River Horse Tripel Horse

10% ABV from a sixer

Everyone knows if you want to make a long road trip bearable you’ll need to drink en route. But if you want to make it highly entertaining, you’ll need to bring some non-twist-off beer bottles and accidentally forget an opener. This happened to me, Gary, and Dan on our recent trip up north. And before I go any further, I just want to prevent MADD from protesting my blog–though that would help my traffic numbers soar!–by noting that our sole driver Gary never drank once nor even planned to. So, please, only MADP (Mother Against Drunk Passengers) is allowed to give me shit.

Our journey to Canada started off at my friends’ house in Jersey City where after beating both of them in a combined 19 out of 19 games of ping pong we headed to the liquor store to stock up for the car ride. In the parking lot, I pondered whether New Jersey has any breweries. Shit, I couldn’t think of any. How weird, one of the biggest, richest states in the union with no notable breweries*. And, indeed, BA only lists the Garden State as having a pathetically paltry seven, none of them acclaimed. I mean, seriously, New Jersey! There must be no need for beer, what with all those Jersey guidos only drinking gay shots and “Goose” on ice when they hit da club.

Surprisingly, though, this Jersey City liquor store had an actual line of beer from New Jersey — River Horse. Never heard of it, but I’ll give it a whirl. We opted for a six pack of their tripel. Any brewery brash enough to attempt a Belgian style tripel must be at least halfway decent.

We waited to begin drinking til we were well outside of the metro area and nightfall had hit. We aren’t so cavalier as to overtly drink beer in daylight while going up the Westside highway or something. Once it became dark, however, we quickly realized the shit we were in — no opener and these we some well-sealed bottles. And, unfortunately–in this one case only–none of us three are the kind of repressed former frat boys that still carry a Heineken ring bottle opener on our key chains.

Lacking an opener is usually not a problem when you’re at an apartment or someplace indoors as there are two opener-less tricks that typically work quite splendidly. The easiest is to just put the edge of the cap flush with a table–one you don’t mind possibly nicking up a bit–and then slamming your open palm down on it. Of course, cars don’t have coffee tables so this was out. The second easy trick which I’m fairly accomplished at is putting two bottles parallel to each other yet a foot or so apart, then briskly moving the bottom one up and the top one down toward each other with a great force, ultimately colliding the cap of the bottom bottle with the underside of the cap of the top to create a blunt influence which usually pops the top bottle’s cap right off.

This move was risky in the car as often some foaming occurs out of the bottle. And the last thing you want is your car to smell like a potent Belgian tripel if you get pulled over. Alas, that move did not work either and our concerns were rendered moot.

I took Gary’s Blackberry and googled “opening bottle without opener” and got an onslaught of tips. I looked at several sites and here following are some of what Dan and I tried next:

1. Seatbelt clasp — I suspect this would work on most cars, but the clasp of Gary’s Audi was incredibly small and atypical of what most cars have. The neck of the bottle couldn’t enter the clasp’s square opening and thus no attempts could even be made.

2. Belt — We all removed our belts from our waists to see if we could use the buckles to pop the tops, but this didn’t work either. Not even close. And I think I’d rather a copper pull us over and find tons of beer in the car than find three men with belt off their waists. He’d think he’d found some S&M auto(mobile)-erotic weirdos.

3. Dollar bill — Hard to believe, but according to numerous websites one can:

  • Take a dollar bill and roll it tightly like a joint, then fold it up several times over until you’re left with a tightly-compressed V-shaped piece (two folded bits that meet in one sharp, tight corner).
  • Take the “V” and wedge the corner of its fold into the bottle cap.
  • Jerk the bill up as hard as you can, which will result in the cap popping off.

This came nowhere close to working and caused the first open wound of the evening to form on my hand. And it also ruined a single.

4. Golf tee and keys — There was some tees in the car from a recent golf outing and we jammed these under the cap’s ridges to try and pry it off but that did not work. Likewise, the same attempts with keys of all shapes and size also failed.

5. Car’s bumper and other edges — Too much rubber and plastic, not enough hard surfaces. You quickly learn how cheaply cars are made when you try to use them as two-ton bottle openers. At one point, Dan tried to use the window shade latch to pop the top and it seemed to work as a loud explosion took place. He confidently handed me back the bottle, “Your beer, sir.” I was stunned when I looked down to see the cap still on. All he’d done was break the latch off the ceiling of the Audi.

6. Soda machine coin return — This is another one I think would work at a typical soda or candy machine, but the ones we encountered all had odd coin return slots that were far too big to fit the bottleneck into.

All these left me and Dan with were scraped up and heavily jostled bottles and bloodied (seriously) and battered hands.

Oh, have I neglected to mention that we were both wasted too? Yeah, by this point we were halfway through a bottle of Stoli we’d been passing back and forth the hole time. What, you didn’t think six beers would last two grown boys a six-hour car ride didja?

Now in hour three of trying to open these damn–and now warm–beers, we finally stopped at a shitty reststop where we were certain to find a souvenir bottle opener amongst all the trinkets and knick-knacks. There were Aaron, Gary, and Dan miniature license plates, porcelain spoons, and even collectible snow globes, but alas no fucking bottle openers to buy.

However, we did find a pickle in a bag.

God did I want to buy that filth and review it for you dear loyal readers, however Gary and Dan were too scared to have that thing floating in the car with them for the rest of the weekend.

Finally, after five hours of trying we were forced to call mercy. The bottle had defeated us. I’m not sure if they are the best sealed bottles ever crafted or if we are just retarded or were drunk. One hour outside of our final destination, we stopped to pick up one of Gary’s childhood friends who had with him an opener.

Ahhhhhhhh! We could finally drink the beer. And we needed to drink the beer now that our vodka was killed.

My god was the River Horse tasty. Hit the fucking spot. No masterpiece but a solid tripel. Nice malt and banana taste with a spicy sweetness. Vanilla esters and a lot of yeast. Not too complex but some good bite. A bit too unbalanced of alcoholic finish and some biting carbonation are its demerits.

I think I’ll now become one of those detestable ex-frat boys that always has his Zeta Beta Tau bottle opener holstered and ready for action. Would have saved us all a lot of pain and misery.

What tricks do you use when you don’t have an opener handy?


*I guess in retrospect that shouldn’t be surprising. They have no good college sports programs either.


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