roll another doobie and soon we were again feelin’ groovy. Finally, dropping me off back at my apartment, my spirits were buoyed. So were his. “This ride’s on me, partner,” he winked as he drove away.

Most Manhattanites are snobs that refuse to ever leave our borough. I’m a snob, but I’m always willing to leave the borough, especially if adventure is promised. And, I rarely turn down an offer from my friends in Queens because in that borough depravity is all but guaranteed.  So much so that I can’t visit it too often less my already suspect morals get even more corroded.

It was Saturday afternoon and I was bored. It was cold out and I had no plans. I had no personal initiative either.  Thus, beer was in order.  Carpe diem?  Fuck that.  That’s why alcohol is so awesome.  It helps you seize the day.  It helps you come up with plans.  It is nothing if not “decisiveness juice.”**

I went with a bottle of the semi-rare winter special collaboration from master breweries Stone, Jolly Pumpkin, and Norway’s Nøgne Ø. It’s been my favorite winter beer this year and it is surely one of the most unique “warmers” I’ve ever had. Tastes of ginger, juniper (making it have some gin-like qualities, nice!), chestnuts (never heard of that in a beer before!), white sage, and caraway. Spicy, delicious, and goes down easy. Perfect for a cold night.

Around 7:00 I got a text from Stanton:  “come to queens im trying to hit rock bottom tonight.”

I thought he was joking.  Maybe not.  But whatever the case, it sounded like a plan.  “carpe diem” I texted back.

I put on my most disposable clothing, stuff I’d wear when painting a house, helping a friend move.  I could tell this evening had the potential to be “one of those nights.”  I own so little decent clothes, I couldn’t afford to ruin or lose the few decent pieces in my closet.

Queens is a quicker jaunt than people think.  I can get there far speedier–from Hell’s Kitchen–than I can get to Brooklyn, Hoboken, Jersey City, or even the Upper East Side.  Has any one ever done a “currency exchange rate” between the boroughs?  If not, it should be calculated.  Now, Queens isn’t exactly Oklahoma City vis-a-vis Manhattan but it’s significantly cheaper than it is in Manhattan.  Getting off the N train stop in Astoria–site of another legendarily fucked up Queens adventure–I found a craft beer store cum deli cum Indian adult video shop.  I was impressed with the selection, and amused when I had to wake up the shop owner who had fallen asleep watching a humiliation porn DVD at full volume so that I could purchase a sixer of Hop Devil for a mere $9.99.

Getting to Stanton’s apartment, I realized he had begun “Operation: Rock Bottom” without me.  He was already quite toasted, ten beers deep.  We aggressively dove into the Hop Devil as Stanton made me watch some “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” season four episodes, yet again trying to convince me of the greatness of the FX comedy.  Look, I know it’s considered sacrilege in many circles, but I just don’t think the show is as funny as everyone claims.  I watched all of season one and most of season two and, while I found it decent and semi-amusing, I didn’t think it was as iconoclastic as people so claim and it usually only gave me a medium-sized chuckle or two.  Eventually, my DVR started stacking up with unwatched episodes and soon I quit the program altogether.  Trying to prove the show’s worth, Stanton played me his favorite episodes from the most recent season, but again, I simply didn’t see any greatness.***

After the sixer was polished off, we went to watch my friend’s band at a legit Queens Irish pub.  Irish pubs in Queens are quite different from how they are in Manhattan.  It’s not something I can put into words, just a certain je ne sais quois, a visceral sensation.  There is both less and more happiness among the denizens.  There’s both more normalcy–like you’re just drinking in some one’s living room–and less–like you’re in some major sin den–it’s quite paradoxical.  There, after countless beers and Jameson shots we came to realize something:  it was literally impossible for the two of us to ever hit rock bottom.

You see, we may be drunkards, perhaps even borderline, semantic “alcoholics,” but we will never screw up our lives.  At least completely.  In totality.  We’re smart enough, savvy enough, seasoned enough, and wise enough to be full-blown tipplers and still maintain jobs, incomes, solid health, and relationships.  Yeah, we’ll get in mild trouble every so often, ruin entire Sundays sleeping it off, perhaps even miss a day or two of work, occasional offend those around us, send a dumb drunken e-mail or two, maybe even tarnish a friendship for a day or two, perhaps even get in trouble with an “authority” figure out two, but nothing large scale.  You could say this behavior is why we don’t have wives, children, mortgages, even pets.  But has it ever occured to you that we intentionally don’t have those things because we don’t want to bring any others into our selfish and decadent morasses?

