Brooklyner Weisse

September 23, 2008

5.1% ABV bottled

The other day I went on a date with a girl named Cecilia. She didn’t break my heart, she didn’t shake my confidence (daily!), nor did we make love in the afternoon up in my bedroom (more like 3 AM in her living room.)

This got me to realizing that I’ve dated quite a bit of girls named after famous songs.

There was Desiree who was not very sweet and a diehard feminist. She stormed out of a restaurant mid-meal when I told her that I didn’t like any female musicians. Once she was gone I remembered that I’m a huge Debbie Harry fan. How could I have forgotten my “Sunday Girl”?

Rita wasn’t a meter maid (she worked in securities I believe) nor was she lovely. She kicked me out of an all-Indian Halloween bash she was hosting in her midtown high-rise when I got drunk on some “witches brew” punch and threw an hors d’oeuvre tray out the window and into her courtyard.

Allison never let any of my friends take off her party dress–so far as I know–but she didn’t have a problem with my pals constantly goofing on her. She wasn’t very bright and I don’t think she got their sarcastic jokes.  She’s married now and has two kids last I heard.

And when I finally got to live my lame dream of dating a girl with the last name of Brown, I never got the chance to meet her mother and subtly say in a heavily accented British accent, “Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a luv-ly daughter.” It didn’t make a bloke feel so proud.

There was Eleanor who I met just last week. Gee, I thought she was swell but she thought I was…drunk. Fair enough. She missed out on getting to be my pride and joy, et cetera.

And finally Michelle, who was decidedly not ma belle, but rather one big fucking cunt. McCartney would have struggled to write fawning lyrics about her, I’m certain of it.

If you ever go out with a girl with the same name as a song, especially a super famous one written by Paul & Art, best not to ever bring that up. She’s heard it plenty of times and doesn’t find it amusing. But you can still snicker in your head about it. And, your relationship is going to be nowhere close to as interesting, ideal, and romantic as the eponymous song. Perhaps that’s why there doesn’t seem to be any good songs of recent vintage named after women.  Life’s just more complex now than it was in the 1960s.

Cecilia took me to a party her friends were throwing. People might think it weird that I’d go to a party full of strangers for a first date but I kinda agree with wise Costanza.

GEORGE: I’m going out with her tomorrow, she said she had some errands to run.

JERRY: That’s a date?

GEORGE: What’s the difference?

She’s quite a bit younger than me, as are her friends, so I didn’t think for a second there would be anything decent to drink at the bash. I was quite wrong, and a tear fell from my ear when I saw Brooklyner fully stocked in the fridge.

I’ve never been a huge wheat beer fan as I think they are generally uninteresting, simplistic, and boring, but I’ve always loved this one. And when I see it on tap at NYC bars, I can’t help but grab a few dozen of them. This was my first time to drink it bottled and it was just as swell.

A great smell with a refreshing yeasty taste. Slight banana flavor, citrus esters, and even hints of bubble gum. And, of course, some full-bodied wheat. A slight sour finish but incredibly drinkable though that doesn’t mean it is lacking in potency or complexity. This ain’t no watered-down hefeweizen. I absolutely adore this beer. Have been drinking it for years and will continue to indefinitely.

So in summation…

Jubilation, I loved this beer again.  (I wanted to finish this entry by again paying homage to “Cecilia” by bastardizing its lyrics.  Eh.  That’s the best I could do.)

A-

WORKS CITED:

*”Cecilia,” Simon & Garfunkel from “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Columbia Records 1970
*”Desiree,” Neil Diamond, 1977
*”Lovely Rita,” The Beatles from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Capitol 1967
*”Allison,” Elvis Costello from “My Aim is True,” Columbia Records 1977
*”Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” Herman’s Hermits, 1965
*”Elenore,” The Turtles from “The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands,” White Whale Records 1968
*”Michelle,” The Beatles from “Rubber Soul,” EMI 1965

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Boulevard Lunar Ale

August 14, 2008

4.5% ABV bottle-conditioned sixer

My stay in Kansas was never to end! We’d only been there for a mere 15 hours and it felt like an eternity. If you want to become immortal, just move to Kansas and your life will never end. We woke up at 7 AM on Saturday to get an early start on our google-map-claimed two hour drive to Manhattan*. The drive west was generally boring, it was raining torrentially and there was nothing on the side of the road except wastelands and a remarkable amount of halls of fame and museums. Off the top of my head we saw several for aeronautics, one for agriculture, an insect zoo, and a Wizard of Oz museum. Not to mention two wineries. We somehow managed to resist these remarkable temptations and only make two stops along the way.

