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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Three Floyds’ Category

Three Floyds Dark Lord Imperial Stout

July 16th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 8 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Three Floyds, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Stout

13% ABV bottled

My Drinking Life

Author’s note:  Inspired by a recent reading of Pete Hamil’s exquisite classic “A Drinking Life,” I decided to write my own imbibing bio.

I remember once when I was fifteen or so I walked into the living room and saw my dad drinking a beer while watching TV.  It was a Corona.  “What the fuck are you doing, dad?”  We cursed heavily and with great aplomb in my family, one of the few things my parents were highly laissez faire on.

“I’m having a beer, what?”

What?  What?!  I had never seen my dad have a single sip of alcoholic in his life.  And now all of the sudden he thinks he’s Homer Simpson, able to just come home from work, pop a beer, and veg out in front of the boob tube?  Where did this mystery bottle of beer even come from?!  He surely didn’t go to the store and buy it.  He wouldn’t even know how to do such a thing!

Suffice to say, alcohol did not really play a part in my parents’ or my life as a youth.  No, my parents weren’t teetotalers.  Alcohol just seemed to not interest them in the same way, say, American politics or CBS’s primetime lineup simply doesn’t interest me.*

Thusly, in high school I hardly drank at all which makes you think I must have been one of three things:

1.  A huge nerd

2.  A huge health nut.

3.  A huge religious freak

EH!  Wrong.  I certainly wasn’t Big Man on Campus Jock King Sirfucksalot or anything but I was quite popular, even the class president one year, though we all tend to overrate how high our approval ratings were at a younger age.  Likewise, though I played various sports year-round, my diet pretty much consisted of Taco Bell, McDonald’s, chain pizza, and the like.  I wasn’t exactly a foodie just yet.  And, even before my face necessitated shaving, I already was a virulent atheist amongst a sea of kids that thumped the bible, studied the bible, and quoted the bible on the back page of your yearbook (”Aaron, Have a terrific summer but never forget Proverbs 10:5 ‘He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.’”)  Not to mention, even if I wasn’t an atheist I was a Jew and we’re allowed to drink religiously from like age 5 on.**  Alas, the Manischewitz always made me start snoozing during the latter part of shul.

I never snuck off into the woods to drink, I never stole a nip of some uncle’s vodka and refilled the bottle with water, I never paid an older kid to get me a six pack from 7-11.  In 12th grade I got busted by the police for simply being at a party where underage people such as myself were drinking.  I’d only just arrived and had only had a single sip of cheap keg beer.  The schnook of an Oklahoma City cop tried to emasculate everyone by forcing those under eighteen years of age to call their parents on speaker phone in front of the entire party to tell them, “Mommy, daddy, Officer Jeffries has just busted an alcohol drinking party I was attending and you need to come pick me up lest I get a ticket from this kindly man.”  Pretty sure he broke protocol for what was a most cruel and unusual punishment.

Those eighteen or older like me didn’t have to call our parents but we were cited with a hefty Minor in Possession ticket and an ensuing court date.  The whole ride home after having picked me up, my histrionic mother cried and shrieked, “Now you’ll never get to go to college!”  “But mom, I’ve already been accepted.”  “Syracuse will find out and they’ll take your scholarships away!  They’ll throw you out of school!  You’ll have to go to some shitty community college!  Your future is ruined you fucking idiot!”  Eventually my court case was thrown out, my ticket was revoked, I was allowed to attend and even matriculate at Syracuse, and that still, amazingly, as far as I can recall, remains my only brush with the law.  Alcohol related brush that is.  Purely alcohol related brush that is.

At the aforementioned college, Syracuse, I drank just like everyone else, nothing special, nothing to brag about.  Thrown into a collegial melting pot with kids from major cities such as New York, LA, Chicago, and Miami, and, more significantly, kids from ramshackle blue-collar drinking towns such as Scranton, Pittsburgh, Utica, a kid from Oklahoma quickly realized how much of a bumpkin, how much of a drinking neophyte he truly was.  Many of these kids had not only been inside bars, they were regulars at bars already.  They didn’t just drink whatever they could score, they actually had favorite beers and liquors.  Admittedly, in retrospect, their favorites were shitty, but being that I only knew about those beers that had major network commercials and those liquors that had full-page ads in Sports Illustrated, I was duly impressed.

I shouldn’t have been.  What we, what everyone drank, in college was foul.  Kegs of shit like Milwaukee’s Best (”Beast”), cans of Natty and Genny Light, bottles of Labatt if we were splurging.  Plastic handles of Popov, airline bottles of Seagram’s 7 we’d stolen from whomever, fifths of Bacardi if we were super lucky.  Always mixed with a potent punch or a generic supermarket cola to make the vile liquor even less detectable.  We drank worse than many local bums.

By now I loved getting drunk, but I didn’t love drinking.  It was a means to an end.  I sucked it up for that first hour or so just to get to the ultimate euphoric feeling.  I eventually switched to potent Long Island Iced Teas just to ameliorate and expedite the process, and for economy’s sake (they were only $5 a pint at our favorite bar.)

I loved getting drunk, but I couldn’t help thinking:

This can’t be it.

This can’t be why everyone drinks.

There has to be more to this.

For thousands upon thousands of years, man has drunk, and man has considered beer and liquor the nectar of the God’s.  And I’m not talking about just the morons over the centuries, the beerbellies, the buffoons, the dummkopfs, the rubes throughout history.  No, I’m talking about truly smart people:  Pliny the Elder, US Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allen Poe, Dorothy Parker, Hemingway, Ben Franklin, and Winston Churchill.  There was just no fucking way that these great people were praising something as horrific as Molson Ice from a tallboy can.

Yet, I seemed to be the only person my age questioning things.  The only person around having an existential drinking crisis.  Everyone else was perfectly content with sucking down vile pisswater so long as it eventually got them shit-canned.

