2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament Beer Pool

March 13, 2012 by Mike | No Comments | Filed in Boxes of Beer

Is this really the THIRD Annual “Boxes of Beer” Basketball tournament?

Time flies.

Good times have been had, and good beers have been won. Maybe this is your time.  Maybe this is the year you avoid the upsets and nail the winner. Maybe this is your One Shining Moment. Who knows, you could be walking around lucky and not even know it. A haul of some of the finest beer from around the country awaits.

Sign up today.

Password is “Beer”

Feel free to invite your friends, acquaintances, cell-mates, spiritual and religious advisers. The more the merrier. Email me if you have any questions.

PS If anyone has New Belgium Cocoa Mole bottles and wants to trade, let me know.

Espolon Tequila

November 2, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Tequila

Now we all know I like my free shit.  And I get lots of it due to my celebrity status as a world-famous novelist.  More and more free shit coming every day, all from PR flacks that want me to write about it.  And, by “write about it,” they mean:  write exactly what THEY want me to say about it.

But, I’m an “artist,” and I have “integrity”–sorta–so I never bow to the man.  Though I do accept the free shit.  And…if I do write about a product, about some free shit, I write about it because I love it.  Such is the case with Espolon Tequila.

Now I’m not much of a tequila drinker–and it’s usually only the super high-end 100% agave almost-Scotch-like anejo that I drink when I do–but Espolon is one worth mentioning.  It’s just as cheap as the garbage swill college kids shoot, but it tastes so much better.  Soon as the college kids learn about it, Cuervo won’t exist any more.  Check it out at your finer getting-loaded establishments.

I also decided to make some PR-friendly cocktails with my Espolon in honor of Day of the Dead, whatever that is.  And, you know what, the cocktails were actually really damn tasty.  I tell you, those PR flacks can drink with the best of them, so when they say stuff is good–even if they have to–they’re usually right.  They know their (free) shit, and I thank them for it.

Try these cocktails below tonight when you get home from another miserable day at work (you should considering getting into PR…or, novel writing) and let me know how it goes:

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a holiday widely celebrated across Mexico and Latin America honoring the lives of friends and relatives who have passed, is gaining immense popularity in the United States. Each November 2nd, crowds dress in colorful costumes, don skeleton-like makeup, parade through the streets and erect decorative altars in remembrance of the dearly departed. The traditions of Day of the Dead are far and wide: pottery calaveras (Spanish for skulls) are painted bright colors, graves are adorned with yellow marigolds and glasses of Mexico’s national drink, tequila, are raised in celebration.

This year, to commemorate Dia de los Muertos, mixologists from some of the top bars and restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York have created Espolón Tequila cocktails that stir up the complex essence and celebratory spirit of the holiday.

The following intriguing cocktails bridge Mexican traditions with modern mixology.
On Day of the Dead, make your way to these cocktail havens and sip a specialty Espolón cocktail in honor of those who have gone before.

If you need more information on Dia de los Muertos or hi-res images for the cocktail recipes below, please let me know.


About Espolón
Espolón Tequila is a super premium, 100% pure agave tequila, whose bottles are adorned with intricate Day of the Dead-style imagery. Inspired by 19th century artistry, the labels celebrate Mexico’s storied history and culture. Available in Blanco and Reposado, Espolón Tequila is a versatile spirit, perfect for sipping or mixing in cocktails.

The Procession
Created by Daniel Hyatt
The Alembic, San Francisco
1.5 oz Espolón Tequila Blanco
.75 oz White Crème de Cacao
.5 oz Ruby Port
.75 oz Hibiscus Tea, chilled
2 dashes of Orange Bitters
Orange Peel for garnish

Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. For garnish, twist a strip of orange peel over the top.
In Mexico, hibiscus is a well-known ingredient, most popular in the traditional drink, Agua Fresca. Its striking color and slightly tangy bite add layers to this cocktail, creating a truly complex drink. The pink-red hue of this cocktail is one of the most vibrant colors you will see gracing the streets during Dia de los Muertos.

The Afterlife
Created by Jorge Guzman
Ofrenda, New York
1.5 oz Espolón Tequila Reposado
.5 oz Frangelico
.5 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Chile Piquin-Cinnamon Syrup
2 dashes of Wormwood Bitters

Shake ingredients together and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The exotic spices in this cocktail complement the bold flavor notes and sweet tropical fruits found in Espolón Reposado. Essentially, the drink is a celebration of life and death. Both sweet and spicy notes in the drink echo the light and dark moments that people experience throughout their existence on earth. In the afterlife, these moments live on and continue to be celebrated.

Los Muertos
Created by Raul Yrastorza
Las Perlas, Los Angeles
2 oz Espolón Tequila Reposado
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz Apple Cider Vinegar Shrub
.5 oz Cardamaro Amaro
1 bar spoon Apple Butter Infused Agave Nectar
4 muddled Apple Chunks
Apple Cider Foam for garnish
Blackstrap molasses for garnish

Muddle apple chunks in bottom of a mixing glass. Shake all ingredients together with ice and double strain into a rocks glass over ice. Top with apple cider foam and drizzle with blackstrap molasses.
During Day of the Dead, ofrendas (offerings) are given to the dead, and range from fruits to music, tequila, song and dance. Inspired by the open-air fruit and spice markets of Oaxaca, Mexico, this cocktail combines flavors of apple, agave and ground spice. It is – at its core – an offering, paying tribute to the dead in its combination of traditional gifts often left at altars.

