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Archive for the ‘Style: Fruit Beer’ Category

Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock and Fourth Dementia

September 9th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Kuhnhenn, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Fruit Beer, Style: Old Ale

13.5% ABV on draught

My addiction is consuming me.  I can no longer keep it at bay.  I am now Mr. Hyde 24/7.  I am not an alcoholic.  Oh no.  Far from it.  At least not your standard one.  I can go for days without having a drink (though why would I want to?!)  And loved ones never criticize me for my drinking (then again, I only love those that the love the drink themselves).  Nor do I ever feel guilty about my drinking (usually too hungover to experience any other emotion).

I am not an alcoholic, yet I do have an unyielding addiction toward alcohol.  Toward locating rare beers that is.  It’s all I think about lately.  These rare beers, these beers I’ve never touched before, these new releases, special releases, one-time releases are always on my mind.  I can’t focus on work any more as I visit Beer Advocate, Beer Menus, and Beer News countless times per day for the latest updates.  I read other beer blogs and trade e-mails with beer friends all day long.  It’s gotten so bad I can barely follow sports any more.  Or celebrity gossip!  It’s even affecting my social life.  I organize activities in neighborhoods that are closest to beer stores I need to visit.  Strongarm dates into joining me at local groggeries with special one-offs on tap.  Shit, I even found myself talking in my sleep the other night while in bed with a gal.*

I think the pinnacle of my abhorrent behavior occurred last Wednesday night.  I was sitting around relaxing, unwinding as my evening neared its end, watching “Intervention” on A&E and surfing the net.  I made my half-dozenth visit to Beer Menus for the day and my heart nearly hit the hardwood.  Somehow, amazingly, I had failed to notice that a full line of Kuhnhenn brews had gone on tap that day at Blind Tiger, including their highly acclaimed, Top 100s in the World, Raspberry Eisbock and Fourth Dementia.  Beers from a little Michigan brewery that had never before been in New York, that I thought I might never get to try.  That I had been dying to try.

I didn’t know what to do.  It was now past midnight and I was very sleepy.  I debated throwing on a bathrobe like a local kook and hailing a cab ASAP to get me the sixty-odd blocks downtown to Blind Tiger to just rotely suck down the beers in minimal enjoyment.  Alas, I decided that even I am not that obsessed.

I was wrong.

I couldn’t sleep that night, tossing and turning.  Had I truly missed all these great beers, perhaps never to have them again?  Why, I couldn’t live with myself if I did!

I woke up at the crack of dawn and proceeded to stare at the clock just watching the minutes slowing tick off until Blind Tiger’s 11:30 AM opening.  All the while, refreshing Blind Tiger’s currently-on-draught page hoping for an update.  A positive update, hopefully noting the beers were still there, but an update nonetheless.  It never came.  I played scenarios in my mind, of the kegs being slurped down by some lucky and unknowing sonofabitch that knew little about beer and just so happened to stumble into Blind Tiger on the luckiest of nights.  Of more savvy beer geeks than me filling up growler after growler with these rare beers until the keg was dry.

Mere seconds after Blind Tiger opened for the day, I burst in, panting and out of breath.  The first in the bar for the…uh morning, without taking a seat, without even answering the bartender’s friendly greetings, I simply stammered:  “Do you still have the Raspberry Eisbock?”

She laughed at my overzealous ardor.

Luckily, they did.  Luckily they still had every Kuhnhenn beer on tap in fact.  I suppose that’s what happens when you’re a brewery known for making thick and viscous double-digit ABV beers.

As the bartender pulled me my six ounce glass of the Raspberry Eisbock, I took out my camera to photograph it.

She smiled at me.

“Lemme guess…beer blogger?”

Nope.  Rare beer hunter addict!

Oh boy, and am I so fucking glad I got to try these beers!  The Raspbeery Eisbock is truly like nothing you’ve ever had before.  It’s fruity, sure, but thick and chewy like an imperial stout.  Tastes of raspberries, sweet malts, and smooth wheat.  And it goes down with a boozy, roasted dark fruit burn like a quad.  A six ounce glass of it was more than enough.  It is exceptionally good and well worth the hype of being the #45 beer in the world as we go to press here at the Vice Blog.  Damn hard to categorize stylistically, this is a true revelation of a beer.

A

Fourth Dementia

9.4% ABV on draught

Next, I got to try the currently 94th ranked beer in the world, Fourth Dementia, an old ale.  I’ve had very few old ales in my life until very recently but it’s quickly becoming a favorite style of mine and this is the best I’ve ever had.  Sweet and sugary, malty and boozy, Fourth Dementia is as equally unique as the Raspberry Eisbock but I liked it just a tad better.  A long-time lover of barley wines and other malty sweet boozebombs, Fourth Dementia is right in my brew wheelhouse.  Absolutely exquisite.

A

Also that day I had the fortune to try tasters of Kuhnhenn’s Flemish Sour Red and their ass-kicker par excellence, the 19% Solar Eclipse imperial stout, a beer that should be served in no vessel bigger than an eye dropper.  Kuhnhenn may be new to me, yet with pure extrapolation, I know that it is one of my favorite breweries on planet earth and I can’t wait to try more from them to actually prove this fact.  Hopefully I will.

I’m also happy to reveal that I haven’t visited beer websites since this fateful day, this moment of clarity.  I’m trying get a hold of my addiction before it gets hold of me.

Oh shit, it’s NYC Craft Beer Week in two days!

*“You were talking in your sleep.”

“Really?  That’s weird.  What was I saying?”

