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Archive for the ‘Grade: B-’ Category

COOP AleWorks

December 22nd, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: COOP AleWorks, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Grade: A-/B+, Grade: B plus, Grade: B regular, Grade: B-, Style: Amber Ale, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Style: IPA, Style: Stout, Style: Wheat (Hefeweizen), Style: Wild Ale

Back when I lived in Oklahoma, back in the 90s, there really wasn’t any decent craft beer.  (Of course, I was a teenager.)  I kinda felt like it would always be that way.  This is a state where you can’t buy cold beer over 3.2% anywhere.  Then, I started hearing some rumblings that a brewery called COOP AleWorks was really cranking out some legit shit.  So, when I made my triumphant return to town over the weekend for a “How to Fail” book tour signing, I knew I would have to seek it out.  On both Thursday night and Saturday, I met up with COOP partner/bon vivant J.D. Merryweather (above) for some serious tippling, pretty much drinking anything in the brewery he would let me.  I was like a kid in a candy shop.  Or, to be less trite, like a drunk in a brewery.  And, wow, was it all good.

Horny-Toad Cerveza

One of two canned COOP offerings (along with Native Amber; the rest are currently tap only), this 5.3% ABV American Blonde Ale would seem to be the “lamest” offering from COOP, the one meant to convert the Bud Light drinkers…and it is.  But that doesn’t mean it’s lame.  No sir, this is a 5.3% beer with some serious flavor.  The Noble hops, the malt body, the carbonation, made me think this was more along the lines of a pilsner, but whatever it is, it’s damn good.

A-/B+

Zeppelin German Wheat

Yeah, no craft beer drinker likes American wheat beers, right?  If more places were making great efforts like Zeppelin, that might not be the case.  5.6% and packed with tastes of wheat and rye with just a little hops coming through, this is a solid drinker, better than most on the market.

B+

Native Amber

Red ales are always a crap shoot for me as they are a delicate balance between hops and malt that if you fuck up, they are just gross.  But COOP nails this one.  Caramelly and biscuity with a nice hoppy finish, this is the beer Fat Tire wishes it could be.

A-

Gran-Sport Porter

Porters are another beer that breweries never seem to completely nail.  Often too bitter and acrid, COOP has made one of the best I’ve had recently.  Chocolately and nutty, this had such a smooth, fluffy finish I was certain it had to have been served on a nitro tap.  Nope.  I really enjoyed this one.

A-

F-5 IPA

I highly doubt there’s an IPA this good made within 500 miles of COOP.  The classic West Coast bitter grapefruit and pine IPA, a little hefty at 7%, this is the beer that will turn a ton of Oklahomans into hop heads.

A

DNR Belgian Style Golden Ale

What an insanely intriguing beer.  An over-the-top complex mix of Noble hops, European malts, and Belgian candi giving this tastes of vanilla, cinnamon, and dark fruits.  And, at 10% this is one of the most deceptively alcoholic beers I’ve ever had.  You’ll want to keep sucking them down.  But don’t.  Or do.  I don’t really care about your health.

A

Territorial Reserve Oak-Aged Imperial Stout

By now every brewery is trying bourbon-barreled stouts and they should excite me as much as another boxing movie being released.  But just like “The Fighter” stunned me and found new ways to tell the pugilist’s tale, COOP has made a real corker of a barrel-aged stout.  Aged on Bulleit bourbon barrels, this might seriously be the smoothest, most perfectly melded bourbon-barreled stout I’ve ever had.  It’s not lacking in boozy taste, no way, but it’s not something that brings you to your knees either.  Rich, chocolately, and a “mere” 9.0%, it’s quite dangerous when you’ve become friends with a guy with the ability to over-serve you this.  I probably had five full pints and never got sick of it.  Wow.

A+

Red Zeppelin

This final beer is one that isn’t even available yet, one whose recipe isn’t fully created yet, and one that I’m not even sure I’m allowed to publicly discuss (I’ll wait for a cease and desist from J.D.), but it was my favorite beer I had from COOP so I want to scream to the hills about it.  Red Zeppelin is Zeppelin German Wheat aged in barrels on wild bing cherries.  This is a recipe they’re still working on and, admittedly, by now the souring had given the beer a slightly vinegary nose which some more amateur beer drinkers found unappealing, but I fucking loved it.  Just the perfect tart, sour, yet still slightly fruity taste I love.  It actually reminded me of Cantillon Kriek if I can be so bold.  I will be.  I hope they release and bottle this one day–it’ll sweep the beer nation.

A+

COOP is only available in Oklahoma so for now you’ll have to hope your company sends you there for work if you want to get some (or maybe write a book and go on tour there???) and I’ll have to hope J.D. is kind enough to build a pipeline to my house so I can always have some around to enjoy.  COOP is gonna be a big player in the beer world soon.

Pick up a last minute copy of my book, HOW TO FAIL!!!

Black Xantus

December 3rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Nectar Ales, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: B-, Style: Amber Ale, Style: Stout

11% ABV bottled

It’s always exciting when a new brewery penetrates (huh huh, he said “penetrates”) your market and Nectar Ales was no exception.  I still don’t quite understand what’s going on with this brewery despite the fact that they’ve been a California staple for some twenty years.  They seem to be different from but still affiliated with Firestone Walker–the highly acclaimed and still-not-available-in-New York brewery–who seem to own Nectar Ales but not exactly brew Nectar Ales.  (Maybe some smarter cookie can elucidate things for me.)  Any how, Black Xantus was their first ever limited release “big beer” and was much desired…until it was released and became one of the more hotly debated beers of the year.  Pretty much no one thought it was a masterpiece everyone expected it to be, but many still thought it was damn good.  Just as many, however, thought it was swill.  Everyone, though, pretty much agreed it was way overpriced (some $15 in my neck of the woods–though if everyone still bought said “overpriced” beer then it wasn’t overpriced now was it?)

I was still excited to try it, even with tempered expectations, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  Yet another bourbon barreled Russian Imperial Stout–the style du jour of this era and thank god for that!–this one has your typical buzzword tastes of bourbon, vanilla, dark roasted coffee, and a bitter chocolate finish.  It’s a liitle too boozy, a little too thin on the mouth, and lacking a certain richness, but I still enjoyed it a lot.  I wouldn’t say to rush out to “overpay” for some, but if you see it on tap or want to split a bottle with a hobo, I’d said it’s worth trying.

A-

A few days later at The Pony Bar–which has now passed Rattle ‘n’ Hum on the Hardest NYC Bar At Which To Photograph Taps and Beers list (though dig the artistry in the above shot!)–I had the semi-fortune to get to try Nectar Ales longstanding flagship beer Red Nectar (with it cute-as-a-button hummingbird tap handle).  This may be a craft beer “classic” but like many of the forefathers of the industry, most beers that have been around for twenty years just aren’t going to intrigue a modern palette that much any more.  A nice enough 5.5% amber ale, minimal hops, a little creaminess, incredibly drinkable, easily forgettable, and I’ll probably never have another glass for the rest of my life.  Looking forward to try some other Nectar Ales though.

