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Archive for the ‘Style: Amber Ale’ 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!!!

Zoe

August 23rd, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Maine Beer Co., Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: B plus, Style: Amber Ale, Style: Pale Ale

7.2% 500 mL bottled

I’ve been so busy with other projects I’ve had little time lately to review beer.  Which means, if and when I do write a review, one of two things has occurred:  I got free beer from a brewery and felt obligated to glowingly write about it in order to keep the gratis schwag flowing OR I just had my mind blown. In the case of Maine Beer Company’s Zoe, the latter is true, but perhaps my effusive praise will soon lead to the former being true as well!

I’m surely one of the best “forced” travelers around as there’s no location I’m fully upset to have to visit–all due to this pesky beer obsession.  So when I was “forced” to head up to the great city of Portland, Maine this weekend for a wedding, even though I wasn’t in much of a traveling mood during these dog days of summer, I was still buoyed by the chance that I might get to try some beers from the upstart nanobrewery newish to town.

My man Sam had tipped me off that the best beer bar in Portland is now Novare Res and he was so very right.  Accessed by a bit of an alley off a main Old Port street, the bar was a site to behold.  An enormous “Best of Portland” award-winning outdoor patio deck, but nuts to that as I like to drink in the cool dark and the inside of Novare has that in spades*.  A slightly below ground cellarish feel, warm and cozy with a large segmented two cornered bar buttressed by some classy brick columns.  Unfortunately, the mediocre to so-so Rogue Brewery (from nearby the “other” Portland) had monopolized all 25 taps for an event.  That was shockingly fine since Novare has a most prodigious list of bottles stocked in a cellar room just peekaboo visible behind the bar.  It was an amazing list full of semi-rarities like Cantillon Cuvee des Champions and Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek but my goal was to drink local.  Unfortunately, Zoe didn’t appear anywhere on the reference book sized menu.  As I scanned it, slightly disappointed, looking for something else, I heard a woman whisper to the bartender, “Another Zoe,” as if divulging a secret password.

When the bartender returned to me I curiously inquired, “You got Zoe?”  Indeed they did have the sexy thing in the thin and sultry needle-nosed bottles I’d heretofore only seen Pliny the Elder employ.  The pour was darker than expected, more deep purple than amber but the smell was all fresh and bitter grapefruity hops.  The taste was even better.  A bitter explosion in the mouth, perfectly carbonated and tingly, tastes of tropical fruits yet still balanced perfectly with a strong malt backbone.  Simply put, it’s the best amber out there now, even better than the quintessential one Nugget Nectar.  If I lived in Maine, I’d be drinking Zoe weekly.  (Which actually might be harder to do than you think, even if you do live in Maine!)

A

Afterward, I was lucky enough to meet the progenitor of “Zoe” and the progenitors of Zoe–Maine Beer Company co-brewmaster David Kleban and his wife whose daughter the beer is named after–who coincidentally happened to be drinking at the bar.  While David’s wife cutely and ironically informed me that she typically imbibes “girlie” cocktail drinks, David told me that Portland gets a mere 144 bottles a week of Zoe–all he and his co-brewmaster brother Dan are able to make–and it goes fast.  Heckuva nice couple and helluva great beer.  I implore you to do whatever you can to find this stuff.

I also tried David’s Peeper Ale.  A no-frills quotidian pale ale that was nonetheless quite delicious.  Citrusy and yeasty, a perfectly delightful session beer.  Unfortunately, I drank it after Zoe which I was still drooling over.

B+

According to Beer Advocate, the Maine Beer boys have one other beer I’d sure kill to get my hands on, a draft only stout called Mean Old Time, which sounds like a perfect way to complete this exciting new brewery’s tasting trifecta.

*Novare Res instantly makes my top 10 beer bars (east coast) list and might be #1 overall in my ambience rankings.

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-

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+

Rising Moon Spring Ale

January 28th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Coors, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Amber Ale

5.4% ABV

To whom it may concern:

I’ve had a pretty good life.  Stellar health, insane handsomeness, an academic accolade or two, two wildly successful blogs, I’ve kissed a few girls (heck, kissed a few guys after Syracuse won the 2003 title), and once I was even kinda hit on by a drunken Kyra Sedgwick before Kevin Bacon arrived and whisked her into a cab.  I don’t have much to complain about.  But the weather outside is miserable, I’m turning 30 in thirteen day, and I just can’t take this cruel world any more.