“You said something like, ‘That’s the best tripel I’ve ever had.’  What the hell does that mean?  Triple what?”

“Honey, I believe I may have been dreaming about beer.”

Dogfish Head Fort

September 3rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Fruit Beer

On the Manliness of Drinking Beer

Come on pussy, meet me out at the bar.  I don’t care if you got shit to do.  I don’t care if you gotta get up early.  It’s time to drink beers.  The manliest thing a man can do!  What’s so manly about drinking a shit ton of beers you ask?  I can’t believe you don’t fuckin’ know.  Uh, lemme count the ways:

1.  Doing something as many times as you can possibly do something is manly.  Giving it your all!  Whether it’s fucking tons of bitches, eating fifteen cheeseburgers, or drinking two dozen beers until you fall off your bar stool, all that shit is M-A-N-L-Y.

2.  Drinking a lot of beer gives you a beer belly.  Nothing more manly than that.  It also makes you burp, fart, shit, and sometimes even throw up.  Manly!  Except throwing up.  That’s for bulimic little fairies.  Unless you like do a ton of car bombs or somethin’, then it’s acceptable I guess.

3.  Drinking a ton of beers makes you do stupid shit.  Like get in bar fights and hit on ugly women and sometimes even get arrested.  And all that shit is manly.  You think a pussy would do that kinda stuff?  No way!  Only a drunk man’s man.

4.  But it’s most manly to not get drunk.  That’s the paradox.  Hey, I can’t even believe I know what the word paradox means but that’s the paradox.  That we’re going out to get drunk.  To get wasted, shitfaced, cocked, hammered, blitzed and three sheets to the motherfuckin’ wind.  And in order to save time and money you’d think we’d want to get drunk as fast as humanly possible.  But that’s not manly.  Getting drunk after a beer or two is more pussy than coming after two pumps inside a chick.  What’s manly is to take hours and hours on end, and drink beer after beer after beer, before you’re even buzzed.  Sometimes when I’m at the bar, I’m like on beer number ten and my friend is like, “Whoa, I’m getting buzzed” and I’m like, “Shit, I barely feel like I’ve drank anything.  I could go drive my truck right now flawlessly.”  And I think less of my friend from that point on.  You know why?  Cause I’m manly and manly men don’t get drunk until they’ve had like an entire case minimum.

Man I’m so manly, yeah, and you’re manly too I guess, but look at all these so-called men around us.  Look at all these pussies drinking their faggot beers.  I don’t mean “faggot” like homosexual, I mean faggot like GAY, bro.  That guy over there with his beer with it’s fancy foreign name.  If you don’t like American beer, like this Bud Light I’m drinking, then go back to wherever you’re from.  What’s that you say?  Your saison is an American beer?  And my Bud Light is actually owned by In-Bev, a Belgium company owned by Brazilians?!  So fucking what?  It’s the image that matters.  And Bud Light is manly and your frou-frou “saison” beer is womanly.

Look at that guy, he’s been nursing that dark beer for the last hour.  Hey!  Drink up you fucking pussy!  My lil’ sister drinks faster than you, hahaha!  What’s that you say?  You’re drinking an 19% Russian imperial stout?  Russian?  Jesus H. Christ, again with the foreign beers.  You say your beer is nearly five times as alcoholic as my Bud Light?  Yeah, so what?  I’m drinking tons more bottles than you and that’s all that matters.  I’ve drank like three in the time it’s taken youse to drink just one of those sissy Communist beers.  More beers drunk equals more manly drinker.  And that’s me!

And, another thing.  Beer isn’t supposed to be dark and warm like that beer you’re drinking.  It’s supposed to be yellow and fizzy and foamy.  And made out of shit like corn and rice, not oooh fancy organic local ingredients.  And you ain’t supposed to drink it out of that balloon bulb of a glass.  I’m embarrassed for you.  Straight from the bottle!  Like a man.  Like a manly man that doesn’t want to dirty up a glass and hafta wash the dishes like some little housewife later in the night.  (Uh, ’scuse my language, ladies.)

Oh, and check out that queer over there.  The one surrounded by the hot chicks.  He must be the biggest pussy of them all.  Drinking a fruit beer!  Just perfect.  A fruit drinking a fruit beer.

“Did I hear you making fun of me buddy?  It may be a fruit beer but it’s the world’s strongest fruit beer coming in at a whopping 18% ABV.  In fact, I’m not so sure I would even call this a fruit beer.  With it’s boozy alcohol burn and tastes of dark fruits highlighted by an overabundance of Delaware raspberries, this tastes more like a quad than a fruit beer too me.  Even at the high ABV it is quite drinkable and quite delicious.  Fruit beer or whatever, I don’t know, it’s simply fucking delicious.”

A quad?  A quad?!  A quadruple what?!  Like I’m s’posed to know what that shit is?  Maybe you’re just a quadruple pussy.  Now I’m gonna go slam my Bud Light and leave this pussy bar.

A

A Tale of Two Cherry Beers

August 3rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: New Glarus, Brewer: Southern Tier, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: F regular, Style: Fruit Beer, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Southern Tier Imperial Cherry Saison

8% ABV from a bomber

Let’s touch on a few seemingly unrelated points just to begin:

1.  Southern Tier is one of the finest breweries in America.

2.  I have been accused of being a beer grade inflater.

3.  I always finish beers.

4.  I detest beer snobs and their liberal claims of “drain pours.”

Now let’s tie all these points together, starting with the last.