It was both an enlightening eureka! moment and a bit of a depressing discovery.  What to do when you realize you can never hit rock bottom?  That you only have “warning track power” in the ruin-your-life game?  Did Chuck Yeager feel this way before he punched through the clouds and hit Mach 1?

Thus, we had no choice but to cancel “Operation:  Rock Bottom.”  Now what to do?  A shitcanned Stanton told me he knew of a Mexican dance club nearby, The Black Donkey.  Hot Latino women galore.  Only problem is, no gringos allowed.  “Operation:  Desert Shield” became “Operation: Desert Storm” and “Operation: Rock Bottom” became “Operation: Gringo Infiltration.”

I’m a swarthy Jew which makes it somewhat tough to completely pin down my ethnicity.  I’ve been thought to be Italian, Israeli, Middle Eastern, Greek, even black (!), and from countless Latino countries of origin.  Aside from my near six-foot height and liberal use of Yiddish argot, I could easily be confused for a Chicano. I wish I had a funny story about the infiltration of the club.  Something that involved me standing on Stanton’s shoulders and using a huge trench coat ala Alvin, Simon, and Theodore to sneak into the club.  Nope, we just ducked our heads down and threw out a quiet “hola” as we breezed by the bouncer and then passed through the metal detectors.  Aye carumba!  Unlike Plaxico, I typically have a rule about entering drinking establishments that see a need for friskings, but, when in Queens…

While Stanton got a bucket of the only beer available, I began ogling the women.  Good lord!  The club was like 70% female and all the girls were like Latino models.  Hour glass figures with huge asses and fake breasts oozing from their leather tops.  Why…if I didn’t know better…

“Stanton, is this…a strip club?”

“Not exactly.”

Here was the deal, the bar was neither a strip club nor a brothel and there was no nudity whatsoever, but it was a “pay-to-dance” club.  As in, ten bucks to simply dance–grind that is–with the hot women.  Absurd!  I loathe strip clubs, detest lap dances, and have no use for prostitutes, and now I’m going to pay to dance with a strange woman?  I don’t even like dancing with women I love!

Stanton was wasted though and has a Latino fetish of a sort, and is actually a semi-accomplished drunken hoofer, so he perused the line-up of chicks to find one to dance with.  Humorously, he was shot down by all of them.  “Gringo too wasted,” they all muttered.  We sat down at a dance floor side table to drink and begin surveying the scene for some further hijinks.

The next dance begun and all the minuscule Mexican men began to drag their purchased women to the parquet.  And then, I saw one of the strangest sites I’ve ever seen in my life.  I wish I’d had my camera on me, I wish the club wasn’t so dark that my cameraphone was rendered useless, because what I saw cannot be done justice in words, it was so fucking unbelievable.

The dozen or so men lined up hip to hip to hip to hip, etc. on the back wall as if pissing at a sports stadium urinal trough.  But, instead of relieving themselves, their $10 women got between them and the exposed bricks and they all began to grind on the women’s asses.  With authority.  My jaw was so far to the ground, I was so amused, that I didn’t notice Stanton methodically removing each Corona from the beer bucket.  I could not remove my eyes from the scene.

“How hard up are these dudes?  Paying money just to grind on a hot woman?  Seriously?  How long do they get?”

I turned to Stanton just as he put the beer bucket to his face and ferociously threw up into the melting ice.

Pulling his mug back up he smiled, he must have felt great, like a new man, a Phoenix coming out of the drunken ashes.  He answered my pre-barf question in the most matter-of-fact way.

“Well, they get to grind until they come, of course.”

Now it was my turn to barf.

“We better get out of here, Aaron.  Last time I came I got 86ed and we’re on the verge of that now.”

As we stood I noticed several men peeling off the grind wall, each Chino with a most indiscreet speckle of crotch wetness on their chinos.

I awoke the next day on Stanton’s couch, still fully dressed from the night before, my wallet and cell phone even in my jeans pockets.

