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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Surly’ Category

Smoke

June 17th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Porter


FOR OFFICIAL RELEASE
(to be reblogged, retweeted, hashtagged, Facebook statused, liked)

Many of you said the world of beer geekery couldn’t get any more geeky.  We said not true.  That’s why we at Lager Lady Magazine, in conjunction with our corporate underwriters Punchy Brewery Ales, Meads, and Rootbeers, The Garden of Hedonism E-Zine, and the Wet Nurse Brewpub, are pleased to announce:

THE FIRST ANNUAL BEER GEEK BLOGGERS CONFERENCE

Now when FDR, Churchill, and Comrade Stalin met for the Yalta Conference they were trying to reorganize postwar Europe, but at this conference (to be held December 12-14 at Tulsa’s Convention Center) it will be all about making the imbibing of intoxicants as sterile and pedantic as possible.

Speeches and addresses currently scheduled:

* TALKING TO YOUR BEER WHEN NO ONE WILL TALK TO YOU (Keynote)
* GOING TO BARS EVERY NIGHT YET NEVER GETTING LAID
* GETTING WASTED ON THREE PINTS BEFORE MAKING LOVE TO SOME NACHOS
* THE INSUFFERABILITY OF TWEETING EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DRINK
* CONSIDERING BUD, MILLER, AND COORS (AND MAYBE EVEN SAM ADAMS) MORE EVIL THAN HITLER
* CALLING OTHERS BY THEIR BEER BLOGGER NAME IN PERSON (“WHY HELLO THERE, HOPMANIA.”  “IT’S GREAT TO SEE YA, MALT-MAN!”)

* “ADVOCATING” QUALITY BEERS IN PUBLIC WITHOUT GETTING PUNCHED BY THE GUIDO DRINKING A HEINEKEN
* THE ALSTROM BROTHERS:  GODS OR JUST DEMIGODS?

Panel discussions will focus on:

* STARTING YOUR OWN BEER BLOG:  FROM OWNING A COMPUTER, TO FINDING WIFI, TO REGISTERING A FREE WORDPRESS ACCOUNT, TO HITTING ‘PUBLISH’ ON YOUR DRIVEL THREE TIMES PER WEEK
* CHOOSING A BEER BLOGGER BODY TYPE:  SKINNY AND DORKY, OR FAT AND BEARDY?
* HOW TO INCREASE YOUR ALEXA RANK FROM 25,000,000 WELL INTO THE 10,000,000s
* HOW TO CREATE PORTMANTEAUS OUT OF “HOPS” AND ANOTHER COMMON WORD
* HOW TO INSINUATE YOU DRINK BEER YET ARE STILL QUITE SEXY AND POSSIBLY UP FOR FELLATIO (Female only panel)
* MAKING PEOPLE THINK YOU CAN TRULY DETECT SUCH AROMAS AND FLAVORS AS PARSNIP, MARIGOLD, LYCHEE, AND “BARNYARD”
* TAKING PICTURES OF YOUR BEER COLLECTIONS IN ORDER TO BRAG
* SUCKING UP TO BREWMASTERS SO HARD YOU SCARE THEM AWAY
* BEGGING FOR FREE SAMPLES OF EASILY OBTAINABLE BEERS

Beer geek bloggers currently slated to appear:

* The Deadhead who always wears shorts no matter the weather
* The pinhead who brags about his total number of Rate Beer reviews
* The troll who insists he “knows” Greg and Garrett
* The grad student type who insists on @ replying and RT’ing everything every other beer person writes
* The sloppy British guy obsessed with cask beer
* The ugly girl only in it for male attention
* The other ugly girl only in it for male attention
* Yet the other ugly girl trying her hardest to fuck Sam Calagione

* The male that actually gives attention to the ugly beer women
* The dipshit who wants you to become a “Fan” of his stupid blog on Facebook
* The guy that Tweets “Good night all!” at the end of every night before crying himself to sleep alone
* The hash-tagging #dweeb
* The pimply faced freak who never fails to be first in line at rare beer releases
* The dude who spends a good minute with his face in his tulip before taking a sip

* The freak who berates the bartendress for putting his pilsner in a hefeweizen glass
* The loser who won’t drink an IPA if it was bottled more than 4 hours ago
AND COUNTLESS OTHERS…!!!!

Hope you can join us, and hope to see you in beautiful Tulsa in December!

Surly Smoke

Some beer blogger dork (just kidding, Captain) hooked me up with this badass and what a thankful boy am I.  Now I might typically eschew lagers, but I wouldn’t if they were all this damn good*.  So smooth yet so complex.  Meaty yet sweet.  Roasted but mild.  Boozy but drinkable.  This but that.  This yet that.  (I could go on with dichotomies all day.)  Slight prickly carbonation.  Damn if it’s not pretty perfect, and damn if there’s probably no more bottles of it left.

A

*It’s called a Smoked Lager on the bottle, Beer Advocate files it as a Baltic Porter, Rate Beer as a “Smoked” beer, further explaining it as a Smoked Baltic Porter aged in oak barrels.  Hmmm.  How is a porter a lager?

Surly Abrasive Ale

May 4th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Ale Asylum, Brewer: Minneapolis Town Hall, Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

Like anything in American life, the IPA debate always gets whittled down to an East coast/West Coast thing and I won’t make a 2Pac/Biggie joke in the year 2010.  But there’s more to America than the coasts, than “flyover” country as us snobs call it, and the Midwest is making some absolutely stunning IPAs as well, the Eminems of the IPA debate if you will.  And why shouldn’t they be making good IPAs?  They have hops just like we do.  Then again, they have yeast and dough just like we do and their bagels still suck.