2011 Boxes of Beer Pool

July 29, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Boxes of Beer

{Hey- Mike here. Aaron gave me the keys to the castle.}

It’s official, we have another season of football. The exciting part is we have another season of our Boxes of Beer Football Pool. Same rules as last year,
suicide pool with two lives. You can use each team once and all you gotta do is pick a winner every week and you get lots of beer. Let me know if you
are in for this year.  Also, feel free to invite your friends, family, coworkers, spiritual advisers, parole officers, etc. as well. The more people we get the
more beer the winner gets. And we don’t need an Act of Congress to let us know more beer is better than less beer.

If anyone/everyone is on Google+ we can create a pool circle for some light hearted trash talking. If anyone needs an invite, let me know.

PS Don’t forget August 15th is National Failures Day. Celebrate accordingly.

PPS Our Editor-in-Chief, Aaron Goldfarb has had his book of short stories published in paperback. Go buy a copy, it’s funny.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the “Buy Aaron a Bottle of Utopias” (BABU) fund.

Wild Turkey

June 15, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Bourbon

The beacon of lightly colored booze that kept us going night after night on my 30 Bars in 30 Days book tour was the frequent appearances of the special How to Fail Cocktail:

Bourbon, Grand Marnier, apple cider, and a splash of ginger beer created by noted DC mixologist Derek Wallace.

It was never stated in the recipe what was the “correct” bourbon to use and, no matter where we went–dive, upscale cocktail lounge, craft beer bar–we usually let the establishment’s bartender choose the booze.  Luckily, no matter where we went, all bars had the classic Wild Turkey and that’s what usually found its way into the cocktails.

Wild Turkey has some great literary roots.  It was the preferred drink of Hunter S. Thompson, makes frequent appearances in David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” and there always seem to be a bottle lurking nearby U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on James Ellroy’s “Justified.”

I’ve become quick friends with the good PR folks for Wild Turkey and they’ve turned me on to several varieties from the Wild Turkey line, most notably Russell’s Reserve, American Honey, and the Rare Breed.  I even had a bull session with them over Turkey and BBQ last night at Hill Country, surely Manhattan’s best BBQ below 125th Street.

American Honey

I won’t lie, I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking this in public.  But, truth be told, I’ve fallen for it.  PR flack Brian was quickly able to assess the kind of person I am as we talked about the podcast and radio interviews I give sometimes.

“You ever ‘pre-game’ an interview?” he asked.

Damn, if he hadn’t nailed me spot on.

I DO pre-game interviews.  I’m so much more interesting with a few fingers in me.  And, quickly, American Honey has become what I pre-game with.  Just a little.  It’s so sticky and syrupy that after a few pours the bottle cap will be nearly soldered onto the bottle.  Packed with a honey and caramel-y sweetness, it goes down easy.  Perfect for a quick mid-day quaff.  To be clear, it is not bourbon.  It is a bourbon-based liqueur.  But I really dig it.  And chilled, it’s a revelation, a perfect dessert libation to coat your insides and prepare you for bed.  Why are college kids wasting their time taking shots of Jager when this is so much better?

Russell’s Reserve

This 10-year-old small-batch bourbon is soooo easy drinking at 90 proof.  It’s even master distiller Jimmy Russell’s “everyday” bourbon.  Thick and full-bodied, vanilla and sugar cane with a little cinnamon-y zing.  I could drink this all night.

Oh, and I did.

Rare Breed

Rare Breed is a beast.  Surely the most reasonably priced barrel-proof bourbon around at a mere $35 or so.  At 54.2%, Rare Breed truly separates the men from the boys, but it’s not as hot as you’d think.  Toffee and honey, with a creamy rye finish.

After a few Russell’s Reserves and a dessert shot of American Honey, I came home for a nightcap, with a determination to invent my own Wild Turkey cocktail.

What can I say, I had no choice but to name it after my short story collection, continuing the tradition of a cocktail for each of my books.

The Cheat Sheet

*2 parts Rare Breed
*1 part American Honey
*a generous splash of bitters (I recommend Fee Brothers)
*garnish with a cherry if you have one around the house (you don’t, and I didn’t)

It’s like a Manhattan except replacing the wussy sweet vermouth with something a little more potent.

And, it’s amazing.

GUEST POST: Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA

May 23, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Guest Post

You might have noticed, I don’t exactly blog about beer that much any more.  I’ve been busy with my book(s) and have been doing a lot of publishing/marketing/shameless promoting/deep thinking blogging over here.

Sorry for alienating you, loyal Vice Blog fans.  I’m still drinking the good shit, and I’ll have much more to say about the good shit in the near future.  Promise.