B-

Moylan’s Hopsickle Imperial India Pale Ale

November 28th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Moylan's, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: B-, Style: IPA

9.2% ABV from a bomber

So after Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive proposed we make our first cross-continental trade, one of the first beers I knew I would ask for from him would be Moylan’s Hopsickle.  The great-named imperial IPA, never available in New York, and long a mainstay on Jay’s all-time top 75, this was a beer I had long wanted to try.  Of course, and this sounds like a joke, literally the same week Jay’s massive beer package arrives–thanks man!–I notice that Manhattan bars and bottle shops are now stocked with Moylan’s.  Uh yeah…guess The Empire State finally got a distribution deal.  Alas.

Hopsickle just smells fantastic, absolutely excreting delicious grapefruit fumes.  The taste is dry and bitter, very herbal, with a nice little tinge of sweet grapefruit.  Packed with Tomahawk, Chinook, and Anthanum hops, this beer is incredibly fresh and earthy tasting.  Massively drinkable for the ABV with no bite whatsoever.  Just a terrific example of the west coast style.

A

A few days later I got to try Moylan’s “standard” Moylander DIPA on tap at Rattle ‘n’ Hum.  Everything great about Hopsickle, Moylander simply lacked.  While it was bitter too, it was quite simple.  No real body and despite the 8.5% ABV a quite thinnish mouthfeel.  The smell was solid but the taste simply didn’t match up.  Decent if this is the only Moylan’s around, but Hopsickle easily tops it as the brewery’s best DIPA.

B-

Nevertheless, I greatly look forward to trying more Moylan’s offerings as I come upon them.

The Blind Leading the Blind

October 15th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: AleSmith, Brewer: Deschutes, Brewer: Pennichuck, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Grade: B-, Style: Porter, Style: Stout

Note: 2/3rds of this post comes courtesy of a trade with Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive.

When I get together with my friends DW and Batch, we like nothing more than to set up a blind taste test amongst some hard-hittin’ beers.  There’s no more accurate way to judge, and enjoy, a great beer than with no preconceived notions.  No inner monologue dancing around your head saying stuff like, “I think I kinda hate this beer, but it’s #13 on the Beer Advocate Top 100 so maybe I actually do like it…?????”

For this blind, I’m sure some beer geeks are going to get all up in arms that we pitted an American double stout vs. an American porter vs. a Russian imperial stout.  Blasphemy they’ll say!  He disrespected beer!  They might even start a nerdy discussion about it on the sad BA Forums.  But I’ll argue that it was an apropos matchup.  These styles are virtually the same and in this case, all three beers had near identical ABVs and, more importantly, strongly relied on coffee for their flavor profiles.*

The contenders were the currently #13 beer in the world AleSmith’s Speedway Stout, the #73 beer in the world Deschutes Black Butte XXI, and, just to throw a would-be tomato can into the mix, Pozharnik from Pennichuck Brewing from out in New Hampshire.

We were anxious to throw these down, but we faced one crucial problem:  how to set up a blind tasting when we were the only three people around.  Usually there’s a wife or a girlfriend, a macro-drinking friend, a teetotaling toddler, you can enlist to set up the glasses for tastings but in this case all those kinds of people were shunning us.  Three people born in the 1970s, well-educated, and we couldn’t possibly figure out how to set up a blind to drink ourselves.  Perhaps we were a little toasted too.  And I was most anxious to get on with this tasting as I was getting a firm case of drinking blue balls.

Finally, DW decided he could pull out nine total glasses, label three of them with a 1 on the bottom, three with a 2, and three with a 3, pour the same beer in the same numbered glass, then have Batch mix the glasses up, then have me distribute.  It worked.  May drinking beer never be so hard again.

On with the tasting notes:

Beer #1:  I found this one strongly smelling of soy sauce while all three of us detected a spicy chili pepper scent on the nose, recalling Dogfish Head Theobroma a bit I thought, oddly enough.  I found this one thin in the mouth, and bordering on unpleasant.  I didn’t even want to finish my blind taster glass.

Beer #2:  This was sweeter than #1 and quite flavorful.  I found it, likewise, to be a little thin on the mouth, but it was a very solid effort I enjoyed.

Beer #3:  By far the best of the three, all three of us blind tasters thought it easily won the troika matchup.  Rich in coffee taste and with a silky mouthfeel, toasty, roasty, and chocolaty, I greedily slurped this one up.

And the reveal:

Beer #1:  Black Butte XXI

Beer #2:  Pozharnik

Beer #3:  Speedway Stout**

We were all floored how resoundingly the beautifully wax-dipped Black Butte XXI got its ass kicked.  After the reveal, we still struggled to enjoy it and nearly considered passing the remaining 3/4th of the bottle to a bum outside.  (Respect that BA!)  XXI would be the only of the three bottles we didn’t enjoyably finish.  But, to be fair, it explicitly says on the Black Butte XXI bottle that the beer is best after 10/17/2010, but with such a lofty numerical standing and such rave reviews pretty much to a man at this very second in time, I would have hoped for better.  Nevertheless, I would really like to try another bottle of it exactly 369 days from now and I’ll give it a marginal benefit of the doubt til then.

The little-discussed Pozharnik was also quite a surprise, in the more pleasant surprise direction, and held up quite well in matching the wax-dipped XXI with a plastic plungered bottle.  The victorious Speedway Stout opted for the silver foil-wrapped top, completing the trifecta in what may not have been our greatest blind tasting ever, but was surely our greatest fancily-capped bottle tasting ever.

Black Butte XXI:  B-

Pozharnik:  A-

Speedway Stout:  A

*Commercial descriptions:

Speedway Stout: “A HUGE Imperial Stout that weighs in at an impressive 12% ABV! As if that’s not enough, we added pounds of coffee for a little extra kick.”

Black Butte XXI: “Building on the existing chocolate notes already present in Black Butte Porter, brewers added Theo’s Chocolate cocoa nibs from Seattle,  1000 pounds of Bellatazza’s locally roasted Ethopian and Sumatran coffee, and then aged a portion of it in Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey barrels.”

Pozharnik: “The 2007 Pozharnik is an intensely flavored Russian Imperial Stout infused with espresso that compliments its rich chocolate & roasted malt character.  Pozharnik is guaranteed to warm a winter chill with its 10% ABV and dark fruit (raisin & plum) & vanilla undertones.  Notes of whiskey aromatics are brought on by the aging process in a “single barrel” whiskey cask.”

**Interestingly enough, the only of the three to NOT be barrel-aged.  Though, I’d love to try the barrel-aged version of this one if any one wants to hook a brotha up.

Victory WildDevil

June 29th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Victory, Country: America, Grade: B-, Style: IPA

The Long Walk

Riding the elevator down alone, I stared at myself in the blurry reflection of the doors.  Tried to make my spiky bed head flatten with a lick of my fingers and a matting down stroke.  Brushed the lint off my shirt.  Wiped the crud out of my eye.

Exiting through the lobby I nodded at her doorman, gave him a giant smile that implied “I know you’re wondering and, yes, yes I did.”  Which meant that the next time he saw her he’d give her an equally giant smile that implied, “Oh I know, you dirty, dirty slut.”