Abrasive Ale

9% ABV canned and tap

No matter how Beer Advocate classifies it, Abrasive Ale is not the much beloved 16 Grit simply repackaged and renamed.  Surly brewmaster Todd Haug told me as much.  It is recipe-wise very similar to 16 Grit though–a beer I unfortunately never got to try–and it is a magnificent beer.  Within a few hours I was fortunate enough to get to try batch 1 on tap, batch 1 canned, and an ever so slightly tweaked batch 2 on tap. Now while batch 1 and the first canned version I tried were both magnificent, both A level beers, batch 2, the batch that I suppose will be the recipe from now til iniquity, blew my mind and is clearly one of the best IPAs I have ever had.  This is a darker than normal DIPA, a rich and gorgeous caramel with potent smells of tropical fruits and hops.  The taste is as good as it gets–an over-explosion of hops with strong brunch tastes of grapefruit and sugar, a perfect combination that adds a kiss of sweetness to balance out the bite stripping the enamel from your teeth.  Wow.

A+

Tea Bagged Furious

6.2% ABV on cask

This has long been a most wanted beer of mine even though, like a dope, I didn’t even know what exactly it was.  I naively assumed it was your typical delicious Furious somehow infused with some tea flavoring.  Eh…I don’t know.  I now feel like some idiot 10 year old that never quite understood the birds and the bees until an older kid explained them to him.  Luckily, I finally did learn what the tea bagged refered to, right around the time I got to try this magnificent beer.  Tea Bagged Furious is simply Furious that has been dry-hopped in a firkin cask with various hop varieties in a bag.  OK, I think I get it now.  Kinda like Surly’s novelty answer to Dogfish Head’s Randall I suppose.  Whatever the case, this is a brilliant beer, packed full of juicy hops, made all the more interesting to enjoy on cask where that pesky carbonation doesn’t get in the way of your tongue picking up all those subtle flavors.  Not that this sucker is subtle in the least.

A

Town Hall Mango Mama

6% ABV on tap

A tap-only selection, pretty much only available at the brewpub, Mango Mama is another beer, another IPA, I’d long wanted to try.  I’m a typical “more is better and please Supersize that shit” American, so I usually skip right over IPAs and tell ‘em to make mine a double, but Town Hall’s regular 365 days a year offering, Masala Mama is a nifty little production, a no frills, incredibly drinkable and delicious effort.  The slightly rarer Mango Mama blows that one away and has to be arguably the best 6% ABV or lower IPA around.  I expected a sweeter IPA, but I guess I just don’t know what a mango is (most of my knowledge of fruit comes from the various Skittles packs, so that’s no surprise) because this was a shockingly citric and bitter IPA.  One of the more bitter ones I’ve ever had.  Seemingly no malt backbone or sweetness at all, this is just like straight fruit juice mixed with hops.  And that ain’t a bad thing.  Highly recommended.

A

Ale Asylum Bedlam!

Finally, we come to a Wisconsin IPA, and a Belgian one at that.  Bedlam!–I love when names of things force you to punctuate–is my first introduction to the brewpub’s offerings and one of my first introductions to citra hops, a semi-rare hop varietal that seems to add a somewhat green onion aroma and flavoring to the beer.  A not unpleasant and certainly unique sensation that makes you feel like you just got chives on your baked potato, scallion cream cheese on your bagel.  As we know, Belgian IPAs are pretty de rigueur right now and there’s several new and good ones on the market (Nebraska Hop God and The Bruery Mischief most notably) and this one stacks up for sure.  While not quite as good as those two, it’s certainly a unique offering as the citra hops meld with the overwhelming Trappist yeast for a nice bite and a silky finish.  Obscure, but worth seeking out fo’ sho.

A-

Surly Darkness (2009)

December 8th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Grade: B regular, Style: Helles, Style: Stout

10.3% ABV bottled

How do you remember how good a taste was?  My “normal” friends always wonder how I can recall what beers I liked and what I disliked.  How I can recall that a stout I drank in September of 2007 is better than one I drank in November of 2009.  And, you know, they raise a valid point.  How can one ever remember a purely visceral experience?  For beers, one could review their tasting notes, but I’ll be honest with you, for 99% of us beer reviewers they’re just going to be packed with trite buzzwords scrawled on a cocktail napkin while toasted.  IPAs are “hoppy,” “piny,” and “citrusy.”  Barley wines are “malted,” “caramely,” and “boozy.”  Belgian dubbels and quads have tastes of “candi” and “dark fruits.”  Stouts are “roasted,” “chocolately,” and “coffee-like.”  Yeah, big fucking help.  We’re all frauds.

It would be like trying to explain why some random sexual experience in 2005 was better than some random sexual experience in 2007.  Yet you could probably do that, right?  Because what you’re remembering–what you’re using to “rank” the experiences–is the remembered pleasure you got from it.  So, yeah, I do remember Surly Darkness 2008 as being maybe the sweetest stout I’d ever had in my life but I more remember sitting on my friend’s couch on a cold November night and both of our eyes just popping out of our heads, our jaws dropping to the hardwood, staring at eachother after the first sip and just saying similtaneously, “Is this not the best fucking beer ever?!”

