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Archive for the ‘Style: English Pale Ale’ Category

Bass Pale Ale

September 4th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Bass, Country: United Kingdom, Grade: C plus, Style: English Pale Ale

5% ABV on draught

They say New York isn’t a college football town, but that isn’t exactly true. It’s not a college football town in the sense that the increasingly-less-and-less-relevant mainstream media gives a shit. And in NYC, if the clueless mainstream media doesn’t care about something then we are supposed to believe that no one cares. Also, except for the shameful few that root for the worst college football program in history, there are no local favorites in our town.

Having said all that, I think it could be argued that NYC is the absolute best college football town in America being that we literally have rabid fans–and plenty of them–from every single college and university in this country. Fans that wake up every single Saturday morning anxious to throw on their logoed gear and then meet up with their fellow supporters to get drunk and root on their schools. Try to find a Syracuse bar in Lawrence. Or a Boise State bar in Ames. A Michigan bar in Lubbock. Or a Florida State bar in Morgantown. I’m guessing you won’t. But you will find bars for all those teams in New York plus viewing locations for pretty much every single other team.

Since my once-proud college football program is in a downward spiral, I now have to take pleasure in attending the game watch parties for my friends’ teams. Cool with me. When my team is playing–and actually good–I am sub-human. A man only capable of using his left hand to slug beer, his right hand to slug the bar in anger or ecstasy, his mouth to yell out “Fuck!,” “Shit!,” or “Jesus Christ!” (again in agony or ecstasy), and his dick to eliminate all the toxic macrobeer from my system almost as fast as it enters it.

During my team’s games, I am oblivious to my surroundings. Unaware whether the bar is full of the hottest pieces of ass on the planet or the scummiest fans of a rival school. I only am cognizant of what is on the flatscreen on the wall and what my core group of doppelganger friends–all with the same biases as me, both positive and negative, both against or for our team–have to say. If Scarlett Johanson were to offer me fellatio during tense game action, I would turn her down briskly and with no prejudice. The only time I ever interact with someone beside my core of knowledgeable pals is when my team scores and then I’m going around in drunken revelry, hugging and kissing anyone and everyone whether they are of the opposite sex or not and whether they wish to accept my cheering affection or not. They usually do. And maybe if it’s a big enough score, now I‘m the one offering the knob slob. God I love my team, unfortunately, they’re the only ones sucking dick right now*, ruining my Saturdays and robbing me of a little slice of weekly pleasure.

That’s why I enjoy going to watch parties that aren’t for my team. Watch parties for your own team–at least for me–aren’t even fun what with all the tension and nerves, pinning your hopes for a good Saturday on a group of nineteen-year-olds that went to the same school as you but no doubt have had a vastly different university experience than you.  What with the covered up date rapes, money paid under the table, skipped classes, oh and all the narcotics and firearms charges.  Yeah, I was certainly much worse behaved than the student-athletes I follow. Those boys going early to bed, early to rise, eating healthy, and livin’ clean. Riiiiight. And you’re hoping these nineteen-year-olds don’t ruin your Saturday?

There is no tension or nerves when you go to another team’s watch bar. Now you’re free to just get loaded, enjoy the glory of the gridiron, gamble a bit, and ogle some fine young women. And why are women so attractive when clad in a tight college tee, perhaps a baseball cap, and maybe if we’re lucky a tiny cute-as-a-button temporary tattoo on their left cheek? Also, my Saturday won’t be ruined if my friends’ teams lose. In fact, it could even be elevated if you’re into the whole schadenfreude thing. Then again, you also are deprived of any chance of the crack high glory of an unexpected victory that keeps you going for the whole next week.

Last Saturday, I joined several friends and alumni at the University of Oklahoma watch party at The Press Box on Second. Suffice to say, it was not the rip-roaring fun I expected.

The first thing that happens any time you’re at a NYC watch party for, say, an SEC or Big 12 team, but I’m not picking on those conferences or their teams, is you look at the fans at the bar and think:

“These people live here?!”

Us New Yorkers are a guilty-as-charged snobby bunch and after just a year if not a few months of living here we’ve all already become skinny-from-always-walking, jaded-from-seeing-everything, pretentious locals able to scornishly recognize an outsider with ease.