There had to be more.  And I was going to discover it.  I was determined!

I was still more a liquor than a beer guy back at the turn of this millennium and now, while prebarring back in my college hovel with my friends, I’d get on the dial-up internet and go to cocktail websites, find one or two drinks that sounded interesting, that had a cool name, and then order them that very night.

I’m not proud to admit that I became the kind of twenty-two-year-old jackass who went to packed college bars on a Thursday night and would order a round of drinks for his friends like this:

“Yeah, could I get two of the $4 Coors pitchers for my friends, and for me…a Rusty Nail.”

To which, inevitably, a fellow classmate of mine, forced to tend bar to earn enough for the following semester, just trying to get through the night, maybe get a sexy female patron’s number, hopefully not have to clean up too much bathroom vomit, would incredulously reply:  “What the fuck’s a Rusty Nail?”

Luckily I’d memorized all the drinks I wished to try and I could proudly say, “Why that’s three parts Scotch and one part Drambuie.  Serve over ice in a rocks glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.”

“Uh…yeah…I don’t think I know how to make that.  I can pretty much only make ‘blanks’ and ‘blanks’ where both ingredients are named in the name or shots that slutty women drink to justify their promiscuous behavior.”

He’d turn over his shoulder to the “senior” bartender, some drop-out from our very college who was now twenty-five and still bartending to fund his drug and fucking young sorority girls habit, and call out, “Eh, Scotty?  We got Drambuie?”

“Dram–what?”

“–buie?”

“Buoy?  Like in the water?

“Drambuie?”

“Oh, yeah, I think I’ve seen a bottle of that stuff.”

And ten minutes later a dust-caked bottle of Drambuie would surface, the cap soldered onto the bottle by the sticky liquid and the fact that it hadn’t been twisted off in years, since the last time some wannabe had taken a gamble on it, and then the poor bartender, who by now had missed dozens of drink orders and ensuing tips, who had caused a line of peeved dipsomaniacs to congregate at the bar, would try his damnedest to make me a Rusty Nail.  And it would inevitably be overly heavy on the booze component because we were college kids and we made our drinks strong and, you know, who wouldn’t prefer more liquor in a drink than mixer?  Only a fool.

I feel bad about these years, this behavior of mine.  And most of the drinks I forced these poor bartenders to make were fucking horrendous.  Old man drinks from the roaring 20s when I guess people had more tolerance for absurd recipes that featured components like milk, honey, and even onions.  Sure, I discovered a great cocktail or two that I still throw back on occasion to this very day–a Manhattan, an Old-Fashioned, even a simple gin and tonic–but I mainly drank a lot of overpriced-for-a-college-kid and poorly-mixed-by-a-college-kid cocktails.

I was trying, I was embarrassing myself, and my drinking life was most certainly not improving.  Nor was my sex life as no twenty-one-year-old dame really wants to fuck the weirdo drinking a Sidecar in a bar loudly playing Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me.”  And I was getting drunker quicker than all my friends as I matched their watery pitchers of lite beer with Scotch and bourbon based drinks.

My first year out of college I moved to Hoboken, a helluva drinking town, anecdotally called the “per capita bar capital of America,” “more bars per block than any place else!” locals will tell you, but if you’ve ever done even a modicum of traveling in this country you’ll quickly learn there’s about a dozen places in America that make these same ludicrous and uncomfirmable claims (Austin, TX; Athens, OH; Lacrosse, WI; Newport, RI; Anchorage, AK; to name a few.)

In Hoboken I was fortunate enough to live with two friends that greatly shaped my drinking career.  One, an inveterate drunkard from Scranton taught me about manly bar culture.  How to get the bartender’s attention, how to order a drink, how to tip on a free round, how to drink a Guinness, how to throw back Irish whiskey, and how not to get 86ed for inappropriate behaviors.  Seemingly simple things to know now, sure, but so is kissing, yet everyone sucks at that the first times they try.  You have to learn these things somewhere.  The other friend, a well-heeled white boy from Cincinnati, Kevin, taught me about the finer vices in life.  Raised by a country club epicurean father, he knew about good Scotch, cigars, and vittles by the time he graduated from high school.  Not to mention, he’d spent a summer of college actually working in Belgium.  He told me that this was the greatest beer producing country in the world, first introducing me to the more ubiquitous Belgian fare:  Leffe, Hoegaarden, Chimay, and Duval.  All these beers absolutely fucking floored me.  Yes!  I was finally drinking, and getting drunk!, on good stuff.  My dreams were becoming reality.

Now, on Friday and Saturday nights, in the early evening, while our other friends were throwing back cheap pitchers at some dive, Kevin and I would go to Belgian bars like the wonderful Markt–then in the Meatpacking District–where we’d casually and coolly sit at the relaxed bar like two proper gents.  Enjoying delicious Belgian brews from their appropriately logoed and designed glasses–a revelation!–amongst Markt’s typical crowd of golddiggers and men that dress like celebrities (fedoras, sunglasses indoors, sneakers with pinstriped suit pants) but aren’t really celebrities (musicians without gigs, scenesters, “artists”).  Of course by drink four we were back down the street at the late, great Village Idiot where we would recklessly drink pitchers of Miller High Life, vomit onto the sawdust covered floor, try to find a woman sans STDs, and misplace our memories.  Yeah, real proper gents.

I still assumed American beer was shit, “fucking close to water” as they say, I mean it’s all but axiomatic isn’t it?, but this final barrier would change sometime later that year on my first ever visit to the glorious Ginger Man.  Strolling the garbage covered, urine soaked streets of the W. 30s while on a day date, looking for something to do, looking for clean air to breath, I recalled having read about this brilliant nearby bar with a gobsmackingly prodigious draught list.