Few things in the beer community anger me more than the snobbiest of beer snobs and their frequent claims of “drain pours.”  To the uninitiated, to those people wise enough to avoid the pedantic and utterly nerdy embarrassment of the Beer Advocate forums–sample thread subject:  “What is the correct hand to use when drinking a dopplebock?  Left or right?”–there are attention seeking beer geeks that I have seen claim to have drain poured, that is, walked to the sink with a barely touched beer and dumped it down the pipes, some of the most glorious brews on the planet.  Now sure, it’s fine to not love a great, highly-regarded beer, but to detest it so much you dump it?

I’ve thought that was ridiculous for countless reasons.  Being a Jewish cheapskate of course I don’t want to squander the $7 or whatever I paid for the bomber and being an alcoholic I don’t want to squander those ounces of ecstacy either.

On the second issue, I don’t consider myself a grade inflater, I consider myself a lover of beer.  My A through F grades are not a perfect bell curve because I intentionally try to avoid shitty beer–unless it’ll make for a good video–and accomplished craft beer is almost always gonna be above average.

So with that, I am remiss to reveal that I drain poured the Imperial Cherry Saison.  Only the third beer I’ve EVER done that for.  (Bud Light Chelada & Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer would be the other two.)  Also, that in a few paragraphs it is going to get the lowest grade I have ever given a craft beer (and I’m even including the vile Leinenkugel as “craft!”)

This is shocking news.  Southern Tier is one of my favorite breweries on the planet, a fringe top-ten brewery in America if you ask me.  Furthermore, I’d hail them as second to only Dogfish Head in the experimental “mad scientist” brewing category as they put out some of the more adventurous beers around.

Well, unfortunately, when you push the envelope, sometimes the envelope is going to end up tasting like absolute shit.  Such was the case here.  Oh, I had such high expectations for the Imperial Cherry Saison.  But it is truly vile.  The smell of a dank macro lager with a really unpleasant tartness and a horrendous aftertaste.  Tastes like, say, original Coors with some cheap cherry syrup poorly mixed into it, which is amazing considering the time and effort Southern Tier usually puts into beers.  And probably put into this very beer as they claim it to be infused with real cherries and aged with French oak staves.

My drinking companion likewise hated it and suggested perhaps we were drinking it too warm.  Fair enough, I am known to prefer most all beers at room temperature and a nice, refreshing saison should probably have a little chill to it.  We threw it into the freezer, took it out a few minutes later, still vile.  Threw it in for longer, took it out, colder but still vile.  Threw it in one final time, totally forgot about it, pulled it out an hour later to now find the worst tasting slushy in the history of the world.  Even absolute zero would not be cold enough to enjoy this beer.

It is an utter disaster and I’m baffled how it has a Beer Advocate average of a B.  Is that simply the “respected brewery” curve?!  I highly suggest you avoid this at all costs.  I hate to hammer the great Southern Tier from my home state, but this beer was a golden sombrero of awfulness in smell, taste, price, and drinkability.

Will absolutely make my year end bottom 10.

F

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

5.1% ABV bottled

You know how when a little kid throws up, they are now unable, for a very, very long time, to both mentally and physically ingest that food or drink that intentionally or unintentionally caused said upchucking?  For me, two of my first ever youthful vomitings happened after eating watermelon and enchiladas and thus I had to avoid those delicious items well into my teens.  Such was the case with the Imperial Cherry Saison.  I think it has made me disgusted with cherries, a fruit and flavor I used to love.

Testing out this theory, I had on hand to drink next, in comparison, a brew made by the American fruit beer makers par excellence, New Glarus, their Wisconsin Belgian Red, a Montmorency cherry-infused beer, currently rated the best fruit beer on the planet.

The Captain has been quite kind in securing me these great treasures from out of the Badger State, and the previous fruit beer I’d had from New Glarus, their Raspberry Tart, was indeed a huge hit.  This beer was splendid too.  If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t even know I was drinking beer.  You could serve this at the Passover seder to the youngsters.  A gorgeous maroon color, truly one of the best looking beers I’ve ever examined.  Highly carbonated, I drank from the one champagne flute in the house as recommended on the label.  (That’s a recommendation of drinking the Belgian Red from a flute, not a recommendation of ONLY having one flute in the house.)  Very silky and I actually found this quite complex with the taste of Hallertau hops and barley melding nicely with the oak and fresh cherries.

Usually, when you compare a great beer to a terrible beer that is a similar style, you tend to overrate the greatness of the better beer.  But, in this case, a part of me thinks that the Imperial Cherry Saison so disgusted me–see my vomitous theory a few paragraphs above–that I actually didn’t unequivocally love this beer as much as I should have.  Whatever the case, find yourself some Belgian Red.  It delivers.  And may the only cherry I drink for the next six months be floating at the bottom of my Manhattans!

(One minor gripe to New Glarus:  your wax dippings are god-awful.  The wax is thin and runny and not attractive at all.  It’s even hard to crack open your bottles due to the wax which furthermore just makes the neck look dusty and dirty.  I would either get a thicker wax or ditch the gimmick.  A gimmick I love by the way.  But your rustic labels are swell looking.  Props to that!)

A-

New Glarus Raspberry Tart

May 14th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: New Glarus, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Fruit Beer

4% ABV from a 750 mL bottle

LOST SEASON FIVE FINALE

I’ve been unable to focus all day as my mind is still reeling after “Lost”’s fifth season finale.