I got outside and tried to find my bearings.  Where the fuck was I?  I should really get a compass.  An urban compass, now that’s not a bad idea.  Is this the…Gramercy?!  How in the hell did we get back to here?  Was it a cab?  Surely we didn’t walk.  Totally don’t remember that.  Luckily I do remember more of the night.  Bits and pieces, like a highlights package, “The Plays of the Day,” running through my head.

I headed north.  I headed what I thought was north, uptown.  I was in that euphoric state after a night of solid, but not super heavy drinking where it’s early enough that you’re still at the tail end of being drunk but you’re not one iota hungover yet.  You’re lucid but you’re still walking on air.  Other things had added to my euphoria as well.  You know it won’t last long before the hangover begins and drunkenness subsides, dehydration and starvation, and pain and misery, but for now:  this is as good as it gets.

How was I gonna get back to Hell’s Kitchen?  Cab it?  Naw, I probably blew $100 last night as is, no need to blow more.  And it’s nice out.  Look at all the folks dining at sidewalk cafes.  I’ve always admired those New Yorkers that have the gumption to get up early on a weekend, shower, get dressed, and then go and eat a meal.  At a restaurant.  Certainly never been my M.O.

“Aaron!  Aaron!”

My ears heard my name being called but my mind knew that I was not in a neighborhood, not in a time or place where there would be any one who could possibly know me.

“Aaron!!!”

I finally turned.  My god, it was my friend Justin, drinking Bloody Marys with a guy and a gal I didn’t recognize.  I walked over to their table.

“What are you doing over here, Justin?”  Justin lived in Park Slope.

“You know, the whole tourist thing.  These are my two friends from back home, Krissy and Moore.”

I politely nodded at them, wondering how exactly one could do the ‘whole tourist thing’ in Gramercy.  What exactly was there to look at?  Trust fund bitches in giant glasses?

“A better question…” Justin smiled at me knowingly, looking me up and down, “…is what are you doing in this neighborhood?  Why, you live in Hell’s Kitchen don’t you?”  Justin was one of those people that was able to mock you with every single thing he said no matter how seemingly innocuous.

I politely nodded and Justin started cracking up.

Krissy was confused.  “What?  What?  I don’t get it.”

“Well won’t you join us for some Bloodys?  They’re unlimited til noon.”

“You know, I can’t, look at me.  I’m disheveled.”

“What, you look fine.”

“But I’m not really a Bloody Mary kinda guy.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to be a Bloody Mary kind of guy, but I’m just not.”

Krissy laughed.  I wasn’t trying to be funny.  My mouth just saying words my mind produced.

“They have unlimited Mimosas and Bellinis too if those are more your speed, partner.”

Justin wasn’t going to let me get me off the hook that easily so I figured I might as well join them.

“Eh, what the heck.  I could use a little hair of the dog, turn the ol’ engine over, huh?”

Justin nodded, “That’s more like it.”

As I sat next to Krissy, my jeans bunched up like an accordion, ejecting the potent smell of my had-sex-last-night dick from my lap right up into my nostrils.

The waitress came over.  “Wouldja like a menu?”

“Naw, that’s fine.  Assure me your Hollaindaise sauce won’t kill me and I’ll have some Eggs Benedict.  And as long as the Mimosas are unlimited, bring me two.”

“Eggs Benedict and some Mimosas.  How frou-frou,” mocked Justin.

The daft Krissy was still perplexed.  “I still don’t get what’s going on…”

The waitress quickly fetched me two flutes of Mimosa and I tipped one back straight down my throat, I’m not sure if the liquid even hit my tongue.  And, still feeling euphoric from my past night in that way where you feel like you can do anything, say anything, your actions have no consequences, I turned to Krissy…

“Krissy, I don’t know where you’re from but I assume they have the same vernacular as we have here.  You guys have stopped me on what is known as a ‘walk of shame.’  That is why I’m in a neighborhood I don’t belong to.  Why my hair is a mess, my clothes disheveled, lint all of them, sleep crust still in my eye, why I smell…odd.  A mix of sweat, perfume, water-based lubricant, and bodily secretions.  It is why I should head home to shower and sleep, and not be seen for the next several hours.”

She looked at me, embarrassed.  Embarrassed for my condition, for what I’ve said, for what she had to hear me frankly say, I am not sure.  She finally spoke.

“Well I like how your hair looks right now.”

And I liked how my morning had already been kicked off.

The unlimited morning cocktails were drank all the way down to 0.01 seconds left on the shot clock.  Hey, if you’re gonna set a time limit on unlimited alcohol, you better be ready to fetch a ton of them as the deal winds down.  At least when you’re dealing with me and my dipsomaniacal friends.  Our now drunken odyssey led us to a Murray Hill dive with $6 pitchers of cheap beer and 10 cent wings which led to Sutton Place and $3 32-ounce frozen margaritas and soon it was midnight and the four of us were shitfaced and in an UES bar drinking overpriced gin and tonics and struggling to stand up.

Long had I forgot how disheveled I was.  Some 30plus hours without a shower, my facial scruff darkening in like a kid’s makeupped on beard line for his Halloween hobo costume, my body odor abhorrent as it tried to eject alcohol and junk food through its pores which mixed with sweat and other gross fluids already on the surface level.  Shit, I hadn’t even brushed my teeth since like 8:00 PM yesterday come to think of it.  Should I go grab some gum at a corner bodega?  Order a shot of Creme de Menthe and gargle?  Naw, I was long pass the point of caring about the avatar I presented to the world.  To the drunken youths surrounding me.

I just wanted to go home.  I could barely keep my eyes open, I was teetering on my bar stool.  Slurring words.  Had I even slept last night?  I felt like I was in a sleep deprivation experiment.  Yet, Justin refused to let me leave.  “You gonna be a baby and go home before closing time?”  Peer pressure always works on me.  I’m such a sucker when my drinking manhood is called into question.

Fine, then if that’s the case, I’ll pursue your friend.  And indeed the pursuit seemed reciprocal.  As the day had progressed Krissy was seemingly getting more and more into me for whatever reason.  It’s almost counterintuitive how women like a man they know has just been with another women.  The more recent the better, though, they usually like a shower in there somewhere.  Feeding frenzies exist for a reason and the stink of the alpha male in the jungle just makes the other primate chicks more in estrus.  By golly, I was going to do this.

I was going to do this!

________

The sun came through the Venetian blinds scalding every other inch of my body in long horizontal stripes like I was behind jail bars made only of heat.  I looked at the clock on the cable box.  6:05 as in ante-meridian.  I turned over to the girl beside me.  She was a brunette.  Unless we’d visited a middle-of-the-night hair salon for a quick dye job, she was not Krissy.  I didn’t recall meeting her.  I didn’t recall talking to her, commuting to this home with her, undressing with her.  I quietly slipped on my clothes which by now were nothing more than dirty, stinky laundry.  I slipped out of her bedroom.

I exited her apartment but she didn’t have an elevator.  I walked five stories down and she didn’t have a doorman.  I got outside.  There was not another single soul in the street.  Where the fuck was I?  Avenue C?!  Good lord, how did I get in Alphabet City?  I should really shower.  I should really sleep.  Man this is going to be a long walk.  I hope I don’t run into any more brunchers I know.

