6.7% ABV from a bottle
At 21 it was Darwin’s in Syracuse and extremely cheap happy hour pitchers of Miller Light. It was hitting on 18-year-old freshmen that had snuck into the bar with their fakes IDs. Girls that were still taut and yet to become doughy in the stomach and triceps from a good three years of collegiate drinking. It was still not knowing how to drink for shit yet.
At 22 it was Faegan’s and full pint glasses of knock-you-on-your ass Long Island Iced Teas. Three was the norm, four might kill you. At the start of the night you only needed to remove a single twenty from the ATM. That would be enough to get you absolutely plastered with a few bucks left over for a slice or two of crappy, greasy, mop-up-the-cheap-booze pizza inexplicably served by a Greek family.
At 23 and just out of college it was Rogo’s in Hoboken. $5 cover charge but once inside it was like a store in the ghetto: everything was a dollar. And I mean everything, cheap beer, cheap liquor, cheap shots, and cheap wine were all a buck. Sadly enough that was still a little steep for us as we were all underemployed to say the least. The deal started at 7 PM and we’d be seated at the bar by 6:59. Drink orders and dollar bills would cascade over our heads for the next five hours and by night’s end–I’m only a little ashamed to admit this–we had usually made money as we began discreetly integrating the strip-club-stage pile of bills into our personal funds. At least we tipped the drink-slingers well with the ill-gotten gains. Throwing up was inevitable.
At 24 it was the now-shuttered Village Idiot in the Meatpacking District. $6 MGD pitchers were the draw to this absolute pig sty of a bar with sawdust-covered vomit-covered floors and skanky bartenders that you didn’t even need a medical degree to recognize the strains of STD riddling their bodies. Surprisingly, hot, but equally cheapskate, women frequented this joint too and of course they were always easy to lure home for some forgotten-by-the-morning adventures.
At 25 it was Doc Holliday’s in the East Village for the hipster special, $2 tallboy cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. One guy would go up, drop a few twenties, and buy enough cans to cover an entire booth table with PBR. It would last well into the night before the empties began tumbling onto the floor making noises like a “Just Married!” car was pulling away, the Jameson shots began to get purchased in order to toast our besotted lives, and the drunken flirtations began as all the while fat chicks danced on the beat-up bar. A quintessential faux-dive.
By 26 many of my friends had gotten engaged or married and moved to the suburbs or outer boroughs. One friend had been shipped out to Iraq, another had pursued Hollywood dreams in LA, and another had moved home to New England. Thus, a formerly huge crew’s halycon days of wine and roses had come to an abrupt halt. But that was fine, I still had one single friend JT and his two favorite pursuits coincided neatly with mine: stiff drinks and promiscuous women. We became a two-man wrecking crew throughout his part of town, the less-dead-than-you-think Flatiron District, and mine, the as-touristy-as-you-think Hell’s Kitchen. We’d hit crapholes like No Idea or Scruffy’s Duffys for gin-and-tonic after gin-and-tonic and to demonstrate our sloppy drunken rakishness to “adventurous” Midwestern tourists and laid-over flight attendants that were admittedly impressed that we had 100__ zip codes and roof “decks” to take them back to. They never questioned the unfinished and tar quality of our roofs, the need to jimmy a fire lock to gain access, and just enjoyed the romantic jaunt for what it was. And they went back to Abilene or Omaha and said, “By gosh, I hooked up with a real life New Yorker! (sotto voce) And he might even a been Jewy.”
By 27 JT had somehow quickly gotten hitched and moved to Jersey and, shit, even I had a steady girl in my life. We’d party around her pad on the Upper West Side, hitting bars that we were probably just a little too old to be partying at, but we still weren’t rich so we liked the cheap pitchers and stiff whiskey drinks. We liked kicking just-out-of-college kids’ asses in mixed doubles beer pong and foosball. In drunkenly hooking up in the photo booth before ordering jalapeno poppers. Ah, a young drunkard couple in love.
By 28 we’d become more comfortable and refined (read: lazy). We spent more nights in where I enjoyed quality craft beers and bourbons. When we went out, we’d hang with another couple at quiet and bland “Irish” pubs where we played bar trivia and drank buckets of crappy macro beers because they were the only things available.
And now, here at age 29, I am again, as the great Neil Diamond said, a solitary man, sitting alone in my dark living room watching TV. Sounds like my life has gone downhill, huh? As if my tale has ended on a lachrymose note. As if I am at the worst year in my 20s. Nope, not in the fucking least. Not when I’m surrounded by three bottles of Beer Advocate-rated A plus brews about to watch the only movie I haven’t seen from my all-time favorite director Woody Allen’s oeuvre.
The first beer on my evening’s agenda is the legendary Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, a brew I’d been meaning to try for years. It excitedly came with a little trinket on a string attached to the bottle’s neck. Nice. More breweries should employ this Cracker Jack a-prize-in-every-box strategy in order to lure me into buying their product.
Celebrator also has a very slick label.
Beautiful dark chocolate pour with little hints of purple and a tan head. I never talk about a beer’s lacing cause I typically don’t give a shit but Celebrator has maybe the best I have ever seen. It was hypnotic to look at. Tastes of chocolate and espresso and it’s incredibly smoky, like Worcester sauce or something. Very malty of course too and no sweetness at all. Slightly more sour finish than I expected. Very warming. Incredibly drinkable too as this beer is smoother than a eunuch’s crotch.
If you have not had many doppelbocks in your life I think you would find this beer very odd and perhaps undrinkable. Even having loved many doppels in my life it took me a little bit to get acclimated to this one. I’m not sure if this is a beer you completely figure out until you’re halfway through the bottle. The beer is much better the warmer it is served as well, as I began drinking it at too cold of temperature.
Celebrator is pretty much the dictionary definition doppelbock. It is the most known and arguably the best as well. However, I wouldn’t advise an amateur beer-drinker to try this as they’d probably be in for a bit of a surprise and not enjoy it. As for me, though I found it brilliant, it lacked a few things I would have liked to consider it a masterpiece. First of all, it’s a bit dull, a bit bland. I also think it could have used a sweet component or two. I also think the alcohol content should be amped up. But then again, I always think that.
But these are minor quibbles and this an amazing beer that rightfully deserves all the accolades it receives.
Also, “Cassandra’s Dream” was nowhere close to as bad as most people reviewed it. Not classic Woody by any means, but still an interesting picture.