So when you see a group of fat slobs squeezed into a cheap Champion Athletic team t-shirts celebrating some conference title game from a decade-plus ago all the while shoveling food into their mouth from a smörgåsbord of fried things so elegantly known as “the sampler,” you think, that’s not a local like me, that’s no New Yorker. That must just be some hick from home who happened to be in Manhattan on vacation or for business over this weekend and was somehow smart enough to google the location of the school-he-didn’t-even-attend-but-nevertheless-roots-for watch party bar.

And then you speak to these people.

“So where are you guys from?”

And through bites of sour cream slathered ‘tato skins, they twangily respond:

“Ta-rye-beck-uh.”

Tribeca? As in…New York’s Tribeca?!”

“Uh huh.”

And you can’t believe it.

“These people live here?!”

Not only do they live here, but they are fans of the same team as you. Such was the case at The Press Box as the Sooners took on the lowly Tennessee Chattanooga Mocs. A laugher of a game and a laugher of a crowd. The Press Box sucks with a set up like an old folks bingo parlor. Tables utilitarianly placed in staid row after staid row, preventing both good sightlines for the big screens and any sort of esprit de corps amongst fans. Not that I would want to be friends with any of the OU fans that I saw out embarrassing themselves. The men, so bulbous they can barely get their TRex arms together to clap for a big gain, the women just…gross.  Too disgusting to even be considered slumpbusters.

CoCo Chanel famously said that “There are no ugly women, just lazy ones.” I think she would have changed her tune if she visited The Press Box on gameday. Or at least she would have to claim that these women were so lazy they were bordering on comatose.  Though certainly not the kind of comatose where you have to be forcefed like Terry Schiavo as these ladies were eating willingly and frequently.

But at least the drink was adequate. I sipped on Bass, an underrated but ultimately unremarkable beer that can be found on tap at just about every bar in America. Buttery malts, smooth, and with a very sippable carbonation. And maybe the bartender liked my roguish charm or maybe he was just so overwhelmed by the insatiable behemoths that he forgot to keep track of my tab, but I got out of there cheaply.

Afterward we headed to the nearby Overlook, to see what an all-of-the-sudden good Missouri football watch party looked like. A stark difference and the stats tell the whole story:

Avg. age of OU fan at The Press Box: 45 years
Avg. weight of OU fan at The Press Box: 225 pounds

Avg. age of Mizzou fan at Overlook: 24 years
Avg. weight of Mizzou fan at Overlook: 150 pounds

Here were people having a great time!** Standing, slugging cheap macro beers, having shots even, raucously cheering on their team, and no doubt setting things in play to have nasty, nasty intercourse with a fellow fan they’d just met that night in celebratory camaraderie. It was a great thing to see and it shamed The Press Box all the more. I even talked with a few Mizzou fans and they were as nice as can be. Maybe I’ll adopt them as my new bandwagon team, heck my sister did go there.

So tell me New York readers, what are the best college watch bars from a pure partying standard–madcapped fun, ample and cheap drinks, tasty fried food, and libidinous women–regardless of how good the team is or isn’t? My Saturdays are now free as my crummy team’s games are only shown on internet feeds coming out of Prince Edward Island and I’m willing to let other colleges adopt the Vice Blogger for a season…

C+

*Three blow job references in one paragraph. Well played, Aaron, well played.

**As it still stands, the best college sports watch party I’ve ever been to in Manhattan was when with an ex I attended a Cornell hockey playoff game at Ship of Fools. My lord! You won’t believe me but there were hundreds upon hundreds of fans, all decked out in Cornell hockey sweaters, living and dying with every single shift, unveiling traditional little cheers and slurs toward their opponent, getting wasted, and having a blast of an afternoon. Man, those second tier Ivy League nerds could party!

St. Peter’s English Ale

August 6th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: St. Peter's, Country: United Kingdom, Grade: B-, Style: English Pale Ale