Looking and acting like one hundred million pennies, Stanton informed me that it was now time for “Operation: Find a Wii.”  He planned to spend Sunday driving all around Queens and Long Island, hitting up Best Buys and gaming stores until he found the coveted video game system.  It sounded like more adventure was in store, but, unfortunately, I had a lunch date so I had to leave my pal.

The next morning, I received an e-mail from Stanton:

Played some awesome Tiger Woods Golf last night on our new Wii. The guy we bought from was such a characture (sic) of what you would think someone in Queens who sells hot Wiis would look like. Met him in the back of a Steak House called Charlie Brown’s. He claimed he’s in the Adult Entertainment industry and if we ever needed any Blu-ray DVDs he could hook us up. He then gave me his card. His name is Lou Bricate. Get it? Lubricate? You have to see this guy’s business card. I had a hard time keeping a straight face when he was talking to us.

Queens is so fucked up.

A-/B+

*My anecdotal rankings:

1. Queens
2. Staten Island
3. The Bronx
4. Manhattan
5. Brooklyn

**For that matter…alcohol is also bad idea punch, intellect intoxicant, insolence nectar, fighting fluid, boastfulness booze, smartass sauce, injury water, agressiveness aqua vitae, felony-committin’ firewater, and–of course–maybe above all else…depression drink.

***The greatest comedies of the past, let’s say, five years would be, in order:  “Arrested Development,” “Extras,” “The Office” (British), “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “30 Rock,” and “The Office” (U.S.)

Stone Twelfth Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

October 23rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Stout

9.2% ABV from a bomber (July 2008 bottling)

I’ll assume you haven’t seen Fellini’s “8½.” That’s cool. Most people nowadays haven’t and I’m not looking down on you for it in any way. I get it, modern folks simple have no interest, no tolerance, for “weird,” black and white, foreign, subtitled, art films. Shit, people in ‘08 barely have the time, energy, or inclination to sit through entire American mainstream pictures on such easily digestible subjects as lame faux-satires of lame trailers of lame films no one ever saw in the first place.

But you should see “8½,” it’s a frickin’ masterpiece, one of the best films in history. And it’s far from as boring as you probably think it is, rife with sex, sex, and…well sex. Isn’t that enough?

I bring “8½” up because I had a dream last night just like a dream the main character Guido has in “8½.” A visionary sequence that forms one of the most indelible scenes in cinema history. Now, yes, I too hate any conversation that begins, “I had a dream last night…”* but more on that in a bit.

I’ll steal Roger Ebert’s brilliant prose to discuss Guido’s dream where he “…occupies a house with all of the women in his life, past and present, and they all love him and forgive him, and love one another. But then there is a revolt, and he cracks a whip, trying to tame them. Of course he cannot.”

A similar thing happened to me. In my dream I was walking down the street minding my own business, listening to the “This American Life” podcast, when who should cross paths with me, but an omen even worse than a black cat–an ex-girlfriend. Our eyes met, her’s dilated and reddened, my jaw dropped, her nostrils flared like a bull seeing red, a squirt of urine came out of my urethra, and then I did what I’d probably do in real life–I turned and sprinted like a coward. One of those sprints where you can’t make ground, you feel as if you’re wearing patent leather tuxedo shoes on recently Zambonied ice. And I kept slipping, and she kept pursuing me slowly like a zombie. And just when I got some breathing room, I came across another girl from my past. A one-night stand I scorned by claiming I was moving to Los Angeles the very next day. With a Brian Westbrook spin move I escaped from her and ran into a three-months-long fling I jilted because she had a fat roommate I was getting sick of being seen in public with. I juked and jived and came to another ex and then another and another and another. I was surrounded on all sides. I had no choice. I fought through the swarm like a fullback plowing a goal line stand.

Somehow I escaped. I thought I was finally in the clear. I looked over my shoulder back toward the zombie exes, giggling at my freedom, when I collided with a freight train. My head hit smack dab in her well-formed chest. It was her! EGADS!

I woke up with a sweat, it had seemed all too real. I stared at the sleeping girl beside me. I’d liked her when we hit the hay but now I was nauseous from the spectacle of her. I went to the bathroom and read some Crate and Barrel catalog she had lying on a cosmetics stand.

