Schell Stout

September 23, 2008

5% from a bomber

(in response to the pictures in yesterday’s Brooklyner Weisse review)

Question: When you go out in public are you undercover? Like Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent? Or do people know you are the World Famous Vice Blogger? I ask because you are always taking pics of the beers you drink. I am sure people see you and inquire WTF are you doing? What is your answer to them? Do you tell the truth? Or make up a story? And do they think you are weird for taking the pics? Do bartenders think you are taking pics of them? And did the people at the party think? If I saw some kid I didnt know at my party taking pics of beers in my fridge I would punt his ass out the window. Why? Because I wouldnt understand what he was doing, and when you dont understand others or they are different from you, then you are supposed to turn violent toward them. Intolerance is in the Bible so you know it is the right thing to do.

Anyway maybe this question is better answered in a beer review.

First of all, I have taken pics of the inside of your fridge before, Sal. And soon enough I will be posting on this very blog all those images I snuck of the Ziploc-ed severed body parts you are hiding in there. But I do agree with your theories on intolerance, good looking out.

When I began this blog, I used to be nervous about taking pictures of my beers while in public and would try to do it quickly, surreptitiously, and inconspicuously. Being that I am not a skilled photographer, I’m often drinking in dark places, oh, and drunk too, it sometimes was tough to quickly pull off an acceptable, publishable photo. Not to mention, I refuse to lug a camera around to the bars so I have to use my phone’s camera, which, if you’ve noticed, is not the most high-definition. Especially in dark places where IThe Vice Blog › Edit — WordPress‘m forced to put on the “night” switch and then hold the camera completely still for literally like 10 seconds to get a clear photograph. I feel like I’m using a Daguerreotype camera it’s so goddamn slow.

Occasionally, bartenders or other customers, party goers, or even my dates would catch me and brusquely wonder in confusion, “What are you doing?”

Initially, I tried to blow it off with a chuckle and a mumbled “Oh, nothing, don’t worry. I just have a stupid website where I write about beers…”

I wouldn’t even have a chance to finish my blow-off explanation before I’d hear “Cooooool!!!” Everyone loved it! The first bartender to “catch” me was so impressed he immediately started bringing me free glasses of Scotch, bourbon, and “secret” bottles of beer his bar had stored that I just had to try and then write about. Fellow customers with boring lives of their own immediately had something interesting to discuss with me. As did my dates. In fact, the only place that has ever reacted negatively to me taking a picture of a beer was once when I tried to do it while in Whole Foods, which inexplicably has a no-photography policy (“But how ‘r’ ma’ friends back home in Tupelo, gonna’ believe I actually went to one a’ dem fancy ore-gan-ick supermarkets?!”)

So now when I need to take a snap of my beer in public, I pretty much just proudly announce to any one in ear shot, “Excuse me, I need to take a picture of my beer for my blog.” And, usually, those around me stop everything, wanting to assist in the composition, lighting, and set-up for my beer shots.

Such was the case at the infamous party where the Brooklyner pic was taken as a fellow guest thought an in-the-fridge photo would be a unique composition. He was right.

Nevertheless, a good majority of pics, such as the one that kicks of this review, are taken in my home where no one can make fun of me except for the ghost that lives under my bed.

Of my first two career Schell beers, one was a solid success and one was a marginal success. This would be my third to try and the one I was most leery about. You see, stouts are always a risky proposition to me. When it comes to IPAs or pale ales or even barley wines, I still feel like I can enjoy a lackluster one. Of course I want a masterpiece every time, but I have no probably quaffing mediocre to bad ones and even finding a thing or two nice to say about them. That is not true with stouts. For whatever reason with stouts, if I don’t get a masterpiece or a near-masterpiece, I all but hate the beer. Thus, I always drinks stouts with tons of trepidation.

The 5% ABV worried me immediately. The stouts I’ve grown to love are American-style “imperial” asskickers, often so potent they make bourbons blush. This English stout was one of the least alcoholic stouts I can ever recall having, aside from, you know, Guinness.