To off myself I pour a glass of the shitty faux-microbrewery Blue Moon’s spring offering Rising Sun.  My friend, the late Taco Town Dave tipped me off to the poison-like qualities of this beer before it caused his ultimate demise just last weekend.  RIP TTD.

The smell is pungent, like one of those plastic squeeze bottle of fake lemon and lime juice.  No, even worst than that.  It’s downright zesty, like if one were to drink that powdered lemon dish detergent.  I recall in first grade when, to try and get her students excited (!) about learning to read, my teacher told us a s’posed-to-be apocryphal story about the adult illiterate who bought dish detergent thinking it was lemonade powder due to the lemon picture on the box.  That woman died.  Lesson:  if only she’d learned how fun reading is.  Teachers have such dumb teaching strategies.

I’m started to think if that illiterate really existed she had actually just bought Rising Sun.  I’m sure the autopsy couldn’t tell a difference.  The findings would probably be inconclusive.  Did she drink lemon dish detergent or Rising Sun?  My motor senses are slowing down, the poison quickly coarsing through my veins, affecting my CNS.  I’m typing with just my pinkie, the only appendage still with a range of motion.

I have about half the beer down.  My breath is gonna reek when they find my body.  Smells of cheap malts and foil.  I feel like I have ate a tin can.  If my leg muscles hadn’t paralysised I would walk to the bathroom and do a Scope gargle.

This is not a pleasant way to die.  I should have jumped off the GW Bridge, leapt in front of the A train, insulted Al Sharpton, anything else.  Getting this whole beer down is worse than waterboarding.  It’s like my uvula is being waterboarded by citric acid.  President Obama, please send this beer to Gitmo.  I hear there is some space now.

Four sips left.  My vision’s getting blurry.  Three sips.  I can feel my liver is failing.  Two more.  My heart is slowing as if I’m in a waking coma.  One.  My brain function is Teri Schiavo-ing…

Goodbye cruel world.  Hit “publish.”

Yrs,

AMG (1979-2009)

F

Sixpoint Hop Obama Ale

October 6th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Sixpoint, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Amber Ale

5.2% ABV from a growler

Any one who is a drinker and also a cell phone owner has at one time or another also been a drunken cell phone loser. To steal a line from a friend, I am a professional cell phone loser. I thought I was too old for this shit, mature enough to–even wasted–hang onto my possessions and my dignity. But apparently not. For you see, I lost another cell phone Friday night. In fact, I think with over a decade of cell phone usage, I’ve only been able to hang onto one phone until I was finally done with it and actually ready to purchase a new one.

So here I present an ode to cell phones I’ve lost over the years. All while I had over-the-limit BACs of course. But I’ll claim that might be coincidence rather than causation. You can decide for yourself.

I came into cell phone ownership kinda late I guess, not getting my first device til late-2000. That was back when phones were well-made and could actually last forever. Not the plastic pieces of shit they produce nowadays. Back then you actually hung onto a phone for a long time both because they weren’t pumping out new, exciting models every week and forcing you to keep up with the Joneses and also because why would one need to keep getting a new phone every year if their current one still worked? That first phone lasted me until May of 2003 when I attended a friend’s wedding in Philadelphia which I was the best man in. The ill-fitting tuxedo pants I wore–aren’t all rental tuxedo pants ill-fitting what with that elastic cincher in the waistband–had the loosest, deepest pockets and every time I sat down my phone and wallet would shoot from them like a fat kid on a Slip N Slide. Of course, by the time I got drunk and got into a cab to head to the after-party, I was no longer closely monitoring my pocket situation. When I got to the bar the phone was gone, and in it the phone number of a girl I was to meet up with that night. This would start a longstanding tradition of continually meeting girls and having their numbers only listed in my phone when I lose it, thus causing me to have no chance of setting up potentially exciting late-night rendezvouses. Amazingly, returning to New York the next day, I finally got a hold of the cabbie whose taxi I lost my phone in and he remarkably went to a FedEx and mailed it back to me. Good Samaritan of the century.

Unfortunately, this little incident wouldn’t teach me a lesson. To reverse a famous maxim: A genius learns from others’ mistakes. A smart man learns from his own. An idiot keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again. I must be an idiot.