4.5% ABV

The Abercrombie & Fitch store on Fifth Avenue has got to be the most deplorable retail space in the entire world. Unfortunately, I have to pass it most every single day. The first thing you notice is the stench. Depending how the wind is blowing, you can smell this store from as far north as Central Park and as far south as the NBA Store on 52nd. The odor is that of a cheap cologne factory explosion. It’s noxious, penetrating your nostrils and sticking to the fibers of your clothing, making any person you interact with for the rest of the day wonder why you smell like a Maxim Magazine cologne sample. Then, as you get closer, you notice the blue velvet-roped off line. You think, “Weird, is there a ‘hot’ new nightclub for douchebags, touristy yokels, and fanny-packed moms that now opens on Fifth Avenue at 1:00 PM on Wednesdays?” Nope, A&F literally has a queue–and usually a lengthy one at that–waiting to get into a fucking store that every mall in every shitty town in America already has. Unbelievable. I thought the lamest thing a tourist could do while sightseeing on Fifth was to stand across the street from the Trump Tower and take a picture, but nope, this trumps (actually not sure if I intended this pun or not) even that. Of course, every place with a velvet rope needs someone standing guard, and the “bouncers” for this stinky dump are shirtless concave-chested and prepubescently hairless nineteen-years old “models.” The little tourist girls seem to love to get Polaroids taken with these chaps. Firstly, I can’t believe Polaroids still exist, but secondly, I’ve now decided getting your picture taken with a shirtless A&F “hunk” is the lamest thing that can possibly be done on Fifth. These models are the kind of guys that only a fourteen-year-old from Wichita would find attractive. I see the braces-wearing gals giggling with glee as they leave the store, staring at their autographed keepsake as ambiguously dirty thoughts run through their minds. Within a year or two, the girls will stumble upon this souvenir at the bottom of their desk drawer and chuckle at themselves, embarrassed for being so silly back when. By this same time, these effete little 130 pound boy bouncers will either become like the 90-97% rest of us, start reading The Vice Blog, drinking beers, and developing nice little guts. Or, they will become like the other 3-10% rest of us and admit they are homosexuals, maintaining a lithe muscular physique. I’ve never been in the store but I bet further atrocities lurk within. Maybe I’ll visit one day, wasted, just to see what the bouncers will do if I start going apeshit, wondering why they won’t change the TV monitors to the damn Yankees game and bring me a gin. I’m guessing it would take like fifteen of them to bounce me. It would be like the Lilliputians tying down Gulliver.

I usually have a slick little segue to advance from my opening anecdote into my beer review, but not this time. I just fucking hate this Abercrombie & Fitch store so much, it is currently my biggest bane in the goddamn city, and I really felt like blasting it*. Ah, now I feel better. Onto the beer…

I thought I’d read something, somewhere, that some British magazine or newspaper or website had called St. Peter’s Ale the best beer in the world. So you can imagine I was pretty excited when someone gave me a bottle. The bottle is cool fo’ sho’. Looks like some sort of apothecary’s magic elixir. And, after I’d poured the bottle into my pint glass, I noticed that, now empty, some odd, latticy, crystalline bubble formation had remained.

Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but it was very cool. Very odd. I’d never seen a beer bottle do that before. It was hypnotic. Is that a sign of a good beer, or just a weird fucking one-time quirk? Who knows.

Immediately, upon consuming this so-called highly regarded beer, I was kinda confused. It has a skunky, semi-woodsy smell. Taste is much more muted however. Very thin, very light. Really nothing special. Kinda just tasted to me like the sort of beer British people have been going to pubs to polish off fifteen straight pints of for the last several hundred years. And, with such a low ABV, that is definitely doable. Don’t get me wrong, though, this is a vastly superior beer to the kinds of beer Americans polish off fifteen straights pints of.

Having said that, the brew is decidedly not spectacular, and it’s certainly not the best beer in the world. Afterwards, I searched out that article I thought I’d read. Aha! It was The Independent and they had actually claimed that St. Peter’s IPA was the best beer around. That make a little more sense.

B-

*Amusing footnote: Headed to a wedding this weekend where it stands a good chance I will find myself at the hotel pool taking a dip at some point. I will ironically be outfitted in an A&F swimsuit, a faded pair of trunks I think I purchased back in 1998 or so for a college spring break trip. What can I say, I don’t go swimming a lot and I’m pretty lazy in updating my wardrobe.

Dominion Ale

July 1st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Old Dominion, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: English Pale Ale

4.7% ABV on draught

The usher took his job far too seriously and despite the fact that inclement weather had left the close LF bleachers completely empty, Batch and I were kicked out of the section where Derek and Whitey’s real seats were.  Our tickets fucking sucked so there was no way we were sitting there.  Luckily, Vice Blog Ambassador Batch knew about a sit-down bar nearby where we could get loaded for three hours while kinda keeping our eyes on the diamond in case anything interested happened.  Even better, we had table service like we were at some hot club.  That is if a hot club served nachos and chicken fingers.