WildDevil

6.7% ABV from a 750 (bottled April 22, 2009)

Victory’s WildDevil was one of my most anticipated releases of the early part of 2009, and despite the fairly high price compared to most Victory products, I was pumped to try this one.  I let it sit for a few months, wanting it to get funky, but last week I could wait no longer.  Unfortunately, WildDevil is now one of my bigger disappointments of 2009.

To my understanding, WildDevil is simply Victory’s semi-glorious Hop Devil IPA with Brett added.  I love Hop Devil, I love Brett in beer, this should be a no-brainer masterpiece, right?  Not quite.  A medium smell of Brett, hops and more pine, much less funkier than I expected.  A sizzling carbonation, with a tartness on the mouth, taking away a lot of the fresh hops goodness.  I liked this beer less and less the more and more I drank it.  And I had a whole big corked-and-caged bottle to get through.  This beer just made me mad.  Every sip of it made me want either a fully committed IPA (Hop Devil) or a fully committed Brett explosion wild ale. Commit goddammit!  This beer teaches an important life lesson:  don’t hedge your bets.  Make up your mind, pick your path, and go for it.  Waffling in the middle accomplishes nothing.

B-

Real Ale Brewing Company

May 29th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Real Ale, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Grade: B-, Style: Pale Ale, Style: Rye Beer

Nothing better than a surprise, and I answered the door a few weeks ago to find a nice little unexpected package from out of Houston.  My good friend Mike had packaged up a few of Blanco, Texas’s Real Ale beers and sent them my way.  Now, I’d heard of the brewery, but didn’t really know anything about them which–me being unfortunately intellectually hubristic and thinking I know all there is to know in the world–made me think these brews would be nothing more than mediocre.  Boy was I wrong.

(Besides the two below, Mike also sent me their Brewhouse Brown Ale which unfortunately was decimated in shipping)

Full Moon Pale Rye Ale

5.6% ABV bottled

Thinking I wasn’t about to pop anything special when I opened this one, I was floored by its great hoppy smell and its even better flavor.  A smooth rye malt sweetness makes this one tasty brew.  Quite unique actually and one of the best rye beers I’ve ever had.  Honestly.  I must admit I did not expect Full Moon to be this good, but it was simply delicious.  I could drink these all night, and was saddened to only have a single bottle.  If I lived in Texas, this brew would be in my fridge at all time.  Then again, if I lived in Texas, I’d probably do all my drinking in the back of a pick-up while armadillo hunting or somethin’.  Yeah, that sounds like a pretty good life actually.

B+

Rio Blanco Pale Ale

5.2% ABV bottled

After I sucked down every last drop of the Full Moon and stuck my tongue into the bottle to try to get even more delicious flavors, I was stoked to try their Pale offering.  Unfortunately, it was not quite as good as the rye beer, though still solid.  A tad too much unbalanced bitterness in its spicy hoppiness, I actually enjoyed this more as it warmed which, as you probably know, is fairly odd for an pale ale.  Another nice session beer from the folks in Blanco, wherever the hell that is.

B-

Aesop had his morals and, after enjoying Real Ale, I can have mine too:

There’s plenty of non-”famous” beermakers out there crafting really delicous shit.  Us beer geeks don’t have to be disappointed when we’re not drinking some, say, Dogfish Head, Stone, Three Floyds, etc.  Texas folks don’t know how lucky they are.  Or maybe they do.  I’ll need to get try some more Real Ale.

The Bruery Orchard White

April 27th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: The Bruery, Country: America, Grade: B-, Style: Belgian White

5.7% ABV on tap

I’m an egomaniac and a clinical narcissist and one reason I started this site is because I knew I would have a better beer blog than most of the other crap out there.  And now, I will write a better bar review than those written by the unpaid freelancing hacks at Shecky’s, et al.

THE PONY BAR

W. 45th and Tenth Avenue

After a soft opening two Thursdays ago, I decided to pay my first visit to Hell’s Kitchen’s newest bar exactly one week later.  A great drinking neighborhood, that is unquestionable, but the part of town westerly of Touristville is severely lacking in craft beer spots with only the two House of Brews to its name as well as Valhalla.*  The Houses of Brew (if I am to correctly pluralize) usually have a respectable enough beer lineup, but it’s not exactly a place I like to hang out as the ceilings are too low, the lighting too bright, the women too loud, the beer geeks too geeky, the food too beer-battered.  Valhalla is criminally underrated though, even if it is exceedingly dark in there and the bartenders are slobbering fools.

Upon first entering The Pony Bar I was impressed with the ambiance.  It’s quite unique with upturned barrels in the middle of the floor acting as little tables and all sorts of other faux-old-timey wood furnishings like an off-the-interstate Cracker Barrel.  It was also kinda like Al Swearengen’s Gem Saloon though I saw no canned peaches available for purchase.  Then again, the kitchen is not open just yet, though the menu on the wall looked respectable and economical.

I was quickly turned off by the bar’s paucity of pissing space with just a single commode for both men and women.  When I own a bar, there will be more places to piss than the number of dicks the Fire Marshall will allow in the building.

I’d been greatly anticipating my first visit to The Pony Bar as their website listed them as having The Bruery’s Orchard White and Black Orchard on tap.  One of America’s newest and brightest craft brewers, I’d yet to see these beers in Manhattan and was stoked to try them.  The Pony Bar’s nicely-designed website claims to offer “real time” updates about what is on their twenty taps at that very second, but by the time I had reached the watering hole, Black Orchard was no more.  So, unless that tap got changed out during my five minute walk, The Pony Bar are biliously lying to the bibulous.

Luckily, Orchard White was on tap and I ordered one post-haste.  I was disappointed to see it come in a mere 8 ounce glass but later learned that since literally every single beer at The Pony Bar is $5, some of the brews are served in smaller glasses.  There seemed to be no rhyme or reason though to what was served in these 8 ouncers.  It certainly wasn’t just high ABV stuff as Allagash’s sublime 7.5% Black was in a wee glass while Stone’s snotbox-punching 7.7% Ruination came in a full pint.  Nor, did it appear to be a rarity thing as some simple-to-find taps were in the itsy bitsy glasses as well.  But I quibble.

I found the Orchard White to be a quite fascinating witbier.  Spicy and medicinal, full of oranginess and a biting flowery lavender taste which overpowered me to a certain extent.  The prickly carbonation got to me as well.  Truth be told, I was somewhat glad this was served in a 8 ounce glass as I was ready for something else by about ounce 6.  A good beer, or at least an interesting one no question, I’m curious to try The Bruery’s other stuff.

It was easy to monitor the beers on tap and their ABVs and serving size as The Pony Bar has a splendid and large chalkboard covering the entire wall behind the bar.  One of my top bar pet peeves is when you enter a bar and ask a standard, “So what do you have on tap?” and the bartender gives an enormous eye roll followed by an abracadabra wave of her upturned palm as if to say, “The taps run the length of the bar, you can check them out for yourself.”  No one wants to run up and down the length of a bar, jutting their head between couples trying to ogle each tap, recognize ones you’ve never seen before, cull weird names from the askew heads.  Or, what about bars that list their beers on a dirty chalkboard, the various brews written in awkward pink or powder blue chalked atop the smudged black, made impossible to read by the dim lights of the bar.  It really irks me when bars don’t just have beer menus to peruse, and updated ones at that.

