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December 11th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Unibroue, Country: Canada, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

8% ABV on draught

Let’s talk about dating bartenders. Seemingly the holy grail for a drunkard. Though in many ways that is true, those of us that have dated drinkslingers can attest that there are both pluses and minuses to the proposition. I thought of this dichotomy as I have just recently befriended an attractive female bartender, though we have yet to “date” per se.

I’ve never been one of those guys that likes dispensing dating advice, nor receiving it. Most people who are dating or relationship “experts” are all talk and no walk, similar to business “experts” that are poor and entrepreneurial “experts” that have never had a successful company. All those people are only successful at pumping out books of bad and untested advice that aimless and confused people for some reason actually pay money for.

Dating isn’t a do-this-and-then-that-and-then-she-will-like-you-bro game. It’s far more complex than that. And, if by my age you haven’t figured a few things out, you are in serious trouble. That’s why I like to document my successes and failures on this blog, so we can laugh at me, while still learning a thing or two. Simply put though, I’ve always felt if one is simply interesting, natural, and bold, then they will have much success in the world of women.

Having said all that, now it’s time for me to be a hypocrite as I have decided to make an if-then chart helping those decide whether they should date, fuck, or simply remain friends with a bartender.

Now, I’m not going to help you actually intrigue, actually pick up the bartender, that’s your job. All I would say is to please treat bartenders like normal females. Seems simple, but I notice that 99 out of 100 men don’t. Yes, she may be garbed in overly tight clothing that heaves her bosoms onto the bar unwittingly mopping up beer condensation. And, yes, she may be bottomed in hot pants that barely cover her labia.  But that doesn’t mean she is a slut.

Likewise, she is not a hooker and giving her an unnaturally large tip does not count as a pick-up line, in fact, it just makes you look sad and clueless. (Though, I suppose if it’s like $1000 on a two-pint tab that might be enough to get some future dates with her in which you can give her lots of jewelry and nice dinners and shit.) Furthermore, remember, while you are getting increasingly drunker throughout the night, she is usually remaining sober. So if she doesn’t seem truly interested in you by the time you get to, say, drink number four, just assume she isn’t interested in you at all. Post-drink four, you may think you have finally seduced her, but she is laughing at your jokes and siding with you in the dumb pop cultural arguments you are having with your buddy (”Who would win a fight, Sonny Corleone or Henry Hill?”) simply to placate you. In fact, she sees you as just another besotted slob like every other drunk male in the bar.

A few questions to ask yourself before jumping in:

1. How much do I like the bar she works at?

2. Do I foresee a long-term relationship with her?

3. Would a single one-night stand be enough?

4. How do I feel about future awkward situations?

I suppose the kind of lame “experts” employed by those sorts of men’s magazine that stink like bad cologne would say something pithy and trying-to-be witty like, “Don’t shit where you drink,” but I don’t completely agree with that unless you live in fucking Mayberry. I especially disagree with that statement if you live in New York City. There’s another bar just around every corner. Then again, there’s plenty of women around the corner too. So you have to decide to what level you like each because, as economists know, the world is all about trade-offs.

Is the bar some place you treat the same way Jerry treated Monk’s coffee shop, a place you gather everyday after work for drinks with friends, to watch the big game, to eat mozzarella sticks? Is the bartender a girl you could legitimately see yourself dating for a lengthy time period? Or is she just too fucking hot to pass up a night of meaningless sex with, future consequences be damned?

Some other things to consider. Dating bartenders can be very demanding. Many of them have to work til closing time and still count the register, turn off the countless TVs, and mop up shit, leaving you to sit tired at the bar watching a fifth straight running of “Sportscenter” on closed-captioning as the bar backs and bouncers angrily stare at you, mostly mad because you’re the guy dating their coworker they’ve had an unrequited crush on for so long. Likewise, visiting your bartender girlfriend on a busy night can be somewhat akin to dating a stripper as you are forced to sit by yourself as your amore faux-flirts with other males while pretending to accept their sleazy advances. I find it utterly amusing to watch males flounder in their seductions, but I know most men get jealous upon seeing such things.