And so, when I tell people Surly Darkness is the best stout I’ve ever had, I’m not telling them that based on side-by-side tastings with every other halfway decent stout I’ve ever had, but rather based on my seemingly clear but probably hazy memory of how I felt that one time I drank that one rare bottle.  An inexact science, sure, something that will always be influenced by the time, place, surroundings, and what happened before, during, and immediately after the experience, but it’s all we got.  And, hey, that bout of great sex you seem to recall having a few years ago probably is better in your memory than it actually was.

Legendary Minnesotan The Captain got me that one rare bottle of Darkness last year and the gracious dude also got me that one rare bottle this year.  I’d heard that this year’s recipe was completely different from last’s–apparently brewmaster Todd didn’t like how sweet his last batch had been–and so I was a little concerned.  The sweetness was what I had liked about last year’s batch, what I felt had set it apart from all the other legendary imperial stouts out there.  So now I had assumed Surly had just gone all status quo and made your typical *BUZZWORDS!* “roasted,” “chocolately,” and “coffee-like” stout.  You know, good, but nothing unique, just throw it on the pile.

I’m glad to report I was quite wrong.  Darkness 2009 smells incredibly hoppy, totally unlike last year (as I recall!).  Honestly, if you were blindfolded and this was put to your face you might guess it a DIPA or a barley wine.  The taste is also a little more hoppy and bitter but that special underlying sweetness is still there.  It’s really blurring the line between what we think of as a stout and perhaps the catchall “strong ale.”  Man, this one drinkable motherfucker.  Most imperial stouts naturally have a drinking “governor” on them if you will and through pure booziness you’re forced to take eye-dropper-sized little sips each time the glass comes to your face.  But not Darkness.  I could chug Darkness and it’s so damn good I struggled mightily to savor each sip.  In my mind, I feel like Darkness 2008 was a hair better–of course even if I had a bottle of 2008 a comparison now would be invalid as it would be aged a year–but Darkness 2009 is still one of a kind and out of this world.  I will continue to call it my favorite stout on planet Earth.

A+

I had warmed up for Darkness with, perhaps, Surly’s polar opposite of a beer Hell (likewise provided by The Captain).  The cool name betrays the very uncool style–helles lager, a kellerbier (aka zwickel bier) technically–and based on the internet geek buzz I was already kinda pissed off at this beer.  Why was the great Surly, makers of boozy masterpieces like Darkness and flavor-packed hybrids such as Furious, Bender, and Cynic wasting my time with such a lame, low ABV (5.1%) style?!

I was so wrong.  I totally expected to hate this, to bitch at Surly for eschewing their high-ABV flavorful beers, but I really dug Hell.  So crisp and refreshing.  Light and grainy.  Bready and sweet.  It’s like the best “shitty” beer I’ve ever had.  That sounds like faint praise I suppose, but Hell is what Bud/Miller/Coors should aspire to.  If I gave this to my macro-swilling chums there’s no way the wouldn’t now realize that Bud/Miller/Coors is adjunct-ingredient garbage.  I’m not sure this style could be rendered any better.  I could drink these all day long and probably would if I live in Minnesota.

B

Summer Beers

June 12th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Goose Island, Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Grade: B-/C+, Style: ESB, Style: Wheat (Hefeweizen)

One of the most detestable arguments a craft beer enthusiast can have with a macro swilling moron is when it comes to warm weather tippling.  We’ve heard them all.  “You don’t want one of yer fancy beers while out there on the golf course.  Ya need a frosty Bud Light.”  “Can’t have one of those dark brews you drink on the beach, ya need a chilled Corona.”  “You really wanna sit on a patio with those expensive bombers you like, ya need an ice cold can of Coors.”

Ugh.  Just because the weather’s hot I need to drink shit?!  There’s plenty of flavorful beers out there that also manage to be “refreshing” and even lower-ABV, stuff like Three Floyds Gumballhead, countless saisons, and even some of the bigger microbreweries’ boringly labeled for the mainstream “summer” beers are quite nice, notably Sam Adams’ offering.

I’m the kind of man who has no problem drinking a snifter of 20% stout even in 100 degree heat–oh, the looks at get at the nudist beach!–but there will be times in the next three months or so that I need something a little lighter, so it was with great enthusiasm that I tried two summer, but not “summer,” offerings from two of my favorite breweries.

Surly Bitter Brewer

4% ABV canned

Oh, my beloved brewery.  The Minnesota cans-only brewery that’s instantly become one of my favorites.  I don’t get to have it often because its current distribution reach is super-limited, but every time The Captain hooks me up with a new offering I am eternally grateful…and then floored.  There’s their awesome IPA Furious (A-), gorgeous brown Bender (A-), inventive farmhouse Cynic (A-), infused Coffee Bender (A-) and of course their wax dipped and rare Darkness, perhaps the best stout on planet earth (A+).  Thus, it is always with much excitement when I hear a new release from them is on the market.  Unfortunately, Bitter Brewer is the first Surly I haven’t unequivocally loved.  It undoubtedly smells great with a nice floral and citrus aroma, but the taste just isn’t there.  It’s really watery.  Like a slightly off homebrew.  Having said that, they go down easy and I could drink a zillion of these.  It’s obviously a superior summer beer to anything in the BMC family or Corona, but it’s nothing special.  I hate to say this, but the fact that this bordering-on-”near”-beer offering gets an A- on Beer Advocate is nothing but Surly fanboyism.  I gotta think if this was a macro offering it would be absolutely skewered by the geek community.

