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Archive for the ‘Style: Belgian Strong Dark 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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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!!!

Gouden Carolus Easter Beer

April 1st, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brouwerij Het Anker, Country: Belgium, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

10% ABV on tap

Ever had an Easter beer before?  Nope.  Ever even heard of an Easter beer before?  Nope.  Then we’ll call Gouden Carolus Easter the best of this most minor sub-style and what an apropos paragon it is.  (Fittingly, there are no Passover related beers as Jews just get loaded on wines during the holiday–”It’s ceremonial, man!”)  I had this pricey $10 goblet of beer on tap during my first ever sojourn to the East Village’s most unique Burp Castle the other night and went away quite impressed.  A straight up boozy assault, this one is not for the faint of heart.  Absurdly complex with a most unique melange of flavors.  It’s easy to come up with unique and specific flavors for a holiday like Christmas (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc), but what are the specific flavors of Easter?  I have no clue aside from Cadbury-ness, but this beer is loaded with rich dark fruits like raisins, candi sugar, a Brandy-like quality, but an underlying hint of banana esters, Belgian hops, and subtle spices.  Syrupy and viscous, a sipper for sure, but I savored every one of those tiny eye drop sips of this beer.  Honestly, I have no clue how available or unavailable this beer is as I’d never seen it before, but I can’t recommend trying it enough–I’ve yet to have anything but a great beer from Het Anker–and downing a bottle of this by yourself would certainly be a lot more fun on Sunday than looking for eggs and shit.


Monk’s Blood

December 23rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: 21st Amendment, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

My mom gets mad I rarely call her.  The last girl I dated was always upset that I solely communicated with her via text.  Shit, the last few years of women have been perpetually perturbed that they only get electronic communiques from me.  And I kinda always felt bad about that.  But last night, while drunk on some Monk’s Blood, I started thinking–what the fuck was I apologizing for?!

You’re considered a rube or a pathetic sentimentalist when it comes to hanging on to the technologies of a bygone era, except when it comes to how you deal with women.  If you don’t own a cell phone or claim ignorance with how to use a computer nowadays, you’re rightfully mocked.  If you listen to vinyl records or read the dirty newsprint newspaper every morning you’re correctly labeled an eccentric.  But if you only text or e-mail the women in your life you’re considered a bad son and an a-hole of a boyfriend (by them).  I’m here to say, though, that that shouldn’t be the case.

I’m sure women were up in arms in the 1850s when men started sending them telegraphs instead of handwritten letters (ARE WE STILL ON FOR NEW MICHAEL BAY MOVIE STOP MEET YOU AT DOWNTOWN CINEPLEX AT EIGHT STOP WE CAN GET ICE CREAM AT COLD STONE AFTERWARD STOP).  And I’m sure they were likewise angry when, all of the sudden in the 1960s, they were being called on the phone and no longer getting handwritten letters or telegraphs.  In the 1980s women probably got mad when men left messages on their answering machines instead of calling back until they got a hold of them.  And now as we close in on 2010, women are mad that I’m e-mailing and texting them instead of calling them?!  Look, let me break it to you ladies, my voice is nice enough but it’s not exactly the kind of sexily sonorous George Clooney timbre that’s gonna instantly moisten your knickers.  You don’t need to actually hear me as I send more than enough texts and e-mails and am always reachable.

If you’re mad I don’t call you enough then you should be mad I don’t send you enough telegraphs and don’t hand-write you enough letters and don’t graffiti enough highway overpasses for you and don’t slap paint on enough cave walls for you.  But you’re not, because those technologies have passed into history and soon phone calls will too.  Oh shit!  Am I going to have to video chat with these women in my life in the very near future?!  OK, OK, OK, a few phone calls every now and then will be just fine!  Just please don’t make me video chat!!!!!

I’d liked the one or two 21st Amendment brews I’d had in my life–never enough to formally review them, nor enough to purchase for at-home consumption–but I got a very respectable tip that Monk’s Blood was a huge winner.  Indeed it was, one of the more unique beers I’ve had this winter.  Self-labeled as a Belgian dark ale brewed with cinnamon, vanilla, oak chips, and dried figs, this is more like the most boozy winter warmer you’ve ever tasted.  Really unique and enjoyable, crazy complex, I’m going to be enjoying these ass-kicking but drinkable (and affordable!) cans for the next month at least.  You should too.