First, a breakfast run to Sonic. My friends had seen the irreverent commercials for the fast food joint for years up here on the eastern seaboard but had never once encountered an actual restaurant. Suffice to say, we were all greatly pleased by our sublime breakfast burritos with a side of tots. Our other stop was in Lawrence to see the University of Kansas’s Phog Allen Fieldhouse. We struggled to locate it, especially when the only people on campus we could ask directions of seemed to be Nigerian exchange students with no clue about where a “baw-skeet-bol jeem” might be. Nevertheless, we eventually stumbled upon it. And, so glad we did, it was a beautiful facility with an amazing museum that all other college programs should strive to have something as good as. We were in awe at seeing The Big Dipper‘s jockstrap, Bill Self’s spare toupee, and the school’s 2003 second place trophy.

We soon got to Manhattan which was uneventful but the wedding was indeed fun.

Back awake at 7 AM on Sunday, we hungover sped back to Kansas City to catch our noon-time flight. Then, all the trouble began. Getting off the rental car agency-to-airport shuttle bus at our airline, I was stunned to see that my bag was no long on the luggage rack. Some dunce had apparently mistakenly taken my bag instead of his own. My bag was big, black, had Midwest Airlines tags, and had a bum wheel. His was tiny, squat, black, and had no wheels. It was inconceivable to me that he could have mistaken my bag for his. I sprinted down the length of the airport, searching for the stupidest-looking human being I could find.  I was finding those wherever I looked however.  Luckily the entire length of KCI is shorter than a football field so I could check everyone and every visible bag, but unluckily I never found him or my bag.

I was fuming. Apoplectic. If I had come upon this guy at that moment I surely would have popped him. My flight was taking off in an hour or so but it didn’t matter at this point. Especially since the departures monitor had “LGA – DELAYED (INDEF) on them.  The only time a delay has ever been welcomed.

After a four hour circus which involved me speaking to idiots on the white courtesy phone, idiots in the airport police department, idiots in the lost and found department, idiots at Northwest Airlines, idiots at United, and the extraordinarily helpful NON-idiots at Midwest, I finally heard a nearly inaudible public address system announcement (from another idiot natch) that my bag might be at US Airways.

Sprinting down there, I saw my bag, and standing next to it, the doofiest motherfucker the world has ever known. You remember how Gary Larson would draw troglodytic morons in his absolutely brilliant “The Far Side”? Yeah, that’s exactly how this guy looked. Slack-jawed, buck teeth jutting far out of his mouth and over his front lip. Messy bangs down to his brow with a cheap mesh hat on his head and a t-shirt from some vacation decades ago on his torso. He spoke a near foreign language to me.

DOOFUS: Where’s ma’ bag?

AARON: Excuse me?!

DOOFUS: ‘ah got yer bag, so where’s ma’ bag?

AARON: Listen idiot, I don’t have your bag cause I don’t take the wrong bag cause I’m not some dumb motherfucker.

DOOFUS: So wha’ shud ‘ah do?

AARON: I’m guessing your bag is still on the rental car shuttle, taking perpetual loops from airport to rental center and back.

A 5 watt lightbulb went off in his head like the idea had never occurred to him in the previous four hours to call the rental car place.

AARON: Dummy, I just got one more question for you. At what point did you realize you had the wrong bag?

DOOFUS: When ah’ went to the secur’ty line and dey said I had wine and beer bot’les in ma’ bag. I ‘as like, no I don’t…then I ree-lized, hey, this prolly ain’t ma’ bag.