Until then, a highly rare guest post.  The first in this site’s history I do believe.  Fan of the Vice Blog, and Boxes of Beer sometime commish, Mike came to me with a boozy piece he wrote and wondered if I’d post it.  Sure, what the heck.  It’s called…


There are few thing more exciting than standing outside a strip club waiting for it to open. Chubby’s was supposed to open at 4, but it was 4:05 and the door was still locked. Should I knock? It was clouding up, and I didn’t want to get stuck in the rain. I checked my bag to make sure everything was still there. The pink paint on the window frame near the door was chipped. I peered in and saw a few dancers sitting at the bar smoking and eating, tramp stamps galore. Nothing kills the fantasy faster than seeing your golden-tressed angel gnawing on hot wings and french fries. My Amanda would never do that.

The only other time I had been to Chubby’s was with some fellas from work. Bill from Accounting was getting married and we took him out for a pseudo-bachelor party. Most of us work friends weren’t tight enough with him to get invited to his “real” bachelor party, but we wanted to do something, seeing that he was the first one of us who was getting hitched. After buying Bill several drinks and dances the guys took off around midnight. I left with them but drove around the block and came back. I needed to get a dance with the raven haired beauty who was giving me eyes all night. After the fifth dance, Amanda (Not ‘Mandy’, she was classy in a way the other girls weren’t. And she had no tats.) cooed in my ear, “Give me your number, honey, so I can call you some time.” I obliged. She had the softest skin I had ever felt.

A few weeks after Bill’s party I was at my desk, finishing up both my weekly activity report and my third Mountain Dew when my phone vibrated with a text from Amanda. She wanted me to come see her at the club that night! I yelled over to my boss, “Mom’s got a doctor’s appointment, Brad, mind if I take the afternoon off and go with her?”

“No problem, sport, just get your activity report in on time and you’re golden. Oh, and did you get that virus off Bill’s laptop?”

“The virus is gone. Same one he had last time.” Poor Bill had the worst luck getting those computer viruses. “Thanks Brad. You da man!”

“Back at ya, dawg. Hope your mom is OK.”

I texted Amanda, “Ill b there, cant w8! ;-)”

Report finished, I put it in the bin marked “WAR” and scrambled out of the office. It was almost noon, so I figured I’d grab a quick bite and a haircut. I didn’t want to look scruffy for Amanda. I stopped at McDonald’s and gave my regular order. As I waited, I noticed my reflection in the chrome on the counter. I looked pale. It had been a long winter, maybe I should hit the tanning salon after my haircut? Why not, Amanda might like me even better with a healthy glow. After scarfing down my double cheeseburger, fries and vanilla milkshake, I made a beeline for the hair salon.

“The usual, kiddo?” Betty asked as I sat down in the chair.

“No, not this time. Give me whatever the kids are getting these days,” I took my glasses off and put them on the counter, “I have a date tonight.”

“You got it, hon.” She said as she cracked her gum. “I’ll give you the ‘Cool Guy.’”

“You gonna take her flowers.? Girls love flowers. What’s her name?”

“Hadn’t thought about flowers, but you’re probably right, I should take something.” I hadn’t been on a date in awhile and wasn’t sure of the protocol these days. Maybe a rose and a box of chocolates would be a good start?

“And her name is Amanda. She has jet black hair and really pretty eyes.” I could feel the butterflies in my stomach when I talked about her.

“What does she do? How’d you meet her?”

“I met her at a bar and she’s in, uh, sales.”

“She sounds great, your mother’s going to love her.”

Mom. I didn’t think about Mom. I hope Amanda doesn’t mind that I live with Mom. She needs me to keep up the house and living with her is saving me a few bucks with gas so high and the recession and all. Besides, Brad promised me a raise after my last review. Then I’ll be able to afford a place of my own. Maybe I’ll just keep that under wraps for the first date and see how it goes.

Betty finished and I left her a tip and headed for the tanning salon next door. I had never done this before, so I asked the pretty girl at the counter to get me set up. She showed me to the tanning room.

“You just put these glasses on and lie in the bed for 15 minutes, sweetie. Relax and listen to the music.”

“Should I take ALL my clothes off? Or can I keep my underwear on?”

“Whatever works for you, sweetie, go wild.” She dragged out the ‘i’ in ‘wild’ in a way that was really cute. Not as cute as Amanda, but cute enough.

“Uh, let me ask you a question.” I stammered as she headed out of the room.

“What can I do for you, sweetie?”

“If you were going on a date, what would you want the guy to bring you?”

“Well, I love flowers and chocolate, who doesn’t? My boyfriend just bought me a necklace. Like it?”

She pulled her shirt down some so I could see the necklace that dangled above her rack. It was an Italian Horn and it looked sexy against her golden brown skin.

“It’s an Eye-talian Horn” She grinned. “He got it for our one month anniversary because we’re both half Eye-talian.”

“Well, you know what I say, ‘There’s two kinds of people in the world: Italians and those who wish they were Italian’.”

“I looooove it, gonna tell Ant that one tonight when I get home.” She cackled and touched my arm.