So why am I telling you this?** Do I want to know what it means? Do I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something? Am I perhaps seeing into the future? No, of course not. Dream interpretation is a pseudoscience that is as big of crockery as phrenology or Ouija board seances. I tell you this simply to note that I dreamed last night. You see, I never dream. The only time I dream is when I drink heavily. “So you dream every night?” you retort back to me. Har, har. Not quite.

I only dream on those few-times-a-month occasions when I tie one on hard. And I only dream lucidly, vividly, like last night, when I drink something so potent and pleasurable. You see, last night I drank an entire bomber of Stone Twelfth Anniversary and it made my resting mind do backflips like I’d tripped the absinthe fantastic with Van Gogh and Gaugin. Yes, I know, this isn’t the most intellectually rigorous way to determine the worth of a product, but sometimes we need to simply critique things in the visceral.

The bottle lists its ingredients, oh so simple: barley, oatmeal, chocolate, hops, water, and yeast. I wish more breweries would list their brew’s components. It would take the guessing-game fun out of trying to “figure out” a beer, but it would also eliminate those insufferable pedants that try to humble you by claiming they taste all sorts of flavors that are simply not present.

The stout pours black, perhaps dark, dark purple, like sludge. A bubbly and gurgling cocoa brown head. The smell is of warm alcohol and smooth chocolate.

Gotta say, the taste is nowhere close to as bitter as I suspected. Likewise, I taste hardly any oatmeal at all. Though it is much more alcoholic than I thought it would be. A lotta bite on the back of the throat. It definitely warmed me up on a cold fall night. A member of the Polar Bears could drink one of these and have no problem jumping nude into the Atlantic.

I actually liked this one the more I drank it as the back end tastes started to shine through. Its got some problems no doubt. It could certainly use more pronounced flavors and it lacks complexity. It also has a quite bitter aftertaste that I really did not enjoy. Also, whether this is good or bad, at times it didn’t even feel like I was drinking a stout. More like a strong dark ale.

As it has been said before, this is one major league asskicker. The kind of stout that leads a person to–after polishing off a solo bomber–searching out hot former classmates on Facebook and actually contacting them (even though they are Relationship Status: Married (and quite frankly not as attractive as you recall from a decade ago)), to ordering the $9.99 soft-core from channel 535 on Time Warner on-demand, and then to, yes, having some fucked up dreams.

Overall, Twelfth Anniversary is a very good beer, but not one of the brilliant Stone’s best, and certainly not world class. And I don’t actually really like dreams that much, especially scary and all too real ones, so this may be my second and last time to have the Twelfth.

A-

*Second worst conversation starter: “Did you see what was on ‘Oprah’ yesterday? Let me tell you…”

**Other than to show that even asleep I may be a hack that plagiarizes my ideas from the greatest masters?

Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale

September 1st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

8.6% ABV from a bomber (limited release)

A bit tardy to the party, but better late than never!

Here’s the deal, the great Stone brewery–who still won’t reward my beloved touting of their mindblowing beers with any free shit–releases a new specialty beer one year, one month, and one day from the previous Vertical.  This started on January 1, 2001 (01.01.01) and will end on December 12, 2012 (12.12.12).  The thinking is that one will collect all the bottles and cellar them until after 2012 at which point they will do a “vertical” tasting, that is start with Vertical one and working all the way up until Vertical twelve at which point they will have been in a coma for a few hours.

I love the thinking, but I’m not much for planning that far ahead into my future.  Not much for commitments.  I mean shit, how can I know what I’ll be doing on 12.12.12?  I barely know what I’ll be doing on 09.09.08.  By 12.12.12 I’ll probably be a thrice-divorced teetotaler, living in a Buddhist commune in Little Rock, Arkansas, making spending money by selling I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter sculptures at county fairs.  And, if I’m not, if I’m still the world-famous Vice Blogger, then I’ll just find some friend with the foresight to have kept all the Verticals and mooch off of them.

08.08.08 smells fantastic, just like a Duvel which is one of my all-time favorites.  Unfortunately, it does not have quite as much flavor as Duvel.  Spicy, cloves, fruity (mainly citrus and other tropical ones are noted), Belgian yeasts, and a surprising amount of hops.  Sweet and bitter at the same time.  A tingly aftertaste nicely lingers.