B-/C+

Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale

4.2% ABV bottled

Goose Island is yet another brewery I much adore with their glorious A pluses Bourbon County Stout and Night Stalker.  This brew is completely on the other end of the dark and kick-your-ass spectrum, but I was still excited to try it and it didn’t disappoint.  I don’t typically like American wheat beers but 312 is solid.  A lemony crispness and…well, wheat.  Wheat and lemon, that’s about it.  Nicely put together, not complex in the least, but still quite tasty.  Refreshing but boring.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that.  A mild success, a good summer offering.

B

Surly Coffee Bender

March 19th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 12 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Brown Ale

5.1% ABV from a can

Today, March Madness Thursday, is probably my favorite day of each calender year, assuming July 1st doesn’t all of the sudden become National Aaron/Scarlett Johansson/Megan Fox threesome day (observed).

From the second the brackets are announced on Sunday night and Jay Bilas starts calmly, rationally, and wisely arguing with a maniacal Dickie V while Digger picks his nose with a fluorescent pink magic marker, I am in the throes of anxious anticipation.  Obsessively studying my team Syracuse’s route to the Final Four.  Speculating on the minutiae of each and every of the 63 games yet to be played.  Debating with friends about the merits of this team we never saw play and that team we never saw play.  (”What?!  You’re taking Texas A&M over BYU?  You gotta be fucking kidding me!  The Aggies will never stop…”–checks internet–”…6′7″ guard Lee Cummard and his 16.8 point per game.”)

As the week goes on, the tournament closer, the wait is maddening, the possibilities endless.  This is the best time in the world to be a college basketball fan.  Even a Binghamton supporter can probably convince themselves that somehow someway they could maybe win it all if everything falls into place.  I will scrutinize my tournament pool picks countless times, making little tweaks here and there (”Hmmm…maybe Clemson is better than Michigan.”), talking myself into and out of Final Four picks, making sure the bracket isn’t too “chalk,” nor too obscure.  Two #1 seeds in the Final Four is just a correct number to seem possible yet not ludicrous.  And not win either.  Never win ever.  Let’s be honest, it’s all a crap shoot and a moron always wins the loot.*

The week goes on and I’m watching every single highlight show, reading every single breakdown of every single game on every single website and blog.  Inhaling as much as I can about Syracuse’s chances.  Blatantly ignoring the writers and analysts that don’t pick us (”He’s always HATED us!  Asshole.”) and awarding MENSA memberships to those that do have the Orange going far (”I’ve always liked him.  So intelligent and even-handed.”)  I’m also barely eating or drinking, saving my body for the Thursday through Sunday gauntlet of gluttony and vice.  That wasn’t that hard of a task this year as I was sick as a dog all week after completing a Big East tournament bender from the previous Wednesday through Saturday:  four games, seven overtimes, all my greasy and fried meals ate in Madison Square Garden area bars, hundreds of beers consumed, and zero attractive UConn fans espied.

Now we are T-minus three hours until tip-off between LSU/Butler and the aforementioned BYU/TAMU tilt (play-by-play announced by buddy and fellow Cuse alum Carter Blackburn!)  I will gather with fellow hoops nuts** at a friend’s pad where we will toggle between the games on the DirectTV package, noting how every team sucks except for Syracuse and whoever we picked to win in our pools.  We will flip the fuck out at the ad nauseum airings of commercials promoting some new crappy CBS show that you’ve haven’t heard of this very second but will already fucking loathe by the end of the weekend (my money’s on some schlock called “Harper’s Island.”)  We will have numerous brackets spread out in front of us, laptops flapped open to garner any bits of useless info, Bacchanalian spreads of snack food and comical greasiness.  We will over-caffeinate to stay hyped up, and slug beer like we’re in a contest.  I may start early with something most apropos, Surly’s Coffee Bender.

My unofficial Surly dealer, The Captain, scored me the Coffee Bender as he has likewise got me every single other glorious Surly I’ve ever had, including the original Bender which I adored.  This version is that brew steeped cold for 24 hours in coarsely ground coffee beans from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation in Guatemala.  Pours dark and tastes more like a stout than a brown ale.  Actually more like a rich iced coffee sans sugar and milk.  And, with a fairly low ABV, you could probably convince someone that this is indeed one.  (Aproposly, on this can, Surly’s usual motto of “Beer for a glass, from a can,” cutely becomes “Beer for a mug, from a can.”)  Roasted, dry, and quite earthy.  Delicious, though for coffee nuts only I would advise.

I’d go so far as to say this is the second best brown I’ve ever had after DFH’s Palo Santa Marron.  I’m not sure if Surly makes quite enough total beers to be considered among the best breweries in America, but on a per capita basis they are certainly up there as I haven’t given one of their five releases I’ve tried any worse than an A-.  I can only imagine that if and when they up production in both quantity and different styles that the great Minnesota brewery will rightfully be called one of the best beermakers around.

One final thing that is best about this March Madness Thursday is that Syracuse doesn’t play til tomorrow.  So ain’t nothing bad that can happen to me for the next twenty-four hours!

A-

For the record:  I have The Cuse losing in the Elite 8 to UNC though I think Ty Lawson is more injured than Roy is letting on and they are ripe for an upset.  The rest of my Final Four includes the indomitable Pitt, Slick Rick’s Louisville, and in the South I took a flyer on Mizzou.  I don’t particularly like UConn or Memphis this year–could that be cause the Orange beat both of them?!–and see some oddball team coming from this region.  Mizzou’s tempo control could conquer the South as UConn greatly misses Dyson and Memphis hasn’t played a big dog in months.  I’m taking Pitt over the Cardinals in a title game I would never ever never watch.