One of my bigger “Lost” nerd friends–who is actually a very attractive girl, go figure–asked me my thoughts and I figured I’d post them below as “Lost” is my favorite television show and the best show on television at the moment*:

At first, I thought the season finale was decent, but not epic.  Now, after having watched it a second time, I realize its genius.  And, while it wasn’t as good as the season three finale–one of the best episodes of television ever–it was still damn fine.

Analysis bullets:

*In the opening scene, sometime in the 1800s, as Jacob speaks with his nemesis–heretofore referred to as Esau–he mentions how the Black Rock’s impending presence, even if it will create fighting and corruption, will still be “progress.”  I believe this was the key line of the finale, if not the entire series.  All this shit–Jacob believes–is leading them toward an apex of greatness.  Esau, meanwhile, like two other certain people I will discuss in a bit, believes in peace and removal from the rest of society.  It is still unclear who will ultimately be right.  Heck, it’s still unclear which of these two are “good” and which “evil,” if they can even be classified as that.  Though the fact that Jacob is clad in white and Esau in black is certainly not a coincidence, especially in the “Lost” universe.

*Even though it was the 1800s, why was Jacob and Esau’s speech completely contemporary?  Is that a key point or just what it is?  And where did these fellas spring from?  Are they men or Gods of some sort?

*My friend mentioned, half-jokingly, that she was pleased that Jacob was so “freaking hot.”  An interesting point as Jacob’s looks were something I immediately noticed too.  However, I found them quite inconsequential.  For such an important character on the show, perhaps THE most important character, why was such a bland-looking actor cast?  Look at the “Jacob”-like presence behind all the mystery in JJ Abrams’ other splendid series “Fringe” who was also revealed this week in that show’s finale.  That character, William Bell, ended up being portrayed by icon Leonard Nimoy.  Why wasn’t Jacob portrayed by an equally famous actor?  Might it be because Jacob was not significant actually?  Or maybe, that he will play such a key part in season six–assuming he wasn’t killed by Esau–that there’s no way a famous actor could inhabit the role for a year of shooting?

*I also find the relationships of Jacob/Esau vis-a-vis Ben/Widmore to be quite fascinating and wonder where comparisons can be drawn.  Both pairs seem to be arch-enemies who lack the abilities to harm each other directly, either by some force of nature or by an artificial set of rules they both have agreed on (Ben:  “I’m here, Charles, to tell you that I’m going to kill your daughter. Penelope, is it? And once she’s gone… once she’s dead… then you’ll understand how I feel. And you’ll wish you hadn’t changed the rules.”)  And this is where the so-called “loophole” come in, with Esau realizing that he would have to find someone to do his bidding in order to finally kill his hated Jacob.  And, thus, everything he has done for his whole life has been a series of machinations to get it to the point where he could portray Locke and get Ben to be his subservient who would do anything he said.  Although, would it have really taken Esau some 150 years to bring his plan to fruition and conquer this loophole?

*As mentioned above, Esau–who I believe is also the Smoke Monster– obviously inhabited Locke’s body and Locke, of course, never did come back from the dead.  I thought it was interesting how the savvy Richard was suspicious of faux-Locke the whole time, perhaps unable to fully elucidate it, but thinking something was up, even questioning the faux-Locke as to how he could possibly come back from the dead.  Richard also admitted never thinking Locke was “special” and even grilling Jack about that point in particular.  Unfortunately, the always-fucks-shit-up Jack tells Richard to not “give up on him.”  But, Richard was of course right.  Locke (seemingly) never was special.  What a pathetic man he truly was.  A weak, easily-led, believes-in-hokum man, a perfect candidate for Esau to one day inhabit.

*The flashback childhood scenes were a little overdone, if not downright boring at times, but still added an interesting layer, though it is still not clear how Jacob’s presence affected those people’s lives, save, perhaps, bringing Locke back from the dead.   Juliet’s was particularly odd though as it both did not feature Jacob and it looked like it took place in this era, not the 1970s as it should have.  And what was it about this crew of people that, even from an early age, would make Jacob want to recruit them?

*Rose and Bernard are the two I mentioned above that seem to share the same ideologies as Esau about peace and solitary living.  Which makes me wonder if they are in any way actually associated with Esau.  Did Rose and Bernard know more than they let on in their impromptu meeting with Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate?  Was it even truly Rose and Bernard?  And why did Bernard try to stop Juliet–by offering her tea–before she headed to the Swan construction site with the bomb?  Did Bernard know what she was going to do eventually?  Finally, can the long-held belief that Rose and Bernard are the “Adam and Eve” skeletons in the cave now be debunked or is that still in play?

*The Ajira crew of Ilana, et al, MUST have known for quite awhile that “Locke” was inhabited by Esau and about to kill Jacob.  So why didn’t they stop it?  Who exactly are they working for and what dog do they favor in the Jacob/Esau fight?  It seems that they don’t favor either dog but are simply present in order to find a “candidate” to perhaps quickly replace the dead Jacob.  And would that candidate actually be the always-confused Frank Lapidus?  Also, why do they know Latin and have an awareness of Richard, who answered their question of “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” with…”He who will protect us.”

*Who broke the ring of ash that allowed whoever was in that cabin–and I now assume it was Esau–to escape?  Perhaps from an imprisonment by Jacob, though why did Locke and Ben visit this cabin when Jacob has seemingly been living in the foot of the statue for centuries?

*I think I agree with Miles that Juliet’s detonation of the bomb was “The Incident.”

*Where’s Clay-er (Claire)?  I swore she would appear in the finale in a crucial role but it seems like the producers have either given up on her or totally forgotten about her.