I would later, upon becoming a regular, learn that this huge place is usually packed during happy hour and on evenings, but on this one particular Saturday afternoon it was completely empty. Me and my date were the only customers. (And, yes, I do take dates to dark bars in the middle of a beautiful weekend day. What, like I’m gonna go hold hands at a museum, Christ.)  The sole bartender on that first day of attendance was bored out of her wits. She needed to find some way to liven things up. You know how Baskin-Robbins lets you sample some of their 31 flavors with those little pink plastic spoons? Well, on this Saturday afternoon, the bartender let me sample many of the Ginger Man’s seemingly hundreds of craft beer draught offerings.

One tap that day immediately caught my eye: Arrogant Bastard. What a name! It was exactly what I thought I was at the time (I was actually just a Big Douchebag but that isn’t a great name for a beer). Arrogant Bastard’s gargoyle logo was so freaking cool too. Oh, and the taste! It was an eye-opening experience, like losing my virginity. I didn’t know beer could smell so good, look so good, and taste so fucking good.

Instantly, on the drunken spot, I declared Arrogant Bastard my favorite beer in the world. Believe me, it didn’t have that stiff of competition back then.  By the sober next day, after kicking the girl out of bed, I was on the Stone brewery website reading all I could about my new favorite brew. I even ordered an Arrogant Bastard t-shirt and pint glass. I wore my shirt proudly and often that ensuing year and it garnered much attention and chuckles, acting as a great conversation piece. I think most people assumed it was one of those faux-vintage pseudo-hip fake company t-shirts you get at Urban Outfitters.

“Nope, it’s a real beer,” I’d tell them, “It’s my FAVORITE beer.”

Wow. I thought I was so freaking cool for having such an “obscure” non-macro as my favorite brew. Back then it was pretty hard to find Arrogant Bastard. Only a few bars had it on tap and only a specialty store or two in the NYC area had it bottled. Now, of course, it’s one of the most ubiquitous craft beers around.  One I rarely even have much any more because I’ve come to take it so much for granted.  But, the few times per year I do have it, it brings back nostalgic memories much like it must have done when Proust bit into his madeleine.  Simply tasting it makes me feel young and dumb again.  And you can’t beat that.

From that point forward, my life would never be the same.  I discovered Beeradvocate.com and their “Top Beers on Planet Earth” list, printing it out in a minuscule footnote-sized font so I could keep it as a handy reference in my wallet at all times.  Now, whenever I hit a beer store or nice bar I would discreetly pull out my list and see if they had anything on it.  They rarely did.  An Old Rasputin here, a Victory Storm King there, but those were few and far between.  Even as recent as 2004/2005 most of these “great” beers simply could not just be stumbled upon, you truly had to seek them out.  And I still had no clue where to look and the majority of my friends certainly didn’t want to assist me in my new found hobby.  They all still preferred drinking Miller Lite.  But my drinking was still improving and I was on my own discovering new craft breweries to love by the week.  Not just Stone but Victory and Dogfish Head, Rogue, Allagash, and of course local favorite Brooklyn Brewery.

And now here I am in 2009, often drinking many of the finest beers in the world.  Such as the great and faux-limited Dark Lord.  OK, it is fairly limited, something like 20,000 bottles made per year, and, of course, only available on one day per year (aproposly, Dark Lord Day.)  And, yes, I couldn’t get it any other way than in being lucky enough to know a great guy like The Captain who kindly procured a bottle for me.  So I am indeed eternally grateful to have it.  I am blessed in my beer-drinking life.

Back in the mid-2000s, really so recently, I would look at the BA Top 100 and fantasize about having any of the big dogs.  I was near certain I would never, never, never get to even sniff any of the legendary bottles on that list from places like Russian River, Founders, and Three Floyds.  Where did you even go to get such oddities?!  Hell, as recent as 2007, probably the best, most highly-regarded beer I’d ever had was Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout.***  But now I get to try all the great stouts.

Dark Lord is a glass-staining black stout with a potent aroma of roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, and stinging booze.  Additional tastes of dark fruits with just a hint of candi sweetness.  Smooth mouthfeel, neither too carbonated, nor too syrupy.  Wonderful and meaty, a top ten stout in the world for sure.  I didn’t quite like it better than Darkness or Kate the Great, but when we’re getting into such rarefied air, it’s like splitting hairs now, isn’t it?

And my drinking life goes on…

A+

(I’d be curious to hear other beer bloggers’ (or simply drinkers’) “A Drinking Life,” either in the comments or your own blogs.  Go for it!  Let’s make this an internet sensation!!!!!!)

*What’s that great Jim Gaffigan joke:  “When you don’t drink, people always need to know why. They’re like, ‘You don’t drink? Why?’ This never happens with anything else. ‘You don’t use mayonnaise? Why? Are you addicted to mayonnaise? Is it OK if I use mayonnaise?’”

**Not to mention, according to Dr. Drew on a recent episode of The Adam Carolla Podcast, Jews can’t even become alcoholics.  Something wacky about our Semetic blood.  Nice!

***I currently count some 58 beers I’ve had on the Top 100 as of this second.

Three Floyds Blackheart

July 8th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Brewer: Three Floyds, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Grade: B plus, Style: Brown Ale, Style: IPA

9% ABV from a bomber

Almost any time I saunter into a typical BYOB party, a six pack of craft under my arm, some wiseguy sipping a Stella always has to look me up and down, a sneer on his face.  “So, what are you?  One of them beer snobs?”

How is this something to mock?  And why does drinking good beer make one a “beer snob”?

If I’d walked into the party with an attractive women on my arm would the same chap have queried me:

“So, what are you?  One of them pussy snobs?  Can’t be content just fucking boring, average women?  Need to get your dick wet on something a little more sexy, huh?  Yeah, I see.  Snob.”