Cell number two I lost while drinking hard on a Friday night. There is no interesting story surrounding that. Saturday morning I headed to Best Buy to pick out a new phone where a salesman that looked and behaved like a happy-go-lucky Al Sharpton helped me out. Luckily I was past the rebate time of two years so I got a $350 phone for free. I headed to an all-Indian Halloween bash that night where I drank some spiked “witch’s brew” punch that musta really effed me up cause I don’t recall anything after midnight. I awoke the next day with nothing in my pants pockets save matchbooks from like fifteen different bars over a several miles radius in midtown. I borrowed my roommate’s phone to call the chick who hosted the party, to see if maybe I left my phone at her pad. She answered the phone with great truculence. “Uh…hey, Rita, did I happen to leave my phone at your apartment?” She paused for an interminable amount of time before asking me if I recalled what happened the previous night. Nope. She told me I had thrown an hors d’oeuvres tray out of her highrise apartment’s window and into the courtyard. And then several male guests had to forcibly remove me from the party. *CLICK* Burned bridge. I marched back to the same Best Buy I’d been just twenty-four hours earlier. I went up to Al Sharpton. “Do you remember me?” “Sure do.” “Do you remember that phone I bought yesterday?” “Sure do.” “I’ll take another one.” This time I paid the full $350 being that I’d only owned my previous phone for a day and there is no rebate offer on owning a phone for only a day.

Phone number four was an absolute beauty, the most expensive and cherished phone I’d ever bought in my life. I had it from May 2005 til my 27th birthday in February of 2006. That night I got shitcanned on the Lower East Side which lead to the absolute worst hook-up of my life with some Hell’s Kitchen hood rat. The day I tell that story in full I will cause 75% of my readers to vomit, 80% to quit speaking to me, and 100% of females to ignore me for the rest of time. I think the girl may have stolen the phone from me as I awoke the next morning to find her gone and my phone too. I was so ashamed that I didn’t leave the house for quite a while after that and next bought a real cheapy piece of crap cell to replenish the filched one. A few days after I bought the new phone, the first friend listed in my cell’s directory got a call. Some Latino kids claiming they’d found my cell in a 7-11 parking lot in White Plains. They wanted a reward of $500 for it. I told them several sexual acts they could do to themselves.

Phone number five–the aforementioned cheapy–actually lasted until I was done with it. I hated that fucking phone. Why did I never lose that one?!

And phone number six was my most recent one. My second favorite device I’ve ever had.

Again, my friends and I were drinking on the lower east side. Trouble always happens when I leave the numbered streets and drink below Houston. I don’t think I was drunk but then again, pre-barring before heading out, a friend and I had split an entire Whole Foods growler of Hop Obama. The second election-themed special release beer I’ve had this year, I’d been looking to try it for a while. To quote the brewery, “In keeping with the Illinois senator’s unifying theme, the ‘Hop Obama’ is an indefinable ale that doesn’t adhere to traditional style guidelines.” It poured a gorgeous rich amber color. It was darker than I expected and tons more bitter too. Nice hops came through as well. Tasted more like a bitter or even a weak IPA than the amber ale it is listed as. Overall, I enjoyed it the more I indulged in it, though it wasn’t quite as drinkable as you would think a 5.2% beer to be. If ‘Bam is elected I’m assuming Sixpoint will make this a regular release. That would be nice.

As I said, though we drank til 4 AM I don’t believe I was that wasted. In fact, I had met two girls that night and gotten both’s e-mail addresses. I don’t get phone numbers because I actually hate talking on the phone. And, drinking with an out-of-town friend on Friday, leaving him for a one-night stand was simply not in the cards. I recall getting the second girl’s info around 3:30 but by the time my friends and I had hailed a cab around 3:45, my phone was gone. I still don’t know where it went.

From 3:45 til 5 AM as we ate greasy food and played hockey on XBox, we called my phone, then again all day Saturday and Sunday. I was actually blown away that my phone was still ringing. I was so pissed at myself, my stupidity, that I decided to flagellate myself by buying a cheap phone next time, like one of those plastic disposable ones the gangsters on “The Wire” use. However, I refuse to buy the new one until my lost phone has quit ringing, thus signally the batteries are dead and thus no one will ever be able to locate me.

Amazingly, all day today my countless friends have called my phone countless times. And it continues to ring. Some sixty hours after I lost it and around seventy hours after I charged it last. I don’t think I knew a phone could stay charged so long.

I’d finally given up hope, fully planning on buying a new phone tonight, when just an hour ago, with the battery power surely in the red, some guy in Queens finally answered my phone. Worried about the battery cutting him off, he quickly gave his cell phone number and address. And in just a few minutes I will train out to Astoria to meet with him. What a nice guy. And another lesson not learned by The Vice Blogger. Goddamn I’m a lucky son of a bitch.