My vices actually saved some retard from unwittingly taking my bag full of an expensive suit, an ipod, and, yes, wine and beer bottles, back with him to Little Rock or Knoxville or wherever the fuck he was from. You see, I had overaccumulated wine and beer to drink before and after the wedding and thus, thinking it a sin to toss the stuff, I had packed it onto my bag which I had planned to check.

Relieved, I went to the shitty airport pub to unwind and wait for my flight to become undelayed. At a certain point, I’d been in the bar so long that I got concerned. I asked the racist bartender*, “At what point of drunkenness will they not let a person on a flight?”

“Yer fine, honey, just don’t wobble.”

I wasn’t, in fact, fine as our noon flight was eventually canceled by 7:00 PM or so. Weather issues in New York. My other delayed friend and I scrambled to find a hotel room to share. Seems the airlines don’t comp you unless your plane is delayed due to malfunctions. At this late of notice, we were only able to get a small single-bed room at the airport Marriot.

We sequestered ourselves back in that room, furious at spending another night in the city, not wanting to ever leave the room til morning. Stripping down shirtless and into gym shorts since it was so freaking muggy, ordering room service so as not to deal with any more locals than necessary, drinking beers and complimentary wine to relax, and watching Olympic men’s gymnastics….well, because there was nothing else on, I swear!. Suffice to say, when the room service waitress arrived with our salads and baked potatoes–us trying to eat healthy after a weekend of decadence and a day of deplorable airport food–she gave a smirk, looking at the two shirtless men watching gymnastics, drinking wine, and sharing a bed. I could tell she thought a lot of sodomy would be happening that night, no doubt taunting the maid on her walk down the hall, warning her about all the anal flowback she would surely have to clean up off the two “New York City fruits'” comforter.

The beer keeping us company and sane was the final Boulevard we tried that weekend, their Lunar Ale. They call it brown beer but everyone else simply calls it a dark wheat beer. I thought it oddly enough smelled, and tasted, like a poor man’s (a very, very poor man’s) La Fin du Monde though. Which isn’t a bad thing to aim for as it’s one of the finest beers in the world and probably one of my top ten favorites. Of course, at a paltry 4.5% ABV, it lacked the potency, bite, and flavor that La Fin has and which all other Boulevards seem to also lack. I really wish the company made beers in the 6 to 8% range cause they might then actually craft something great.

Monday, we were back up at 4:30 AM, trying to get home. Further delays, a plane running out of gas, and later being diverted to Pittsburgh, were all par for the course on this trip, as we finally touched down around 5:00 PM, nearly thirty hours after we were supposed to have seen Kansas in the rearview forever.

B-

*With completely empty highways, speeding along at like 90 MPH in a cheap rental car, we were there in like 85 minutes. I’m sure the record cannonball run from KC to Manhattan is under 45 minutes.

**Indeed she freely tossed around the n-word as if us white folks had some inside joke.  When I told her we had gone to the Isle of Capri and it had sucked she said, verbatim, “Well a course it sucked.  Dat’s da n***** casino.”  Yes, she got a bad tip from me.  Fight the power.


Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat

August 13, 2008

4.6% ABV on draught

Being arrogant New Yorkers and Yankees and Mets fans, we figured we could show up at a lackluster Royals game a few minutes before first pitch, hand over a sawbuck, and be sitting behind the plate within minutes. I am still surprised at how wrong we were. The drive from Arthur Bryant’s to the stadium was brisk, I’ve never seen such non-traffic for a professional sporting event. Kaufmann Stadium looks like America’s biggest minor league ballpark, it’s really unimpressive. What was impressive was how many fans the Royals actually have, or at least had on this night. I figured we’d be two out of maybe 18,000 in attendance, so few asses in the seats that on foul balls we would have this conversation:

FRIEND: Wanna go get that ball?

AARON: Eh…leave it.

And watch as a baseball just rested on a concrete third baseline aisle for several innings until some kid with a little gumption finally walked a few sections over to unenthusiastically retrieve it, yet another one for the collection.