Luckily, last weekend’s July 4th party was hosted by a beer “snob” just like me and further luckily he’d just returned from Chicago with one more suitcase than he’d flown into town with.  That new suitcase packed to the gills with Three Floyds bombers.

I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never even heard of Blackheart, but an employee at the (what I understand) is amazing Binny’s, had all but shoved a bomber of this in my friend’s cart and said it was a must buy.  So glad that man did, because this beer was silly good.  Named after their parlor and with a sick label by San Fran tattoo artists Tim Lehi and Jeff Rassier, this is one aromatically robust IPA.  English IPA for that matter which I, honestly, can’t really differentiate from our Yankee IPAs.  This is probably the most flawlessly balanced IPA I’ve ever had.  The perfect amount of pine, grapefuit, hops, and malt.  It’s not a “bomb” of any sort, just dangerously easy drinking deliciousness.  I almost wept when the split bomber was finished.  We were slurping it back like Gatorade after five sets of tennis.

Why is this beer not more “famous”?  I honestly think its better than Three Floyds’ much more regarded Dreadnaught. Hell, I think this is one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had.  Exquisite and not to be missed.  Stock up.

A+

Three Floyds Broodoo

5.5% ABV from a bomber

Next we went with Three Floyds’ “harvest ale” Broodoo which is actually just a typically hoppy IPA.  Solid, no question, but it quite frankly pales in comparison to the Blackheart.  It almost felt unfair to drink anything after the glory of Blackheart but Broodoo had to be the sacrificial lamb.  Though I did like this beer, I could see myself enjoying it scads more if it were my first or only beer of the night.  A tasty biting and spicy hops bitterness that tickles your tongue, this beer still remains remarkably drinkable (seems to be a theme with 3F stuff and I’m not complaining!)  Then again, at a mere 5.5%, this one felt a ton more boozy than the Blackheart.  A little too over-carbonated as well.  But these are minor quibbles and this is a nice, expertly-crafted brew.

B+

Popskull

10% ABV from a bomber

My final brew from my impromptu Three Floyds Weekend troika was actually a collaboration beer with Dogfish Head.  Doesn’t your dick get hard just hearing those words?  Two of my favorite brewers, two of America’s finest brewers.  I’m such a sucker for collaboration beers even though these gimmicky brews are usually nothing special, and in fact, with rare exception–off the top of my head I’m thinking of Collaboration Not Litigation and Stone’s collabs with Mikeller, Nogne O, et al–most are just mediocre.  And, I hate to admit it, but such is the case (somewhat) here as this “Threeheaded Floyddog Production” is nothing special.  It’s a flavorful but not really mindblowing brown.  With less hype and fanfare, I’d call this a very solid example of an (imperial?) brown ale.  It’s very drinkable, has a nice little sweetness, tastes of roasted and sweet malts, a hint of vanilla.  It didn’t really taste that complex to me despite the wood aging.  Which, speaking of, makes me just realize that I would much prefer to simply have Dogfish Head’s own Palo Santa Marron, a truly exceptional brown ale.  Seems that in the beer collaboration world, too many cooks spoil the broth.  Eh, but I’ll keep on buying them nevertheless.  A sucker may not be born every minute, but I’m unable to control myself when it comes to over-priced, over-hyped collaborations.  (Now when are Miller and Coors going to team up for their special collaboration beer????  AMERICA IS WAITING!)

(And, yet another hat tip to The Captain for grabbing me one of these bottles on Dark Lord Day.)

B+

So what did I learn over the weekend?:

1.  “Snobbiness” is very sexy.

2.  Adults that still ooh and ahh fireworks are fucking morons.

3.  And Three Floyds is clearly one of the best brewers in America.

Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA

June 5th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Three Floyds, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

9.5% from a bomber

The Groupie Slums It

I don’t mean to offend when I explicitly state that attractive yet unmarried and never-married heterosexual women in their thirties who actually want to be married are either one of two things:

1.  Overly picky

2.  Fucking crazy

Becky was incredibly attractive and she didn’t seem crazy.  Sparkling eyes that were neither too dead nor fidgety, a nice amount of looking into my peepers and nervously looking down.  A kind smile that always spread just the correct amount between the ears and showed an exactly sufficient number of teeth depending on the circumstance*.  A confident voice full of charm and charisma.

And she was on a date with always-undressed me at a Village bar frequented by underage NYU undergrads and most famous for winning New York Magazine’s “Most Vomitiest Bar” the last three years running.  So how picky could Becky possibly be?

I spent the first half hour of our first date investigating her, scrutinizing her intensely like Sherlock Holmes.  That’s not exactly a fun way to behave and doesn’t exactly lead to a love connection, but I had to figure out what was up.  Soon, I realized it must be nothing, she was just one who had slipped through the cracks.  Had a little misfortune in love.  Perhaps I had very much lucked out in finding her.

Sure, she was a little obsessed with relationships, with finding “the one,” even with marriage, but most women are.  Nothing wrong with that.  She wasn’t one of those insufferable single gals, staying home at night with a stack of bridal magazines cutting out pictures of her favorite dresses, floral displays, bridesmaids’ gowns, and making a collage of her hypothetical wedding.  She didn’t say stuff like, “I’m going to make my future husband buy me an 18 karet yellow gold eternity band emerald cut. I’ve already picked it out.”  She didn’t have at all times on her person a list of one-hundred things her future mate had to meet, to which she’d say, “Do you have over $300,000 in the bank?” and then check off the corresponding box, hoping to fill them all out like she was participating in a concomitant scavenger hunt.

No, she was such a sweetheart.  She just wanted to find someone near perfect for her because you can never find someone completely perfect for you, right?  Some one she could grow old with.  Who could take care of her for the next fifty years.