Quit frankly, not quite enough bite and potency for my liking.  Which probably means I am a maniacally insane dipsomaniac because most other people online are calling this brew too alcoholic for their tongues.  Pussies.  Though a tad weak, this is still a very good beer though from the untouchable Stone.

One final point for my homebrewing friends.  Stone is cool enough to literally list the complete recipe for their beers online.  Remarkable.  I hope someone I know attempts it.

A-

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

August 7th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Stout

10.8% ABV from a bomber (“limited spring 2008 release”)

An open letter to Stone Brewery* AKA “Send Me Free Shit”:

Dear Stone,

A supermarket near me, of which I will not reveal the name, just got in a shipment of Stone Old Guardian and Imperial Russian Stout bombers which they incorrectly marked at $1.39 per, less than the Bud Light 40s comically enough. Being a responsible and moral man I immediately alerted the manager, letting him know that these semi-rare and highly-regarded beers should be more in the $6 range.

No, of course I didn’t do that! I backed a shopping cart up like I was robbing a bank vault and shoveled the entire stock in, needing a bum’s assistance to get all my glass bottles home. And why did I do this? Because I fucking love your beers! You’re my favorite brewery in the world (that isn’t operated by men of the cloth!)

Look at my rankings of your beers on my site so far:

Old Guardian Barley Wine……………………A+

Arrogant Bastard……………………………….A

Oaked Arrogant Bastard……………………..A

Ruination DIPA………………………………….A

India Pale Ale……………………………………A-

Pale Ale……………………………………………A-

My point? You should be sending me free shit.

There are countless beer blogs which I monitor on a daily basis–some great, many good, most shitty–and it boggles my mind and infuriates me how these bloggers get free beers, samplers, and other brewery swag seemingly heaped upon them!

Why don’t I get anything sent my way?!

Why doesn’t my favorite brewery send me some stuff? I’d love a few bottles of your 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout which I’ve been struggling so much to find in NYC over the past month. You know I’ll give it an A or A+ because it is undoubtedly awesome. Heck, even if sucks, tell you what, I still guarantee an A. That’s just the kind of whore I am. And that’s a message to all breweries, send me free stuff–shhh…it’ll be our little secret–and I’ll totally overrate your beers**. I don’t mind being a sell-out! If not the 12th Anniversary, Stone, then howzabout some of your coolass glassware for me to befittingly drink your delicious beers from? Or some hip clothing so I don’t have to do laundry as often can proudly walk through Manhattan freely advertising my favorite American beermaker as if wearing a sandwich board. I’d do it! Swear.

Why are these other blogs getting so many free beers and I am not? I have huge readership numbers and my google rank is better than almost all of them. That’s a fact. Is it cause those guys have “safe” and boring websites while mine is actually interesting? Is it cause I talk about nearly throwing up from a certain beer (you would have too), or of living with an alkie in an apartment building full of lunatics? Is it cause I compare drinking a certain beer to fucking a fat chick while I note that I love another beer so much that I’d give it a blowjob?! That’s not even possible you remark! How can one suck off to orgasm a fermented liquid?!

Are you telling me that I am not the kind of person you want to associate with? Is that it? I’m a big boy, I can take the truth. Be frank with me.

You’re a company known for being extreme. For creating big bold beers that kick the ass of “wussies” that typically drink pisswater. I’d think you’d want to be associated with such an awesome guy like me. I’ll be the MJ to your Gatorade. Don’t be like Mike, Be like The Vice Blogger! (OK, we’ll have to have marketing punch up that slogan a bit.)

But apparently you don’t want this to be.

If that’s the case, I would just say: uh, you know your products are ultimately for getting people drunk? How dare you stand on such high moral ground? How dare you be so haughty and supercilious toward me?

Whatever. You–and all the other breweries–can ignore me all they want, I’ll still drink your beers. Probably. And I’ll still love your beers, Stone.

Your delicious Imperial Russian Stout pours jet black with a foamy head that looks like Nestle’s Quik. Incredible lacing. It’s chocolately with a roasted bitter coffee taste. Hints of currant with a nice, alcohol-laden finish. One of the most palatable stouts I’ve ever had, making my tongue tingle with each sip of its potent flavor. Goes down smoothly like dessert. By the time I’m done with a bomber of this, I am always on my ass. Feel free to put that on your bottle like a movie critic blurb. First one is gratis.