If only every bar would just do what The Pony Bar does with their amazingly easy to see beer wall which could be read despite the darkness of the establishment.  The on-the-wall ABVs are also great for a stat geek like me as it enables me to keep accurate tabs on my intoxication levels (”I’ve currently had 124 ounces of beer at an average of 7.1%!  Any one know a good massage parlor around here?”)

The lights were dark and the atmosphere jovial.  Though there was a gorgeous flatscreen TV in each corner, none were on, something I am not sure whether it had to do with the fact that the bar had yet to have the cable guy arrive–”Bars, they’re just like us!”–or whether it was to maintain a conversational atmosphere.  I will assume it is the former.  But a conversational atmosphere was certainly generated and the bar was packed to the gills with hot, hot women, all forced to order Ommegang Witte as it was the only “light” and “girly” beer on the current menu.  There’s hard liquor too, ladies, do not fret.

I’m the kind of guy that upon arriving at a beer bar immediately composes a “batting lineup” for my evening’s consumption.  No, I don’t go all the way 1 through 9 but I usually make it well past the clean-up spot.  I’d led off with Orchard White, slotted Stone Ruination in the two-hole in order to calibrate my IPA tastes before I planned on giving Blue Point Rastafar Rye a whirl.  Unfortunately, just as I was finishing my Ruination pint the bartender started hammering a boxing ring-type bell as if the judges’ decision was about to be announced by a Buffer brother.  I quickly learned that this bell was to alert a tap change.  I said to my drinking buddy, “Please say it ain’t the Rastafar Rye.”  It was and thus my batting lineup method lost in a unanimous decision.  Should have batted the Rastafar Rye higher.  Oh well.  The Pony Bar would change taps four more times that night, something I love.  True, they could just have five to ten more taps at all times, but just like you I’m a sucker and it excites me to watch thing change right in front of my very eyes.

The bartenders at The Pony Bar are friendly, though they don’t exactly seem to be fermented beverage experts.

AARON:  “So, how’s that Chelsea Hop Angel IPA?”

BARTENDER:  “Now that’s what we call an ‘IPA’ which stands for India.  Pale.  Ale…”

Consults notecard.

BARTENDER:  “…which means it will be quite…uh…’hoppy.’”

Finally, The Pony Bar offers growlers for sale of any and all beers they have on tap.  This seems to be a new “fad” in New York as in the last year or so at least a dozen bars have started offering this service.  Obviously, this is something I absolutely adore as I’m all for encouraging people to make impetuous purchases when lit up.  And, believe me, it’s quite easy to say, as you’re tabbing out your credit card:

“You know, could you just throw a growler of Double Bastard on their while you’re at it?”

Next thing you know you’re stumbling down 11th Avenue swigging straight from the 64 oz glass, stuck between the moon and New York City.

B+

*Seriously, Valhalla, it’s 2009, get a fucking website.  My mom even has one for God’s sake, and she’s a public school teacher.

Uinta Fifteenth Anniversary Barley Wine

February 5th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Uinta, Country: America, Grade: B-, Style: Barley wine

10.4% ABV

The G-Rated Seduction

NOTE TO MY READERS:  This is an atypical story here on the Vice Blog.  It does not involve debauchery, perversion, transgression, or sordidness.  It is nothing more than a sweet story about a gal.  And a guy.  And another guy.  And, yes, another gal.  (But not like that you sicko.)  So if you come here to live vicariously through my Red Sea of sleaze, you best sit this one out fella.

“Boy, Philadelphia has a lot hotter women than I would have guessed.”

“You think?”

My friend Mookie had picked me up at the Princeton train station around noon and driven us into the city for a day of vice.

“Well look at that girl right there.”

As we sat at a crosswalk, the cutest little blue blood WASP of a girl walked by.  Flawlessly put together, perhaps even a little overdressed for a lazy Saturday of shopping.  She wore a “It’s a girl” pink-colored blazer.  She wasn’t a ten out of ten or anything but she was so damn attractive, so damn enticing.  Unforgettable.

Several hours later and several miles away, Mookie and I were enjoying a cigar in Rittenhouse Square when who should vamp by but pink blazer girl.  Our jaws dropped to the pigeon shit covered cement.

Then, another hour later, as Mookie was putting some money in the meter, who should walk by again but pink blazer girl.  This was getting ridiculous.

That evening, Mookie and I hit up the Smith & Wollensky bar for some early evening steaks and cocktails.  Conversation was completely devoted to pink blazer girl.  Damn!  It couldn’t have been coincidence.  How did we run into her in three separate places today?!  Even if it wasn’t anything more than coincidence it was still crazy.  Dammit!  Why didn’t we stop her, talk to her, make her our dual girlfriend?  Had she even noticed us?

A group of elegant old ladies dining beside us heard our story and were soon part of our circle.  I was convinced–convinced!–that the fates wanted us to be with pink blazer girl.  I was certain we’d see her again that night.  Certain that later in the evening, at some bar, at some tavern, some watering hole, our beautiful pink blazer girl would walk in and we’d dance, we’d flirt, we’d make her our dual girlfriend.

If and when we did see her again, Mookie and I swore to ourselves that we would finally stop her.

By now, more people at the bar, including the surliest bartender in the world, had become a part of our story, debating whether it was coincidence, fate, were we being stalked?  Or maybe we were just liars, complete fabricators of this tale?  Men that go into classy bars to spin yarns, test out their raconteurial skills simply to win over crowds, become the center of attention, maybe get a free drink bought for them or something?

And then…

Pink blazer girl walked into the restaurant.

Twenty feet away, the bar erupted, like Ryan Howard had just hit a walk-off.

But pink blazer girl didn’t notice as the maitre’d quickly whisked her to the upstairs dining room.  Leaving the bar in stunned silence.

“Was that her?  No!  It couldn’t be!  Is this a joke?  Are we on a hidden video show?”

The bar was buzzing.

“Mookie, what should we do?”

“What can we do?”

“We have to do something.”

The bar echoed like a Greek chorus:  “You have to do something.”

I nodded at Mookie.  “We promised ourselves.  We have to do something.”

But what?

As if we were the quarterbacks and the rest of the conveniently set up bar-in-the-round was the huddle, we discussed our options.

Walk upstairs and introduce ourselves?

Naw.  Too brash.  And who knows who she is with.  A husband, a boyfriend.  We’d start a steak house fight.

Wait for her to exit and then flag her down?

Too risky.  We could miss her.  Borderline creepy too.

Then what?

The bar sat in quiet contemplation for a half-minute.

“I got it!  Let’s send her an old fashioned junior high note.”

“I love it!”

I asked the surly bartender for some paper and he begrudgingly handed us a blank receipt, it’s back completely blank.

We quickly judged that Mookie had better handwriting so he became the stenographer as a note was dictated, the rest of the bar oohing and ahhing with each choice of words:

First we saw you at the crosswalk at __ & __.  Then, you walked by us in the park.  Later, you passed us on the sidewalk as we fed the meter.  And, now, the fates have brought us together here.  We know you are stalking us.  Come downstairs, show some courage, and introduce yourself.  Signed, the two guys you are stalking.