Hell, she realized she was getting older, we all are.  And it ain’t easy, especially for a female.  Quoth Robert Herrick:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

Could I be the man for her?  She’d ask me questions, bordering on interview queries but I accepted them because they were said with such earnestness.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

“Do you date a lot?”  “Why haven’t you found someone?”  “It’s tough here in New York, isn’t it?”  “Have you ever thought about JDate?”

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

She talked about her successes, moreso her failures.  The guy that did this wrong.  The guy that did that bad.  The guy that wasted that half-year of her life.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

After a few cocktails, I finally figured it out.  She actually did all the work for me.  I was getting bored with sitting and I asked her if she wanted to go revisit our youth and challenge some sophomores to a game of beer pong.

“Ha, that reminds me of the time Vince Carter** picked me up at the Soho Grand and all but forced me to go back to his apartment to play pool with him at 3 AM.”

“Vince Carter?!  The uber-talented, uber-lazy NBA 8-time all-star?!  Really?  That’s so cool.”

Casually.  “Yeah.  Nice guy but a little boring.  Unbeatable in pool though.  You wouldn’t believe how good he is off the bumpers.”

We lost our first game of beer pong to two kids that have never known life with rotary phones and returned to our seats.  A warbling John Mayer song I’ve never heard of because I know nothing about music since the tail-end of the grunge/gangster rap era came on the jukebox.

“Yuck.  I always hated this song.  I was actually there when John wrote this one.”

You know John Mayer too?

And there were more.  Seemingly every single thing that came on the flatscreen, or the jukebox, or on an imbibing hipster’s ironic t-shirt, or even in an anecdote I told reminded her of a celebrity encounter she’d had in the past decade.  And I say “encounter” because she was never saying that she dated these men, certainly never saying that she had intimate relations with them, she was just casually, and somewhat angrily, mentioning them in the same matter of fact way I could go:

“You know that dumb bitch Megan sure liked rum and cokes.”

“That terrible skank Tracy sure thought she was good at darts too.”

“Whoa boy, did that miserable Annette always act like she knew a lot about baseball.”

Then, the Yankees won and Michael Kay came on the YES post-game show on the bar TV.

“Ugh…I hate Michael Kay.”

“Yeah, me too.  I’m a Yankees fan but he’s insufferable.”

“No, not that.  He’s a major stalker.  I go on one date with him a few months ago and now he won’t leave me alone!”

Michael Kay?!  Now that’s disgusting.

And it all made sense.  She’d gone from dating (or fucking on the sly) an A-list hoopster in her knockout early-20s to a B-list rocker in her still-smoking mid-20s to a sleezy Z-list local television baseball announcer just earlier this year as her looks were starting to fade.  Perhaps not for a “nobody” like me, but certainly for a big shot, rich celebrity.

Then another thing hit me.  Her twenties’ goal of gathering ye rosebuds, gathering a rich celebrity mate, had all but passed her by and now she was onto a new stratagem:  prospecting.  The night I had picked her up it had been so easy for me.  I wasn’t actually even talking to her at first.  One of my friends was, casually in conversation mentioning that I was a writer.  To that, she sprinted over to me and proceeded to yak my ear off, shoving her number, e-mail, fax, address, Facebook page, Twitter account, and every other possible contact info she could into my palm before leaving.  Telling me I had to promise to contact her.  I’m not sure if I’d even said more than a dozen words that first encounter.

She was prospecting.  And she thought this might be her final shot at glory, Dan Jansen in the 1994 Winter Olympics.  She’d heard I was a writer, and daftly thought I might soon be a famous one.  Or at least a rich one.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  If she only knew.

Well, I certainly wasn’t going to let on.  I went back to her apartment and hooked up with her anyways, unfortunate visions of Michael Kay dancing in my head (”Ssssssssssee ya!!!”)

I’ve always said that, were I a celebrity, I wouldn’t mind women throwing themselves at me for no other reason than my fame and I certainly don’t mind a slumming groupie faux-throwing herself at me hoping that her vagina is that magic key to getting me on the cover of “Entertainment Weekly.”

At least I won’t stalk her like Michael Kay.

Dreadnaught

Big ups to my friend Elizabeth who I made go to about fifteen different Chicagoland beer stores when she was there on business in order to find this coveted, highly regarded, DIPA for me.  Another winner from Three Floyds who, apropos of barely something, I think may make my favorite labels in the biz.  Taste-tested this openly against one of my favorites, Avery Maharaja, and I felt it took it down in a 10th round TKO.  So fresh and fragrant.  A fruit cocktail of tropical tastes in peach, mango, and citrus, with subdued hops bitterness balanced my a nice caramel malt backbone.  Incredibly drinkable, deserves the acclaim it gets.

A

*Beware the women that smiles either too much or too little.  The women that are ear-to-fucking-ear when you simply make a lame pun.  Who show every teeth like a horse with peanut butter in its mouth when you crack a mild joke.  And who spit take with hearty laughter when you so much as comment on the bartender’s bad hair cut.  Also beware the ones that wouldn’t even crack a half-grin watching Eddie Murphy “Raw.”  They’re either depressed or dumb.

**Celebrity names have been changed to protect…uh, I guess me from being sued for slander.  Or is it libel?

Three Floyds Behemoth Blonde Barleywine

January 13th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Three Floyds, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Barley wine

PREVIOUSLY ON MY TOP TEN MOST WANTED LIST

12.5% ABV from a waxed-covered bomber

Living in a city like New York, food isn’t hard to come by, no matter the time, your location, or your mental state.  Thus, when wasted, one should always be able to get a slice of pizza, perhaps some cheap Chinese or Indian food, or even a sandwich at the all-night bodega.  But sometimes you get so drunk that you lose your wallet, or your bearings, or…your sense of self, and next thing you know you find yourself grubbing on the most despicable of concoctions.