“Gotta get back to the front, boss’ll kill me if he calls and I’m not up there. Have fun!” She winked as she wheeled around and left.

After my 15 minutes were up, I got out of the tanning bed and and checked myself in the full-body mirror. Awesome. A little well-done, perhaps, but not bad for my first time. Plus it will be dark at the club and the red should fade a little.

Next stop was flowers. The big question was should I get one or a dozen? Decided on a single rose and headed over to the chocolate shop to get some candy. As I left with my chocolate covered strawberries, I spied a small jewelry store across the street. A bell rang as I opened the door. The proprietor looked up from his gigantic sandwich and grunted hello.

“Do you have any of those gold Italian Horn necklaces?” I asked.

“Eye-talian Horns? Yeah, we got ‘em — $39.95 for the necklace on sale. Real gold plated, too. Nice stuff.”

He took it off of the display and handed it to me. “It will look good on you, fella.”

“It’s not for me, it’s for my girl.”

“She Eye-talian?”

“You know it- there’s only two kinds of people…”

“Yep, Eye-talians and dem dat wanna be Eye-talian.” First smile out of him.

Amanda was going to freak. The gold necklace would look incredible on her. Her tan was even better than the girl at the tanning salon. Time to head to Chubby’s.

Finally at 4:13 the door cracked open and a meathead in an Ed Hardy shirt grinned down at me. “Up and at ‘em early, champ? Enjoy the girls.”

Oh shit. I looked down and noticed my work ID badge was still attached to my belt beside my Blackberry. No need for that here, she knows who I am, I smiled to myself. I grabbed the ID and stuffed it into my pocket.

“Ah, is Uh-man-da here yet?” My voice cracked. I was nervous.

“Should be. She’s on tonight.”

“Thanks.” I palmed a five-dollar bill and slipped it to him. Like a player. “Can you get me a good seat, boss?”

He looked at me sideways. “Sure,” he chuckled, “Grab one up by the stage.” The DJ put on “Crazy Train” and announced the next girl.

I took a seat near the stage and set my bag of gifts for Amanda down beside me. I ordered a beer and checked out the floor show. A few of the other girls did their thing and then finally around five, Amanda came out. She looked amazing. Her long white gown was a perfect compliment to her flowing black mare. Her smoky eyes and ruby red lips were exactly as I remembered. “Girls, Girls, Girls” throbbed on the stereo. (As a child of the ’80’s I was loving the music selections.) My heart jumped into my throat. She must have noticed me as she started dancing. A wink, a smile, and off came the white gown. She worked her way down to a tiny red thong as the song ended. After gathering her things and some stray dollar bills, she headed backstage. A few minutes later I felt a hand on my shoulder and the scent of vanilla and raspberries hit me.

“Hey baby, enjoying the show?” She whispered in my ear. Her hair tickled the side of my face.

“Oh yeah. You’re the best one here!” My hands were shaking as I handed her the rose and box of chocolates.

“Thanks! I love candy.” She smiled. “Glad you could make it. We’ve been slow lately.”

“That’s not all.” I said. “Here, I want you to wear this.” I took out the Italian Horn.

“Wow you have great taste. Thanks sweetie. I should let you take me shopping sometime.” She ran her hand up my khakis.

“It will look perfect on you.”

“Yep. Maybe you can help me put it on,” she said as she pulled her hair up. “By the way, we’re doing a special, buy five dances, get one free. Wanna have some fun?”

My hands brushed against her neck as I clasped the necklace.. The first few notes from “Love Bites” sounded from the speakers.


She took me by the hand and guided me in the direction of the ATM. Her hands were as soft as silk.

“Good thinking,” I said. “I need to pick up some cash.”

As I removed the hundreds from the machine, all I could think about was how great tonight was going to be.

Raging Bitch Belgian IPA

8.3% ABV

If it was socially acceptable, I would literally gnaw on hops. I would chew a Citra or a Centennial or a Cascade like a piece of gum if I could get away with it. Which is why I love beers that feature them. Raging Bitch (in addition to having an awesome name and even more awesome label artwork) puts the hops on full display with a nice tropical aroma and clean taste. There’s also a hint of spice. It’s an IPA that lets you know it’s got some Belgian in it. The 8.3% ABV is warming on a cool, rainy spring evening.

I don’t get too bogged down in ratings and I don’t pick up 36 flavors in every sip like some reviewers on other sites. My rating system tends toward the simple: Would I recommend it to you if we were in a bar? The answer is one hell of a yes. Go get yourself a six pack, stat. Put on some Warren Zevon or some Rolling Thunder era Dylan, Dr. Gonzo would like that. Pair it with spicy food, Cajun works nice, and tangy cheese. Or some chocolate covered strawberries.