The Bruery 2 Turtle Doves

December 16th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie d'Achouffe, Brewer: High Point, Brewer: Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, Brewer: The Bruery, Country: America, Country: Belgium, Grade: A-, Grade: A-/B+, Grade: B plus, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Style: Wheat (Hefeweizen)

12% ABV on tap

“You’re not sthupposed to review that.”

I turned to see some weaselly-looking pot-bellied virgin in a Blue Point pullover addressing me.  He had a slight lisp which is always more annoying than a full lisp for some reason*.

“’scuse me?”  Usually when I go to beer bars to geek out I go by myself and at off-hours so no one will see me nor bother me, the same strategy most XXX theater fanatics employ.

“You’re not sthupposed to officially review sthuch a small serving size.”

The pot-bellied weasel aimed his unkempt pointer finger at the flight of four beers I’d just ordered.  Rattle ‘n’ Hum was hosting a winter beer blowout and with dozens of brews I wanted to try and only an hour or two to spare on a Tuesday afternoon, I had no time for full pours.

The pot-bellied weasel had apparently seen me making a few reviewing notes on my iphone and, wanting to show off the sort of annoying pedagogy that would assure a lonely life for him, had pounced on me.

“You’re sthupposed to at least have an eight ounce pour to officially review something.  You’re not sthupposed to review so many beers in one sitting either.”  He started into a stuttering chuckle.  “You’re what, what, what we call a ‘ticker.’  Someone who tries to quickly review as many beers as possible just to say they drank them.”

I smiled knowingly and calmly, sipped one of the four beers in front of me.  I like being berated by asocial nerds with slight lisps.  It’s like getting dressed down by Don Rickles except totally the opposite.  I said nothing.

“I’m just telling you for your own good, man.”

The pot-bellied weasel had finished his rant and looked down, ashamed of his standing in life.

“What are you, on Beer Advocate?” I finally spoke.

“BA?  Yes I am.”

“What’s your user name?  I bet it’s something like stoutslurper69 or something.”

“I’m totallyhopsome.”

“And your avatar?  Which ‘Star Trek: The New Generation’ character did you pick?  Data or Geordi La Forge?”

He didn’t respond as I quickly looked up his profile on my iphone.

“Ah…Number Six.  Sexy.”

I held up one of my tiny glasses of beer.

“Let me tell you something.  It’s just beer.  Repeat after me:  it’s just beer.  Just a liquid.  You see, cool people like me use this liquid to enhance our lives.  We use it to make us feel good, to help us celebrate life, to aid in our understanding of the universe.  I’m already interesting enough as it is but this beer is going to make me even more interesting and in a few hours I’ll use that turbo-boost of charisma to perhaps pick up a woman, take her home, and then Greco-Roman wrestle with her.  So yeah, I suppose my beer reviews could be lacking, but at least I like myself.”

I may not go back to a bar for the rest of the month as over-flowing NYC bars seem to be currently divided between these people that don’t like themselves at all and people that like themselves a little too much.  Rattle ‘n’ Hum last night was a Sharks and Jets battle between these two incredibly annoying populations.  On one side we had a bunch of drunken yahoos who had just come from their official work Christmas parties.  Idiots in cheap suits and tacky skirts, flirting with that fat HR girl, the guido idiot in the mailroom.  Ripping on their a-hole bosses.  Slobbering, slurring, trying to dance.  What happens at the Christmas party stays at the Christmas party and I unfortunately had to witness it.

On the other side we had the self-loathing beer geeks, pedantic in their pseudo-scientific non-enjoyment of beer, embarrassing in the nerdy browbeating way they ordered from the bartenders (”Uh…could I have a tulip glass please!”), pitiable in the “big dick contest” way they bragged about what saught-after beers they’d tried recently, aloof in how they presented their disgusting visages to the world.  You’d think the kind of person that cares so much about the look, smell, and craftsmanship of a silly liquid would care as equally much about the look, smell, and craftsmanship of their own person.  Naw, better to just rip on beers with bad carbonation than to worry about getting the orange wax out of your ears and do a few deep-knee bends.