*Why did fickle Juliet suddenly change her mind about everything?  And Juliet’s break-up with Sawyer was certainly harsher than any I’ve gotten from women from my past.  I’ve sort of thought it for a long time, but now I truly think Sawyer might be the only smart character around.  At least he sticks to his guns and isn’t whimsical like everyone else.

*This bring us to Ben.  Has Esau been duping him for years?  Ben thought he could control the smoke monster, but if the smoke monster is Esau, was he just allowing Ben to think he was controlling him?  And why did Jacob treat Ben with such disrespect when all he wanted to do was serve him and be his “leader”?

*As for Jacob’s note that “They’re coming” before his death, or “death,” who is coming?  I believe it has to do with the final shot of the finale.

*At first I was mad at this season finale because it did not offer a little peak toward the next season, as all past “Lost” finales have (the light in the hatch, the flash-forward reveal, etc).  But, later, I realized it actually did.  The fact that the final title card was a black “LOST” on a white background, the complete opposite of the normal white-on-black title card, leads me to believe that season six will be a reverse of everything before and thus Esau will now control the island.  Juliet’s detonation of the bomb will zap our characters in 1977 to 2007 where they will now be on Jacob’s side in a war to wrest the island back from Esau.  As to who will be alive in this alternate 2007, and who will be on either deities’ side, that is anybody’s guess.

So questions going forward:

*Is Jacob really dead?  I will say no and think he will remain a key character in season six.  At the least, I got to believe more 1800s flashbacks of his and Esau’s lives will be shown, specifically when they meet the Black Rock crew and Richard.

*Is Locke really dead?  Again, I will have to say no, if for no other reason than we are not going to have a full season without the great Terry O’Quinn on screen.  Also, I believe Locke will finally get redemption in season six and maybe prove that, golly, he was indeed special.

*If Jacob is really dead, how will the death of Jacob affect Richard?  Will he now die?  Or start aging?  What will be his role going forward?

*Is it possible that Juliet will survive and be back in the love quadrangle with Jack, Sawyer, and Kate in the year 2007?  I’m going to say no on that.  I think she’s dead for good.

*Is Sayid dead?  I will say yes here.  I think his storyline has run its course.  Sorry Sayid, we hardly knew ye.

*Will Sun finally shut the fuck up?  I say, no, never.  She’s strongly battling Kate for most annoying character on television.

*And what about Ben?  Once a diabolical genius, he seems to be nothing but utter confusion nowadays.  The man that’s always had a plan now seems to lack one.  How will his battle with Widmore continue now with Jacob perhaps dead and Esau perhaps in control of the island?

As for New Glarus’s Raspberry Tart, the first beer I’ve ever had from the famed Wisconsin brewery, I found it quite good.  Sent to me by The Captain, currently residing at the #67 position on the BA Top 100, I was stoked to try this gorgeous wax-dipped bottle.  Pretty rich, yet wonderfully smooth and tart of course, I shared the big boy with several friends.  A fairly flawlessly made fruit beer, it does lack some complexity, tasting a bit like the kind of non-alcoholic sparkling juice they give the youngsters at the Passover seder.  But does a well-made fruit beer necessarily need complexity?  Not when it’s delicious I say, and this one indeed is.

A-

*Top six best hour-longs currently**:

1.  Lost
2.  Mad Men
3.  Damages
4.  Friday Night Lights
5.  Fringe
6.  House

**Best hour-longs of all-time:

1.  The Wire
2.  The Sopranos
3.  Lost (with a bullet!)
4.  Twin Peaks
5.  Six Feet Under
6.  Mad Men (with a bullet!)

notables:  St. Elsewhere, NYPD Blue, The Shield…

Brau Brothers Strawberry Wheat

October 3rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brau Brothers, Country: America, Grade: C plus, Style: Fruit Beer

4% ABV

The Captain knows I’m a sissy that likes fruity beers, a fruit that likes sissy beers on occasion, so he made sure to throw one in the Minnesota brew box.

Can’t recall ever having a strawberry beer, but I could be forgetting. Brau Brother’s Strawberry Wheat comes in a super-sharp bottle that looks like something you’d typically find a meant-to-seem-old-timey root beer in.

Pours a golden macro-pour, quite bubbly. Smell is fantastic though, rich in strawberry odor. A decent flavor too. Not half bad. A muted strawberry hint. The weak part is the wheat base. Doesn’t taste like a wheat beer at all. More like a lager. And the 4% ABV is kinda pathetic. It’s not great. I wish it had either more strawberry flavor, or more wheat flavor, or more al-kee-hawl in it. Or better yet, all three. Now there’s a good idea. If only I had a brother to open a brewery with.

And with that…I’m done.  I’ve reviewed all the Minnesota beers I got a month or so ago.  I think it was a very fruitful beer swap for the both of us, and I think there will be more in our future.

C+

Wachusett Blueberry Ale

July 17th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Wachusett, Country: America, Grade: B-, Style: Fruit Beer

4.4% ABV

Yet another blueberry beer.  I’m starting to think I should have a special category for blueberry beers!