Nevertheless, the pour was promising. Black and milky with the ever so smallest hint of a head. Smells of dark coffee, roastedness, and burntness. Everything seemed to be in order so far.

I’d like to claim that I tasted even the faintest hints of coffee, but I didn’t. It simply tasted smoky and borderline meaty to me, and, I must admit, a bit like inhaling some flatulence. Not much flavor, complexity, or kick to it. No carbonation or hops feel either, as to be expected. A slight creamy finish redeems the beer somewhat and it is indeed very drinkable. When I have them, I usually make stouts my last brew of the evening and only drink them on a somewhat empty stomach, but this one could be handled any time.

There’s not much else to say. I didn’t particularly love this one. However, admittedly, the more I drank it the more palatable it became and the more I like it. But I never loved it and wouldn’t have it again.


Schell FireBrick

September 20, 2008

5% ABV

When I was younger, I thought there would be nothing better than if I could one day live above a bar.  I would walk down there in my slippers and a bathrobe for a quick nip.  I could tell women I met there that I literally lived upstairs.  And if I got too wasted and passed out on the bar, my kindly bartender friend would excuse himself for a minute and fireman carry me upstairs to tuck me in.

I currently live above a bar.  And despite the sandwich-board advertised obscenely cheap drinks and quite raucous atmosphere, I’ve never been inside once.  You see, I live above a gay bar.

Look, I obviously have no problem with gays or gay bars, in fact, one can quite accidentally wander into gay bars in NYC, missing the tiny rainbow decal on the front window, and find themselves drinking there and enjoying themselves for quite awhile before noticing that the clientele is 100% fabulous men save a fat fag hag or two.  But this gay bar I live above is flamboyant gay.  More like Elton John than Lance Bass.  Blowjob-in-a-dark corner gay.

I sit in my bedroom drinking a bottle of Schell FireBrick as I prepare to go out.  A hearty pour with a foamy head.  Decent smell with a bit of skunk to it.  A pretty good taste, an all matl Vienna-style lager, like a slightly worse Negra Modelo.  I’ve been impressed with Schell’s offerings so far.  My room abuts the bar’s patio and its already starting to get rowdy down there.  I’m guessing they ain’t watching the South Florida/FIU game.

When I return tonight I will be greeted outside the bar stretching to in front of my building’s stoop by a herd of transvestites and transsexuals smoking Virginia Slims and cat-calling all the straight men that pass, trying to solicit them.  Even though I know the score, returning drunk at 3 AM I will always see one of those gender-reassigned, DD-siliconed, shaved-down Adam’s apple, flowing blond hair extensions “women” from afar and think, “Goddamn, who is that piece of ass in front of my building?!,” getting closer only to realize it’s clearly a former man.

However, most of the bar patrons hanging out front are John Waters’s Divine-style drag queens.  Personal performance artists not even trying to pretend they are female.  6’5″ with green wigs, stuffed to the gills bustiers, and sequined gowns.  I’ve started to know some of the regulars.  Nice gals and boy are they funny.  On occasion I’ll even find myself chatting with the trannies late at night, only waking the next morning hungover thinking, “Why the fuck did I talk to ‘Jasmine’ for fifteen minutes last night?!  What were we discussing?!”  I wonder if these drag queens think I’ll fuck them one day.  God I hope not.


Schell Pale Ale

September 18, 2008

5.75% ABV

As my “in box” of yet-to-post reviews stacks up it’s time to send some to the “out box” via quick-hitters…

I’ve never really liked pale ales.  Rightly or wrongly, I’ve always felt they were kinda like IPAs for Dummies.  But not this one.  This one, from America’s second oldest family-owned brewery, I really dug.  It has a great, smooth flavor.  Incredibly drinkable.  East Kent golding hops give it a most pleasant smell.  It also has a solid full-bodied taste.  Love the maltiness.  As far as session beers go, this is top notch.  I could imagine myself bellied up to a bar in St. Paul polishing off several dozen of these.  I think it’s a better pale ale than even Sierra Nevada’s famed one.  If you have access to this one, be sure and try it.