Flying solo I had just four beers, all in smallish serving vessels the geek was right, but you’d have to be a dunce not to “understand” these beers after only 4 or 5 ounces:

I love the concept of The Bruery’s 12 Days of Christmas vertical and I too one day, when I open my own brewery, hope to have my own holiday themed vertical:  The 10 Plagues of Passover series.  (”Trade you two Death of the First Born quads for a Locusts barley wine?”)  2 Turtle Doves is, no duh, the second in the series set to conclude on Jesus’s bday 2019 when I’ll be 40 years old, still unmarried and without kids, but with 12 dusty bottles of beer to drink.  Yay for having dreams!  2 Turtle Doves is another boozy winner from The Bruery, maybe the most buzz worthy beermakers around at this second in time.  Chocolaty, nutty, caramely and roasted with perhaps some dark fruit flavors, slightly sour, a cordial finish, it gets better with each sip.  Glad I have several bottles of this.  A-

N’ice Chouffe is an odd little bird.  Like a Christmasy Belgian strong pale.  Which is as exotic and weird as it sounds.  Spicy and yeasty, a true Belgian take on a winter warmer.  A-/B+

I’d been searching for Ramstein Winter Wheat for awhile as I’d heard this New Jersey–New Jersey?!–offering was in the Aventinus ballpark.  Ha, not quite.  Aventinus is an utter masterpiece and a paradigm of the weizenbock style.  Ramstein Winter Wheat is dark and boozy hot, especially for a mere 9.5% beer, packed with banana esters and cloves, a little lacking in complexity, flavor, and expected silkiness.  Still enjoyable though.  B+

Pretty Things Babayaga is a rich and roasty 7% stout with a nice thick but not too viscous of mouthfeel.  It apparently has rosemary in it which I love in concept–it’s a favored addition to naan for me–but don’t taste in execution.  A solid effort but not sui generis or extraordinary.  Like the best crafted Guinness Extra Stout you’ve ever had.  B+

*I greatly admire the genius that decided to name the condition for people that can’t speak correctly a word that they could never pronounce correctly.  Listhp.  Maybe that’s the true test.  As soon as you can pronounce lisp correctly, son, then we’ll know you don’t have one no more.

The Bruery Autumn Maple

October 13th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Clipper City, Brewer: The Bruery, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Style: Pumpkin Ale

10% ABV bottled


I have just recovered from a big four-day drinking weekend down in Washington, D.C., highlighted by my first ever visit to Rustico’s Oktoberfest.  Luckily, it was a little drizzly out which kept the kind of drinking element away who only hears about events in this world courtesy of “morning zoo” DJs while listening to Top 40 radio.  The overt beer geek element was fairly low too for that matter, now that I think about it, though I did see one dweeb in a Kate the Great shirt proudly trying to get his picture taken with a “St. Pauli Girl” whose boobs were veinier than Iggy Pop’s arms.  It was mostly an Alexandria/Arlington lot of MILFy women in giant fuck-me boots with even gianter rocks on their hands and pushing the most giantest strollers you done ever seen.  As much as I wanted to hate on these women for pushing SUV-sized strollers of crying babies through a beer festival, I was actually kind of jealous that these runner-up trophy wives got their own portable cupholders for them to place their beers in while showing off their engagement rings to other yentas or while holding hands with their latently homosexual husbands.  But I digress.

I think I have now well exceeded my amount of fall seasonal beers for 2009 and like the smart kid in elementary school, I may need to skip a grade all the way to winter drinking.  I tell ya’, if I never see a malty marzen or a pumpkiny pumpkin beer again this year, it might be too soon.  Some of my fall seasonal highlights of the Oktoberfest, all which I’d score an A- minimum:

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Avery The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest
Bear Republic Late Harvest Oktoberfest
Clipper City Heavy Seas - Prosit! Oktoberfest (cask)

(Surprisingly, my lowlight of the weekend, besides passing out wasted at 8:30 PM on Saturday night, was Flying Dog’s Dogtoberfest, recently awarded the gold medal in the marzen category at the Great American Beer Festival.  I found it to be a stunningly awful malt mess and since I had no drain nearby to pour it down, I had to resort to dumping onto the parking lot near the Port-o-Potty release plug.  Fitting.)