My friend claimed this is the best blueberry beer around, but New England people are committed homers so you have to take what they say with a gigantic grain of Kosher salt.  Wachusett Blueberry has a great smell and a solid taste.  Kinda sour finish.  No hops, pretty light, too little alcohol, very drinkable.  I didn’t want to insult my pal but I think this beer is simply average.  Nothing spectacular.  Or maybe I’m just totally burned out on blueberry fucking beers.  Yeah, that might be it.  In fact, I think I’m burned out on the blueberry altogether.  I gotta take at least a one-month hiatus from all things blueberry.  So I don’t want to see no blueberry pies, cobblers, cakes, crumbles, crisps, pancakes, waffles, muffins, breads, crepes, compotes, bagels, yogurts, parfaits, jellies, jams, ice creams, milkshakes, frozen yogurts, edible undergarments, or certainly fucking blueberry beers any time soon.

B-

Wild Blue

July 17th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: D regular, Style: Fruit Beer

8% ABV

I had been seeing this beer on the shelf for a few weeks and was intrigued to try it. A fruit beer at 8%. Wow. We all know I have a perverted love for fruit beers and for whatever odd reason blueberry seems to work best as a beer fruit. My friend warned me that is was undrinkably terrible, but I didn’t completely trust him. I’m loyal to my friends, but I don’t always trust their opinions, arrogantly thinking AKB (Aaron Knows Best).

I popped the top and the smell was kinda magnificent. Potent and powerful, packed with blueberries. The first sip wasn’t so bad either. It was all downhill from there. This beer is indeed borderline undrinkable and I struggled to finish it. The problem is that it doesn’t even really taste like beer. Just very viscous blueberry juice. Actually, it’s almost more grape-like. I can’t believe this isn’t made by Welch’s. Or Manischewitz for Christ’s sake*. Only later did I learn who truly makes this abomination: Anheuser-Busch. How absolutely bizarre that the near highest ABV beer in their massive collection is a fucking blueberry lager. But, this is clearly not flavored with real blueberries. It’s a potent force of artificial flavors and colors (this beer appears more purple than Grimace) that totally mask the alcohol. Not a good thing in this case.

It’s also quite sleazy how AB has clearly tried to design their bottle to look “microbrew-esque” and to dupe fools like me into trying it. For shame.

D

Wow, just realized this is my fourth straight review in the Ds. Please beer Gods, send me some good beers this weekend!

*You like that clever play on religions? If Jesus had turned water into this beer/wine, no one would be happy. I mean no one.

Dogfish Head Aprihop

July 8th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Fruit Beer

7% ABV bottled

Sometimes, a beer connoisseur becomes obsessed with locating and trying a beer not because it’s highly regarded, not because you suspect it’s good, but simply because you can’t get your grubby hands on it. This is what happened to me with Aprihop. I saw it in stores in early March or so, and since I adore Dogfish Head and (cough) fruit beers, I knew I had to try it. Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, I didn’t quickly hop to and purchase some and seemingly just a week later it was out of circulation. I had squandered my chance. It hurt even more when friends would tell me they had tried it and really liked it.

Over the last few months, I would get tips that certain bars, restaurants, or stores had it in stock. I’d travel to check them out, but all the tips ended up being false. I’d occasionally even be at bars and see Aprihop listed but the bartender would quickly snatch the beer menu from my hands realizing he’d given me an old one.

I had thus given up hope of ever having the Aprihop and had just resolved myself to try it in spring ‘09. And then last week I found myself at a fairly innocuous Tribeca bar which had “Aprihop” chalked on their wall menu. I didn’t believe it.  (I also fucking hate colored chalk wall menus.  So goddamn hard to read in the dark!)

“You don’t really have Aprihop do you? You’ve been too lazy to change the menu since March, huh?”

The bartender curiously checked the fridge–they did have Aprihop!

Only one problem, the refrigeration unit had just blown out and all the bottles were warm. Seeing my face drop in sorrow–was I thwarted yet again?!–the bartender quickly improvised.

“Order something else first and I’ll throw an Aprihop on ice for ya’ honey.”

Nice. Twenty minutes later, I was finally drinking the hard-to-find beer. It’s not exactly spectacular, it certainly wasn’t worth the wait, but it’s still good, and it’s incredibly interesting. Nice smell like very fresh apricots. The taste is incredibly sour. Not as bad as Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche, but tart nonetheless.

Very complex. I thought it tasted like the Sixty Minute with hints of apricot and, sure enough, I soon noticed on the bottle that they themselves consider this beer to be an IPA. You rarely see fruit beers this complex and bold. Most are either super-fruity overcarbonated wheat beers that taste like soda pop, or lambics ala Lindemans that don’t taste like beer at all. Not to sound misogynistic, but this ain’t a fruit beer meant for chicks. OK, I guess that did sound misogynistic. But I didn’t mean it. I’m a nice, sensitive guy! I mean, I drink fruit beer for Chrissakes!!

B+

Pyramid Apricot Ale

July 2nd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Pyramid, Country: America, Grade: C plus, Style: Fruit Beer

5.25% ABV from a bottle

I typically don’t drink Bloody Marys, mimosas, or certainly motherfucking bellinis whilst brunching–unless they come free as part of some deal–so if I want to have an adult beverage with my Denver omelet, and not look like a deviant for ordering an Old-Fashioned, I have to go with a lighter beer. And, hopefully even a fruit beer to replace my O.J. Saturday morning I brunched at the terrific Bourbon and spied this apricot beer on the menu. I’m pretty sure I’d never had a pop from the Seattle brewery and I’m damn near positive I’ve never had an apricot-flavored beverage in my whole life.  But, we all know of my somewhat shameful passion for fruit beers so I had to give this one a shot. I ask the disenchanted hippie behind the counter what he thought of the beer. I always ask bartenders about a new beer before I try it, even when I’ve made my mind up, and nothing they say short of “Neo-Nazis brew this beer, lacing it with hints of aborted baby” can sway me from ordering it. I’m not sure why I do that. Any how, the bartender responded that the beer was an “Eh.” In my book that’s an absolute indictment of a beer as bartenders usually call the absolute worst brews in the house “pretty, pretty good” ala Larry David.

