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Archive for the ‘Grade: B-/C+’ Category

Fire Island Lighthouse Ale

October 8th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Fire Island, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Amber Ale

ABV unknown, bottled (seriously, why do breweries not list ABV sometimes?!  I detest that almost as much as I detest them not listing a bottling date, but I digress…)

As mentioned recently, I love New York local beers–not because I’m environmentally conscious or like to support the little guy–but rather because I’m a shameless homer.  So, not surprisingly, this past weekend while sorting through the morass of beers at the store, my eyes were immediately drawn to one I’d never seen before.  A handsome label and some nice packaging patter too.   And straight from the gay vacation mecca of the Empire State no less!  I was sold and obviously had to grab a bottle.

Oddly enough, this very same weekend, just a few hours later, at a birthday party, I ran into the very man who had crafted the beer’s label patter.  Aces!  This beer came out over the summer–and currently stands as Fire Island’s only offering–so I’m not sure why it seems to have only hit Manhattan just as football, playoff baseball, and fat tourists in ski jackets season has picked up.  It’s a decent offering, smells like a non-adjunct lager, a bit stinky on the nose, tastes of toastiness and caramel.  A tad thin and watery, but fairly flavorful for how easy drinking it is.

I never quite understand why new breweries enter the scene with such unambitious beer.

“Hey, want to join the thousands and thousands of breweries on the scene and open our own brewery?”

“Absolutely, but don’t most fail?”

“Yep, that’s why we need to dazzle everyone with our initial offering.”

“A boring and exactly to-style underhopped amber ale?”

“Bingo!”

Nevertheless, I’ll look forward to future Fire Island offerings–my newfound copy writer friend tells me an IPA is coming next from them–and I’ll keep supporting the local boys until they’ve turned me off at least a half-dozen times.

B-/C+

Brooklyn Katz’s Ale

July 15th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Brown Ale

ABV unknown, on tap

(Earlier today a VB commentator wrote:  “why, oh why, is this becoming just another beer blog?… get ye into the streets and find us adventure!”  Though this post will be “just another beer blog” post, mea culpa!, I want to assure this kindly man, or woman, that I will be back with a vengeance immediately after this post with an onslaught of adventure posts.  Be ready.)

And here is one of the great things about living in New York.  In most cities, you’re drunk at 3, 4 AM, you better hope you got a frozen pizza at home.  Maybe you can hit an all-night Taco Bell for “fourth meal.”  You live in one of the major, major cities on this planet, you can probably find some good pizza, a good burger, a cheesesteak, or other local delicacy late night.  But in New York, man, drunk at 3 AM in the morning, you can have one of the finest sandwiches in the world at the finest deli in the world.

Tired of dealing with summer interns and youthful morons corrupting the Lower East Side as we bar-hopped last Friday, my friend looked at me at around 2:30 and said, “You know, fuck it.  Fuck drinking any more.  Let’s go get a pastrami sandwich.”  Genius!  I had never heard of a better idea.  And a nice pastrami and corn beef on rye, schmear of spicy mustard, with a side of matzo ball soup…well, that’s better than any cramped bar, any overpriced bar tab, and picking up any miserable woman to spend the rest of your night with.

I’m not going to give a Katz’s itself a full-scale review…yeah, it’s a tad overpriced, yeah it’s cash only, yeah it has the harshest lighting this side of standing five feet from an angry cop’s halogens, yeah it has a surly staff, and yeah it has the occasional tourist taking a dopey picture of the “When Harry Met Sally” spot.  But, despite all that, the sandwiches are heaven on earth.  As good as meat between bread can be since the day the Earl of Sandwich came up with the idea.

And though we’d already said, “Fuck drinking” by this point of the night, while in line I had an epiphany.

“Hey, wait a second, Aaron, didn’t you read that Brooklyn Brewery makes a special beer for Katz’s?” the Vice Devil on my left shoulder whispered in my ear.

My friend disputed it.  No way.  How ridiculous!