But my two highlights for the weekend would be Clipper City’s Heavy Seas - The Great Pumpkin and The Bruery’s Autumn Maple.  I had The Great Pumpkin on cask and I have to say, flat out, it is the best pumpkin beer I have ever had by an order of magnitude.  Well outperforming such legendary luminaries as Southern Tier’s Pumking and Dogfish Head’s Punkin, my previously-thought-to-be two best in the category.  The Great Pumpkin tastes like if you just dunked your head in a giant pumpkin pie.  It’s probably the most pumpkin-tasting pumpkin I’ve ever had as it doesn’t suffer from the over-spicing a lot of pumpkin ales do.  And it’s so silky and creamy, oozing down your throat as smooth as a nitro Guinness.  Whereas even the best pumpkin ales one grows sick of after a pint or two, this was the one beer I kept revisiting at the festival, going back to the cask booth time after time after time.  I really wish I had a cask of this in my house right now, it was that good.  Perhaps it was the fact that it was my first ever pumpkin beer on cask–I got to compare The Great Pumpkin side-by-side on tap and it simply lacked the same oomph the cask version had–but this one deserves legendary status.  A very impressive effort for Baltimore’s Clipper City.


Now, full disclosure, Autumn Maple was actually the only beer I have discussed today that wasn’t available at the Oktoberfest but I did happen to try it the very same day.  A damn shame it wasn’t at the festival, because this might be the finest “Oktober” beer around.  Like most The Bruery beers this is a most unique creation.  Instead of opting to make a pumpkin beer for fall like everyone else, the boys from Orange County opted for a sweet potato beer.*  Huh?!!!  Mmmmm, actually.  Yams and maple syrup, tons of classic pumpkiny spices, this beer absolute worked for me and along with The Great Pumpkin has to be maybe the best seasonal beer out currently.  I know most The Bruery beers are a little pricey compared to other American options, but don’t be scared off in this case.  I’m shocked that it merely gets a B on Beer Advocate because this is very much a solid…


*Perhaps for a lack of a category at the moment, BA lists Autumn Maple as a Belgian Strong Dark.  Whatever.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic

October 6th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Cure for the Common Cold

The say you should treat the common cold with lots of fluids, tons of medicine, and plenty of rest.  Yeah, that shit never works.  But a thing that does work is binge-drinking.  Think about it, does not heavy imbibing of beer handle the “lots” of fluids, “tons” of medicine, and, eventually, force you to have “plenty” of rest?  Swimmingly it does, I might add.

Firstly, drinking oodles and oodles of ounces of ounces of the cocktail made with two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen is so boring and unflavorful.  Not like beer.  Secondly, swallowing big ol’ horse pills of ear, nose, throat, and head pain relievers is no easy task.  Unlike throwing some beer down your gullet.  And no one likes to force themselves to rest, so why not drink yourself into a sleepy oblivion?

I mean, why do you think ER patients in intense pain are sometimes forced into a coma?  So that they won’t have to experience all the terrible things happening to them as the recover from trauma.  Why have a “lost weekend” when you’re well?  A lost weekend when you’re in tip-top shape will involve missing all sorts of fun.  Hanging with friends, partying, playing with girls, and general revelry.  When you sober up and hear what you missed while you were blacked out you’re always inevitably pissed.  But, a “lost weekend” or week, in some cases, while you’re sick?  Why that’s genius!  Start drinking heavily and next thing you know you will have missed several days of a groggy head, pulsating sinus pressure, hacking up a lung and ejecting all sorts of green stuff from your nose, as well as being forced to watch daytime TV (although “Family Feud” continues to be hypnotizingly addictive).

As someone who is currently sick from the common cold, I can tell you that nothing can and will heal this pain save time.  So, I’ll just have to ignore it.  I will have to become a sort of drunken time traveler.  Start drinking heavily right now, and next thing I know, I’ll have woken up flawlessly well on Friday morning, totally having avoided the expected misery of this week.  Like a bear hibernating through the coldly harsh months.

The only drawback to drinking while sick is that your sense of smell and taste are too FUBAR to fully enjoy the great craft beer you’re drinking.  Alas, everything does have its debits.  Then again, some beers are so aromatic and so flavorful that even a man without a face could enjoy them.  The new Stone Vertical Epic comes to mind.