Whatever the case, I ordered the Apricot Ale. It smelled fantastic. The taste, not so much. How would a “professional” review a beer with an “A” smell and a less-than-stellar taste? I’m not sure, but I have to give it a mediocre overall score. Because, let’s be honest, sniffing a beer ain’t gonna get me drunk.

C+

Bud Light Chelada

June 26th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 9 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Fruit Beer

4.2% ABV from a can

People always ask if I’ve altered my drinking habits in any way since starting my site. Succinctly and accurately stated–NO.

Until now.

First, let me state that I shudder to write this entry because it will be like revisiting a traumatic experience all over again. Is this how Alice Sebold felt?

A little history of how I came to this point in time…

One evening last summer I returned home late from a night out. I wanted a single nightcap to dust off while getting ready for bed and the only place open was my local bodega. Which doesn’t exactly have the best beer selection as I’ve previously stated. On these occasions I usually just buy a $1.50 tallboy can of Bud Light or maybe even a few bottles of Labatt, and that was indeed my plan this time. Until I spotted a new product next to the Bud Lights.

I had never seen the item before and I am a major sucker for new products. I’m the one idiot that buys the “wacky” flavored Doritos, and the “limited-time-only” Mountain Dew Code Aquamarine, and who goes to Taco Bell to get their new double-wrapped, triple-stuft, quadruple-shit-in-your-pants crunch supremes (only 79 cents!). Point is, I’ll give anything a try. Yes, even new products from crummy macrobreweries.

Something about the can’s label intrigued me. I don’t speak or read Spanish–for those outside of New York, a lot of products at your low-rent corner bodega/deli are written exclusively in Spanish–and this can was completely in the language. You might think living in Manhattan I should learn Spanish, but I simply can’t as I do not have the capacity to pick up foreign tongues (languages I’ve began to learn and not succeeeded in doing so: French, Spanish, German, Latin, Hebrew).

Thus, I had to judge this book by it’s cover.

The can was interesting, intriguing. It’s color scheme evoked freshness. Summer fun in the sun with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds and a corona of brightness. The glassware depicted evoked thoughts of big ass 64 ounce lime margaritas rimmed in salt. Of lounging in the sand, or poolside, sipping refreshing drinks while the lazy day passed away. I had sold myself. I figured it would probably taste like a Bud Light with a hint of lime or something.

Heck, I even noted the one phrase of Spanish on the can that even a dunce like me could translate: “La combinacion perfecta!” Sounds delicious! Er, deliciouso.

But, something about the can sent off sensors in my head. It was a little too red for my liking. Red’s a color that universally means “warning” or “danger.” The words “chelada” and “clamato” on the label also scared me even though I couldn’t translate them. Creatures are evolved to know not to eat certain things. Amazing but true. So birds somehow know not to eat the poisoned berries, and Australian snakes know not to eat the poisonous cane toad, and the urbanite Jew knows to google Bud Light Chelado before he drinks it. So I did. And I immediately saw something more disgusting than “Two Girls, One Cup.”

I saw words such as tomato juice, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and worst of all, clam broth. Yeah, these were the ingredients of the beer I held in my hand. I’ve drank some incredibly vile things in my life, but this wasn’t going to be one of them. Apparently, Mexicans actually like this shit! Well of course they do. Why else would Anheuser-Busch try to cash in on something unless it wasn’t already a craze? Now you might think me a retard for not knowing what clamato is, but I would counter that you are a deviant for actually knowing. Suffice to say I was pissed I wouldn’t have my nightcap that evening as I put the beer into the back depths of my fridge, only to show off to my friends as if part of some Frigidaire freak show, like a shrunken head or the world’s tiniest pony.

Fast forward to this week, nearly a year after the previously described events. With my team of butlers and maids on summer vacation, I decided to act like a common man and do some cleaning myself. I wasn’t thrilled with my overflowing and beginning-to-reek fridge so I decided to clean it up. And lo and behold, what should I find at the back of the icebox but my can of Chelada. I could have tossed it into the industrial-sized Glad bag along with the moldy cheddar and a banana so rotten it was black and shriveled to the size of a poorly-rolled doobie, but I knew that would be irresponsible. I had a duty to my readers. I knew I had to drink this fucking beer.

Soooo…for those scoring at home, I was about to try an old-ass (or “aged” if you prefer to be a connesseur) beer that consists of tomato juice, salt, lime, Worcestershire sauce, and clam broth. UGH. I felt like Evil Knievel about to jump over the Grand Canyon.

There was no fucking chance I was drinking this thing in my bedroom, or my living room, or even around another human being. I waited til my roommate left and then headed to the bathroom with my supplies.

(If you look closely in the picture you can see I’m clearly in my bathroom with a sink, my toothbrush, and my Crew strong hold gel in the background which is what I use to make my hair look like Showtime Lakers-era Pat Riley’s.)