He shouldn’t have.  Garrett Oliver seemingly makes a unique beer for every goddamn restaurant, venue, stadium, and food stand in the city.  He is truly the hardest working man in brewing.  The motherfucking James Brown of beermaking.

I am nothing if not a cheerleader for Brooklyn Brewery, an avowed religious worshiper and evangelical trumpeter of Mr. Oliver and his magical beers.  I give them hosannas left and right, but it would be pure bias not to review the rare Brooklyn beer that I absolutely did not care for.  Maybe it was because it was 3 AM and I was somewhat drunk, maybe it was because I had just eaten a pound of cured meat, maybe the pounding overhead lights were making me dizzy, it’s hard to say, but I simply think this is not a good beer, and a totally inappropriate beer to pair with deli.  Which is odd, since Oliver is the beer pairing master par excellence.  Hell, he even wrote the book on it!  (Highly recommended.)

Katz’s Ale is an overly syrupy and malty brown ale, more like a dopplebock on the mouthfeel, and I simply could not choke it down.  It wasn’t unflavorful, necessarily, it wasn’t bad, exactly, it was just not good, and a terrible match for what I was eating.  Unfortunately, I could barely finish it.

Still, I’m grateful to have tried one of the rarer drafts in New York.

B-/C+

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

Voodoo White Magick of the Sun

April 3rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 17 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Voodoo, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Belgian White

The Teetotaler’s Turn-On

I woke up with a pounding hangover and did the first thing I always did back then after a night of heavy drinking…I made sure I was still in possession of all my possessions.  Cell phone?  Check.  Keys?  Check.  Wallet?  Yep, that too, and inside I was still in ownership of my driver’s license, debit and credit cards, and oh look there’s a receipt for two slices of pizza purchased at 3:30 AM, don’t recall that and…a crumpled bar napkin.

“s.milligan@[blank]mail.com” sloppily scribbled on the napkin.  S. Milligan?  Did I know an S. Milligan?  Do I recall meeting one the previous night?  Nope.  So I’ll just throw the napkin away, right?  Not a chance.  For this was back in my first few months out of college when I was majorly hard up for some action.

I wasn’t born a natural when it came to women but I’ve always had a quick learning curve with anything and after four years of female study in college I was firing on all cylinders by second semester senior year, habitually in the zone, like MJ said, “When the rim looks like a big bucket.”  And I easily expected to make a seamless transition once I entered the real world of non-college girls.  Oh, I didn’t know how wrong I was.  My hubris has always bit me in the ass.  I was like an ace from the National League switching to A.L. batters and a DH and suddenly finding his ERA exploding.  In my case, finding my consecutive nights alone streak ballooning faster than any Baldwin brother.  “Real world” women didn’t put up with the simple seduction tactics of college buffoons.  Thus, I came to realize, I didn’t have any tactics aside from going round-for-round with pints of Long Island Ice Tea until I won the war of sexual attrition and a girl decided she had nothing better to do than go back to my Euclid Avenue apartment to “watch a movie” with me at 3 AM.*  Too bad women quit drinking LITs once they get their diplomas.

I was now about three months out of college with nary a success.  How had I met S.?  For the last three months when I was sober, or even semi-sober, none of my lines, my shtick, had been working.  And drunk?  Not a chance.  Nowadays, drunk or sober, it doesn’t really matter, I can just flip the autopilot switch and the ghost in my machine can make friends, meet women, you name it, and I don’t even have to really “be” there.  I’m frequently amazed to hear stories of how “on” I was on a night I mentally blacked-out.  It’s like hearing about another person you don’t even know.  You can literally admire yourself.  But back then, back in 2001, I could barely order a drink and find my way home when I was “Memento” shitfaced.

What if S. wasn’t even female?  Now that would be embarrassing.  The first person I pick up in my post-collegiate life is a man.  Some dude who said he could help me get Yankee tickets, or get me some freelance work, or a date with his hot sister.  I’d have to write an ambiguous e-mail to this mystery person.

“Hey!…”

No, the exclamation mark made it too “gay” and flamboyant if I was actually writing a man.