This rarely happens for me, but here are some of my worst ever drunken meals.

5.  Macadamia nuts — “Macadamia Nuts?!” you say.  How can that be my 5th worst drunken meal ever?  Aren’t macadamia nuts delicious?  Indeed they are.  In fact, I’d dare call them the second best nut after the unshelled pistachio.  So what gives?  Here’s what gives.  I was in DC for a wedding and, as the only single guy amongst my friends, I was forced to get my own room at the ritzy hotel.  After a night of drunken floundering with female wedding guests I returned to my room alone.  Where I apparently ate an entire jar of macadamia nuts from the mini-bar.  Something I don’t remember at all.  By morning there were none left save one single nut on the floor.  I tried it.  Phenomenal.  Price for jar:  $35!  As Morty Seinfeld once said, “They’re like 80 cents a nut!”  I think I paid an even higher rate.  I would have been better off buying two PPV porns.

4.  Burger King — No explanation necessary.  If you ever are drunk and BK is your only choice, just save yourself the 1500 calories and go to bed.

3.  Can of uncooked vegetarian chili — For a while I lived with a vegetarian female roommate.  Meaning that I stayed quite skinny as she never had anything worthwhile to steal when I came home drunk at 4:00 AM.  However, one night I was so desperate for sopping-up-the-booze sustenance that I swiped a can of her vegetarian chili, spent about 45 minutes trying to figure out how to use a can opener, before eating the cold, uncooked chili straight from the tin like some boxcar hobo.  It was disgusting.

2.  Circus Peanuts — A few months ago I went out drinking hardcore and I don’t even remember how I got home, a running theme I’m sure you’re starting to notice.  The next morning I woke up in bed completely clothed, even my shoes still on.  And, surrounding me in bed and on the floor was a spilled bag of circus peanuts.  You know, those orange gelatinous chunks of disgustingness.  I hate those things when I’m sober.  Why in the world did I buy some at 4:00 AM?  Was I hankering for Styrofoam? I picked one peanut up and took a bite.  I immediately sprinted to the bathroom to dry heave.

1. My most humiliating drunken eating experience happened just last week though.  I had gone out drinking with the boys but had arranged to end the night at the apartment of a girl I hook up with on occasion.  Arriving at her place at 3:00 AM I didn’t think I was that drunk.  I didn’t think I was that hungry either.  The next morning though, when I woke up, the girl had a strange look on her face.

“What did you do in my kitchen last night?”

“Huh?”

“There’s Parmesan cheese everywhere.”

Oh god.

I had a drunken flashback to the night before.  After we had hooked up, she had immediately crashed.  I, however, realized that I needed a nosh.  Like a cat burglar I snuck into her kitchen to examine her vittles.  Fuck!  She had nothing.  Literally nothing to eat.  No chips, cookies, leftover pizza, nothing.  All she had in her fridge was salad dressing and…one of those large shakers of Kraft Parmesan Cheese.

Now in my sober life, I hate that shit.  If I’m eating pasta, I want real fresh Parmesan shaved over top it.  Not some powdery, chalky pseudo-cheese.   But, I guess at 5:00 in the morning drunk, I thought this would satisfy.  And, in my flashback, I recall turning my head upside down over the sink, like someone about to get their hair shampooed at the salon, before I proceeded to literally shake the cheese powder into my face, for the most part missing my pie hole and getting it everywhere else.  In the full-of-water cups in the sink, on the counter-top, coating the floor.

I was so humiliated, I just had to pretend that I had no clue what had happened.  I even blamed her roommate.  And, of course, the girl didn’t accuse me of eating powdered cheese straight from the shaker because, I mean, come on, what kind of deviant would do that?!

The kind of deviant like me that starts his night with a bomber of 12.5% barley wine.  Recently when I was visiting friends in DC they took me to one of the best beer bars in America, Birreria Paradiso, where I was stunned to see that they had a single off-the-menu bottle of the famed Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine, a beer I thought I would never be lucky enough to indulge in.

They charged us $20 for the bomber but it was well worth it.   The smell was potent and awesome, tons of malts and hops.  The taste was similar, quite burning and boozy, minimal carbonation, with tastes of pine, citrus, and caramel.  My minor issues is that the mouthfeel is a little thin and it could use a tad more sweetness.  Not the absolute best barley wine I’ve ever had, but damn fine.

A

So what are some of the worst things you have ever ate (eaten?  I can never conjugate correctly) while drunk?

Gumballhead

December 10th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Three Floyds, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Wheat (Hefeweizen)

4.8% ABV bottled

And another beer I was afforded access to only after drinking liquidized pizzabrau!

Every state, even the great Empire State, has its own absolutely insane beer laws. Dumb nanny state laws ostensibly meant to protect ourselves from ourselves. Or, to at least better line the government coffers. One great thing about New York is that all six-packs can be divided up into singles, allowing one to sample numerous beers during a drinking session, never forced to dive in with six of the same. Unfortunately, Illinois doesn’t have such a rule and one is legally constrained to always buy full sixers.

My friends Graig and Sal found this out on a recent trip to Chicago to watch Syracuse whoop Notre Dame in football. Like I do with all of my friends when they travel–friends that will inevitably soon hate me with a passion despite my blog’s great service to society–I sent them with a list of regional rarities I wanted brought back for me. The list mainly consisted of stuff from Munster, Indiana’s acclaimed Three Floyds Brewing Co., a place that doesn’t distribute much farther than the Second City and, thus, one whose beers I had never sampled before.

Upon reaching Chicago, my pals stumbled out into the freezing Windy City and through an act of great kismet quickly found a place called Binny’s, which from the looks of their website is a beer drinkers’ nirvana. My god. At the alcohol “depot,” they found quite a few Three Floyds’ beer, but, of course, all were only available in six packs. Now, Graig and Sal are two very kind people but they obviously were not going to bring me back several six-packs. It would simply be too heavy and where would they find the luggage space, what with all of Sal’s purchases of Syracuse memorabilia and Sears Tower tchotchkes?