The Abbey Brewing Company

April 11, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: The Abbey Brewing Co., Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: IPA, Style: Stout

South Beach is the land of skinny people drinking Coronas, skinny people drinking margaritas, and skinny people (or Nicole Polizzi) drinking margaritas with Coronas dumped into them (for real).  Now, any one with tastebuds should rightfully detest Coronas and while I can occasionally enjoy a tropical beverage on a hot day, I’m not sure why one would want to water down a fruity boozebath with 4% skunk beer.  As for me, even in the land of skinny people, when there doesn’t seem to be a decent craft beer in sight, I like to find the large bearded guys.  They usually know where the good brews are.  Even in craft beer wastelands, you can usually find an oasis or two.  I found one such spot on a recent trip to Miami:  The Abbey Brewing Company.

A tad off the beaten path–if the “beaten path” is Ocean Drive*–I located The Abbey Brewing Company.  Minuscule in size, it’s been standing proud on 16th and Lenox since 1995.  Dark and cool inside, brewmaster/owner/former New Yorker Raymond Rigazio is a seasoned pro, having homebrewed (and home-wined) since well before you drank anything halfway decent.

On my quick jaunt there last Friday, Raymond had two of his house beers on tap, both of which were sublime.

Immaculate IPA

The same recipe since ABC opened, it’s good enough that there’s no reason to change it!  Settling in at a solid 6.2% ABV, this brew uses three different kinds of hops but is balanced quite nicely, and flawlessly refreshing.  I could have slugged these all day.


Father Theodore’s Stout

Now the last thing I wanted at 3 PM on a sweltering Friday, mere hours before I had to appear respectable (and standing) at my sister’s wedding, was a big bodied stout.  But, surprisingly, this 9.5% monster is light.  I don’t mean light in mouthfeel or body, it’s a full-figured gal packed with complex flavors of chocolate and licorice, I mean light in that typical boozy taste that plagues many imperial stouts.  I was stunned at its ABV, double-checking with Raymond just to make sure.  Dangerous.


The Abbey also has a dubbel and quad (which I hear is amazing), but neither was on during my visit.  Raymond makes small batches and only brews a few times a year so enjoy what you can get!  He also has several other taps from great breweries across America, an impressive bottle list, and solid booze and wine selections.  I would set up a permanent camp in this joint if I lived in Miami Beach, and hope to be back sometime soon!

*In the oddest comparison you’ve surely ever heard, Ocean Drive reminds me of Mulberry Street in NY’s Little Italy.  What with the cookie cutter menus, the aggressive maitre d’s, and the outdoor dining and waddling tourists getting in your way and making movement a struggle.  Then again, you rarely see the bottom ass curvature of modelesque women on Mulberry Street.

Nebraska Reserve Series Apricot Au Poivre Saison Aged in Chardonnay Barrels

March 29, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Nebraska, Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Blonde Ale, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

6.5% from a 750 mL

(I apologize for the sideways picture–my iPhone is fucked up.)

So…I write a novel, I’m feeling pretty proud about myself, about my career, and yet I keep hearing from people, I keep receiving emails:

“Why don’t you review beer any more?!”

I guess I thought novel > beer blog reviews in the world of writing and entertainment, but apparently, to many people, that isn’t the case and, in fact, I alienated many of my fans!  They didn’t care about my stupid novel (that took years to write), they care about my subversive reviews of craft beer (that take a few minutes to write).

Who am I to be the arbiter of my fan’s enjoyment?  Thus, I am back.  And, I plan to be back with new reviews every single week now.  My first “back” review, though, is of a great beer by some of my good friends in the industry, Nebraska Brewing Company.

Nebraska burst onto the scene in 2010 with two of my favorite beers of the year:  Hop God aged in Chardonnay Barrels and Melange a Trois, a tripel aged in, you guessed in, Chardonnay barrels.  Here’s another beer aged in Chardonnay barrels, this time using their Apricot Au Poivre Saison as the base.

Now, oddly enough, I’ve had all of Nebraska’s rare, high-end, and pricey brews–which, luckily, they ship to me, gratis–but I haven’t had that many of their regular line.  I was fortunate enough to finally try their IPA the other day and it is as good as anything on either coast, and last summer I sucked down plenty of the standard Apricot Au Poivre.  That was a nice little brew, but the chardonnay aging takes this one to a completely different level.

Flawlessly effervescent.  A slight tartness yet the apricot fruitiness comes through with just a hint of stinging black pepper.  I put back a 750 of this in about 750 seconds.  I was loving it that much.  Another huge winner from Nebraska that demands being searched for.  It still doesn’t even have a single review on Beer Advocate yet!  Come on people.


Is Nebraska one of the best sour beer makers in America?!  Hard to say, there’s so many great ones and NBC doesn’t quite have as large of catalog (yet) as some other, older breweries.  But they might be the best Chardonnay-barreled beer maker around.  Or, damn close.  At the moment, I’d rank them 2nd to the American kings of the sour beer game, Russian River, who also favor Chardonnay aging.

Interestingly, just a few weeks earlier I tried a Russian River beer aged in these beloved barrels:

Russian River Sanctification

This is a 6.5% Belgian Blond aged in Chardonnay oak with 100% Brett added.  And, whoa!, is it a nice beer.  Perhaps the best-looking beer I’ve ever had.  Looks like fresh squeezed OJ with the pulp removed.  Not overly complex, but flawless in execution.  Tart, crisp, with the fruity taste of a nice white wine.  Not too sour, and totally refreshing.  A beauty.