But this scenario was nowhere close to what we encountered as we weren’t even able to get tickets and get into the park until the top of the third. Furthermore, I’ve seen very few sporting events in which a team’s fans were so completely covered in team apparel. And it did indeed take a lot of material to fully apparel these fatsos and their annoying children. It quickly became clear that everyone in Kansas City is fat from ages zero to 14, at which point the girls become stunningly hot (am I allowed to say that?) and the boys become ripped high school football players. Then everyone gets fat again from ages 19 to heart attack. We chuckled at the behomeths returning from the rare but overflowing concession stands lines with pyramids of countless foiled wrapped hot dogs and anything and everything covered in liquid nacho cheese. Still stuffed from the BBQ we didn’t eat anything or have a beer, but I did cool down with a very tasty sno-cone.

The most impressive–in fact the only impressive thing–about Kauffman is the “Crown Vision” scoreboard, a 105 by 84 foot monster that can surely be seen from space. We ourselves confirmed that it can be seen, and easily read, from several miles up the road on George Brett Superhighway*. It is said to be the largest scoreboard in the world and it is by far the most crisp, high-definition screen of any kind I have ever encountered. I’d rather watch that than the game. Unfortunately, neither the Royals, nor any other American or, as far as I know, international sports team has employed my greatest idea ever, one I will use the second I buy a team using all my Vice Blog royalties. You know the “Kiss Cam,” that lame but semi-compelling thing not-making-the-playoffs teams use during timeouts and between half-innings in order to drum up some crowd excitement, turning the camera on unsuspecting couples–and some non-couples–until they finally smooch? Well I am the copyrighted inventor of the “Second Base Cam,” aka the “Grope Cam.” I don’t think I need to explain it in detail or the excitement it will quite clearly generate.

After six innings we were bored with minor league baseball, the countless rubes that actually yelled “CHARGE!!!” at the end of the organ’s “duh, duh, duh, DUT, duh, DUH,” and the huge ignominy over the fact that there was no tribute to Bo Jackson anywhere on the premises. I mean seriously, you guys pay homage to the late Dan Quisenberry but not Vincent Edward Jackson?!

As we left the ballpark we learned two things that were special about this particular Royals game:

1. It was $1 hot dog night.

2. There was to be a fireworks display at the end of the evening.

Like “The Usual Suspects” or “The Sixth Sense,” everything I had seen in the previous two hours had to be immediately reevaluated as I now understand why so many Royals “fans” had shown up for the event. Hicks love fireworks and cheap dogs.

With it now 10:00 PM we planned to head back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep as we had to get up bright and early to head to Manhattan, KS. En route though, while pondering what Jeter and Giambi do for post-game entertainment on three-game road swings here, we saw a most tantalizing site, The Isle of Capri, a riverboat casino. We swerved over a highway median, parking the rental car in a spare patch of grass to avoid the valet fee before heading in.

There’s no greater example of the retarded, hypocritical laws that govern America than the fact that you can gamble in some cities, and not gamble in others. That we placate the Indians by giving them crappy casinos on worthless acreage. Or that in certain places you can’t gamble on dry land but can gamble on what is ostensibly a boat floating “off-shore” on a body of water, but what is really just a boat-shaped object cemented to the riverbank via stilts and connected to the shore via countless walkways. Yeah, that makes sense. You’re really making the world a better place politicians.

The isle of Capri looks pretty decent from the outside, like something Mark Twain may have worked on and Maverick may have gambled on. However, the inside told a different story as a plume of dense smoke instantly bitchslapped me upon spinning through the revolving doors and entering. I assume using vacuumed sealed revolving doors in a place so rife with tobacco smoke and BO has something to do with a massive eugenics project at a local university.

Upon entering we had to actually apply for a special gambler’s card before hitting the floor. I hate nothing worse than when I have to go through a rigmarole before doing something I don’t have much interest in in the first place. It’s like look, I barely want to be in this dump, now you’re gonna make me present 15 forms of ID and fill out a long SAT form with a number 2 before I can enter? Get real. Nevertheless we did, watching in amazement as the desk clerk scrutinized our NYS driver’s licenses, even calling over an assistant, we no doubt the wealthiest patrons to ever enter this place. Guess they don’t want any Union money. Nevertheless, we put up with this bullshit, mainly because we saw no other place to get a “late night” (10:00 PM recall) drink in the greater Kansas City area.