“Hey,

Good meeting you Friday night…”

God, let’s hope it was good meeting him or her.  What if I got the person’s e-mail address and then got in a blow-out fight with them  afterward?  Eh, they were probably as drunk as me.

“Good meeting you Friday night, you still interested in grabbing a drink this week?”

I was taking a gamble.  They wouldn’t probably recall whether or not they had truly expressed interest in grabbing a drink.

“Later,

Aaron.”

It was ambiguous, unisex, and if it was to a woman it was so damn aloof and blase she might even be impressed by my total lack of typical young twenties male over-exuberance toward the fairer sex.

Almost immediately I got an e-mail back.

“Great meeting you too, Aaron!  I was hoping you would write.  Yeah, let’s definitely grab a drink this week, you name the time and the place!

XO
Stacy.”

Recall, this was back in the dark ages of the internet.  Nowadays, I wake up all the time with names, numbers, and e-mail addresses from girls I met the previous night.  Some I recall meeting, some I don’t.  Doesn’t matter.  I just throw the info I have into Google or Facebook, Twitter or Myspace, official company websites, and now I pretty much know everything I need to know both internally and externally about a person before going on a date with them.  Countless times have I called off a date, or, rather, simply not contacted someone, because of something I discovered online.**  I gotta think it was a lot easier for fat, ugly, annoying women to get dates–first dates at least–back before the social networking revolution and Google image search function.  Sorry ladies.

But as I said, I was hard up back in August of 2001, and even if this girl was gross, I’d probably try to bust my slump.  If you’re batting oh for your last thirty-five, you don’t look down on a Texas Leaguer.

I’d have to pick a dark bar and get their way early, couldn’t chance entering the place with Stacy already there, coming face to face with her, and then not recognizing her.  I’d have to be drunk too in case she was heinous.  Naw, check that, I’d have to be sober and sharp and on my game in case I had lied to her on the night we met.  I don’t believe in lying to women in the least nowadays, but back when I was 22 I was shameless.  Never flat out lies, but straight up embellishments, braggadocio, bravado, and foolish boasts.  Not an attractive quality and since it didn’t help me ever succeed, only a dope wouldn’t have ditched the lame tactics.  Blatant honesty is both disarming and sexy.

I got to Bar Eight early, a place so motherfucking dark it was like a haunted house.  I sat at the bar and started drinking vodka Red Bulls, my secret drink at the time as the caffeine would keep me sharp while the potent vodka made me uninhibited.  I always felt like Alex DeLarge when I swilled it.

Stacy arrived.  Stacy found me in the packed dark bar somehow.  Stacy was cute.  Stacy didn’t drink.

Let me repeat that:  Stacy didn’t drink.

Are you fucking kidding me?

How had blackout me, childish, dopey, idiotic, drunken young me picked up such an attractive teetotaler?  I had to have been slurring, had to have been slobbering, had to have been acting moronic.  I was scared to ask for that night’s highlights.  So I didn’t.

I just started drinking hard, because I felt like I was on a date with an alien.  It was nerve-wracking.  I didn’t know any one my age who didn’t get loaded back then.  Was she religious, allergic to alcohol, I didn’t know.  Again, I didn’t ask.

But she liked me, she really liked me.  I hadn’t lied and told her I was famous, rich, important–I was un(der)employed at the time even and I had honestly told her that–but she thought I was hilarious, awesome.  Sometimes, you just thank your good fortune and don’t ask questions.  When you’re young you do at least.  When you get older you realize there’s no such thing as a free lunch and there’s no such thing as a teetotaling, attractive girl that could like a insane, immature alcoholic and still be normal.

That first date we had a decent enough time and I again got blackout drunk and woke up the next morning in Stacy’s bed.  I was batting 2-for-2 in remembering how my nights were ending with Stacy but it didn’t really matter because I was hitting it out of the park each time.

Later, I would come to realize, to learn, that of course Stacy wasn’t normal.  She didn’t drink because she had been drinking since she was 14 or something and she couldn’t control herself on the sauce.  One drink led to a zillion which lead to her dancing on bars and filling her belly-button with cheap liquor to be slurped out by gross men and to one night stands and to getting her stomach pumped.  Frequently.  Stacy was indeed crazy.