B

Budweiser American Ale

September 21st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: C regular, Style: Amber Ale

5.1% ABV bottled

Aside from those Domino’s oven-baked sandwich commercials and the inexplicable Dr. Pepper spots in which an aging Julius Erving plays beer pong by himself, no product has been as advertised on TV this fall as Budweiser’s new American Ale.  Yet for the past month or so I’ve been unable to find it.  The first Anheuser-Busch product I’ve wanted in my entire life and I simply could not locate it.  That changed last night as I finally stumbled upon some and greedily snapped it up.

The nicely designed bottle label sure makes it look like a respectable beer and the pour was downright craft brewery-looking.  A rich amber color, could have easily been mistaken for a beer from a skilled microbrewery rather than an assembly line suds factory.

Not too much smell and nothing more than adequate flavor.  A marginal effort I suppose, but a sour finish and a certain heft doesn’t even make it as drinkable as you’d expect this kind of swill to be.  It’s very “safely” made, Anheuser’s uninspired version of a Killian’s Irish Red I suppose.  I would probably only drink it again if the only other choices were light macrobeers.  And it’s not like I’d relish that.

Honestly, I don’t understand the point of this beer.  It’s nowhere near good enough for beer snobs to enjoy, yet is too “weird,” “dark,” and complex for macro-swilling hillbillies to tipple.  Too fancypants they’ll say.  I predict this beer finds no market and ends up as the Crystal Pepsi of the industry but, you know, without the Van Halen crap-rock soundtrack.

C

Troegs Nugget Nectar

September 17th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Tröegs, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Amber Ale

7.5% ABV bottled

For years, I’ve lived just a dozen or so blocks from the Trump Riverside complex and never thought much of it.  I just assumed the buildings housed your typical breed of Manhattanite high-rise-living stereotypes.  Then, this weekend, needing to get from Hudson River Park across to see a friend on the Upper West Side I decided to take a route that cut a swath through the middle of the massive development.  And, oh boy, was I quickly on another planet, man.  It was like an Oz in the middle of New York, a total self-sustaining upper-upper-class commune of the kind of yuppies you only see in movies.  Powerful forty- and fifty-something finance-type men with their thinning hair, primary color Polos pulled taut over their respectable paunches, slightly too-short pairs of those navy shorts that are kinda like a rich man’s version of cut-offs (if the material cut off was from a discarded pair of Boss suit pants), and Cole-Haan loafers, worn sockless natch.  Walking the sidewalks of their secluded high-rise villa holding hands with their younger never-had-a-job-before trophy wives as each partner used their one free hand to push a massive SUV stroller that costs more than two-month’s rent for plebes like me and you.  It was eye-opening I must say.

As I mentioned, the Trump Riverside community is seemingly totally self-sustaining, but this is no kibbutz, brother, not like these folks are growing their own maize and hemp, so of course they have to have their own fancy-pants stores.  And I shouldn’t have been surprised to come across their supermarket, a gourmet place called Jubilee.  Now, I’m like an old lady who has to go into every antique shoppe she comes upon to look for dumb knick-knacks, as I am cosmically compelled to enter every new supermarket or beer store I come upon, despite the fact that I was overstocked with supply at the time.

I was not surprised in the least to see that Jubilee had a phenomenal beer supply, surely one of the biggest grown up soda secret stashes in Manhattan.  All sorts of oddball stuff I had never seen before and in many cases never even heard of before.  I was psyched to see literally just a single loose bottle of Nugget Nectar (and for only a buck fifty!).  A buzz-worthy beer that I know is not so rare, at least in PA, but which never makes it to NYC.  I also realize it is quite a bit out of season as it appears to release in February–and was no doubt on the Jubilee shelf since then–but for such a hopbomb I don’t think that should have mattered freshness-wise.  I could be wrong.

God, I loved the smell of this one.  Like inhaling a Christmas tree.  And the taste is about as hoppy, piney, and floral as they come.  Right up my alley.  A nocturnal emission for hopheads.  Not exactly sure why this isn’t an IPA, but whatever they want to call it, I loved it.