Upon taking the escalator down to the floor, we were quickly returned to two billion years ago, coming face to face with a much lower form of humanity. For all you creationists out there–and I’m sure Kansas City has plenty–please go to the Isle of Capri and tell me that you are not a higher evolved species than what you see there. No God would create what we saw. Richard Dawkins need only point to this casino’s patronage to turn the whole world into committed Darwinists. What you see there at the Isle of Capri are people pondering how many stools it’ll take to support them, how quickly they can smoke a full pack of butts, and how briskly they can blow throw the month’s government assistance check. The floor was 99.9% slots and of those it was about 95% penny slots. Yet, these people played the games and pulled the levers as if they were about to become millionaires. These people were the absolute opposite of the “Bringing Down the House” MIT card-counting nerds. I’d love to hear these folks’ brilliant strategies for “beating the system” at penny slots cause you know they have some.

Not surprisingly, I saw the first cigarette vending machines I’ve seen since Reagan’s first term. Later we would learn that gamers are only allowed to lose $500 per 24 hours, a stat that is monitored on those stupid swipe cards we had to sign up for. That’s 50,000 penny bet pulls on the one-armed bandit, assuming you’re the unluckiest SOB in the world. And, you’ll have to believe me when I say that if there was an “Unluckiest SOB in the World” contest, the Isle of Capri could definitely submit a few title contenders.

I don’t really like gambling unless it involves betting nerdy kids how many _____ they can consume, or how many _____ they can do naked, or how often they can _____ while _____, so I went straight for the bar to canoodle with the vermin and watch the Opening Ceremonies. There, I was floored to see that every drink apparently comes default with whipped cream: daiquiris, margaritas, White Russians, it didn’t fucking matter. And, I’m not talking a dollop of whipped cream either. I’m talking one of those massive, swirling cones that looks more like soft serve and which empties out half a can of Reddi-Wip. I was starting to understand why every one was so fat. Fuck, in the morning my iced coffee was given to me topped off with some whipped cream that was taller than the cup the actual drink portion came in. Not particularly digging putting 1000 calories of pure fluff into my belly to start the day, I was forced to use my spoon/straw (the most popular utensil in KC) to wrist-shot the goop off my drink and onto the sidewalk. I’m kinda surprised that pure whipped cream isn’t drank in Kansas City.

At the bar I ordered a Boulevard Wheat, sans whipped cream, but unfortunately plus a crummy little lemon slice. Boulevard Wheat is the beer that everyone in KC seems to think is the greatest brew on the planet. And, indeed, it ain’t bad. Light, zesty, wheaty, very refreshing. But just like the brewery’s Pale Ale, far too low in alcohol content. Wonder if that’s some arcane state law influencing things. Alas, it is a pretty good beer especially when the only other things on tap are shitty macros.

After a few plastic pints, far too much televised Yao Ming, and contracting full-blown emphysema, we headed home to clear our lungs and throw away our clothes.

C+

*I wish I was making a joke. [Pathetically small George Brett statue figurine pictured above.]


Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier

August 5, 2008

5.4% ABV

A long lost high school friend John found my blog the other day. He’s a Germanophile who’s lived in the country numerous times over the last decade and even has his own–far more successful than my own, damn him!–blog in which he pokes fun at the culture there. It’s a good read, I highly recommend it. Thus, John–who was actually in German class with me in school come to think of–was a bit aggrieved to see I only had reviewed three German beers.

He’s right to feel that way as Germany is maybe the most significant beer country in the world, producing and drinking both the 2nd most beer in the world. Having said that, and I hope the beer gods don’t hit me with a lightening bolt, but I find German beer kinda…well, kinda boring. I’d almost always rather explore Belgian and American beers.

Don’t get me wrong, any time I have a top shelf German beer, it is always without question good. It’s just, as a whole, German beers are kinda bland to my palate. I think it has to do with their whole Reinheitsgebot beer purity laws which state that beers can literally only be made with water, hops, barley, and yeast. I admire them for sticking with these recipes for so long, but I’m an adventurer and I like novelty in all aspects of my life. I like beers made with figs and bananas and oak-barreled and all sorts of other weird shit. Sometimes these beers are failures, often their successes. With German beers I know what I’m getting–usually a doppelbock or a hefeweizen, not exactly my two favorite styles–but with American beers, I feel like there’s so many things to explore. And, that excites me. Imagine only being allowed to use steak and potatoes to make a meal. Sure it could be great, but it gets boring after awhile.