So she had quit drinking totally, but she still loved the craziness surrounding the lifestyle.  She was drinking vicariously through me.  She goaded me to get drunk, drunker, drunkest.  Bought me my drinks even, got mad if I wasn’t drinking them fast enough.  “Back, when I was drinking, I’d be three vodkas up on you right now!” she’d taunt me.  Stacy actually only liked me when I was drunk.  That’s fine, I used to only like me when I was drunk too.

I was drunk a lot back then.

Our “relationship” lasted a few months.

The Road to the Final Four

Quick, boastful recap on last week’s basketball predictions.  You should have followed the Vice Blogger, yes you should have.  Make that your mantra in all areas of life.  For you’d be a rich man as I got every single Sweet Sixteen pick right, and only missed one game all weekend (Michigan St. over Louisville.)

Let’s discuss Tom Izzo, who now has a strong claim to being the best coach working today.  5 Final Fours in 10 years (with a bonus Elite Eight during that time) all with relatively sub-par talent.  Incredibly.  I mean, has he had as many future NBA players under his helm in the last decade as say Roy boy has had this year alone?!  And what about Roy Williams, now in his 7th career Final Four.  A terrible in-game tactician, no question, but how can you deny his greatness if he gets a 2nd title?  Or what if that scumbag Calhoun wins his 3rd?  Makes me sick to my stomach to think of it but you would have to then rate him as, at worst, the 5th best coach in college basketball history (and I’m even including old fucks like Henry Iba and Branch McCracken in the debate)**.  Finally, Jay Wright, destined to be the best coach in the game sooner rather than later.  A title at such an early age would put him on a legendary path.

I’m rooting for no one, but I’ll predict UConn over Mich St., UNC over Nova in a game the Wildcats will really want vengeance for due to the 2005 screw-job (but unfortunately won’t get), and UNC over UConn.  I don’t think even Roy can fuck up here.

My wishful thinking prediction includes Jim Calhoun crying, tearing apart the press conference room, and retiring before UConn goes on probation.

Voodoo White Magick of the Sun

6% ABV from a bomber

Yet another Voodoo sent in trade from Sickpuppy at Should I Drink That?, I was grateful to acquire it, but sad to admit I didn’t really love it.  Whites just aren’t my style.  They’re always too weak for me, and such is the case here.  Now, I don’t mean “weak” it terms of ABV–6% is certainly respectable enough, especially for a witbier–but I mean more in terms of bite, complexity, and boozy flavor.  The hops don’t really come through here nor does the spiced coriander, bitter orange peel, and juniper which is supposedly in this one.  Voodoo also claims this brew possesses “Jeremy’s favorite [mystery] spice,” again, something I didn’t really taste.  Not that I’d know what to be looking for!  The fruit doesn’t really come out, I hate to say it.  I suppose this could make for a decent summer beer on a hot day.  And, as Voodoo claims:  “Blows away carbonated water!!!!!”  Fair enough.

B-/C+

*Oh college girls, how many times they actually came back to my room drunk at 3 AM and literally and quizzically said, “We aren’t really going to watch a movie right?”

**And I assume the same has happened in return to me.  Hello ladies!

***Current list:

1.  John Wooden (despite UCLA’s easy west coast regional route to championship games and blatant Sam Gilbert cheating)
2.  Adolph Rupp
3.  Coach K
4.  Bobby Knight

Magic Hat #9

October 21st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Magic Hat, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Pale Ale

5.1% on draught in a poorly washed pint glass

As Milena, the sexy and lithe Bulgarian barmaid with the teased hair, fetched us some pints of Magic Hat #9, I told my friend how I’ve stumbled upon a very easy way to ingratiate oneself with foreign babes. Although, actually, this seems to work with all foreigners–cab drivers, street meat vendors, happy ending masseuses, et al–which is quite swell in a melting pot such as NYC.