Let’s look at some sample scenarios:

1. Bar is your home away from home. Your living room in another location. It’s where all your friends hang, it’s where you meet all your hookups, it’s “your” place, man. The bartender is highly attractive but you see the potential for her annoying you down the road.

AARON SAYS: Just stay friendly with the bartender. You’ll get some free drinks out of it at best.  At worst, you won’t alienate you and your friends from a favored watering hole.

2. Bar is on the other side of town. The side of town you fucking hate. Bartender is a, let’s say, 6 out of 10.

AARON SAYS: Try to pick her up that night for a one-night stand. If you fail, no harm no foul. That side of town sucks and you’ll never need to visit that bar again.

3. Bar is on the Upper East Side–

AARON SAYS: Whoa, stop right there. Why in the world are you on the UES? Hail a cab and get the fuck out of there!

4. Bar is decent and unremarkable, nothing distinguishing it from any other bar in the city. Bartender seems like someone you could marry.

AARON SAYS: Then fucking date her! It’s not that hard. What do I need to hold your hand on all your decision?! Jesus.*

Now let’s get to my situation. Having some time to kill before meeting a friend on a Friday night, I wanted to find a place to grab a few drinks and possibly some grub. I walked through lower Hell’s Kitchen trying to find the crummiest bar I could. Crummy because with it being a Friday happy hour I wanted a quiet spot where I could actually get a seat and avoid being jostled by slobbering Heineken drinkers. After several false starts–walking in the bar, seeing the scene, immediately walking out of the bar–I finally found a place that looked like a dump. A place I had passed by for years but had always avoided. Surely this place would be empty. It was.

However, it was also incredible! The outer facade of a dive bar but the interior of an upscale watering hole. I hunkered down at the bar and was floored by their unbelievable tap selection: Allagash Black, several Ommegangs, and a few Unibroue offerings as well, all at a mere $5 a pint. I ordered a sandwich and it too was sublime. Throw in some gorgeous flatscreens from which I monitored several NBA games at once and I was absolutely digging this little gem I’d discovered.

Then the bar had a shift change and I was greeted by a new bartender. We flirted, we hit it off, I made a smooth exit, she stalked me on Facebook, and you’re up to speed.

Our first “date” wasn’t exactly a date. It was quiet on a Tuesday night, I was at home plotting how to rule the world when I got a text from her:

“bored at work, come by.”

No problems there. I arrived at the bar at 10:00 PM to find myself the only patron there, save one crazy lunatic in the corner drinking Guinness with a shot of Stoli Vanil poured in (seriously). The bartender and I spent the next few hours shooting the shit and learning about each other while she continued to refreshen my pints. I got to try Maudite on draft for the first time, something I was quite amped up for being that Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde is one of my favorite brews on the planet. Thinner mouthfeel than I expected but still very good. Malty and spicy with some fruit esters. I felt it could have used a tad more carbonation as well but I don’t have many more complaints than that.

That night I learned that the bar is so infrequented that my bartender is allowed to close it whenever she thinks business is done for the night. On this evening, that was around 1:00. Perfect. I can handle that. Waiting for your girl to finish her shift at 5 AM is fucking terrible.

She is a great person and we instantly had a connection.  She is also attractive, and young, and has other career options she is fervently pursuing.  Likewise, this isn’t a bar I had ever even been to previous than a week ago so I would have no problem if it was taken away from me.  Seemingly a perfect storm for taking the plunge and dating the bartender, right?

Not in this case.  Truth be told, I don’t think we will ever date cause quite frankly I think we have no sexual chemistry–and both of us realize it. But that’s still great because that means we can be just friends and our relationship will never sour, and she will never dump me or me her, and, thus, I can continue to drink glorious free beer in perpetuity. And I have a new good friend in the neighborhood to boot.