*Unless it’s me of course.  This is my year!  I feel it!

**I pity you if are working today.  You couldn’t call in sick?  Come on, man!

Surly Darkness (2008)

December 8th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Stout

10.3% ABV from one damn fiiiiine bomber

The lights have been dimmed, a few scented (new car smell) candles lit, in addition to a Glade plug-in at every outlet including several surge protectors. I’ve got some romantic vinyl spinning on my turntable. Naw, not Barry White or Marvin Gaye, that shit’s for movie characters and bumbling, stumbling, fumbling virgins. I’m talking ’bout the legit sexy shit, good lovemaking music that doesn’t just bluntly discuss the act in question but handles it in a more matter-of-fact, nuanced manner ala Chris Isaak or Positive K. You’re right, Positive, if we can’t be lovers than we can’t be friends.

I unbutton an extra button on my Dr. Pepper pajamas, comfortably position myself on my satin bean bag chair just as the doorbell chimes. My butler Godfried brings my guest before. “Hello Darkness my new friend” I suavely say.  She cringes, no doubt having heard the Simon & Garfunkel play on words far too often.  I remain unflappable, focused, and once my manservant is gone I begin to examine the bottle, diving in immediately and ravishing her, caressing her sexy curves, admiring her beautiful label. I’ve never been so turned on.

Finally, it’s time. With a suppleness acquired from years of experience, I deftly unclasp the the string from the bottle’s neck and remove its luscious red wax top. My masculine hands reach for a bottle opener and quickly I pop off the final barrier between me and my love.

I put my giant Jew shnozz right into my lover’s open orifice, taking a huge inhale. “Goddamn, I said goddamn!” I’ve never smelt anything so fragrant, not even that year-end issue of GQ with all the cologne samples stuffed right into the magazine.

I pour my lover from the bottle, admiring her beauty, a black and flowing River Styx of liquid cascading into my monogrammed chalice (”#1 Dad” (I stole it from a friend)). In the goblet, Darkness’s smell is even more mindblowing, truly the best I’ve even sniffed. A frothy head like a pool of Nestle’s Kwik, I would like to swim in it, the backstroke, freestyle, perhaps even a butterfly if I have the lung capacity.

Nervous to proceed, knowing I may fall badly, I finally surrender, take a sip. Wow, you are one tasty motherfucker, Darkness.  The #8 beer in the world according to Beer Advocate, a perfect 100 out of 100 according to Rate Beer.

Darkness goes down so smooth, so easily, it’s hard to believe the ABV on this one. I felt like a one-pump chump, unable to remain disciplined and composed, taking huge gulps, never placing the drink farther than a few inches from my slobbering piehole. I knew I would only have one chance with Darkness and I should savor it, but I couldn’t, I was insatiable for her.

You are one of the most unique stouts, nay beers, I have ever guzzled.  So, so sweet, the candi sugar coming through a little like a barley wine.  Ever so slight roasted coffee tastes with molasses, raisins, cherries, and berries and chocolate too.  Eight different kinds of malts and oats.  I even get a little hops coming through, a surprising taste for a stout.  Mouthfeel is amazingly light and airy, hardly any stinging booziness at all.  Surly, you are famous for your unique, uncategorizable beers and this is yet another one.  Clearly a stout, though with so many un-stouty qualities.  My kind of women.

Darkness is the best stout I have ever had, quite possibly the best beer I have ever had. It is perfection.  Drinking her was a life-changing experience.  I laid back on my bean bag chair, still floored, spasming in my loins, trying to catch my breath, and relishing every delicious burp of Darkness I expelled from my mouth.

I now finally know what it means to be a man, I’ll never again be able to deal with silly, little, frivolous and vapid girls.

I wonder if I shall ever see her again.  If not, we’ll always have Paris…

A+

Hyooooooooooooge hat tip to The Captain for setting me up on a date with this one.

Surly Cynic

October 2nd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

6.5% ABV from a 1-pint can

You hear her laugh the second she enters the joint.  One of those tilt-your-head-back-and-just-eject-noise-from-your-mouth laughs.  She might literally say “HA.”  HA! HA!! HA!!! HA!!!!  The thing is though, that no one probably even said anything funny.  It’s simply an attention-grab.  But you don’t need to turn in your barstool.  You know who has just entered the bar.  And you pray she doesn’t sit by you lest your night be ruined.  But, of course, she does.

The chair abutting yours she slides into.  Slinging her purse over an arm, causing the big sack full of cherry chapstick and Milanos no doubt to rest uncomfortably on your knee.  She throw her coat off and hangs it on the chair back, again in your way.  Immediately she wants food.  “I’m staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarving.”  How can that be?  Happy hour just started.  (This is what her companions are thinking.) And I saw what you ate for lunch at your desk just a few hours ago.  Two whole slices of Sicilian pizza.  Yeah, I know you daubed them with napkins to sop up some fatty grease.  Sure, now it’s health food, huh?  And for breakfast you brought in one of those big black trays with the clear lid you remove.  A whole fucking spread of food.  Who eats home fries on a weekday?  Isn’t that more of a casual brunching type item?  Not for you I guess.

Her companions–one of four types:  either the exact same kind of person, a co-worker unaware of her outside-the-office persona, an uncool homosexual, or a hard-hard-up heterosexual–humor her as she peruses the bar menu.

“Poppers?  Any one want jalepeno poppers?”