I’ve kinda been down on Stone lately.  Stone was the first craft brewery I loved and I’ve long considered it THE best craft brewery in America, but lately I’ve been fairly disenchanted with them.  I was beginning to wonder if Stone could just no longer compete with some upstart breweries or whether the ubiquity of Stone products and the amount of each of them I’ve enjoyed over the years had finally made me familiarly contemptuous of them.  Glad to say that with their recent super-hopped 13th Anniversary Ale, and now especially 09.09.09, Stone is still firing on all cylinders.

09.09.09 is quite a subtly unique little beer.  Like a dubbel mixed with a banana rich weisenbock in a way.  Flavors of mixed orange and chocolate with hints of vanilla bean as well as some oakiness too.  A very nicely crafted beer and certainly not to be missed.  All hail Stone, they are certainly still the kings.  And if they had a stupid little 200 bottle special release party for some new wild ale or tequila-barreled porter, they’d go back to getting the attention they rightfully deserve.  Shit, I just hope I can get a bottle of that tequila-barreled porter!


Avery Demons of Ale

June 9th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Avery, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Style: English Strong Ale

With the first “Demon,” Mephistopheles’ Stout being a smashing (and I-got-smashed) A+ success for me, I thought it about time I try the other two ass-kicking and hard-to-photograph brews from the line, and luckily my friend DW hooked me up with a bottle of each last week.

The Beast Grand Cru

16.31% ABV bottled (Batch 6; 2008)

How does this beer get a B+ on Beer Advocate?  That is mind-boggling to me.  Just tells me that many BAers are ninnies that can’t handle a 16.31% asskicking.  This is very much not a subtle beer.  But, nor am I a subtle man and every day Avery gets closer and closer to being the official brewery of my life.  The Beast is so, so fragrant, you can almost smell it through the glass bottle.  Sugary and boozy, like a port or sherry.  This is one tasty brew too.  Drinking it, I had no clue what it was.  A barley wine?  Perhaps a quad?  “Technically,” it’s considered a Belgian strong dark ale and goddamn is it muscular.  Boozy, rummy, raisiny, with a syrupy mouthfeel full of yeast, bread, and pure deliciousness.  Took me a couple of hours to put this beauty down and by then I had been humiliated.  I was asleep mere seconds after finishing the bottle.  There are weaker lethal injections fluids currently on the market.  Instantly one of my new favorite beers.  To quote George Bluth, Sr., “I am having a love affair” with The Beast.


Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale

16.45% ABV bottled (April 2009; batch 5)

Samael’s Ale–product copy alert: “…the prince of demons, the angel of death, accuser and destroyer. Filled with enmity towards man, he planted the vine, the forbidden tree of paradise. Behold his venom and vengeance, both sweet and tempting, enticing you, his spellbound victim, within his wings…“–is easily the worst of the Demons of Ale line but that is just akin to being Playboy’s 12th hottest centerfold of the year. Pure maltiness, not a hint of hops, this sucker is bready and chewy.  Full of a caramel and vanilla oaked sweetness, this one is very woody too.  After Mephistopheles’ and The Beast this was a mild disappointment, but only compared to those lofty standards.  This is another sublime beer that’ll take you two hours to drink and will have you walking funny afterwards.


Avery, bring on more Demons!!!

Brooklyn Local 2

May 9th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

9% ABV from a 750 mLer

I typically have a steel trap of a memory, yet for some reason I can never recall important dates.  People’s birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, noted days of celebration.  Hell, I know for a fact that Mother’s Day is tomorrow yet I’ll probably still soon forget that fact.  Luckily, I got sisters to remind me of these things just in the nick of time for making a phone call to mom.  Women are always better at that stuff than guys.  They actually seem to care about essentially meaningless yearly occurrences.

I found myself this morning fighting of a hangover from last night’s drinking which included Brooklyn’s fairly new Local 2.  I wasn’t the hugest fan of Local 1, but this is a splendid example of a Belgian dark from one of my favorite American brewers.  A very light odor.  The taste is a tad more subtle than I expected with honey, orange peel, “raw wildflower honey” from an upstate NY farm, dark fruits, caramel, and a hint of chocolate along with the expected Belgian yeastiness and dark candi sugar all thrown together in the stunning 750 mL cork-and-caged 100% refermented bottle.  Kudos to the man, Garrett Oliver, yet again.