“By the time I’m done…I am always on my ass.” –The Vice Blog

Stone, you already make my favorite barley wine which is also probably my favorite overall beer. You make one of my favorite DIPAs, strong ales, doubly strong ales, and smoked porters, so it’s no fucking surprise that you make arguably my favorite stout too.

BOOM! Another A to add to the chart.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout……………………….A

That’s just the kind of guy I am.

Now, hold up your end of the bargain and send me some free shit:

theviceblog [at] gmail.com

A

*But other brewers feel free to pay attention.

**Nope, not you Corona, nice try.

Stone Pale Ale

August 1st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Pale Ale

5.4% ABV from a sixer

The scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has just discovered a most interesting thing about the Malaysian pen-tailed treeshrew. This 25 centimeters long, 190 grams heavy creature drinks alcohol twenty four hours a day, every single day, guzzling the 3.8% ABV fermented and frothy nectar from the flower buds of the bertam palm. It is the only wild mammal known to be into the “good stuff” and pound-for-pound it is the hardest drinking animal in the universe. Even better, these 55 million years-evolved motherfuckers never get drunk, shitfaced, intoxicated, inebriated, crapulent, blotto, hammered, sloshed, plastered, or even tipsy.

How awesome are they?

Having said that, true I may not be as svelte as the treeshrew or as able to consistently marathon drink as much as them, but I beat those rascally critters in other ways. First, I drink way more potent brews (3.8% is almost as pathetic as Amstel Light. Step it up shrews!), and I would brashly wager I have far better besotted raconteurial skills, beer pong prowess, and adroitness at picking up bar floozies than they do. Plus, when I’m drunk I don’t shit in the woods like them. (Too often at least.)

But let’s not compare dick sizes, treeshrews. Though I’m guessing I would win at that contest too.

I love the treeshrew and I find great inspiration in them and their lifestyles. My dear readers are often concerned about my tippling escapades, but they need not be. I am actually in tip top shape. In fact, I’m not sure how you could read my blog and not realize that alcohol, for the most part, only improves my life. And the treeshrews’.

Dr. Frank Wiens from the University of Bayreuth in Germany (and now The Vice Blog’s #1 recommended healthcare professional) most certainly agrees with me. He believes that there are actually positive effects of the treeshrews’ (and thus humankind’s) insatiable urge to get loaded: “The trait of alcohol consumption is actively maintained during evolution, so the overall effect must be beneficial.”

Score!

So when you’re getting wasted at 10 AM on this upcoming Sunday morning as your wife hauls the kids off to church, don’t be concerned, don’t feel bad about yourself, but relish your drunkeness like you’re WC Fields. And tell your creationist wife that you’re evolved to get drunk and she’s the one not behaving inherently human.

Two nights ago I was visiting my favorite brewery Stone’s website–I look at beers online as if they are pornographic photos–when I noticed they had a Pale Ale. In fact it’s the first beer they ever made. How had I been drinking beers from Stone’s entire line for years and never realized this?! I have literally had every single other major Stone bottling plus numerous special releases, but had never even heard of their Pale Ale. And, I’d certainly never seen it around in stores and bars. Oddly enough, the next day I was visiting my friend in Hoboken when what should I see on his local beer store’s shelf but the Pale Ale. What kismet! Bacchus continues to watch over me!

Stone is known for big, bold, ass-kicking beers, so this seemed to be a very un-Stone-like brew right off the bat. At first sip I didn’t really love it. Seemed kinda bland, like their IPA only with far less hops, far less flavors and complexity, and a semi-sour finish. But by the end of the first bottle I’d grown to really appreciate it. Goes down smooth, a nice combination of creamy and silky hops and malts. In fact, the bottle proudly claims that literally the only ingredients in the beer are hops, malts, yeast, and water. What perfection can be attained from so few ingredients. I can’t recall ever polishing off more than two Stone beers in a night but my friend and I tore through bottle after bottle of the Pale Ale, never getting sick of it. I didn’t think Stone had a sessionable beer in them, but this is about as good as one gets.

A-

Stone Ruination IPA

July 25th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

7.7% ABV from a bomber

The Vice Blogger and the Alkie

What kind of cosmic practical joke is this? What sort of karmic retribution has become me? I now find myself living with a bonafide alcoholic fresh out of rehab.