Then, the savvy Sal came up with a brilliant idea. Noticing that all Three Floyds’ bottles have the exact same cap, he replaced some Alpha King bottles with Gumballheads, calmly walked to the register whistling “Puttin’ on the Ritz,”* and next thing you know he had pulled off the lamest heist since “Ocean’s Thirteen.”** Take that Illinois!!!  Just try to extradite us all back!

I was most excited to dive into this one, making it my first career Three Floyds’ beer even though I expected it to be nothing more than slightly above average. I was so wrong.

I popped the top and was immediately floored. Wow, what a smell! I usually expect wheat beers to be boring, simple, and standard. Not this one. Much more hops than I expect from a wheat beer. I actually had to look it up on the internet halfway through the brew’s drinking to confirm that this truly is considered a wheat beer cause this could easily be mistaken for a pale ale, and a good one at that. Then again, their Alpha King could easily be mistaken for an IPA so maybe Three Floyds just likes to overhop everything. Cool with me.  I’d put hops in my chef’s salad if I could. Gumballhead has lemon zestiness with unfiltered, hazy yeast sensations as well. Very, very complex for a wheat beer. Truly extraordinary. My first Three Floyds beer and it was a decisive winner!

Furthermore, I’m shocked the ABV is so low. A macro-drinking friend once asked me if I could ever find a low-ABV beer to be a masterpiece. I sheepishly admitted that I probably couldn’t. I suppose I’m a typical craft beer bigot that thinks good beer can’t exsist at such a low ABV, but this proves me completely wrong. I am a changed man. And next time someone claims they drink Corona or Bud Light because it’s hot out, or because they’re drinking a lot that day, or because they need something cool and refreshing–and craft beers are none of those things they’ll say!–point them to this sucker. I could drink this at the beach all day, I could drink this everywhere and anywhere and at any time. In fact, let it be noted that I first drank this on a frigid December night in NYC where I was struggling to stay warm…and I fucking loved it!

Far and away the best American wheat beer I’ve ever had and neglecting further research the best under-5% beer I’ve ever had too.

A-

*Taco’s version, not Fred Astaire’s.

**Let’s talk about “Thirteen” for a sec. Missed it on its theatrical release. A huge fan of “Eleven,” a marginal fan of “Twelve,” I should have liked the, hopefully, end of Soderbergh’s trilogy. I didn’t. It is currently available on HBO On Demand and literally every single time I have ordered it I have fallen asleep before Elliot Gould’s “with” credit appears on-screen. And I am decidedly not the kind of person that falls asleep during movies. Avoid unless you have insomnia.

Alpha King

December 9th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Three Floyds, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Pale Ale

6% ABV bottled

The Board Game Olympiad

I’m certainly not above doing nerdy things in my life and have done plenty. There was the time I taught myself origami and enjoyed publicly showing off my skills to friends using random bar receipts.* There was that one winter I began to carry around a voice recorder to keep track of all my “funny” ideas.** And who can forget that one summer I started wearing ascots.*** But entering New York City’s Board Game Olympiad may be the nerdiest thing I have ever done.

Being that I was good at, you know, actual sports growing up, I didn’t really play a lot of board games as a youth. I always liked Trivial Pursuit but found many of the other major board games boring and more based on happenstance than any sort of skill, something I detest, and avoid. It was a bit of a surprise when a friend e-mailed me one day a few weeks ago asking if I would be the fourth and final teammate on her board game squad. I kindly explained to her what I have just explained to you good folks, that I don’t play board games, I don’t even know how to play many of the more famous board games, and why would she possibly want me on her team.

“You’re the most insanely competitive person I know, I don’t want to lose, and I know you won’t let us.”

She had me there, I hate to lose anything. The agony of defeat is far worse than the thrill of victory. I learned something a long time ago and that is that if you try insanely hard to win at just about anything, you usually will win. So few people in this world put effort into anything. And, assuming most of us have similar levels of innate talent, an incredible will to win will always serve you well. That is, if you want to win like I do. Many people don’t even care whether they win or lose. Those people have already been beaten, not that it matters a lick to them.

I still had one more question, though, before I committed and she read my mind before I had even asked it: “Yes, Aaron, it’s at a bar.”

Good. I will attend just about anything if it is at a bar.

Before heading to the Olympiad’s inexplicable location in the financial district, I had a few tipples. On a recent trip to Chicago to watch Syracuse defeat lowly Notre Dame in football, my friends Graig and Sal acquired some Three Floyds beers for me. Three Floyds is a highly acclaimed American brewery located in Munster, Indiana, but with a terrible distribution reach I had never had any of their brews before. The Three Floyds beers are also the ones I was only allowed access to after taking part in the dreaded Pizza Beer tasting.

Alpha King has one of the coolest beer labels ever, some sort of crazy demon god-monster ruling over us, presenting us with his fine beer. Looks like one of those gold leaf foil insert cards they started putting in baseball cards sets around the time everyone quit collecting. It poured a surprising ruby red. Smell is glorious, seriously hoppy. Bold citrus character, with alotta grapefruit. And, wow, if this is what Three Floyds consider a pale ale, I would love to see what they consider an IPA or DIPA. Simply a great beer. If it’s an IPA than it’s one of the best I’ve ever had, and I feel likewise if it’s a pale ale.

I arrived downtown for the Olympiad a tad early. No other teams or players were there but the organizers were setting up. Some serious nerds here. Imagine how nerdy it is to enter a board game olympics. Now think about the kind of people that want to create and run a board game olympics–unable to participate mind you–only reffing the events. Yeah, pretty nerdy.