Now as I’m trying various methods to eliminate my hangover–pots of coffee, bacon greasiness, push-ups, Facebook fucking around, and bad movies on HBO–I begin to wonder how close I am to the one-year anniversary of this here Vice Blog.  Sure enough and not surprisingly, I’m a good four days late.  It was 369 days ago when I started the first incarnation of The Vice Blog on hipster blogging platform Tumblr with this poorly written and quite boring post.  I quickly realized that Tumblr lacked everything I possibly needed in a platform, switched to Wordpress, and the rest is history.  And by “history,” I mean like five people I know seem to bookmark this site.

I thought I might as well meaninglessly celebrate the first year (and four days) of The Vice Blog with a gratuitously egomaniacal “best of” poll below.  Please, none of you computer geeks out their spend all weekend creating a bot so as to hack my poll and get your preferred choice the victory.

Best of The VB's First Year?

View Results

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For a refresher course on the above options, here’s linkage to the above stories:

The Found Cell Phone (Part II) (Bangladeshi Mystery Whiskey)
Many Different Bars, Many Different Girls
(Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Stout)
Beer and Clam Broth? La combinacion perfecta!
(Bud Light Chelada)
Pitch ‘n’ Putt ‘n’ Get Yourself Drunk
Aaron Tries to Hard at “Friendly” Drinking Games
(Coors Light)
Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer Video Review
I Hate St. Patty’s Day
(Flat Earth Winter Warlock)
Aaron Visits a “North Country” New York Wal-Mart, He Will Never Be the Same
(Molson Export)
The Hooker Lottery
My Porno Hook-Up
(Samuel Adams Winter Lager)
Wrinkly Facebook
(Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner)
Sunrise on a Murphy Bed
The Vice Blogger and the Alkie
(Stone Ruination IPA)




Captain Lawrence Nor’Easter (3rd batch, 2008)

January 25th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Captain Lawrence, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

12% ABV from a bomber

Legend has it that noted Southern writer and drunkard William Faulkner would wake up most mornings after a night of heavy drinking certain that he had figured out the meaning of life the previous night.  Only problem was, now sober, he couldn’t remember what exactly he had realized while drunk.  Thus, the next night as he sat home imbibing alone he made sure to have a note pad at his side.  And, the next morning when he awoke prone on the floor, his head throbbing, a smile crossed his face as he stood up and promptly walked to his desk to find his notepad, which had scrawled on it in slurred handwriting his one brilliant thought from the previous evening:

“I’m drunk.”

I think we’ve all had great ideas while wasted only to realize they were simply great “ideas” once sobered up.  Tonight I had several offers for fun–a “Tiger Woods” Wii tournament in crazy ass Queens, some wine-drinking with a girl I just met down in the East Village–but, with the frigid temperatures and a desire for tranquility, I’ve decided to sit home drinking alone.

Luckily, I made a nice score today, finding Captain Lawrence’s semi-rare Nor’Easter at the Bowery Beer Room.  I was most excited as I had thought this limited quantity beer (only 225 cases, though, sadly, this beer “expert” still doesn’t know how many bombers are exactly in a case (help?)) was only available up at the Captain Lawrence Brewery in Pleasantville, New York and had already sold out even.

So, here’s the deal for this post, I’m gonna live blog as I get drunker and drunker throughout the evening.  Now, I don’t believe alcohol improves one’s writing–nor did Faulkner for that matter, he never wrote while drunk–but it should nevertheless make for an avant garde post here at the least.  Or, rather, maybe a really shitty post.  But artists have to try new things.  If I write honestly–and I will, never even correcting the drunken errors that will deserve (sic)s in the morning–it could get downright “The Truman Show” embarrassing as I’m not exactly a normal person when I drink at home alone.  It won’t be an exact science because–presumably–the fact that I am writing my own Saturday night ethnography will perhaps prevent me from keeping it 100% real, you know like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, you can’t observe something without changing it, like why reality TV innately can never be real.  Then again, the drunker you get the less self-aware you get, so who knows?

And with that, let’s begin, here at 10:06 P.M. as I pop the top on the Nor’Easter.  It should really have a “cork and cage” top, as would befit such a rare, high-quality beer as this one.  Pours quite dark, almost black with a maroon gleam to it.  Interesting taste.  The bottle labels it a winter warmer, noting it is an ale brewed with elderberries and aged in bourbon barrels.  I have no fucking clue what an elderberry is, sounds like it might be in the same genus as the snozzberry.