I figure it works because America is perceived as a cut-off, jingoistic, egotistical place that only cares about the goings-on inside its borders. That may be true, or it may simply be that the most interesting stuff in this world happens inside our borders, but we won’t debate politics here. All that matters is that perception is reality in the game of seduction.

So here’s the secret, all you got to do to impress a foreign women in New York:

Mention the most famous soccer player in her nation’s history.

It’s as simple as that.

You say, that’s silly, why should that work? If you’re an American woman, you think, “If I was in, say, Germany and some Aryan gent sprinted up to me, thinking I’ll drop my panties simply because he is mildly conversant on Lebron or Kobe or Eli Manning, he’d have another thing coming to him.” And, you’re absolutely right. You wouldn’t give a rat’s ass. But that’s because America has thousands if not millions of interesting things about it. Thousands of celebrities that represent our homeland. Thousands of celebrities that we don’t even need to give a shit about. But, other countries don’t. Other countries have nothing going on and usually only one or two great celebrities in the nation’s history. Only one or two great celebrities that every native must love.

Thus many travelers to America, many emigrants, feel an inferiority complex about their place in America, thinking that us locals know nothing about their culture. Thinking that we believe all Latinos are Mexicans, Asians are all the same, and nothing goes on in Africa except zebra-hunting and AIDS contractions.

Hence, just the most minor knowledge of a person’s country and culture is enough to blow them the fuck away. And knowing a much revered soccer player from their land is often that tipping point. Luckily, I know most countries’ great futballers. Not cause I’m some sleaze that memorized these names in order to bed heavily-accented women, like some nerd memorizing pi to fifteen-hundred digits to impress at a Mensa convention. I know simply because I’m a soccer fan with a remarkable memorable for the arcane.

Try it out next time you encounter a foreign woman. You don’t even need to be smooth about inserting the fact into conversation. You can really just yell across the room: “Miiiiiiiiiiiiiilena!”

And when she turns her head with a what-the-fuck-is-this-drunk-a-hole’s-problem look on her face, you just say, pronouncing it correctly and slightly accented: “Hristo Stoichkov.”

She will sprint toward you, shoving you in the shoulders like Elaine used to do to Jerry–”Get. Out!”–a stunned and intrigued look on her face.

“You know who Hristo Stoichov is?!”

But of course.

And play it off coolly. “What, doesn’t everybody know who Hristo Stoichov is?” you will say, fully aware of the answer. She will tell you that, of course, not, no other Americans know who Hristo Stoichov is, and not only that, but most idiots assume she’s Russian. Don’t you Yanks know there’s more than four countries in Europe?

Well, I do. You got Romania (Gheorghe Hagi!) and Northern Ireland (George Best!), Ireland itself (Roy Keane!) and you can even go to Africa and hit up Liberia (George Weah!) or South America and Colombia (Carlos Valderama, though every rube remembers him) and the list is endless.

It’s such a simple way to impress*. And you don’t even need to know anything about the player. Just his name. Shit, I only kinda remember the hot-headed Stoichkov from the 1994 World Cup, but aside from that, I really can’t tell you anything about him. Not his stats or his club teams or even what he’s up to nowadays. Doesn’t matter. All you need to know is the name and you will forever win a place in her heart. At least for the rest of the night. Now you got your in, and it’s on you to do the rest of the work.

As for the Magic Hat #9, the one craft beer that has somehow become inexplicably ubiquitous, I hadn’t had it in quite a while, though it is halfway decent. Pretty much just a fruit beer (apricot)/pale ale hybrid. I don’t think real craft beer fans could ever love this one, and certainly never buy a six-pack of it, but it’s another decent gateway beer to some real quality stuff, and it’s always a welcome draught option over mediocre macros.

B-/C+

*Admittedly, this strategy isn’t full proof and all-encompassing. It doesn’t exactly work for Italian, German, French, and Dutch women, though it probably wouldn’t hurt to casually throw the names Baggio, Klinsmann, Cantona and Cruyff into conversation. Likewise, in the rare country that doesn’t regard soccer with great esteem, you might need to know a world-class cricketer, rugby scrummer, or, I don’t know…curler.

