6.2% ABV from a 1 pint can (“Beer for a glass, from a can”)
If this is a practical joke being played on me, it is one of the most subtly diabolical ever conceived. You see, I hate Time magazine. Hate it with a passion. I think it is a woefully out-of-touch, dated, and worst of all boring periodical that is about as maturely written as the Scholastic News. I won’t read it for free in the dentist’s office when the only other choices are Seventeen, AARP Monthly, and a brochure on gingivitis. Yet for the past decade or so, counting all the way back to my sophomore dorm room in Syracuse, I have been getting a free subscription to Time. It makes no fucking sense to me. During that time I have moved on five occasions in three different cities and though things I actually care about (bills, good magazines, my sex-toy-of-the-month-club shipment) struggle to find me, Time never fails to locate the Vice Blogger. They are like the mob relentlessly going after Henry Hill in witness protection. I’ve gone so far as to call, e-mail, and send a letter to Time Inc. begging them to please leave me alone, but they refuse to cease sending their semi-glossy rag to me. I’ve finally learned to live with it*.
Each week I take Time from my mailbox, perhaps briefly snicker at the lame cover story (usually on one of their four perpetually rotating topics, all of which necessitate derisively mocking quotation marks: the obesity “epidemic,” new “findings” on Jesus’s life, a “special” issue on going green, and “how” the brain actually works) and put it straight in the lobby wastebasket. There is only one time I so much as read a page of Time. That is when I am taking public transportation to go out drinking. Typically I read a book or listen to nerdy podcasts on my ipod (TED Talks!) when riding the subway, but since I won’t want to lug a massive tome around a pub, nor do I trust myself to not lose an ipod during my wily tippling escapades, an issue of Time is perfect. I can read it for five or ten minutes then immediately discard it. In fact, most trips are so short that I only have enough time to read the only legitimately good section of Time, the letters to the editor. Nothing better than reading rubes’ complaints about the east coast media’s evolutionary and homosexual “agendas.” I only wish Time would print the letters as they actually appeared at their offices. It would be funny to see whether they are written in crayon or Magic Marker.
However, the other day I was stuck at the worst train station in Manhattan (the Columbus Circle 1, coincidentally located underneath the Time Warner Center, home to the offices of…you guessed it) for an interminable amount of time and forced to venture further into my shitty magazine. Glad I did because I stumbled upon an amazingly interesting piece penned by never-amusing hipster doofus columnist/gadfly wannabe Joel Stein in which he drank a bottle of wine from all fifty states, reporting on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the surprising.
Having just received a package from Minnesota in which I got to sample my first ever Gopher State beers, I decided to see how much fifty-state beer drinking I have so far done in my life. Using Beer Advocate’s state directory as my main tool, I got to counting between TV timeouts during Monday Night Football.
I came to find that 48 states produce beer, and that I have had pops from 29 of them. Not quite as good as I would have thought, but decent considering the evidence.
Here are the 19 states I have never imbibed from and their most noted (or “noted” brewery)**:
Alabama — only two breweries producing ten total beers, perhaps due to the most asinine beer laws existing in perhaps any non-Muslim part of the world
Alaska — Alaskan
Arizona — Four Peaks maybe
Georgia — Sweetwater
Hawaii — Mehana
Idaho — Coeur d’Alene
Indiana — Three Floyds, I’m ashamed I’ve never had one of their supposed-to-be-miraculous offerings
Iowa — Millstream
Kentucky — only two breweries producing eight total beers, meaning you should just drink bourbon when you’re in KY
Mississippi — only one brewery, so congrats Lazy Magnolia!
Montana — with an impressive 18 breweries, the king would appear to be Big Sky
Nebraska – Empyrean
Nevada — Ruby Mountain
North Carolina — Carolina Beer Co.
North Dakota — as far as I can tell, one of only two states with ZERO breweries!!!
Rhode Island — only one brewery, so congrats Coastal Extreme!
South Dakota — I bet you’re not surprised that this is the other state with ZERO breweries!!! Dakotas, get your shit together!