The Second Annual Boxes of Beer NCAA Tournament Pool

March 12, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Boxes of Beer

We’ve all been entering NCAA tournament pools for years if not decades.  $10, $20, win, usually lose, big deal.  They’re fun, sure, but last year I had a better idea.

An NCAA tournament pool where your entry “fee” is beer.

So here’s the deal, to get into this tournament pool you just need to offer up a nice local beer from wherever you live.  Doesn’t have to be rare, doesn’t have to be expensive, doesn’t even have to be good (although, what kinda dickhead would offer up a shitty beer?)  You live in Wisconsin, offer up a bottle or two of New Glarus.  California, how about some Russian River?  I will probably offer a fancypants New York beer (Black Ops, hmmm?)  Now I’m not saying you have to be as generous of course.  I don’t want this be a burden or expensive.  A bottle or two of beer, plus shipping, will cost you max $10-15, around the same as any NCAA office pool.  The picture above is just a portion of winner John Martin’s haul during this year’s NFL Boxes of Beer contest.

Here’s our private group, “Boxes of Beer”

Password is of course:  beer

No one’s forcing you to enter, so please, if you do enter, don’t be a jerk and not live up to your end of the bargain if and when you most likely lose.  I’ll be really pissed if that happens.  And I’ll be insanely jealous at the thought of the winner receiving box after box after box of beers all throughout April.

If you enter, you must send an email to associate commissioner Mike Zambotti at mjz119 @comcast.net.


(And let’s go Syracuse!!!!)

Aaron Goldfarb

*You must be 21 or older to enter.

**And, buy a copy of HOW TO FAIL if you haven’t yet.  Come on, it’s all I ask.

The Vice Blog’s Year in Movies 2010

January 3, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Lists

2010 was a shitty year for movies.  I typically see several hundred movies per year, just about anything and everything of note, but this year I was so busy putting the finishing touches on my novel and then completely consumed for most of November and December with touring the east coast to sign copies of said novel that I had little time for cinema.  Returning to normalcy the last couple of weeks with plans to do a cram session on what I’d missed, I realized…I hadn’t missed much at all.  There really weren’t many good films this year, only about a dozen quite frankly, and, thus, my list–just like most other critics’ lists–is simply a rearrangement of those dozen or so quality flicks.  So it goes…



Perhaps the only masterpiece of the year and, oh!, is it inspiring.  Colin Firth has never been so interesting, or captivating, as King George VI (“Bertie”), the first truly modern king, who had to overcome a lifetime stutter in order to rule the radiowaves during wartime.  Surprisingly funny, Geoffrey Rush gives typically great supporting work as Bertie’s unaccredited speech therapist and first ever friend.  I was elated leaving the theater and still can’t shake it from my mind.  It’s absolutely shameful the pathetic MPAA gave it an R rating (simply due to a few stray “fucks”) because this is the kind of movie that any child with a stammer–heck, any shy, lacking-in-confidence person–could totally find strength in.  I know I did.


The annual Pixar film is pretty much a lock for my top 10 each year and this one is no exception.  Darker and sadder than most other “cartoons,” this is a nice treatise on growing up and losing a little of your childhood.  Hopefully Woody won’t serve as Andy’s “ROSEBUD” in some “Toy Story 4″ in a few years, though that’s a pretty good idea I suppose.

3.  127 HOURS

I really didn’t see any way that this story I already knew like the back of my hand could be made into a captivating two hour flick, but damn if director Danny Boyle and James Franco don’t pull it off.  Boyle uses great innovation to get “away” from the scene of the boulder-on-his-arm and delivers an exhilarating movie about perseverance and liiiiiving, man.


Another “story we all know,” but with a typically snappy script by Aaron Sorkin, delivered perfectly by Jesse Eisenberg, and filmed in pure “Zodiac” style by David Fincher–making a strong push for America’s best director (I now rank him third behind PT Anderson and Tarantino).  I suppose this will ultimately be the movie that “defines” the year, and there’s nothing wrong with that.


I avoided this movie for so long cause it sounded like the classic indie borefest.  A young daughter tries to locate her possibly-dead meth cooking father in Hicksville, USA?  Sure, but when that young daughter is played startling well by Jennifer Lawrence and the movie features a spot-on script and sumptuous direction…well, damn if this wasn’t a great one that joins the pantheon of other recent “backwoods” classics like “Shotgun Stories” and “All the Real Girls.”


Along with the aforementioned Boyle and Fincher, Darren Aronofsky is another genius director in the upper patheon and this is the film where he finally puts his incredible talents all together.  Natalie Portman is remarkable, there’s great supporting work from Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis (!) and, though I’m still not quite sure what occurs in this movie, it’s something a legend like Stanley Kubrick would be damn proud of it in all its dark eeriness.


Surely the best movie ever made about two highly educated, wealthy and urbane lesbians raising children in California.  Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are a perfect match as said lesbians and this is a film that is smart, funny, and all heart.