A-

Fat Tire Amber Ale

September 10th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: New Belgium, Country: America, Grade: C plus, Style: Amber Ale

PREVIOUSLY ON MY TOP TEN MOST WANTED LIST

5.2% ABV

Sometimes you’ve yearned for something for so long that you forget why you ever wanted it in the first place. Such is the case with Fat Tire. I can’t recall why I wanted to try it initially, but I know I first had the desire sometime back in the early oughts when the best beer I’d ever had in my life at that point was probably still Arrogant Bastard.

As I moved through life on my beer-drinking journey, amassing brews like Charles Foster Kane amassed objets d’art to fill up Xanadu, I always had Fat Tire in the back of my mind as one I needed to acquire. Yeah, I knew it wasn’t that highly-regarded, I knew it wasn’t rare at all if one lived in the dozen or so states in the middle of America where it got distribution, but I still wanted the motherfucker. In fact, it was almost a dirty little joke on me that New Belgium stocks this beer in literally all six states that touch and surround Oklahoma–the state of my upbringing and where my parents and numerous friends still live–yet doesn’t distribute it actually in OK. I assume this is due to the Sooner State’s pansy-ass alcohol laws. Thus, I couldn’t even get Fat Tire on my rare trips back to God’s country.

Luckily, a Manhattan friend of mine recently got sent down to Texas for some business. And, after picking up his capo’s shipment of illegal narcotics and firearms run across from Mexico, he had plenty of time to peruse the local beer shops and bring me some Fat Tire back. I should note that I think my New York friends are starting to dread leaving town as I always hint hint tell that about all the great beers in the region they’re going to.

“Oh, you’re going to (city/state/country/area)? You don’t say. Wow, guess you’ll get to try all those great _____ brews. Yum. Wish they distributed those in New York. Guess I’ll never get to try them. But you be sure to have some and report back.”

“Aaron, are you saying you want me to bring some of those home for you?”

“If you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind. I’ll just be sure not to pack any extra socks, shoes, underwear, toiletries, or reading materials so I have space in my luggage for all your bottles.”

So I finally got to try Fat Tire.

And it bored the heck out of me.

The bottle design is as beautiful as can be and the pour is indeed gorgeous.  Everything was going to plan at least initially.  But the first smells and tastes were kinda weak.  Almost like an apple cider.  A kid’s drink.  Minimal flavor.  It wasn’t bad, just nothing special.  A decent session beer I suppose and if I’m ever in a place that distributes it I want to give it a second shot as I also think my friend’s refrigerator might have chilled this one a tad too much (and I was too dipsomaniacal to wait for it to cool a few degrees).  I’d especially like to give it a whirl on tap.  But, as for now, I really didn’t love my first experience with Fat Tire at all.

Oh well, don’t hate me Colorado…

C+

Pinetree Ale

July 10th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: House Beer, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Amber Ale

No clue on ABV. Draught.

As mentioned before, I have somewhat of a perverted fascination with “house” beers. I rightfully expect them to be awful macro beers, co-opted by the shitty little dive bar in question and given a new name. I always order a bar’s house beer to at least give it a go, even when I would never order the actual beer that it is if I knew the truth.

Such was the case when I visited the Pinetree Lodge over the weekend, a Catskill ski lodge-themed dive seemingly run exclusively by sexy Polish and other Eastern European women and which is so far eastward in Manhattan that it is almost on Randall’s Island.

Their beer list is deplorable so of course I got a pint of the house beer, fully expecting it to blow. Surprisingly, though, it was good, damn good. A reddish, amber ale with some serious body. A nice head and very tasty.

However, I absolutely could not ID the beer that it “really” was. I’m not even sure it was an ale. It was kinda like Sam Adam Boston Ale or maybe Brooklyn Lager, but sweeter and more frothy. Kinda like Killian’s Red but, you know, actually tasteful. The closest I can compare it to is maybe a Troegs Hopback, but there’s no way they would have that as their house beer. Was I in a good mood, were my masterful tastebuds off, or was this truly a good beer? After almost a dozen more pints and a large tab I had no choice but to unequivocally call the beer good. And, it was the purest of taste tests that got me to this conclusion, one where I couldn’t rush to beeradvocate.com to confirm my thoughts vis-a-vis the masses (something I usually only do after posting my reviews).

I ain’t gonna tell you to make a special trip to Pinetree Lodge–especially cause I want the Big Buck Hunter Safari machine to be always available–but if you’re ever in the neighborhood committing a crime or sightseeing the Midtown Tunnel, step by and grab a pint to confirm whether I’m crazy or whether a house beer is truly an…

A-