“What if she has no sense of humor?  She won’t get the jokes?”

“She’ll get ‘em.”

“What if she doesn’t know who we are?”

“Then, we’ll draw a map.”

And, thus, Mookie added to the bottom of our note a sketch of the bar, and two X’es marking the spots where we sat.

“But how to pass it on?”

“We’ll need a ‘grease man,’” Mookie noted, a regular Danny Ocean.

Why was everything so difficult in the game of childish seduction?  We debated how to pass it on.  None of our friends at the bar were willing to act as messengers.  A Mexican dishwalker walked by.  “How’s your Spanish, Mookie?”  He shook his head, “No.”  “He’ll bungle it.”

“Then, we’re gonna have to have the maitre’d do it.”

“He’ll laugh in our face.”

“No, go to the female hostess.  Girls like playful games.  Girls like matchmaking.”

Mookie wasn’t sure.

“Then hand her a fiver.”

Mookie still didn’t think it would work and, “Hey, why do I have to do our dirty work?”

I explained:  “Because you’re believable.  I have a look about me, a certain look, maybe it’s my devilish eyebrows, perhaps the constant smirk on my lips, that makes people think I’m up to something.  Which, admittedly, I usually am.  Conniving, scheming, plotting.  It’s worked well for me in many facets of life, but not here, no.  But, you, you have a kind, truthful face.  And your patter is so smooth and believable as well. It’s why you’re a good salesman.”

Mookie nodded.  He knew I was 100% right.

He walked over to the female hostess and I saw him speaking to her, gesticulating, giving her his skillful patter.  She was laughing, laughing hard.  Very good.

Mookie returned.  “It’s a go.”

While the hostess was gone, we debated what was going to happen.  About half the bar thought pink blazer girl would come down, the other half thought she’d be creeped out and just slip out the back door.

Pending.

The hostess returned to us.  What had happened?  She explained that pink blazer was dining with her parents and the three of them had giggled when she got our note.  But would she come down?  The hostess was unsure.

I ordered her back to her hostess stand lest she ruin things.  She complied.

You see, I was now certain pink blazer girl would soon be downstairs.  I explained to the rest of the bar that parents get a huge kick out of seeing their children do things they don’t want to do.  Things they’re scared to do.  Trying out for school plays, speaking to adults, going to the neighbors’ house to ask for something.  My parents certainly got a kick out of watching my sisters and I squirm.  And so would her’s.  So even if she had no interest in dealing with us–which she probably did–her parents would goad her and implore her and then finally force her to go downstairs and speak to us.  Older people have learned that one must do things they don’t viscerally want to if they are to live an adventuresome life.  Or maybe they just like to order their progeny around.

I explained that it was taking so long because this “I don’t want to, mom and dad!”/”No, you have to, honey” debate was going on concurrently.  They probably told her they’d drag her to the bar themselves, embarrass her further, if she just didn’t up and do it herself.

And then, after about ten mintues, pink blazer girl came downstairs and over to Mookie and I.  We played it cool.

“What took you so long?”

She was shy, damn shy, she could barely look us in the eyes.  Younger than we reckoned too, probably a college sophomore or so.  She clearly had not dealt with many men in her life.  She thanked us for the note, said it was sweet, and, yes, she had remembered us, even noticed the coincidence too.  She coyly remarked that the note was, in fact, the cutest thing a guy had ever done for her.

It had made her day.

Oh, and before you go back to your parents, what’s your name, darling?

“Blakely.  My name is Blakely.”

“Have a good evening, Blakely.”

“See ya, Blakely.”

That’s all we wanted.

And she left, Mookie and I backslapping and high-fiving.  “Blakely!  What a perfect name!”

The hostess came over with a huge smile on her face.  It was then that I noticed that she was even better looking than Blakely.  She was the ten out of ten, a movie star perfect button nose and flowing golden locks.

“You guys are the cutest!  I wish some guys would do that for me.”

She smiled.

“Thanks for making my day.”

Batting two-for-two on that front.

“I’m Briton by the way.”

Blakely and Briton.

Briton and Blakely.

We didn’t kiss them, hug them, or certainly hook up with them.  And we didn’t exactly want to.  That would have spoiled things.  99% of the time seduction is a means to an end, but in the case of Blakely and Briton, seduction was the entire game.

We never saw Blakely and Briton again and that too is perfect as they now live on in our minds as two unflawed beacons of womanhood.  Both G-Rated seduced by two masters of the rarely practiced art form.  It felt good to make their days.

But, I won’t lie, I still would like to run into them one day in the future.  Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Uinta Fifteenth Anniversary Barley Wine

Barley wine is probably my favorite style of beer and being that it’s a fairly under-created style I’m always anxious to try new ones, pretty much picking up any I see.  Same goes for anniversary releases.  I can’t help but purchase them.  Which is weird because I haven’t heard anything about Uinta brewing for its entire fifteen years of existence and now I’m eager to celebrate with them?!  Kinda feels like a stranger coming up to you on the street:  “Hey, I just turned 25 today, buy me a present.”  I found this barley wine decent but unspectacular, far too much scalding booziness which is the problem I find with most middling barley wines.  Still, at only $2.99 it was worth a shot and, hey, my first career beer from Utah!

B-

Dogfish Head Pangaea

December 15th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: B-, Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

7% ABV from a bomber

“So first of all, I picked her up without saying even a single word…”

I was launching into another epic tale, my friend Wes’s very favorite tale of mine, one he insisted I write up for the Vice Blog.  We sat around his luxury highrise apartment playing NHL 2008 on XBox, surely the best sports video game ever, and I say that as a guy who hasn’t watched a single hockey game since Chris Chelios was still in the league.  Huh?  He’s still in the league NOW?!

We drank a semi-rare score, a bottle of Pangaea, from one of my favorite breweries in the country, Dogfish Head.  I’m excited to try all new Dogfish Head offerings but especially this one as the beer is made with ingredients from all seven continents including most prominently crystallized ginger from Australia, moscavado sugar from Africa, basmati rice from Asia, and a bit of a “cheat” in using water from the McMurdo Science Station in Antarctica.  An interesting idea no doubt and a splendid name and label, yes, but ultimately, I found this beer to be a bit of a gimmick, it essentially just tasting like liquid ginger.

And, again, as I’ve been saying with a lot of DFH’s “weirder” offerings lately, I was glad to try it, but really don’t want to ever try it again.  I don’t know why DFH puts their oddball beers in bombers.  Even splitting it with a friend it becomes a bit of a chore to drink and you just end up resenting the beer even though it’s not actually half bad.  Perhaps they need to sell it in larger, more expensive quantities in order to give them the ability to actually make the inventive beers, something I completely understand.  I will admit that by bomber’s end I actually started warming up to the beer, thinking it might be most interesting with a meal of spicy Asian food.