Also, German beers have such long, cumbersome, vowel-laden names that you can never remember your favorites to reference later. “I think I like that one with nine e’s that ends with ‘er.'” There’s a reason the dreadful Beck’s is the best selling German beer in America. It’s the only one we can remember. Also, German beers have boring labels that all look the same. Again, making it difficult to recall which is your favorite for later purchase. It’s easier to just stick with American or Belgium beers that have cool name (Arrogant Bastard, Delirium Tremens, etc) and awesome labels.

I asked John to tell me his favorite German beers and I’d review them in his honor, but before he had a chance to email me back a response I went across the street to my supermarket for dinner and happened to notice that they had only one German beer–and I mean “real” German beer, I’m not counting St. Pauli Girl–stocked. Fittingly, it was from Weihenstephaner, the oldest brewery in the world dating back to 1040. That’s amazing.

This is one of the most fragrant hefes I’ve ever grabbed, very yeasty smelling. The lacing just sticks to the sides of the glass, it’s very impressive. Very tasteful too, creamy, buttery, taste of bananas. Of course, tons of wheat and malt too. A bit more carbonation than I’m used to in more American style hefes but this is a classic no doubt. A standard bearer for hefes. I typically enjoy stronger, more potent and more complex beers, but its hard to find much to complain about regarding this one. Maybe I should drink German brews more often.

A


Wachusett Summer

July 18, 2008

4.2% ABV

I was sitting at the Secaucus Junction train station on Friday afternoon listening to Bowie’s “The Prettiest Star” on my iPod when my dad called to tell me my grandma had just died. This was not unexpected as she was old and had been bedridden for a few years after having suffered a stroke. And, quite frankly, I wasn’t even that close to her, probably having spent less than a month’s combined time with her during my lifetime. Nevertheless, I broke down for an ever-brief second or so, not quite long enough for the slobs and perverts that hang at a train station to ogle me, to think me the “weirdo,” but long enough to feel something come over me.

I spend too much fucking time at train stations. Waiting. Waiting as my life passes me by. No one lays on their death bed reminiscing about the 25%* of their life that they sat waiting–their life in standstill–depending on countless other people and events in the universal ballet to get their train there, to free up a snag on the highway so they can move, to have a crowd of fatassed tourists part so they can continue on down the sidewalk toward their destination. To not have their life slowed down by uncontrollable others, to let their life fucking continue on to the “important stuff.”

As my grandma lay dying in a cheap hospital bed, I sat on a cheap wooden bench wedged between a sleeping bum and a fat retard in a Carlos Beltran jersey seemingly dying the same death. I will never get those minutes back. No matter how smart, rich, educated, handsome, flirtatious, or powerful one is, time is not something you can acquire more of. In fact, it is the only thing one can’t acquire more of**. As Aurelius said, “Yesterday a blob of semen; tomorrow embalming fluid, ash.”

Nothing is more a kick in the ass to “carpe diem” than the absolute madness of sitting alone in a train station. It’s like a goddamn coma that you are fully conscious of being in. What can I do? A crossword, a little light reading, learn who Jennifer Aniston’s currently spreading her legs for, listen to a podcast, dick around on my phone, eat some Pringles, doodle?

This is no life.

Which is why, what is the first thing a person says after a long and hectic train/bus/airplane/car ride?

“I NEED A DRINK.”

A drink to get their comatose life kickstarted again. The alcohol acting like the jumper cables to your heart and brain. Allowing you to reenter the world of emotions and feeling, pain and happiness, want, desire, horniness, and plain old living.

There is no time to scrutinize the offering, the drink. No time to select something “special. ” You just take what’s fucking given to you and enjoy it. In my case, I entered my friend’s house at the end of a long and arduous trek up the eastern seaboard and was handed a Wachusett Summer. Nice. I’d never had it before.