The “French ‘Scarface'” is a mesmerizing picture about a seemingly harmless young Muslim’s indoctrination into a Corsican prison mafia leading to his eventual creation of his own crime syndicate.  It also features perhaps the most gruesome murder in movie history.  Stream it on Netflix after you’ve put the kids to bed.


I’m not sure if this film is really about anything, but it’s a perfectly taut and tense MacGuffin thriller directed by Roman Polanski.  I was never bored for a second, an all-too-large accomplishment in 2010.


A friend described this film thusly: “The first half is the best Massachusetts movie ever.  The second half was one of the best boxing movies I have ever seen.”  He’s not that far off.  Christian Bale stakes a claim on “Best Actor in the World” too.



1.  Colin Firth  (“The King’s Speech”)

2.  Christian Bale  (“The Fighter”)

3.  Natalie Portman  (“Black Swan”)

4.  Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”)

5.  Jesse Eisenberg  (“The Social Network”)

6.  James Franco  (“127 Hours”)

7.  Geoffrey Rush  (“The King’s Speech”)

8.  Melissa Leo  (“The Fighter”)

9.  Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”)

10.  Jeff Bridges  (“True Grit”)

And there you have it.  2010 was such a weak and boring year, there weren’t even a wealth of shitty films to give me a schadenfreudal kick as I made a “worst of the year” list.  Nope, it was just a year with a lot of mediocre stuff in the middle.

*The few notable as yet unseen by me:  “I Am Love,” “Somewhere,” “Blue Valentine,” “Tangled,” “Cyrus.”

**Also see:

The Top Movies of the 2000s
The Year in Movies 2009
The Year in Movies 2008

Discover a great degree at therapist programs

The Vice Blog 2010 Wrap-Up

December 29, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Lists

I drank a lot of great beers over the past 365 days–no surprise considering I spent 30 consecutive days going from beer bar to beer bar–but these are the ones I remember most fondly.

(Note:  If I included it on my “best-of” list for 2008 or 2009 then no matter how good that same beer is/was, I made it ineligible for this year’s list.  Also of note, Thank Heaven For Beer‘s super-high ABV imperial stout homebrew was easily one of the three best beers I had this year, though I chose not to include it for the simple reason that none of you out there have any chance to ever purchase it.  For the moment at least.)


1.  The Bruery Black Tuesday (2009 vintage)

I quaffed this during an epic high-ABV, highly-rare imperial stout tasting (some pictured above) to celebrate a friend’s marriage and this one easily took the wedding cake.  Due to the immense hype surrounding it, you might think Black Tuesday couldn’t possibly deliver, but it does big time.  Just a boozy, complex, and delicious big boy stout.  Everything I could possibly want in a beer.  Though you truly do need about five guys on hand to finish a 750 mL bottle.

2.  Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout

I had this several times during the year, including during the aforementioned epic stout tasting, and this was the only one that was able to go a few slug-‘em-out rounds with Black Tuesday.  Regular Bourbon County seems to have been specifically created for me.  Deliciously hot and boozy, packed with chocolate and vanilla and about as un-subtle as a beer can get, the Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso added to Bourbon County Coffee makes it a little smoother, a little more palatable, a little more “user-friendly.”  It may be the best coffee beer ever made.

3.  Cantillon Blåbær Lambik

This had long been my “most desired” bottled beer in the world, one which I never thought I’d get to try, so I guess it’s good to have generous friends, ain’t it?  The Drunken Polack, that saint, a splendid acquirer of rare stuff, was kind enough to split his rare bottle with me one Saturday afternoon and we both just absolutely luxuriated with this blueberry lambic, surely one of the best sour ales in the world.

4.  Brooklyn Wild One

I’d long heard of this somewhat urban legend of a beer, but never thought I’d get to try it.  Never released commercially as far as I know, a small, small batch of Brooklyn’s Local One was bourbon-barreled with Brett added.  Local One is a terrific beer, one fit for countless occasions, but adding Brett makes it truly majestic!  I would stand in line in the freezing cold for this beer if it was released at a yearly one-off event, that’s how much I adored it.  And, I am going to assume it is only lack of knowledge of its mere existence that prevents this beer from being one of the most coveted rarities on beer trading forums throughout America because, simply put, it might be the best American wild ale I’ve ever had.

5.  Alpine Exponential Hoppiness

The brilliantly named (it uses multiple kettle hop additions with the technique of doubling the hop amount each addition, thus exponentially) is sticky sweet with a bitter finish and the slightest hint of the oak chips it’s aged on while dangerously drinkable too at 10.5%.  ALL of Alpine’s IPAs are massive, massive winners, but Exponential Hoppiness, perhaps until I finally get to try Pliny the Younger, is the best DIPA I’ve ever had.

6.  Cigar City Brandy Barrel Winter Warmer

Cigar City entered the fray for “best brewery in America” honors this year and, luckily, I got to try dozens and dozens of their rarities at a few events around the city.  This was a beer I honestly ordered just to fill out a flight foursome, but it absolutely floored me, more so than anything else from the Tampa beermakers.  This is their normal Warmer Winter Winter Warmer–an old ale–aged on Laird’s apple brandy.  Silky, syrupy, and sweet but not cloying, this reminded me of J.W. Lee’s delicious Harvest Ale Calvados, but even boozier and more delicious.