Done laughing? Let me explain how this happened. My actual roommate–rather, the man I lease a room from–Brandon is…an interesting character. Actually, Brandon is his Christian name, he goes by his Indian yogi master-issued name currently. Professionally at least. I may write about him some other time, but dynamically we do get along swell. Mainly because we’re on vastly different schedules. I’m coming home from the night while he’s waking up on his wood board (seriously) bright and early to teach his first yoga class of the day. At home I’m a loner and so is he, both of us staying in our shut-door bedrooms, never bothering each other, even having the courtesy to only head to the bathroom when we’re sure the other one of us is safely tucked in his abode, therefore preventing any idle and uncomfortable chit-chat from occuring. We both like it this way.

Then, about a month ago, I came home drunk, late one night, and this man Steve was quietly sitting in my filthy, miniscule, and never-lived-in living room, just staring at the wall. Not sleeping. Not reading. Not eating. Not watching TV. Just sitting. A little weird, but I see weird a lot in my life. We shook hands, chatted for a sec, and I learned the basics. He was a friend/student of Brandon’s from yoga class. He inferred he’d only be staying a night or two. You know, like a normal houseguest. No big deal.

About a week later, I realized Steve was still living with us. No, I never saw him, I just noticed very basic things that meant he was still among us. A tussled blanket on the living room floor, a pair of shoes near the front door, and one of my towels had been taken out of the closet and used. None of this particularly bothered me as I was never seeing Steve and I’m a generous enough guy to let a stranger soil one of my towels.

Then, one early weekend morning as I slept off a hangover, a knock on my door. Brandon has never knocked on my bedroom door so I knew it must be the infamous Steve. I was still groggy as I opened the door with a terse “Yeah?”

“Hey man, can I borrow some money?”

At the early hour that didn’t seem like such an odd request. I explained I had none as I eschew paper loot in favor of plastic. Much neater. I did have a huge pile of change tossed carelessly onto my nightstand though, only quarters and some dimes as I throw most pennies and nickels away. They are stupid coins that just weigh down my pockets. I told Steve he could have the pile. In fact, it would be a favor to me as it would tidy up my nightstand and free up some space for more essential bedside items that you may wish to imagine about in your sick minds. Steve put his cupped hands slightly under the surface of my nightstand as I used my arm like a croupier uses a hook at the craps table in order to shovel the five to ten dollars U.S. toward him.

The next day, Steve asked to borrow my cell phone to make some calls and I complied. Fine, I realized, Steve is broke and kinda pathetic, perhaps lost his job, and Brandon is helping the guy out. That’s all. I’m a firm believer in you helping out your fellow man. And by “you,” I literally mean you. I don’t wish to help these down-and-out folks.

The next day, Steve asked to borrow my phone again. And he did so the next day and the next day and the next. And he began asking to borrow some cash every single day too. Now I was getting fucking annoyed as this squatter was living amongst me. Meanwhile, Brandon had skipped town back to his mother and father’s house in Delaware for an extended relaxation vacation from his job which is essentially based on relaxation.

Steve began acting erratic and weird, acting like he owned the joint. Every single morning I awoke to find our front door wide open. Sometimes Steve was in the apartment, often he wasn’t. Likewise, every single time I returned home, regardless of the hour, the fucking front door was ajar. Again, sometimes Steve was there, sometimes he wasn’t. Now I don’t exactly own the Hope Diamond and living on the absolute top and semi-deserted floor of our building we are pretty secluded, but I didn’t exactly like this behavior. It wasn’t safe. Only problem was, now I wasn’t seeing Steve for days despite the fact he was clearly still living with me, inexplicably using an entire bar of my soap every fucking time he showered. Luckily, he only seemed to shower once every four days or so. I’m one of those old timers still using bar soap. Irish Spring Sport to be exact, which I purchase in those bulk twelve-packs. How was this motherfucker using a bar a bath? I didn’t want to know. I began hiding my soap, towels, and computer in a little nook in my room.

One Saturday night, I returned home at like 5 AM. Of course, the front door was wide open but this time I found Steve inexplicably in the bathroom, the bright lights shining down on him as he lay on an afghan on the dirty floor, his feet touching the tub and his noggin mere inches from the less-than-spic-and-span bowl. He didn’t even appear to be trying to sleep.