And it was one of the better summer beers I’ve ever tippled. Spicy with a good, rich body of lemon and wheat flavors. I detest most so-called “summer” beers because they are citrusy and thin little offerings. Just cause it’s July doesn’t mean I need to slug down watery piss. Now, while Wachusett Summer doesn’t have much ABV to speak of, it’s still a quality brew. In fact, I’d say it’s almost as good as Sam Adam’s terrific summer offering. I’ll certainly have it again on my next once-a-decade trip into New England.

Thus, I said a silent cheers to my grandma and began trying to enjoy my life again courtesy of glorious beer.

B

*Made up stat.

**Save maybe a few more inches at the end of your cock (though I hear medical technologies can do wonders nowadays!)


Michelob Bavarian Style Wheat

July 16, 2008

5.2% ABV from a bottle

I’m the kind of sicko that upon visiting a friend’s house and being offered a beer, I don’t ask for a fresh bottle of some “normal” stuff just purchased the day before.  I’m more interested in digging way in the back of their fridge and finding those oddball beers bought a long time ago yet never drunk because the first beer from the six-pack was so heinous. Thus, when I was at my buddy’s house over the weekend, initially I turned down a few decent but normal beers in favor of some stray Michelobs from their “upscale” sampler. My friend warned me that they were terrible, but that only stoked my fires more. Tell me something is good and I’m intrigued. Tell me something is world-class terrible and I need to have it that second. See, I can believe something could be good or even great, but I’m always astounded by absolutely inferior products that enter the market.  How do they slip by quality testing?

First up was the oddly and literally named Bavarian Style Wheat. It’s very malty, very yeasty. Tastes like a fucking loaf of rye bread. If this beer included some corned beef, swiss, and a schmear of spicy mustard then you’d have a great sandwich.  More plainly put, this is one of the worst hefes I’ve ever had.

D+

(I had several other offerings from the Michelob sampler, most un-notably the Smoked Porter, but I found them all so forgettably mediocre that I’d just rather never have to revisit them in review.)


Saranac Pomegranate Wheat

July 2, 2008

4.7% ABV bottles from a sixer along with an OLIVA SERIE V Churchill extra cigar

My oldest childhood friend Matt was getting on my case earlier this week:  “You don’t write about enough different vices!” he proclaimed. He thought I should touch on “vices” such as a bad crank habit, LSD usage, Charles Barkley-levels of gambling, porn addiction, Miami Vice, the Vice Lords, and maybe even the U.S. Vice-Presidents. Believe me, nothing would tickle me more than to have nice critical reviews of the crystal meth in Utica or the mushrooms dispensed at Bonnaroo or the BDSM hookers in Chinatown, but unfortunately, I don’t really do drugs and, though I think it should be legalized across the board, I have never paid for a lady of the night. (Perhaps I’ll use the vast funds from my Vice Blog empire to hire a guest blogger to tackle those things.)

However, Matt is absolutely right. I do have tons more vices than craft beers. Cigars for one. I fucking love a good smoke. In the summer, I try to have a toot once per week and in the winter I try to smoke whenever I can smoke inside. Which usually means I’m lighting up less than once a month, what with the increasingly anti-libertarian, draconian, nanny state laws pervading this nation. Nowadays, smoking cigars has almost become less about pleasure and more about exercising one’s inalienable rights to freedom!

I don’t want to sound like a poseur, but I don’t 100% enjoy cigars for how they make me feel. Yes, they taste great and are relaxing and are a great way to laze away a few weekend hours, that’s a given. But they also feel manly. The great Winston Churchill was wrong. A cigar is never JUST a cigar. Perhaps in his day, but not now when if I light up in Central Park I get everyone within a 50-foot radius glaring at me, the most passive-aggressive souls tsk tsking me, and the outright stereotypically rude New Yorkers coming up to me and calling me an asshole. An asshole? For indulging in pleasure? I’m fucking outside! I NEVER smoke within 10 yards of another human, and even then I casually ask those around me for permission. I likewise never smoke within sight of babies, children, or animals. I may not like those creatures but I’m no WC Fields!