I scanned the bar’s lackluster beer menu, keying in on some house beer called “Homerun (sic) Ale.”  I’m such a dumb sucker for house beers which are essentially just crappy macros dressed up with colorful names that usually relate to the venue they’re being served at.  (So a hospital might serve O.R. IPA, a bowling alley 7-10 Split Lager, and an Applebee’s could have a house beer called Wooden Burger Pilsner.)  Unfortunately, our waiter Donte had to report that the Homerun tap was kicked.  In fact, every single tap in the bar was kicked save two–Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat (no surprise, it’s fucking terrible) and some local Virginia beer called Dominion Ale.  Derek had told me earlier that Dominion was actually good so I gladly ordered one.

As with most of his picks, he was correct–Dominion was good.  Rich, dark, flavorful, drinkable.  Nutty, malty, with some good hops.  Plastic Nationals cups are probably not the best vessel for drinking craft beer, but you make do with what you have.  I suppose the best review I can give of Dominion Ale is to say that I quickly dispatched with my first one.

Eagerly wanting another, I signaled for Donte with the international sign for another round.  With sad eyes he came over to report that now Dominion was tapped and all that remained was the dreadful Sunset Wheat!  It was only the 3rd inning!  The Presidents Race hadn’t even occured yet!  Of course we were not going to drink Sunset Wheat for six more innings–we have some standards–so we gave Donte a credit card and asked to tab out.  No surprise, the stadium’s credit card machines were not working.  Christ.  Get your shit together, Nationals.  Good Lord, I’ve seen fucking freshman keggars run better and more efficiently.

I thought we should make a sprint from the bar and just not pay these incompetent boobs, but Batch is nicer than me.  He exited to get some cash, leaving me alone in the bar as collateral.  I had nothing to do but watch Nats/Orioles baseball.  Yuck.  I chose instead to stare in slack-jawed awe at the fellow bar patrons around me.  I’ve always thought that NYC attracted the most despicable yokel tourists but perhaps that crown actually goes to DC.  I was the only man in the bar with pockets on my pants!  Jorts were too classy for these folks who mostly sported shorts made of mesh or sweat material.  Or maybe these people simply can’t find pocketed lowerware for people this obese.  I had to be the only person in the area under three bills.   The only person that had actually seen his genitalia in the last decade.  I truly believe that some of these people came to the game simply because they loved the food there!

I highly suspect some of these customers had had a conversation like this earlier in the evening.

INT.  SHOPPING MALL FOOD COURT - AFTERNOON

Fat Husband:  What ya’ wanna do for supper?

Fat Wife:  Chili cheese fries with a side of Dippin’ Dots?

Fat Husband:  You thinkin’ what I’m thinking?

Both in unison:  Ballpark!

(heavy wheezing ensues)

FADE OUT.

Before I was completely disgusted with humanity–but not before I’d noticed some 400 pounder in an Alonzo Mourning Nets jersey and tried to figure out when Zo actually was a Net–Batch returned with the loot and he was able to bail me out of the bar prison.  We quickly went to find Derek and Whitey so as we could get the fuck out of the ballpark and back to civilization–and quality beer.

B

Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Strong Pale Ale

June 11th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Timothy Taylor & Co., Country: United Kingdom, Grade: B-, Style: English Pale Ale

4.1% ABV

The same friends that just returned from England and introduced me to Strongbow also lugged back a bottle of this for sampling. They had popped into a Whole Foods while in London and the chap working in the beer section had told them that this was his favorite beer*. Thus they bought a bottle and threw it in their suitcase, smuggling this contraband all the way back to “The States.” I love when foreigners refer to America as “The States.” I’m not sure why. I just love how it sounds in a foreign accent. Conversely, I hate when an American starts calling this country “The States.” It’s clear they affect that eccentricity because they think of themselves as very European and cosmopolitan and probably use terms such as “imperialistic” and “jingoistic” when referring to our great land and it’s people. They are also probably the kind of panty wastes that pretend they’re from Canada when backpacking through Europe. I hate those people.

I was excited upon seeing this beer’s label classifying it as a strong ale. But then I saw it was only 4.1% ABV. What gives? In America, our strong ales will kick your ass around ten different ways. Even the “weaker” strong ales are usually in the 7% range while most push well toward the double-digit plateau. Yet, this “strong” ale is almost weaker than a Shirley Temple. What exactly is considered a weak ale by these same standards? Filtered water with a lime twist?

Any how, the beer has a nice little bitter taste and some decent hops. Somewhat complex the more you drink it. Decent, but nothing special. Not sure I would drink it again.

B-

*Though they later suspected that maybe he was simply recommending a weak beer to some pussy Americans due to their already stated proclivity for cider.