10:15 PM, I should note the conditions I’m dealing with.  Just on the positive end of recovery after a week-long cold.  My apartment is fucking freezing and I have a space heater on the floor pointed right at my balls.  Oh, and my internet is down for some reason forcing me to steal the linksys WiFi (”pixienet”) from the old bag that lives below me.  And I really have no plans for the evening, no movies or TV shows to catch up on, nothing to read or write, no correspondence to be made, nothing.  I’ll let the alcohol pave my way, shape my evening.  Currently, I’m just drinking and “watching” channel 628 on my cable.  That’s actually a golden oldies radio station that plays a lot of songs that most people my age have never heard of and would probably hate if they had heard them but which I inexplicably love and know every single lyric to, stuff like “Creeque Alley,” “The Book of Love,” “Happy Together,”* and “Lightening Strikes” by the inimitable Lou Christie.

10:40, with nothing on television except for deplorable Dane Cook comedy specials, The Winter X Games and Australian Open, and “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins,” I’m forced to throw in the only Netflix I have sitting around the house, a somewhat acclaimed independent Argentinian film from last year, “XXY.”  Here’s the synopsis:  “Ines Efrom plays Alex, a 15-year-old hermaphrodite in this compelling tale.”  Let it never be said I’m not an open-minded guy.  I saw “Milk” last night, never would have guessed that would end up being only the second most “gay” film I would see this weekend.**

10:45, OK, “XXY” is incredibly artsy and subtitled.  Not a problem, typically, I love films like that as I am indeed a cineaste, but drunk I can’t understand anything so sophisticated and my reading prowess becomes too slow to keep up with the words on screen.  Oh, yes, I have somehow become quite buzzed.  I’m shocked the Nor’Easter is 12% as it goes down so smooth, but the results with less than a half bottle finished are evidence enough.

11:04, watching the Shane Mosley fight end, I’ve decided the Nor’Easter is quite good.  Thinner mouthfeel than I’d like, it actually goes down like a wine, maybe like a wild ale, and I do feel like I can taste a little wild yeast in there which adds to the intrigue of the beer.  It’s yet another unique offering from Captain Lawrence.  I’m starting to feel like they are one of the rare breweries–along with, say, Dogfish Head, Stone, and Allagash–that make beers so sui generis that from taste alone I can place exactly where they come from.  Quite a tribute to them.  I guess I’d like the Nor’Easter to be more bourbon-y but don’t listen to me, I like everything more bourbon-y.  Hell, maybe I should scrap beer and just make bourbon my daily drink, who am I kidding?

11:05, my stolen WiFi is only connecting at three out of five bars, making it too slow to look at porn.  Drag, isn’t it.***

11:15, I go to the bathroom to piss.  Heading out I glance at the mirror and notice my sideburns don’t see to be even.  I spend about ten minutes continually taking a “little off” each side trying to make them match.  Instead I just fuck them up more and make them a lot higher than I’d like.  God, I’m gonna look like a retard tomorrow.

11:16, I decide to call up some “Summer Heights High” on HBO On Demand.  You ever seen it?  A very funny Australian show, though not quite as genius as some people claim.  I highly recommend it though.  Puck you.  Getting tipsy far more rapidly than I expected or wanted to.  I’m eating some cheese and crackers to sop some of it up.  More specificially Australian cheddar from the Fairway Market.  Sublime!  Is their anything the Aussies are good at?  Eh, relief pitching I guess****.

11:17, Jesus, my fucking HBO On Demand cuts out too!  What the fuck, Time Warner?!  Luckily the best episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is currently on regular HBO:  “Krazee–Eyez Killa!”

11:45, I just did one-hundred drunken push-ups.  Some time ago I might have been embarrassed to reveal to you that, for whatever reason, I enjoy doing push-ups and free weight curls when I’m toasted, but in recent months I’ve learned from other male friends that they too enjoy that pasttime.  How bizarre!  Men are so weird, right?  I’ve thought long and hard about why I enjoy doing push-ups whilst drunk and I’ve come to two possible conclusions:

1.  When one is drinking home alone they are in a–somewhat–self-loathing state and they can’t deny the evidence that they are injesting hundreds if not thousands of liquid calories making them, perhaps naively, think, “Hmmm…I should probably at least do something to counteract this, fat ass!”