7.  Nebraska Hop God Reserve Series Aged In French Oak Chardonnay Barrels

Nebraska Brewing Company burst onto the scene this year with some great efforts, but this was easily their best.  The taste is more God-like than hop-like, but that hardly matters.  This was one bottle of sour tart deliciousness.  Strong wood flavors come through with the oak and the Belgian yeastiness is accented nicely by some subtle wine flavors.  Just a hint of citric sour fruit flavors as well.  Tastes not Belgian IPAish at all, more like a wild ale, though I’m not sure there’s any Brett in the barrel to make this officially “wild,” but whatever the case, this was an incredibly memorable brew.

8.  Surly Abrasive Ale

Surly does not fuck around and it’s quite likely they’ll have a beer appear in my year end top tens for the rest of time.  Within a few hours I was fortunate enough to get to try batch 1 on tap, batch 1 canned, and an ever so slightly tweaked batch 2 on tap.  Now while batch 1 and the first canned version I tried were both magnificent, both A level beers, batch 2, the batch that I suppose will be the recipe from now til iniquity, blew my mind and is clearly one of the best IPAs I have ever had.

9.  Three Floyds Barrel Aged Pop Skull

The “normal” Pop Skull, a collaboration brew between Three Floyds and Dogfish Head, was a kinda lame brown ale, but the bourbon barrel-aging turned this ordinary beer into something extraordinary, the rich vanilla tastes of bourbon latching on beautifully to the brown ale base.  A huge surprise of 2010, proving that it’s not only imperial stouts that can benefit from bourbon barrel aging.

10.  Maine Beer Co. Zoe

I got a tip there was a nano-brewery in Portland, Maine cranking out some amazing shit and sure enough that was the case, as I stumbled upon one of my most memorable beers of the year.  Packaged in thin and sultry needle-nosed bottles I’d heretofore only seen Pliny the Elder employ, Zoe is a bitter explosion in the mouth, perfectly carbonated and tingly, tastes of tropical fruits yet still balanced perfectly with a strong malt backbone.  Simply put, it’s the best amber ale out there now, even better than the quintessential one Nugget Nectar.  If I lived in Maine, I’d be drinking Zoe weekly.  (Which actually might be harder to do than you think, even if you do live in Maine, considering a mere 144 bottles are produced weekly!)

Honorable mention:

COOP Territorial Reserve Oak-Aged Imperial Stout

I had the pleasure of getting a private tour of this two-year-old Oklahoma City brewery and I was quickly wowed by all their beers, but especially this beauty.  Aged on Bulleit bourbon barrels, this might seriously be the smoothest, most perfectly melded bourbon-barreled stout I’ve ever had.

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout via a Meyers rum-soaked cherries Randall

I’ve enjoyed numerous beers through Dogfish Head’s Randall before, but always IPAs, and always a hops-filled Randall.  This was my first non-IPA, non-hops Randall and MY GOD was it amazing.  It even made a somewhat lackluster “How to Fail” book signing event at P.O.P.E. in Philadelphia memorable.

Stone IPA Double Dry Hopped

Had this at the epic Stone Total Tap Tower Takeover event at Rattle ‘n’ Hum.  Like a liquidized sack of fresh weed.  Yum.  Maybe the dankiest beer I’ve ever quaffed.

Stone Vertical Epic 07.07.07 red wine barrel aged

Also had this at the epic Stone Total Tap Tower Takeover event at Rattle ‘n’ Hum.  I wouldn’t have thought that red wine barrel aging would bring a Belgian IPA to such greatness, but indeed it did.  One of those most unique beers I’ve ever had.

Wachusett Larry IPA

I’m sure I had a few better IPAs this year, but I couldn’t quite shake from my mind the first time I had this on tap, over the summer in Boston at the Publick House.  I’ve had it bottled a few times since and while it’s always good, it’s never quite been as great as that first fresh time I had it on tap.  A brilliant East Coast IPA.

Others (alphabetical):

Alpine Duet
Ballast Point Victory at Sea
Birrificio Le Baladin Xyauyu

Brewdog Sink the Bismarck!
Brewdog Tokyo*
The Brewer’s Art Cerebus Tripel

Brooklyn Detonation Ale
Cigar City Guava Grove Saison

Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Laird’s Apple Brandy Barrel
COOP Red Zeppelin
De Dolle Stille Nacht (2004 vintage)

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout
Karl Strauss Big Barrel Double IPA

The Lost Abbey Isabelle Proximus

Nebraska Melange A Trois Reserve Series Aged in French Oak Chardonnay Barrels
Three Floyds Oak Aged Dark Lord Imperial Stout

Somewhat sadly, in a schadenfreude kinda way, I had such a great drinking year that I have nothing to submit for my always-amusing worst beers of the year list.  Bummer.  Hopefully next year.

Actually, hopefully not.  May we both continue our great beer drinking into 2011.

Happy New Year!