After some small talk with the organizing nerds I headed to the bar, ordered a Guinness. “You with the Board Games Olympiad?” the cute blond bartender asked me. I was already humiliated and I wanted to feign ignorance, but it was clear I was and I humbly admitted my reasons for being there. Instead of looking down on my, though, she simply smiled and walked away. She hadn’t been mocking me, even questioning me, she just wanted to make sure I was with them in order that I get my beer for free. Nice! I hadn’t known this was an open bar, but now it all my sense, why else would they have been such a hefty entry fee? Not that I had paid any portion of the entry fee, I’m like a poker player that gets staked, I never pay my own way.

Soon my team arrived as did the other teams. My team wasn’t exactly the Four Tops in coolness, but my god, compared to those other squads we looked like the cast of “Gossip Girl.” The other teams were stocked with major nerds. Men with oversized glasses and scraggly beards, t-shirts with “funny” sayings or retro cartoon characters on them. The women flat-chested little tomboys in baggy sweatshirts, their wispy hair pulled back in unflattering and limp ponytails.

Aside from myself and a fellow male teammate of mine, it didn’t look like another person in the room had ever lifted. And I don’t mean weights. I mean, like, lifted anything: remote controls, forks, soda cans. These were some spindly armed, pencil-necked geeks. Twenty and thirtysomethings that still hadn’t gone through puberty.

The organizers gathered the several dozen teams and explained the rules, something all of us should have already known had we read our introductory e-mail sent a week earlier. I hadn’t read it because it was far too many words long and included no pretty pictures or hilarious FAIL videos. Essentially, the teams would compete in a round-robin format of several games spread over the first couple of hours, some games necessitating only one or two teammates, others needing the entire foursome. At the end of the round robin, the top two teams in the standings would compete in one final surprise game.

First up, I was enlisted to play Battleship while EC played Connect Four and Liz and Kay took on two other girls in Memory. Those are games that seemingly don’t take much skill, are games of much happenstance just as I previously mentioned hating, but my team swept all three events. Suddenly I didn’t hate these games of luck and as our opponents bitched about their bad guessing and bad fortunes, I brought out my best Gary Payton trash-talk, telling them they had just faced some superior opponents and how dare you call Battleship a game of luck. I fucking knew you were hiding that tiny plastic boat on B1 through B4.

After our sweep I hit the bar to order a few more beers for myself. My teammates were worried that my burgeoning drunkness would affect my gameplay but I assured them it wouldn’t. In fact, I explained that I am like professional darts players who aim to enter “the drink,” some non-sober point at which their nerves become most steady, their focus most clear, and their strategy most lucid. They are at one with the dart, their arm just an extension of their mind. I too after a few drinks am at my best in anything: writing, fucking, improvisational insults of fellow bar patrons, Pictionary.

We surged to the leaderboard as we headed to the next round of games. EC and I handled two-on-two Uno, while Liz and Kay battled some others in who could most quickly put together a two-hundred piece puzzle. Again, we swept those two games and lengthened our lead.

Next, our team got to finally join as one for a Trivial Pursuit match with a team consisting of three girls and a guy, one of the lady’s boyfriends. EC and I immediately began goofing on them before the first die had even been rolled and soon they were frazzled. Any time sports questions came up to ask, EC and I would mock celebrate, sardonically chauvinistically telling the “girl’s team” that they would never be able to get the sports question. They crumbled like a house of cards and after we had beaten them by a score of six pie wedges to two, I saw the girl and the guy arguing in the corner about something, she crying, no doubt ashamed that her man didn’t know what city the NBA Grizzlies first played in.

For the final round-robin game, our team faced off against the #3 team in the current standings in four-on-four Pictionary. We had already qualified for the championship, our lead untouchable no matter the result of this final game, but we still wanted to sweep the round robin with maximum points. Unfortunately, that would not be the case as the pedantic Pictionary nerd judge screwed us on several debatable answers and we lost the game.

Afterward, all teams were gathered to announce the final round-robin standings. We finished first with an ungodly score, nearly doubling up second place and causing some nerd in the crowd to call the kettle black by turning to us and decrying us as the “nerds.” Whatever, we made the finals, bitches. Our championship game opponent ended up being the team that beat us in Pictionary, only qualifying for the final due to that victory.

They say the best revenge is living well. Finding out your ex-girlfriend is dating some huge fucking loser is even better. And getting a chance to take down some rival who had just smoked you in Pictionary some ten minutes earlier is the best!

Before the final game was announced I went to the bar for yet another Guinness. The bartender brought me my beer along with a handwritten tab for the six others I’d already had. Apparently I had misread the situation, there never was an open bar set up for us, and I was simply walking away from paying her every single time! Son of a bitch.

I’ll say one thing about the organizing nerds, they were very clever, realizing that by night’s end many competitors would be drunk and tired.  Thus, they made the championship match a game of Operation. Now, I had never played before but I have to believe every one understands the concept of the game, one that requires a player to be steady and supple in removing tiny plastic body parts with cheap metal tweezers from a cartoon patient lying on the surgical table. Something that is somewhat hard normally and should be quite harder for some one drunk.  Oh, and some of these nerds were now very sloppy.

Long story short, my team removed seven of the thirteen body parts before the other team, and we claimed the victory. As we hoisted the Operation game board like it was the Stanley Cup, we wondered what our victory prize would be. Perhaps a trophy, some celebratory t-shirt, heck, maybe even a nice bar tab. Nope. Nothing. The prize for winning the board game olympics was simply getting to hang with huge nerds for five hours. Oh well, at least we beat them and became king of the nerds.

A

*Aborted when I realized I was only skillful at making the boring crane.

**Aborted when I got wasted and lost said microrecorder.

***Aborted when I decided I wanted to start meeting women again.