Everyone shrugs.  “Sure, whatever.”

“But how many orders?”

The waitress comes and takes the drinks.  She gets a vodka and diet tonic water.  “And an order of poppers.”  The waitress turns to leave and she spins her back like a top, atten-hut.  “Better make it two orders.  Oh, and do you have nachos?”

Of course.

“Can I get chicken on those?  And an extra sour cream.”

She scarfs the food down, taking far more than the even-percentage of food she should take.  Then she has the gall to ask, as there’s one final popper left on the communal plate, “How many did everyone have?” scanning the circle.  “Three…three…you had two…and, let’s see, I had…three.  Hmmm…the math doesn’t seem to add–”

One companion cuts her charade off:  “Oh just take it.”

“You sure?” she says as she’s already bitten into the popper, the cheap Velveeta exploding out the fried back end, hitting the bar like some Peter North come shot hits a girl’s tattooed coccyx.

She begins to drink, the pile of food in her belly amazingly unable to soak up the booze.

By the end of drink one she has become louder.  Doesn’t seem possible to be louder but this bitch goes to 11.  She’s touching all the guys that walk by, flirting like she’s fucking Mae West.  And it’s become impossible for you to enjoy your night, to speak with your drinking partner, to enjoy the music or sports on TV.  She’s got the attention she so desired.

By the end of drink two she’s begun to dance.  Honey, just because the “deejay”’s iPod accidentally shuffled to his ironic download of R. Kelly’s “Ignition,” doesn’t change the fact that you are in a fucking Irish pub.  And no one wants to dance with you.  It makes me thankful that it is literally illegal to dance in most bars in New York.

By the end of drink three all of her quasi-friends have deserted her for “previous dinner plans,” and she’s alone hitting on the unhappy bartender, sloppily asking him if she can get up on the bar “for a little show.”

And by drink four she has annoyed me so much that I have to leave the bar and go home.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, we are discussing fat girls, the absolute worst creatures in the world.

And before you call me a bigot, allow me to defend myself, and defend all other guys (and many girls) in the process because they feel the exact same way as me:

Look, we don’t hate you because you’re fat.  We won’t fuck you–sober at least–because you’re fat, but we don’t hate you for that reason.  We hate you because you are all so goddamn annoying.  Quit overcompensating for your insatiable love of chicken fingers by trying to be interesting and funny, by trying to “steal the show.”  It doesn’t work.  Just relax.  As Jules Winnfield would say, “Bitch, be cool!”

People always wonder how guys can hate fat girls while having countless fat male friends.  That’s because fat men are no more or less annoying than in-shape men.  But fat women are almost always as annoying as they come.  I have a fat female friend or two–I guess I should probably call them overweight or “voluptuous” or, can women be?, husky–and I like them because they act like normal human beings.  Their weight isn’t even an issue, not affecting their personality in the least.  They know how to sit at the bar and speak when there is something pertinent or interesting to say, interject a funny aside or even a full anecdote when necessary, and simply be cool.  Like all my friends do.  But that’s sadly a rarity among the Rubenesque.

Fat girls, you probably think if you just lost that final fifty pounds every one would like you and every man would want to fuck you.  Actually you probably don’t think that because you are all delusional and already think everyone likes you.  But if you do think that, don’t.  Because even if you were skinny and attractive you would still be the most annoying things in the bar.  If you were skinny you might not have such a massive well to produce the loud basso chortles and wails from, but you would still suck.

After this recent fat girl encounter I angrily marched home, glad to find a Surly Cynic waiting for me.  My first time to try it.

It has a nice yeasty smell and tastes a bit like a poor man’s Belgian trappist tripel.  But that’s no insult here.  French malted barley, English oats, and Slovenian hops, though I found the hoppiness to be only mild.  Tastes of honey and floral sensations.  The can claims the recipe also includes apricot, peach, and black pepper notes–which sounds quite intriguing–but I couldn’t really separate those out.  Whatever the case, I really fucking enjoyed this one.  And, remarkably enough, it may be my favorite of the three outstanding Surlys The Captain sent to me.  I can’t wait to try more.

A-

Surly Bender

September 28th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Brown Ale

5.1% ABV from a one-pint can

Criticizing the blue collar never wins you friends, but screw it:

Why are New York construction workers so fucking noisy?

You say, because they’re drilling, soldering, hammering, nailing, building and destroying. No, believe me, I understand that. What I mean is why are construction workers so fucking loud when they aren’t doing work? So loud while they are simply talking? While they are simply existing?

I sit in my room right now behind a closed door. Travel further down a long lag putt distance of hallway to my thick metal front door. Down the steps two full flights where you would find a crew of men currently doing some seemingly minor work to my shitty building this weekend. Quite a ways away from me and my god can I barely focus on watching bad football as these motherfuckers are so loud. It seems like they actually work only about one minute out of every hour, and that is sadly the most peaceful minute! I can handle the repetitive mundane sounds of nailing or drilling, but when these three gents aren’t working they are insufferable.

It’s an occupational prerequisite I’ve come to notice and not just something atypical coming from this troika. All construction workers in New York are obscenely noisy. Firstly, they talk so loud. Telling boring anecdotes about “banging” some girl or last night’s sports action or whether they are gonna get peppers or not on their Italian hero at lunch. Are they hard of hearing from a lifetime of being outside and working near loud power-tools? Possibly. So I’ll excuse the talking element and instead focus on their other aural annoyances.