Steve looked up at me as if this behavior was very much normal.

“Hey Aaron, can I borrow a few bucks?”

This was 5 AM recall, after I had spent a full day drinking beers and smoking cigars. I responded to his charity request quite kindly…

“Steve, could your move your fucking head? I need somewhere to stand while I take a piss.”

The next day, some three weeks after Steve began staying with us–I mean with me as I don’t believe Brandon has been in the apartment in weeks–I finally got a call from my AWOL roomie. He quickly began talking in a run-on sentence.

“Aaron I’m really so sorry he just got out of treatment and I wanted to help him out for a day or two but then he just started staying and he wouldn’t…”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa–BACK UP. ‘Treatment?’”

“Yeah, treatment.”

“For what?!”

“Oh, he’s a big-time alcoholic and drug abuser. Just got out of Pederson-Krag the day before he moved in with us.”

I could not believe I had been living with an alkie–that wasn’t the little Aaron devil that sometimes resides on my right shoulder–for nearly a month. While still on the phone I sprinted to the fridge, grabbing about $50 worth of trappist beer and some American strong ales I had recently stocked up on. I transported them back to my room where I hugged the cold bottles like teddy bears, softly telling them, “The big, bad drunkard ain’t never gonna steal you guys away from me!”

I’m so pissed. At Brandon and at the alkie. I sit quietly in my dim room right now writing and drinking a Stone Ruination IPA, perhaps appropriately named as my life is more ruined, seemingly in more shambles, than the Parthenon. In all seriousness, Stone named the beer Ruination because they (only partially jokingly) claim it will RUIN your palate it’s so damn hoppy. Stone claims it make foods bland and makes lesser beers undrinkable. They’re probably right as it packs a whopping 100plus IBUs. IBU stands for International Bitterness Units and is the measure of how hoppy, how “extreme,” a beer is. Usually on a zero to 100 scale. Your typical macros would probably check in at under 40 IBUs or so, while IPAs and barley wines soar toward 100 if not higher, though higher than 100 is often a gimmicky if not miscalculated number. It’s not gimmicky in Ruination’s case though. Predictably, I love high IBU beers.

I use a vanilla scented Glade candle to mask the intense hop smell of this beer. I don’t want Steve busting into my room like a crazed dipsomaniacal zombie, ripping the bomber out of my hands for a violent chug then sticking his tongue down my throat to taste any more lingering hints of alcohol. Actually, Steve is so freaking skinny I don’t think he could hurt me and steal my beer even if he wanted too. He’s so frail he must not be eating. Shit, maybe I should lend him money.

Everything the Stone IPA just gets a little wrong, a little “off,” Ruination NAILS. More flavorful, more complex, better hops. Delicious. Bursting with hops, pine, and citrus. Full-bodied and incredibly bold with some good spiciness. A surprisingly clean finish though. Looms in your mouth well afterward making you feel like you won’t need to take a second sip for minutes as the taste just doesn’t leave your tongue.

Gets better the more you drink it. And, yes, it really does ruin your palate and make other beers seem worthless by comparison. It is top notch. One of the best double IPAs on the planet*.

It has also now gotten me quite loaded. And as my grandpa used to say, my back teeth are floating. I gotta piss like a Secretariat.

Great. But I can’t go out there. I can’t chance walking outside of my safe womb of a bedroom and running into Steve. This is my fucking life. People in New York spend every second they are outside and on the street trying to avoid beggars. Forced to ignore them, turn the other cheek, act like they are not humans, just to avoid giving these hobos a nickel**. Now, every single time I exit my bedroom I am immediately confronted, bombarded, by the same thing — a fucking panhandler in my own fucking house.

What a joke. I wish there was an animal control for humans. I’d call them on Steve right now.

A

*Speaking of DIPAs and getting back to this week’s Hop Rod Rye post. Again, how is the 8% Hop Rod a single IPA, while the 7.7% Ruination a double?! They are both clearly doubles!

**And, yes, I realize the delicious irony of mentioning how I hate the homeless and refuse to give them money when just a few paragraphs earlier I discussed how I hate pennies and nickels so much that I just throw them away. I’m going to hell.