2.  It’s so fucking easy to do push-ups and lift weights while drunk as your pain threshold becomes astronomical.  Sober, even pumping out fifty in a row is…well, a workout.  But drunk, son, I can throw down one-hundred in a row, no problem.

12:01-12:09, wine-drinking girl calls me.  I don’t answer.  Not cause I’m asshole but because I never answer my phone no matter who calls.  Two minutes later she texts me:

“come over ;)”

“it’s too cold.  you can come to me if you want.”

“r u drunk?”

“not exactly.  but you are.  so don’t be a hypocrite.  and quit using “r” and “u” and emoticons in texts to me.”

Radio silence.

12:15, I realize I could probably be hooking up post-haste if I wasn’t such an asshole.  I should probably just accept that the women I date will write in what is almost a completely different language from what I know.  I decided recently that I’m too immature to date women my age so I started pretty much exclusively dating women born in the mid-1980s and higher.  “And worse” you might say if you are a woman my age.  But cut me some slack, they like what I like:  drinking, being attractive, not getting married, not having kids, and not moving to the sticks.  So, heck, I guess I should allow them to write to me like retards.  Settled.  My new philosophy starts tomorrow.  I shudder to think about the first 1990s girl I date.  Will I need a translator with me at all times?!

12:16, another text from her:

“YOU ARE an asshole.”

(Nothing I didn’t know.)

Aaron Goldfarb, influencing modern grammer more than Strunk and White.

So, I guess I need a new 1980s girlfriend now.  Any volunteers?  Please fax me your resume.

12:20, you ever have the strange remembrance come to your head of some girl (or guy) you had a one-night stand with years ago?  You knew them for all of, say, twelve hours, eight of which you were either drunk and/or sleeping, yet you’ve never forgotten them.  Not cause they were necessarily interesting or great in bed or even because they did something so oddball that you use it as fodder for bar stories for the rest of your life, but rather because…well who knows?  Any how, I thought of one of those girls and I decided to look her up on Facebook.  She’s more attractive than I recall.  Looks like she lives in San Francisco now.  I can’t tell whether she is still single.  I wonder if she has ever looked me up.

12:22, my friend Derek texts to tell me he’s drinking some Distiller’s Masterpiece.  I am so fucking jealous.  You have no clue what that is, do you?

12:35, I’ve finally finished the bottle and, I gotta say, I liked Nor’Easter better the more and more I drank it.  Just like Captain Lawrence’s Cuvee de Castleton this is a very complex, sophisticated beer.  So glad to have tried it.  Might be my record holder for the longest duration I’ve spent on a single bomber, clocking in at about the same time as a Greg Maddox complete game.

1:01, hmmmm, now what to do?  I’m not that tired but I do have a busy day tomorrow.*****  I’d like another drink but here’s the problem when you’re a beer connesseur:  I don’t have a Coors Light in my fridge.  And, that’s, truthfully, what I need now.  All I got in my fridge are 9% stouts and asskicking barley wines and highly esteemed beers I would never want to drink while so lit up.  So I’m screwed.  I’m not going to waste any good beer and even if I was willing too I would have to spend another hour or two to drink them and get incredibly hammered in the process.

I guess I’ll get in bed now and watch something stupid on E! or MTV.  I’ve had a nice night.  Don’t let anyone tell ya you can’t have fun alone.  Or drink alone.  I haven’t figured out any secrets to the universe, I haven’t figured out the meaning of life, either, but, to quote Faulkner:

“I’m drunk.”


*I chuckle every time the great “Happy Together” plays and the line, “If I should call you up, invest a dime,” thinking how precious it is that people used to use pay phones.  Oh, and a call was only ten fucking cents too!

**Was that offensive?  If so, let me apologize.

***Name the famous pop culture reference.

****Lookin’ at your Graham Lloyd.  Though you were great in bench clearing brawls.

*****Of drinking and watching sports, yes.


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

8% ABV on draught

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few questions to ask yourself before jumping in:

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

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

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

4. How do I feel about future awkward situations?

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

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

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

Let’s look at some sample scenarios:

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

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

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

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

3. Bar is on the Upper East Side–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“bored at work, come by.”

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

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

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

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

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


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

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