“So first of all, I picked her up without saying a single word…”

This was back three years ago, I was a single man visiting the folks in Oklahoma City.  That city is burgeoning I suppose, but there’s still not tons for a young single man to do.  Even going out to drink can be a major pain in the ass, trying to find drivers to escort you and locations that actually have people in them.  Having said that, though, when a New Yorker like me finds a “happening” or even “kinda happening” or even “35% full” bar in Oklahoma City, it can make for a great time for reasons twofold:

A.  Shit is so fucking cheap.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been running a tab for an entire group of friends in Oklahoma City and after a full night of drinking–though remember, bars close at 2:00, at 1:00 the house lights go up, and at 1:30 hick bouncers start yelling at you, the patron who has spending good money for the past several hours, to “Get the FUCK outta my bar!!!!”–went to tab out and seen the bill and begun laugh.  Laughing like I’d heard the funniest joke of all time.  Countless beers, top-shelf cocktails, shots, greasy sampler platters for a party of five?  Let’s say $45.  “How much I owe you?” a friend says.  “On me!” I say!  Which is an expression any one will tell you the Vice Blogger has never said once in New York City.  But in Oklahoma City, a visiting New York instantly becomes a millionaire.

B.  And this is true for all American cities that aren’t Los Angeles and maybe Miami…women irrationally love a guy from New York City.  You don’t have to be handsome, rich, thin, interesting, straight, or even showered, you simply have to live in one of the five boroughs of the city of New York.  Not that a girl from Oklahoma City even knows what a borough is.

I found myself at some hell-hole of a bar in my former hometown.  It was packed, indeed, but that doesn’t matter as most people in OKC are still smoking and it’s actually legal to still puff indoors there.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m adamantly against nanny stateism and for debauchery and think humans should be allowed to smoke inside bars–if that is what the owner wishes–but I still can bitch about the stink.  Also, people in Oklahoma City don’t like to inter-group mingle, just finding their own booths or tables to smoke and chit-chat and I guess play quarters or something.

So I suppose I was a little grumpy at not finding any ugly local girls to talk to but I was nevertheless excited that I was drinking bourbon neats for $3.25.  You know you’re in a non-major metropolis if drinks cost something “…and a quarter.” It was Christmas day and surprisingly the bar was packed.  I hadn’t showered or tried to style my hair in any way because I don’t really care what I look like when I’m outside of New York.  I wore a dirty white Hanes undershirt with simply a pea coat over top of it.  I looked miserable.  I was talking to only my sister.  We were probably mocking former classmates of ours.

My friend Matthew–now a proud father and in a semi-common-law marriage–had been working a girl hard all night.  Like all night.  I wasn’t sure if he was making ground or not and I didn’t really care.  All I knew was that it was 1:30, the lights had just gone on, and I wanted to drink for the next one, two, seven hours.

“Hey Matthew, any fucking place we go get a drink now?”

Matthew turned to me for the first time in an hour or so.  The girl he was flirting with turned toward me as well.  A gentleman, he introduced us.

“Allison, this is my friend, Aaron.”

She stuck out her hand aloofly.

“He’s from New York.”

Her eyes bulged out of her head, if she had a dick she would have got a boner, and “NEW.  YORK.  CITY?” she exclaimed and pulled me in for a hug.  “It is so great to meet you.”

She all but pushed Matt out of the way to get to me.  I still hadn’t said a word to her.  Do I feel bad that when I–or any of the other 4.1 million-ish New York men–go to other measly cities we get treated like George Clooney simply because we pay ungodly amounts of rent and know how to read a subway map?  Well…yeah, actually I kinda do.  But, in the same way I feel a bit embarrassed if I have to use a bridge to hit a shot in billiards.  I’m still gonna take credit for the sunk ball and I’ll still hook up with the girl.

Matthew’s a smart guy and he already had seen the folly of his ways.  The folly of telling “his” girl I was from New York.

“So, do you know any place to drink, Aaron?” said “my” girl.

Actually, I had just thought of one.  Before leaving the house that night I’d been searching through my parents’ home for a snack and come across the motherload.  My parents are essentially teetotalers nowadays yet I guess they continued receiving bottles of liquor as gifts over the years and kept them in one out-of-the-way cabinet.  Earlier that night I’d found that stock, and there was plenty, ranging from the normal (Grey Goose, Johnnie Walker Black, Crown Royal) to the “What-asshole-gave-you-that-as-a-gift?” (Hennessey, Malibu Rum, something that looked like moonshine and had tropical fruits floating in bottle.)

“Actually I do…everyone to my parents’ house.”

My sister stared at me like, “Really?”  I was wasted off $3.25 bourbons so I nodded back, “Yes, really.”

A group of about ten of us headed to my parents’ home, my annexed girl giving me a ride.  I had the foresight to make everyone park one street over.  I was 26 years old, but my parents, especially my mom, is not one for reckless debauchery.  I made everyone, save my sister and Matthew, stand around the corner of the front door as I unlocked it.  My mom has ears like a hawk and always awakens when I get home from boozing.  She came out of her room.

“Hey mom, I invited Matthew over to hang out for a little bit.”

My mom loved Matthew who was maybe my oldest friend, one I had met when we were both three-year-old wunderkinds in the four-year-old preschool class at the Jewish daycare Matthew’s Christian family had inexplicably enrolled him in.

“Oh that’s fine.  Hi, Matthew.  Good night.”

My mom went back into her room and then me and my sister and friends old, new, and just met got wasted, polishing off literally every drop of booze in the house, though I wouldn’t learn this til later.

Noon.

I awaken.

A pulsating headache.

I hear my loud family awake and romping around.  My dad cooking a late brunch in the kitchen.  My mom roughhousing with the dogs in the living room.

Beside me, in my twenty-five-year-old twin bed that still has NFL sheets on it, the naked girl from last night.  How many words have I said to her in my life?  I don’t even know her name.  All I know is that she is fucking naked and my parents are nearby.

Now my parents are the kind of people that have no respect for boundaries.  The kind of people that have no problem just opening a door and marching into your bedroom.  In fact, every previous morning of this little Christmas vacation my mom and/or father had, without knocking, entered into my room with the wild dogs to wake me up at whatever point they deemed fit.  I was certain we were mere seconds from that happening again.  My childhood bedroom didn’t have a lock.

I started shaking the girl, trying to wake her ass up.  She wouldn’t bulge.  It was like she was dead.  I stared at the Magic Johnson poster on my wall, what had become of my life?  Could I get an assist, Earvin?  I shook her some more, which jarred something loose and caused her to begin to loudly snore.  I was kinda freaking out, and I wasn’t sure why.  I was a fucking grown man, I could do whatever I want.  Right?

Even moreso being that both my sisters, both younger than me, each in a bedroom on either side of mine, had their boyfriends in town for the holidays and were sleeping with them every single night, something my conservative parents surprisingly never had a problem with.

I thought, fuck it, I’ll just wake this girl up, march her through the house toward the front door and proudly proclaim,

“Good morning mother and father, this is the one-night stand I had last night.”

And that would be that.

Naw, I couldn’t do that.  I didn’t need my parents to know I was the kind of person that got wasted and had promiscuous liaisons with girls I picked up through the most frivolous of reasons.  Actually, I laughed to myself, the real reason I didn’t want my parents to see my one-night stand was because she was ugly.  Well, not ugly, but kinda just mediocre.  A six out of ten.  Yeah, which made her a nine out of ten in Oklahoma, but I digress.  I would have proudly marched a beauty out of my room, let my parents know that their son had some serious long-ball power, but I couldn’t disappoint them with my previous night’s middling lay.