Tennessee — Yazoo
Utah — Utah Brewers Cooperative, cherished makers of Polygamy Porter (“Why Have Just One?”) and Evolution Amber Ale (“…intelligently-designed just for intelligent beer drinkers.”) I think I like these guys!
West Virginia — only one brewery, so congrats predictably-named Mountaineer Brewing!
Wyoming — Snake River
If you are wondering if I now have a goal to drink a beer from my remaining untried states…absolutely not. That’s a pretty lame ambition for a 29-year-old who actually has things going on in his life. And Jesus Christ some of these states have some abominable-sounding offerings. Having said that, I’m always willing to drink liquid garbage for a funny review if VB fans from any of these states wish to send me some local swill.
Now let’s get back to the impetus for these state beer musings–no, not Jewish embarrassment Joel Stein!–but Surly Furious, the craft beer in a can. I was squeamish at first, but I for one have come to like the microbrew-in-a-can mini-revolution (Oskar Blues, et al). Much lighter for shipping, lugging around, and disposing of. Nothing more embarrassing than clinking a giant Glad bag full of bottles to the garbage room on a Sunday night (NOSY NEIGHBOR: Oh! You musta had a big party this weekend. You guys were sure quiet though. Except I heard crying several times. AARON: Yeah…heh, heh…party.)
Furious, as of today BA’s #49 ranked beer in the world, poured out a lot darker than I expected, a rich caramel or perhaps maroon. A foamy, foamy head with tons of lacing. Its smell was right up my alley. Exactly how I like an IPA to smell. Incredibly fresh and floral, akin to Maharaja or Captain Lawrence’s DIPA, two of my absolute favs.
Furious is very hoppy, again, just how I like it. A bit more sour than I expected (at 99 IBUs I shouldn’t have been surprised) and prefer though. Quite frankly, it could use a little balance. American hops and Scottish malt with citrus esters, grapefruit perhaps. A piney finish, like sticking a conifer needle in your mouth and chewing on it. Little bit of a carbonated sting, but very drinkable nonetheless.
For a certain kind of IPA fan, I could see this being their absolute holy grail, but for me, it’s just a tad too lacking in sweetness and alcoholic potency. Still stellar though. I’d love to get “session” loaded on it. This is a great one and the people of Minnesota are lucky to have it right in their backyard.
*I seem to be a victim of oddly diabolical practical jokes. Last year around this time I received an unlabeled package which had in it nothing else but a dozen pair of some brand-new high-end socks. Who could have sent these to me? I questioned family, friends, my girlfriend at the time, but they all insisted that they were not the culprit. I still have no clue who sent these to me, especially since next-to-no people knew my home address back then. It still baffles me to this day. Oddly enough, I was really in need of some socks at the time.
**Just for craps and laughs, here’s my top five beer-producing states:
1. California — the unquestioned king with 84 incredible breweries, most notably Stone, Russian River, and Bear Republic to just name a few, as well as Lost Abbey and Port which I hope to finally try within the month.
2. New York — call me a homer, but the Empire State kicks ass with an amazing amount of top-notch breweries: Southern Tier, Captain Lawrence, Brooklyn, and Ommegang, to just name a few.
3. Colorado — good chance if I lived in Colorado they would finish second, but I don’t, so they’ll have to settle for the bronze with such great breweries as Great Divide, Avery, and New Belgium.
4. Michigan — Bell’s, Jolly Pumpkin, Arcadia, and New Holland. And I still have never tried a single Founders or Kuhnhenn beer so I couldn’t factor those highly-esteemed breweries into my rankings. Consider that for a second before you write me an angry letter to the editor (and, yes, I do have an evolutionary and homosexual agenda).
5. Oregon — Hair of the Dog, Rogue, and Deschutes to name a few.
Maine — Allagash, Bar Harbor, Shipyard
Massachusetts — Boston Beer Co., Harpoon, Wachusett
Pennsylvania — Troegs, Victory, Weyerbacher
Wisconsin — New Glarus (points deducted for harboring the dreadful Leiny)