Southampton IPA

July 25th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Southampton Publick House, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: IPA

6.5% ABV

I’ve mentioned before that I feel like IPAs are pretty much the standard bearers for American brewers. You got a good IPA, you’re probably a pretty decent brewery. Got a bad one and you’re brewery probably is mediocre. Don’t even have an IPA in your line and you’re a big, bad, stinky corporate macrobrewery.

I’d had some Southampton beers in the past and generally enjoyed them, so when I saw their IPA at Whole Foods I was excited to give it a whirl. I doubted it would be a masterpiece, but thought it should be pretty good. Plus, I’m a flat out homer bigot in favor of New York breweries.

I was generally right. The beer was nothing special, but still a very solid IPA. Smells floral and piney, not too powerful. Modestly hopped but not super flavorful. Slight fruit notes. Little too carbonated. Bitter aftertaste. Very drinkable. I’d polish off a six-pack of this again with no thought, but I wouldn’t drink this if I need a masterpiece to savor for the evening.

B-/C+

Yuengling Traditional Lager

June 25th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Yuengling, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Lager

4.4% ABV from a draught beer tower

Based on pure conjecture, my most drunk beers of all time:

Honorable mentions: Labatt Blue, Brooklyn Lager, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Dogfish Head Sixty Minute, Sparks, Pabst Blue Ribbon (NYC hipster special makes it always $2 a can!), and all macros and their crappy light counterparts.

5. Milwaukee’s Best (aka “Beast”) (years drunk 1997-May 21, 2001) — The “house” beer in college. I didn’t drink a lot of beer in college, especially my freshman through junior years, but if beer was being drunk, it was this shit. We drank it in cans, bottles, pitchers, kegs, funnels, any fucking way possible. The day I graduated, I knew my lips would never come close to this vile brew again. And they haven’t. This beer made me hate beer so much in my formative years that I nearly never learned to love it.

4. Heineken (2000-2001) — In my Heineken entry I discuss how I started drinking this beer senior year of college because I thought it made me look cool, especially compared to my Beast-swilling cohorts. Bad times. And a bad beer to boot.

3. Guinness (heavily from 2001-2004, sporadically from 2004-present) — Upon leaving college, I needed to find something to drink. And, since I was living amongst tons of Irish in Hoboken, New Jersey, this seemed like a good place to start. Seven of these on a Monday night of dicking around and I’d be feeling fine. Then, I’d do the same thing Tuesday night, and Wednesday night, and Thursday night, etc. Yeah, I was a profligate during that era. I’m not sure why I slowed down on drinking this other than that I’ve found plenty of more beers I like better. Nowadays, I pretty much only order one if I’m drinking at a bar before noon or having some rounds with my Irish buddies.

2. Bud Light (1997 to, unfortunately, the present) — I really don’t like this beer at all. But it goes down easy, you can polish off a zillion of them in a night, and it’s dirt cheap at bars. Why do I continue to drink it nowadays? Probably because the bar I go to twice a week from November to March to root on the Syracuse Orangemen basketball team serves pitchers of it for $6. Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to be there on Wednesday nights, there’s a beer pong special and pitchers are only a quarter. So, even though I don’t like this beer, even though it makes me gain 30 pounds every winter, even though it gives me wicked hangovers, and even though I’m usually drinking it from dirty Solo cups laced with floor detritus from filthy beer pong balls, I know come November and season tip-off, I will unfortunately be drinking this shit again.

1. Yuengling (years drunk 2001-present)

I have drank so much of this motherfucking beer. Yet, I didn’t even know what it was in college. I heard my friends from Pennsylvania always talking about it, saying their pops drank it, but I just assumed it was some exotic Chinese beer, what with the weird name and all. Only after college did I learn that it was straight out of Pottsville, PA and courtesy of America’s oldest brewery.