Remember that great scene in “Trainspotting” when the character of Renton “Rent-Boy,” played splendidly by a young Ewan McGregor, tries to get off heroin, quitting cold turkey? Here’s how he described his preparation:

“Relinquishing junk. Stage one, preparation. For this you will need one room which you will not leave. Soothing music. Tomato soup, ten tins of. Mushroom soup, eight tins of, for consumption cold. Ice cream, vanilla, one large tub of. Magnesia, milk of, one bottle. Paracetamol, mouthwash, vitamins. Mineral water, Lucozade, pornography. One mattress. One bucket for urine, one for feces and one for vomitus. One television and one bottle of Valium, which I’ve already procured from my mother, who is, in her own domestic and socially acceptable way also a drug addict. And now I’m ready. All I need is one final hit to soothe the pain while the Valium takes effect.”

I prepared myself just as thoroughly. As mentioned, I waited for my roommate to leave. I locked the bathroom door. Previously to entering the bathroom I had eaten a turkey sandwich on wheat bread. I wanted a base in my stomach of some pleasant, non-volatile food. I also drank two Bud Lights to steady my nerves. I was as anxioius as a virgin going to the prom, and needed some liquid courage if I was ever to have the balls to drink this beer. I also brought into the loo with me a bottle of Coke Zero, a large water, another can of clam-broth-free Bud Light and, of course, I also had nearby my Listerine, toothbrush, and toothpaste to assure that I could clean out my mouth quickly and efficiently if anything bad were to happen. And I was certain something bad would happen. But I didn’t want to taint my review with stinkin’ thinkin’.

Let me interrupt to note that I have a very strong stomach. A lifetime of drinking recklessly and prodigiously and I’ve probably yakked less than ten times. And, those times I’ve thrown up were less because I drank too much but rather because I drank too much of something stupid. Like Jager. Or free hotel strawberry daquiris in Cancun. Or several “fishbowls” whilst in a most unfortunate fishbowl drinking contest over Memorial Day. I thought Chelada would soon be added to the “something stupid” list.

I wanted to see the color of the Chelada but didn’t want to risk befouling any of my beloved pint glasses. Thus, I poured some of the brew out for my fallen homeys and down the sink. It looked like menstrual blood. That was an ominious sign.

I was nervous for the impending smell. I should note I made the beer as absolutely frigid as possibly because the colder a liquid, the less you can taste it. A quality barley wine or quadrupel should be served at, say, 60 degrees fahrenheit. I suspected this motherfucker should be served at absolute zero.

I closed my eyes, if I was a Catholic I would have done that cool thing where they cross their chest, and then I leaned my big Jew nose down toward the aluminum opening. And I didn’t wince. I didn’t dry heave. There was no vomitus. In fact, I was able to keep my schnoz there indefinitely if I felt like it. I’m not gonna act like the beer smelled good, but it didn’t smell heinous either. Like overcarbonated Budweiser with a hint of Tabasco. I’m actually a fan of spiciness in all cuisines, so this aroma was fine by me. This was promising.

I felt more confident now. We all know hubris is a bitch. I took a little sip. Just a nip. Again, it was not heinous. Tasted kinda like it was one part Bloody Mary mixed with three parts Budweiser. I don’t like Bloodies, but at this point I thought the beer might be drinkable. Like I might actually finish a whole can. At this point I would have called it a “C” quality beer or so. I even thought to myself, “Yeah, I get this. I understand why a person could like this.”

My bathroom has no AC or window, so it was getting sweltering in there at this point. Like a steamroom. I felt like I was about to take a shvitz. Thus, I decided to take one more big swig and if that was pleasant enough I would bring the can back to my room and finish it off.

HUGE MISTAKE.

I took my big swig and this time the clam broth hit me HARD. Like a tidal wave rushing toward the back of my throat. It tasted like a liquid rotted anchovy pizza. I was so fucking repulsed I immediately spat it back out, a frozen rope that hit my medicine cabinet mirror on the fly. I threw my head toward the toilet and began convulsing. I couldn’t throw it up but I was heaving, wanting to eject the vileness from my system. My eyes were watering, burning. I was brought to my knees as if I had been kicked in the nuts.

“La combinacion perfecta!” echoed in my spinning head as if being spoken by a cute-as-a-button Mexican girl. Uh, how do you say in Spanish, “The only combination I can think of that would be less fucking perfect is shit mixed with vomit.”

Finally able to upright myself from the floor, I immediately slammed the 20 ounces of water. Next, I gargled four fingers of mouthwash. Then, I brushed my teeth. Four more fingers of mouthwash. How did about an ounce of fluid so destroy my stomach, pollute my mouth, and soil my tongue?! And my lips now were incredibly salty. Even worse, I couldn’t quit burping, each eructation forcing me to taste the nauseous fluid yet again and again and again. I was in near tears.

Bud Light Chelada? Should be called Bud Light Chlamydia.

I went to my room where I popped a normal Bud Light to relax and write up what you have just read to this point. I was sweating and needed to lay prostrate for a half-hour or so as if I’d just had a tough workout. Eventually, I got my strength back and had to do one final and troubling task: eliminate the 9/10th full can of Chelada still remaining. If I was smart, I would have just opened my bedroom window and hurled the can into the open patio of the hipster bar five floors down below me, a payback toward the loud patrons who keep me up every night as they discuss Jim Jarmusch movies and “going green” late into the AM.

But, I didn’t do that. Instead, I began pouring it down my sink.

Big mistake. It was making a fucking bright red, stinky mess and I thought it best to not put any more of this fluid near where we put our faces several times a day every single day. Thus, I dumped the rest of the beer out near where we put our dirty assholes several times a day every single day, the toilet. A fitting burial.

The misery is now over. My sink looks like a murderer washed his hands there while my toilet smells like an unkempt woman has been sitting on it. I can’t imagine what my roommate will think I did while he was gone for the evening.

F