Everyone’s a winner. Especially me. Though, I guess, not especially whoever owns that bar that I’m milking for all its worth, absolutely plowing through pricey beer kegs.  I’m guessing I will put this place out of business soon.


I’d like to hear your stories about picking up and/or dating your bartender. Bonus points if you are a woman that has used a male bartender only to get free drinks.

*I wish there was some sort of algorithm one could plug the stats into–how attractive the bartender is, how much of a catch she is, how cool the bar is, how often you go to the bar per week, how little disregard you personally have for your own future–to come up with a number exactly telling you what to do, but I couldn’t conceive of one.  Maybe my nerdier friends could help me there.

Unibroue 17

October 9th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Unibroue, Country: Canada, Grade: A regular, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

10% ABV from a bomber

My reviews this week have been pretty off-beat:  I had one for a mysterious (and possibly poisonous) homemade Bangladeshi whiskey, one for an artificially-colored red Barbadian lager that tasted like cinnamon soda, and tomorrow’s post will be a bit oddball as well.  Thus, I realized that I’d better get up a review for a legitimately good craft beer tonight, lest all the nerds in my audience feel alienated and desert The Vice Blog (”He used to be good.  Now all he reviews are pickle-flavored pilsners and malt-liquors with fruit roll-ups infused in them.”  “I agree totally.  And I think he makes up most of his stories too.”)  Naw, I can’t play my beer geek audience like that.  I couldn’t live with myself if they left me and were forced to read about quality beer on the websites of annoying and humorless pedants that use words like diacetyl in ordinary conversations (”I’m sorry, Mike, I’m not much of a beer guy, I don’t think I know the term ‘diacetyl.’  Could you speak to me in layman’s terms?”  “Uh…that was layman’s terms, Jim.”).  Pretentious twits that don’t even swallow.  The beer that is.  They don’t want to get drunk.  Not that their wives would allow them to, it might fuck up their chances of completing tomorrow’s “honey do” list.

My friend picked up a bottle of Unibroue’s Seventeenth anniversary last weekend and I was itching to try it.  Thus, I had to peer pressure him into letting me have some.  I’m still not sure how that works.  I don’t know why I don’t drink more Unibroue beers when I love them so much.  Heck, they produce one of my ten favorite beers on planet earth.  And their selections are both plentiful and cheap in NYC.  Maybe I take them for granted.  Or maybe I’m embarrassed that I have no idea how to pronounce the French-Canadian brewery’s name.  I always say “unibrow” as in, “Man, Ernie, your boyfriend Bert sure has a prominent unibrow.  Has he considered waxing or plucking?  Lasers even?”  But I know that pronunciation has to be incorrect.  Any how, I’m an American jingoist and I don’t like to say things with a nose-in-the-air, snotty French accent that sounds like you’re dry-heaving:  Oooo-na-brrrrrrrrrreeeeh.

Whatever the case, Unibroue makes great fucking beers and this special one-time-only release is quite swell too.  The fun thing about anniversary beers is that you rarely know what style you’re getting.  It’s always exciting to pop the cork or cap and–”Whoa!  I didn’t expect something that dark!”  I had no clue this was going to be a bottle-conditioned Belgian strong dark.  And a good one at that.  Smells and tastes of tons of purple fruits:  plums, grapes, raisins, and cherries.  Some nice potent heat, like a Scotch or red wine.  But still very drinkable, though I only had about 30% of the bottle (let’s just say my friend I was sharing the bomber with ”enjoys” quality beer at a slightly faster rate than me).  As with most potent brews, I enjoyed this one more the warmer it got.  Search it out and nab it if you can find it.  17 reminded me that I need to start reviewing more Unibrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeehs.