Moments of “Walden”-esque quiet solitude don’t exist in the life of a New York City construction worker:

When they eat, they loudly chomp on their meal, spittle and foodstuff flying everywhere.

When they are alone they can’t just sit and think.  Or read.  Or just be.  They are always in motion.  Loudly tapping their empty water bottles on walls or the ground, wannabe Keith Moons in coveralls.  And the whistling, oh the whistling.  Why do construction workers love to whistle so much?  Is there are more annoying sound than a poorly whistled ditty?  I could handle it if they were Axl at the beginning of “Patience” but believe me they aren’t.

The chronic whooping coughs aren’t pleasant to the ears either.  Constant hacking and phlegmy noises and eruptions create a cacophony of sounds that rock my ears.

How bout their Nextels?  Of course the most annoying men in the city must have the most annoying communications device since A.G. Bell.  Despite the fact that they are only a few feet away from their cohorts, these men must use the walkie-talkies at all times, a never-ending whirl of chirps permeating my brain.

*CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRP!*

“Yo, did you wan’ peppahs on your sangwich?”

*CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRP!*

“Yeah.  Lotta dem.  Oh, and get me a’ sugah free Red Bull too, wouldja?”

*CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRP!*

“Yo, you ain’t gonna believe dis hot piece of ass in fronta me in line.”

*CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRP!*

“No shit?  Ax her for her numbah.”

*CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRP!*

“Already did, bro.”

*CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRP!*

“Nice job faggot!”

*CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRP!*

“I’ll be bangin’ her by tonight.  You won’t believe da tits on dis bitch.”

And don’t forget about the cat-calling. Any being with presumably a vagina that comes within fifty feet of a construction worker gets yelled at no matter how unattractive they are. When I see this I just want to sprint up to the crew and shake the shit out of them, explaining how they ruin it for us civilized men when they cat-call every single woman willy-nilly. Cat-calling an ugly woman just buoys her spirits and gives her a healthy boost of undeserved self-confidence. Now the ugly woman thinks she can act all haughty and supercilious toward her suitors, while the average and truly attractive women think they are goddesses. Message to cat-calling construction workers: please be more discriminating as you’re fucking shit up for all of us.  Oh, but please go ahead and hit on the hotties that vamp in front of my building.

I didn’t want to start drinking during the day, but with the weather grim outside and no friends available to rescue me from the construction crew (they’re talking about “Law & Order” right now, arguing whether that “fag” from “Sex and the City” was ever on the original show:  “Swear ta’ gawd, he once was, bro.”), I’m forced to.

Bender has a Coca-Cola brown pour with a hot chocolate foam head. Smells fantastic and potent, like a strong ale.  The taste is pretty unique. It’s considered a brown ale and while I’m not sure if it is the best I’ve ever had, it’s certainly the most complex. Tastes of oatmeal, roasted coffee, and with a creamy finish. I’d like it to be perhaps a little more carbonated, but it’s damn fine.  A very nice brew indeed.

I’m liking you Surly–you deserve to be a national beer.

A-

Surly Furious

September 15th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

6.2% ABV from a one-pint can (”Beer for a glass, from a can”)

If this is a practical joke being played on me, it is one of the most subtly diabolical ever conceived. You see, I hate Time magazine. Hate it with a passion. I think it is a woefully out-of-touch, dated, and worst of all boring periodical that is about as maturely written as the Scholastic News. I won’t read it for free in the dentist’s office when the only other choices are Seventeen, AARP Monthly, and a brochure on gingivitis. Yet for the past decade or so, counting all the way back to my sophomore dorm room in Syracuse, I have been getting a free subscription to Time. It makes no fucking sense to me. During that time I have moved on five occasions in three different cities and though things I actually care about (bills, good magazines, my sex-toy-of-the-month-club shipment) struggle to find me, Time never fails to locate the Vice Blogger. They are like the mob relentlessly going after Henry Hill in witness protection. I’ve gone so far as to call, e-mail, and send a letter to Time Inc. begging them to please leave me alone, but they refuse to cease sending their semi-glossy rag to me. I’ve finally learned to live with it*.

Each week I take Time from my mailbox, perhaps briefly snicker at the lame cover story (usually on one of their four perpetually rotating topics, all of which necessitate derisively mocking quotation marks: the obesity “epidemic,” new “findings” on Jesus’s life, a “special” issue on going green, and “how” the brain actually works) and put it straight in the lobby wastebasket. There is only one time I so much as read a page of Time. That is when I am taking public transportation to go out drinking. Typically I read a book or listen to nerdy podcasts on my ipod (TED Talks!) when riding the subway, but since I won’t want to lug a massive tome around a pub, nor do I trust myself to not lose an ipod during my wily tippling escapades, an issue of Time is perfect. I can read it for five or ten minutes then immediately discard it. In fact, most trips are so short that I only have enough time to read the only legitimately good section of Time, the letters to the editor. Nothing better than reading rubes’ complaints about the east coast media’s evolutionary and homosexual “agendas.” I only wish Time would print the letters as they actually appeared at their offices. It would be funny to see whether they are written in crayon or Magic Marker.

However, the other day I was stuck at the worst train station in Manhattan (the Columbus Circle 1, coincidentally located underneath the Time Warner Center, home to the offices of…you guessed it) for an interminable amount of time and forced to venture further into my shitty magazine. Glad I did because I stumbled upon an amazingly interesting piece penned by never-amusing hipster doofus columnist/gadfly wannabe Joel Stein in which he drank a bottle of wine from all fifty states, reporting on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the surprising.