I begun drinking it because my first “real world” roommate was a prodigious drinker out of Scranton, PA and he introduced me. In Scranton, and in most of Pennsylvania, they don’t even call the beer Yuengling, they simply call it “lager.” Watch your Pennsylvania friends go to a bar anywhere on the East coast and ask for a “lager.” The bartenders will look at them crazy. “OK, you want a lager. But which one?” Only if a fellow Pennsylvanian is manning the taps will they know that there is only one lager. To these folks at least. Funnily enough, Beer Advocate doesn’t even classify Yuengling as a straight lager, calling it an American amber/Red lager instead.

Any how, I began drinking Yuengling because in the NYC area it was priced as rock bottom cheaply as the American macros but it tasted so much better to me. Only now do I realize that it was a weak 4.4% ABV and a 22-year-old Aaron probably liked that. I drank so many of these fresh out of college. Heck, I usually drank an entire six-pack of Yuengling before going out on a Friday and Saturday night–probably a good reason I never picked up woman once getting to the bar!–before drinking more drafts of Yuengling once out on the town.

It’s virtually impossible for me to review this beer any more because I have gone past my capacity for drinking it. Wilt Chamberlain surely got sick of fucking, and I have finally gotten sick of Yuengling. It came to a head on Saturday when my friends and I ordered a “beer tower” of Yuengling at the great Lansdowne Road. A beer tower is literally what it sounds like: a poorly washed out clear PVC (?) tube connected to a base from which a group of friends can spigot themselves pints of beer. I think the tower holds maybe 10 pints in it. I felt like a Spring Breaker with it at my table, but it is fun to order one for novelty purposes.

Lagers are typically cheap beers made with low-level hops. It’s why most macros are considered lagers. But Yuengling always seemed better than the Buds, Coors, and Millers of the world. Even sick of the brew I still have to admit it’s tons more flavorful than the aforementioned. Malty, nice red amber taste, and creamy, though not much hops, and nowadays I’ve come to realize it’s far too thin and watery. Being better than the “famous” American macros is just not good enough for me any more. Especially when I can get Brooklyn Lager and Sam Adams pints for similar prices if I’m drinking “on the cheap” for the evening.

I used to loooooooooove this beer, but the love affair is finally over.

Yuengling. Years drunk: 2001 to 2008.

B-/C+

Strongbow Dry Cider

June 10th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Bulmers, Country: United Kingdom, Grade: B-/C+, Style: Cider

5% ABV from a can

Some friends of mine went to Europe and came back raving about this cider, having had drank it on tap at most bars throughout the continent. I’m not sure if I’ve ever even had an alcoholic cider. Maybe one when I was so hard up for alcohol that I had to steal my little sister’s Woodchuck or something. Heck, I’m not even that big of an apple juice fan.

This does taste almost exactly like apple juice. In fact, I wish it tasted a little stronger. It’s fairly light and refreshing but still has a decent amount of alcohol in it. I feel like I could drink these all night as it goes down smooth and isn’t bloating at all. But no one wants to be the known as the guy that gets wasted on 25 cans of apple cider.

Hopefully this is the one and only cider I’ll ever review.

B-/C+

Sunday afternoon drinking at 123burgershotbeer

June 4th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Brewer: Goose Island, Brewer: House Beer, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Grade: B-/C+, Grade: C regular, Style: Belgian White, Style: Bock, Style: IPA

This bar sprung up seemingly overnight just down the street from me. Here’s their conceit:

That absolutely blew my mind and I refused to believe it. Nevertheless, I trekked back over for some day drinking. The interior of the bar is pretty damn classy. Almost like a furniture showroom. You can still smell the fresh lacquer on the floor. The waitresses are cute and inexplicably dressed in hot pants in which the bottom curvature of their butt-cheeks show. I remained focused as I pointed at the sign seen above and said something like, “Uh…that true?” Indeed it was. The waitress told us that the burgers were sliders—she proceeded to spend far too long explaining the concept of a slider to me like I was some alien from a non-burger-eating planet—and indeed were just a buck. Likewise, every single beer on tap was just $3. Wow. I was impressed. They had a marginally respectable tap too. Here are some of the beers I had. I was in a jovial mood so I probably overrated all of them. Plus the beers all came in absolutely frigid mugs. A sensation I love. I wouldn’t want to drink a high quality beer from a frozen mug, but shitty beers and root beer are phenomenal in them.