I went to the bathroom to wash my face and game plan.  I ran into my sister in the hall way.  She snickered.  “So whatever happened to that girl last night after I went to bed?”  She really didn’t know.

“She’s still in my room.”

“BULLSHIT!”

“Shhhhhhhhh…”

I shrugged.  You doubt me, sibling?  I opened the door to my room a crack.  My sister peaked her head in.  The girl’s bare ass was hanging outside the comforter.  My sister started cracking up.  I saw nothing funny about it.

I went back into my room and shook the girl as hard as possible.  She finally awoke.  Now I don’t know about you, but if I woke up–as a mid-twenties adult–in the childhood bedroom of a stranger I had just had a one-night stand with, I would be a little disturbed and perturbed with myself.  Not this one.  Uh uh.  She casually smiled.  “Mornin.’”

I would have been like, “Where the hell am I?  What the fuck happened?  Are those your parents I hear????  Is that Walter Payton on this pillow?”  Again, not this one.  She just yawned, noted she was hungry for an omelet.

I walked over to my bedroom window, the sill covered with all my childhood sports trophies.  I began to clear them away.

“What are you doing, Aaron?”

“I really apologize for this, but you have to jump out my window.  I don’t want you to deal with my parents.  It’s better for both of us.”

“OK.”

I liked this girl, nice, supplicating, and malleable.

She began to casually get dressed, staying naked far longer than a normal person would, slowly, slowly, slowly, putting on each sock and then…

A knock on my door.   SHIT!

I nodded at her to get under the covers and hide.  The end game was near and my parents weren’t going to be humiliated by their son’s pathetic pick-up.  She did as she was told.

I opened the door a crack.  It was my sister.  She had just remembered–just remembered!–that her bedroom had a rarely-used side door that we could allow Elvis to leave the building through.  Perfect.

The girl got dressed, we quickly ushered her through the hallway, into my sister’s bedroom, and then out the door.

Once the girl was outside my sister and I started madly cackling.  We ran to the front of the house and its windows, spying on the girl as she walk-of-shamed across several lawns and to her car parked on the next block.  Mission accomplished.

We headed to the kitchen for breakfast where my sister continued to make countless thinly-veiled references to my miserable hook-up, my parents somehow never catching on.  They were just mad me, my sister, and Matthew had somehow drank fifteen bottles of their booze in one night.  “Your father and I were gonna drink that one day!”

B-

A Cornucopia of Christmas Beers

December 15th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Abita, Brewer: Blue Point, Brewer: Coors, Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: B-, Grade: C plus, Grade: C-, Style: Belgian Pale Ale, Style: Brown Ale, Style: IPA, Style: Winter Warmer

Feeling a little bit frisky on Saturday afternoon, I decided to buy every single Christmas/winter seasonal beer I had yet to have from the local supermarket and prebar with a cornucopia of the typically-spiced brews.

Blue Moon Full Moon

5.6% ABV

It is well-known how much I really kinda detest Blue Moon–Coors’ hush-hush attempt at trying to make microbrews–thinking it everything wrong with beer. Meant to be “good,” but in reality just mass-produced stuff that chickens out and appeals to no one. Too lame for real beer geeks, too non-watered down for novice drinkers. Though a lot of girls seem to like it if plenty of orange slices are added. I don’t know why I thought Full Moon would be better. The label actually almost convinced me with its claim to be an “abbey ale brewed with a hint of dark Belgian sugar.” Boy, the gall! I realized almost immediately what a con artist this bottle was. Well, not immediately. The first thing I realized was–beer snob alert!–this has to be one of the first twist-top bottles I’ve had in months. Kinda nice actually, I can never find my bottle opener and always need the Nigerian kid next door to bite my caps off. The second thing I noticed was that Full Moon poured quite dark, like a legit dubbel or something, whatdayaknow? Surely one of the darker American macros I’ve ever seen. The taste is all wrong though. Blue Moon again acts cowardly by ostensibly starting off with good intentions but by then pulling punches to try and appeal to the masses. What this actually tastes like is a decent dubbel that has been mixed with 50% tap water. Imagine that.

C

Abita Christmas Ale 2008

Unknown ABV (seriously Abita, list your fucking ABV, it’s like the only stat we all care about!)

Abita is another brewery that really rubs me the wrong way. Oh, how many times I’ve bought one of their beers, one of their countless new releases, thinking, “Hmmmm…that sounds interesting, that sounds good.” It never is. Abita is surely one of the shittiest prominent craft breweries in America. Nice labels, but everything they make is mediocre at best to absolute dreck at worst. Don’t tell that to a Louisianan though! Yet again, Abita tricked me here with their slick hologram-esque, unphotographable label*. This beer was just garbage. Not bad-tasting or anything, just not-tasting. Called a brown ale, it did indeed look that way, but tastes of absolute water. If the World Beer Championships ever held a contest to see who could make the darkest colored beer with no flavor, I think we might have our winner here. You fooled me yet again, Abita. What’s the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for like the forty-fifth time, Abita, and…yeah, I’ll probably still take a whirl on your next shitty seasonal selection.”  Got anything in the works for Valentine’s Day?  Perhaps a beer steeped with those chalky little candy hearts?!

C-

Blue Point Winter Ale

4.5% ABV

With all these shitty Christmas beers, I was starting to be happy to be a dirty Jew. Also because I don’t have to hang out with people I hate on December 25th, I can just go to the movies, eat steak, get wasted, and hang with sexy Jewesses (no, that’s not an oxymoron you antisemite). Blue Point, unlike Blue Moon and Abita, is a brewery that I have actually found to have made some respectable stuff in the past. No masterpieces or anything, but alotta solid efforts. Here is another one. Good hops and seasonal spices, this is probably the only legit “winter warmer” out of any of these four. I liked but didn’t love this one. Needs a higher ABV quite frankly to keep you toasty during the Yuletide season. At a minimum, though, Sam Adam’s and Brooklyn’s winters are better.

B-

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

6.8% ABV

OK, nice red label with a wreath framing a pastoral picture of a snowcapped log cabin and the name “Celebration” would certainly make you think you’re getting a winter beer, full of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and other egg-noggy type things. Nope. This is pretty much just a standard double IPA. And a good one at that. What in the world is Sierra Nevada thinking in making this their special winter seasonal? Who knows. But thanks, I guess.  Delicious and overhopped in a good way, sticky and full of citrus sensations, this one is worth searching out. As a “winter” beer this is an abject failure, but just as a beer, it is probably the best Sierra Nevada I’ve ever had and a damn fine IPA.  I can’t wait for Sierra Nevada’s summer beachtime seasonal release, tentatively slated to be a 13% ABV dark chocolate and coffee stout that actually give the inside of your stomach a sunburn.

A-

Final thought:  when are they ever gonna make me some Hanukkah seasonal beers? Perhaps a nice strong ale with tastes of potato latke, chocolate gelt, and dreidels? YUM.

*Perhaps they make unphotographable labels so that one can never actually prove they drank a shitty Abita beer?