Having just received a package from Minnesota in which I got to sample my first ever Gopher State beers, I decided to see how much fifty-state beer drinking I have so far done in my life. Using Beer Advocate’s state directory as my main tool, I got to counting between TV timeouts during Monday Night Football.

I came to find that 48 states produce beer, and that I have had pops from 29 of them. Not quite as good as I would have thought, but decent considering the evidence.

Here are the 19 states I have never imbibed from and their most noted (or “noted” brewery)**:

Alabama — only two breweries producing ten total beers, perhaps due to the most asinine beer laws existing in perhaps any non-Muslim part of the world

AlaskaAlaskan

ArizonaFour Peaks maybe

Georgia Sweetwater

HawaiiMehana

IdahoCoeur d’Alene

IndianaThree Floyds, I’m ashamed I’ve never had one of their supposed-to-be-miraculous offerings

IowaMillstream

Kentucky — only two breweries producing eight total beers, meaning you should just drink bourbon when you’re in KY

Mississippi — only one brewery, so congrats Lazy Magnolia!

Montana — with an impressive 18 breweries, the king would appear to be Big Sky

Nebraska - Empyrean

NevadaRuby Mountain

North CarolinaCarolina Beer Co.

North Dakota — as far as I can tell, one of only two states with ZERO breweries!!!

Rhode Island — only one brewery, so congrats Coastal Extreme!

South Dakota — I bet you’re not surprised that this is the other state with ZERO breweries!!! Dakotas, get your shit together!

TennesseeYazoo

UtahUtah Brewers Cooperative, cherished makers of Polygamy Porter (”Why Have Just One?”) and Evolution Amber Ale (”…intelligently-designed just for intelligent beer drinkers.”) I think I like these guys!

West Virginia — only one brewery, so congrats predictably-named Mountaineer Brewing!

WyomingSnake River

If you are wondering if I now have a goal to drink a beer from my remaining untried states…absolutely not. That’s a pretty lame ambition for a 29-year-old who actually has things going on in his life. And Jesus Christ some of these states have some abominable-sounding offerings. Having said that, I’m always willing to drink liquid garbage for a funny review if VB fans from any of these states wish to send me some local swill.

Now let’s get back to the impetus for these state beer musings–no, not Jewish embarrassment Joel Stein!–but Surly Furious, the craft beer in a can. I was squeamish at first, but I for one have come to like the microbrew-in-a-can mini-revolution (Oskar Blues, et al). Much lighter for shipping, lugging around, and disposing of. Nothing more embarrassing than clinking a giant Glad bag full of bottles to the garbage room on a Sunday night (NOSY NEIGHBOR: Oh! You musta had a big party this weekend. You guys were sure quiet though. Except I heard crying several times. AARON: Yeah…heh, heh…party.)

Furious, as of today BA’s #49 ranked beer in the world, poured out a lot darker than I expected, a rich caramel or perhaps maroon. A foamy, foamy head with tons of lacing. Its smell was right up my alley. Exactly how I like an IPA to smell. Incredibly fresh and floral, akin to Maharaja or Captain Lawrence’s DIPA, two of my absolute favs.

Furious is very hoppy, again, just how I like it. A bit more sour than I expected (at 99 IBUs I shouldn’t have been surprised) and prefer though. Quite frankly, it could use a little balance. American hops and Scottish malt with citrus esters, grapefruit perhaps. A piney finish, like sticking a conifer needle in your mouth and chewing on it. Little bit of a carbonated sting, but very drinkable nonetheless.

For a certain kind of IPA fan, I could see this being their absolute holy grail, but for me, it’s just a tad too lacking in sweetness and alcoholic potency. Still stellar though. I’d love to get “session” loaded on it. This is a great one and the people of Minnesota are lucky to have it right in their backyard.

A-

*I seem to be a victim of oddly diabolical practical jokes. Last year around this time I received an unlabeled package which had in it nothing else but a dozen pair of some brand-new high-end socks. Who could have sent these to me? I questioned family, friends, my girlfriend at the time, but they all insisted that they were not the culprit. I still have no clue who sent these to me, especially since next-to-no people knew my home address back then. It still baffles me to this day. Oddly enough, I was really in need of some socks at the time.

**Just for craps and laughs, here’s my top five beer-producing states:

1. California — the unquestioned king with 84 incredible breweries, most notably Stone, Russian River, and Bear Republic to just name a few, as well as Lost Abbey and Port which I hope to finally try within the month.

2. New York — call me a homer, but the Empire State kicks ass with an amazing amount of top-notch breweries: Southern Tier, Captain Lawrence, Brooklyn, and Ommegang, to just name a few.

3. Colorado — good chance if I lived in Colorado they would finish second, but I don’t, so they’ll have to settle for the bronze with such great breweries as Great Divide, Avery, and New Belgium.

4. MichiganBell’s, Jolly Pumpkin, Arcadia, and New Holland. And I still have never tried a single Founders or Kuhnhenn beer so I couldn’t factor those highly-esteemed breweries into my rankings. Consider that for a second before you write me an angry letter to the editor (and, yes, I do have an evolutionary and homosexual agenda).

5. OregonHair of the Dog, Rogue, and Deschutes to name a few.

Notables:
Maine — Allagash, Bar Harbor, Shipyard
Massachusetts — Boston Beer Co., Harpoon, Wachusett
Pennsylvania — Troegs, Victory, Weyerbacher
Wisconsin — New Glarus (points deducted for harboring the dreadful Leiny)