La Fin Du Monde

June 24th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Unibroue, Country: Canada, Grade: A regular, Style: Tripel

9% ABV from a bomber

When most people think of beer drinking in Canada, they probably imagine two hosers like the McKenzie Brothers pouring can after can of Labatt or Molson down their faces while ice fishing, eating poutine, butchering the English language, and rooting on the Mapleleafs. And, admittedly, Labatt and Molson are solid enough beers. For getting wasted while ice fishing, eating poutine, butchering the English language, and rooting on the Mapleleafs. But, surprisingly enough, there are some world class brews coming from America, Jr. And, it all begins with Montreal’s Unibroue brewery which produces what might be the country’s best single beer in La Fin Du Monde (which my Francophile friend tells me means “End of the World”–nice!).

Not just that, but La Fin Du Monde is extraordinarily accessible in the Northeast U.S. That’s partly due to the fact that La Fin is “bottle conditioned.” This means that the beer isn’t fully fermented and contains yeast sediment (”on the lees” it’s called) which allows for further fermentation after bottling. This allows for several things. First, it lets the beer be cheaply shipped and stocked, making it very accessible in outside markets. I pick up bombers of La Fin and several of Unibroue’s other quality beers for around $6 a bomber at my local supermarket. In fact, La Fin is quite possibly the “high-brow” beer I drink the most. And, at that cheap of price and with that high of ABV, you can make your night end nicely for an amazing cost.

Bottle conditioning also produces beer that is perfect for cellaring. Filtered beers have a short shelf life and necessitate tacky “born on” dating because once their compounds begin breaking down the beer becomes unpleasant tasting. Most folks would counter that most of your filtered macro beers already are unpleasant tasting. Remember kids, filtering something does not always make it better, despite what Brita may have us believe. The live yeast inside an unfiltered bottle-conditioned beer acts against these processes, giving the brew a longer, if not infinite, shelf life in which the flavor will continue to get better and better and the taste more and more complex as it ages.

These points are all moot for me, however, as my career record for the longest I’ve ever gone without drinking an amazing beer I’ve purchased is some ten days. And that was only because I was ill during that time and only able to consume egg drop soup. Plus, living in a fifth floor Manhattan walk-up, I don’t exactly have room to stow countless beers while they age. And, I certainly don’t have a cellar. Rather, I do have a cellar but it’s a communal building one where we deposit our trash and recyclables, maintain a menagerie of vermin, and provide a creepy, dank place for our perverted building super Chet to bring hookers home to. I can just imagine what would happen were I to start “cellaring” my La Fins and top-fermented trappist ales down there. Let’s just say, I know one bum that would greatly appreciate going from drinking Boone’s Farm to aged Orval.

As mentioned, bottled-conditioned beers have yeast sediment in them. So, if you open the beer early you will literally see chunks, for lack of a better word, of products floating in the beer. It’s like the fresh-squeezed pulp of the industry. You unadventurous people that exclusively drink macros will probably be freaked out and think you have a rotten, tainted beer, calling the company to file a complaint, but it is in fact nothing to worry about.

Pouring the goldenrod La Fin out, the head of the beer is like a primordial soup, with so much activity occurring in the foam. It’s like a lab experiment. You could probably look at it under a microscope and see organisms interacting and fucking each other! But not to worry–the yeast sediment is incredibly tasty with very earthy flavors, and, best of all, it’s packed with Vitamin B! Did someone say health beer?! In fact, in some countries, it’s a ritual to separate the sediment from the beer and drink it as a shot.

Sweating my balls off in my bedroom as a busy weekend comes to an end this was a perfect beer to wet my whistle. Technically a tripel, La Fin smells great, one of the best and most odoriferous beers I’ve ever encountered. It’s incredibly tasty, incredibly malty, incredibly yeasty of course, incredibly everything. It’s creamy, buttery, full of fruit hints like apple and pear. And it has a spicy and peppery finish. Near perfect. Got to be about the most drinkable 9% beer on the planet. I really can’t imagine someone disliking this beer.

If the world was truly coming to an end, you would certainly go out in style with a La Fin Du Monde as your last tipple. The French name reminds me of my favorite Latin saying: Bibamus, moriendum est. Death is inevitable, let’s get drunk.