Shock Top Belgian White

5.2% ABV on draught

This beer has one of the oddest, eye-popping taps around: a transmogrified orange with sunglasses and a mohawk. For $3, I’ll take a whirl with this one. It came with an orange slice and while I typically hate fruit in beer I decided to just go with the flow. Glad I did. This beer tasted almost like a Sunkist soda. VERY orangey. I like Sunkist so I liked this beer. Not sure I could drink several but it was enjoyable. I was surprised when I got home to see that it’s an Anheuser-Busch beer. You’d think it would be in more bars. It’s better than most of that macro-brewery’s selections for sho’.

B-/C+

Goose Island IPA

5.9% ABV on draught

A nice, solid example of an IPA. Nothing more, nothing less. I could drink these all day were it actually served in more NYC bars. It has a nice little spiciness to it. And if we’re talking about taps, Goose Island has got to have the best tap in the bid’ness, a big, long goose neck coming out of the bar. Who hasn’t wanted to tug on a goose neck before?

B

123 Amber (house beer)

No clue on ABV. Draught.

“House” beers always amuse me. I used to be real impressed. “Wow, this crappy little bar actually makes their own beer?! That is so cool!” Quickly I learned differently, the dirty little secret that bars just make their own TAP and throw it overtop some other macro beer. I don’t know the legalities of this and I don’t really care, but alas, I’m no longer impressed. Every time you ask a bartender or waitress about the house beer they say something like, “Oh, it tastes a little bit like [beer you’ve heard of.]” The beer you’ve heard of is in fact the beer they’re trying to sell as their own. The waitress at 123 didn’t know what their house beer tasted like, but I’ll assume it’s the Michelob Amber Bock, which I think I’ve had sometime in my past. This is not a great beer and the frozen mug theory greatly improves it. No doubt making it go from tasting bad to not tasting at all. For such a dark color how can it be so lacking in taste? Odd. Since it doesn’t taste at all that already makes it superior to most macros. I wish they had put a little more effort into make this house beer taste good.

C

Oh, final note: if any sissy or frat boy cares, the $2 shots are the kind of silly-named shots that are like 90% mixer and 10% cheap booze. I mean really, if you’re having a shot it should be 100% liquor. I’ll expound on this at some other time. Suffice to say I only completed the 1 and 3 of the 123. The burgers were damn fine too, like upscale White Castles.

Orlio Organic Seasonal IPA

June 3rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Magic Hat, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: IPA

5.4% ABV from a sixer

Drank after finishing the Backburner bomber. My first ever organic beer.

Bought this one after trying a free sample of it at a Magic Hat tasting booth at the Bowery Beer room. I’d tried all the other Magic Hat samples and, though I’d seen it on shelves, didn’t know that Orlio was a MH offering. Being a hater of mother earth (soon as commercial space travel is available I’m out!) I like things as un-organic as possible. Thus, I was surprised how much I enjoyed Orlio in the store. Feeling guilty like always when I get and then enjoy a free sample, I decided to pick up a whole six pack of the beer. And, with that I got a free pint glass (which I gifted later that night to my ladyfriend as an appeasement mea culpa for stinking like a cigar and being wasted).

Was a bit drunk from the Backburner by the time I first got to work on this six pack. In fact, since I bought the Orlio warm, it wasn’t even fully chilled by consumption time. But, by golly, I felt like drinking, fuck the 45-50 degree F recommended serving temperature. Gotta say, didn’t enjoy Orlio as much at home as I did in the store. It’s kinda bland and overly light. Citrusy, not a lot of hops, easily drinkable. I could probably throw down 50 of these suckers in a sitting, drive somewhere, get pulled over, and pass a field sobriety test with flying colors. The label is pretty gay too, aproposly befitting an organic beer.

B-/C+

(Tried this one again the next night when I was more sober and the beer was more chilled and felt similarly about it. At least I got that free pint glass)