I think the biggest problem sniveling little over-educated no-good-nik “goin’ green” yuppies have with cigar smoking is that it is manly. It evokes images of fat cat capitalists that like to eat steak, drink bourbon, fuck women, go golfing, and earn money. And we all know those things are bad because they kill animals, hurt livers and vulvas, clear out disgusting wastelands in order to build beautiful fairways, and they make people rich.

Or maybe a cigar IS simply just a cigar and these folks are just worried about second-hand smoke. Despite the fact that it isn’t even dangerous, fuck you The Truth and your annoyingly catchy sophistic commercials (“It musta been a typo!  A typo!  A typo!”  SHUT UP!).

OK, this wasn’t meant to be a crazy libertarian screed…let’s get to the reviews.

You know how you could take a class PASS/FAIL in college? That way you could be a lazy fuck, barely go to lectures and understand the material, achieve at an absolutely miserable level, and so long as you got a D+ you’d get a “PASS” on your report card and no one would know the wiser? Well, I don’t know as much about cigars as I know about beers, but I do know what I like. And, thus, my cigar reviews will be on a PASS/FAIL system.

I don’t have many cigar-smoking friends, and very few of them are in New York, so when I’m out of town with smoke-friendly pals we always have to allot an hour or two for a cigar. Usually this occurs on the golf course, but sometimes you’re lucky enough to find a friend with a balcony. Like my bud Batch. We needed to kill the time between breakfast and the-appropriate-hour-for-hitting-the-bar on Saturday and we knew that nothing would be better than a smoke. We’ve both becomes fans of most all of Oliva’s blends so we grabbed some. The smokes were enormous, definitely making us look like classic over-compensators. But I like a huge cigar that you can really get to know in the hour or two you pull on it.

The Oliva V has a great draw and the smoke comes easy. Very flavorful with tastes of coffee. Not too heavy so you don’t have to have your stomach full of cheeseburgers in order to not keel over from this one. A great little spiciness too. I can taste it on my tongue as I write this.  It was a perfect selection for a lazy Saturday of smoking, drinking, and philosophizing.

PASS

Before smoking we went to the supermarket to find the perfect beer to “pair” with our smokes. That’s always a tricky proposition. First of all, you don’t want something too powerful. A nice Scotch or bourbon always works but we didn’t want to be wasted by nightfall. Back in college I actually found a certain kind of root beer that went terrific with a cigar. But we needed some beer this time. We figured two or three lighter beers would be enough to get us through the cigar and feeling fine. Looking through the huge coolers I found nothing that intrigued me.

And then I saw it!

The cutest little bottle of beer. A bear with sunglasses juggling pomegranates! The label made me incredibly happy so we grabbed one–no better make it two, Batch–six-packs of the beer.

I’m being coy but I actually have a long history with this brew and it holds a warm place in my heart.  Last summer I was upstate visiting my sister for a little BBQ and I bought a six-pack of the Pomegranate Wheat on a whim.  And it fucking blew my mind!  I told any one that would listen how great this beer was.  Only problem was, I couldn’t find it anywhere once I got back to Manhattan.  I could find dozens upon dozens of other styles of Saranac, but never the Pomegranate Wheat.  So this would be my first time to have it since then.

Maybe I’d talked it up too much, maybe I had over-idealized it over the last year–who knows–but it didn’t blow my mind again.  I’m not even sure if you can have your mind blown twice by the same thing, but I certainly didn’t.  The beer was still good, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not even sure if I could call it great.  It was still tasty and flavorful and still eminently drinkable, but simply not world class as I had once thought.  Nevertheless, the beer got much better as the day went on.  This beer demands being drunk from a glass so that your nose can inhale all it’s wonderful fruity, wheaty, and pomegranate smells.  It’s quality stuff and I hope I don’t have to wait another year to have it again.

I may have not revisited a classic.  I may have discovered this beer’s flaws (not quite alcoholic enough, a little too thin, oddly not pomegranatey enough).  But, I did select a near-perfect beer for daytime drinking as we smoked and talked away the afternoon.  And, yes, we both polished off a full six-pack by the time our Olivas were smoked to the nub.

B+