Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Parter

Right, so I'm bad about updating. But I swear, it's all about how busy life is!

For example, a perfectly boring wednesday evening turned into a several hour long baseball games followed by celebratory beers with friends. Specifically, I was lured into buying a cheap seat for the last of the O's games against the A's - which turned out to be a good call.

We walked into the stadium and right up the seats in lower right field, and sat down to enjoy the game. Note that our lack of nervousness and sketchiness can probably be credited for the ushers not harassing us. Also, for whatever reason the lower level ushers are waaaaaay less anal about leaving people alone than upper level seat nazi ushers. How odd.

Anyway, it turned out to be a good game - Mark Reynolds acted like a real baseball player, Zach Britton pitched 6 solid innings, and the O's swept the A's for a 3 game series. Also, the opponents had such players as Dr. Jesus (dejesus but whatever) and Coco Crisp. Seriously. How the fuck is he named Coco Crisp?

Anyway, in the wake of our excellent victory, me, Metal Chef and Metal Chef's brother decided we needed excellent beers. Lucky for us, Alewife is just a few short blocks from Camden Yards, and welcomes us from the heat with AC and good beers. Imagine my thrill at seeing Heavy Seas limited release Plank 1 on tap! As my reader will know, I love wood aged beers, and here is one specifically made to showcase the flavor of wood aging (Poplar in this case).

The smell is dark and roasty, and the first sip reminds me of an amber or a nut brown. However, you're soon whisked away by the rich flavor of poplar, complemented by sweet malts and hints of caramel. Really an excellent beer, this needs to be sipped by itself to appreciate it, but I definitely recommend it as an interesting and challenging beer.

And then of course, we come to part II. A nice relaxing weekend is such a silly idea - so of course it ends up jam packed. Friday starts at 6:30am where I'm awoken and whisked off to the girlfriend's farm, for a day's labor in the hundred plus degree heat. Watering, weeding, shooting bbs at birds, and picking rhubarb are a good digest of the day, aside from hanging lines for some netting we were putting up. Sadly, it had been inelegantly cut and served mostly to piss us all off for several long hours. And oh they were long. Despite drinking multiple bottles of water, I felt like I was in the desert.

Anyway, my torture eventually ceases, and I make my way home for beers with the family. Nothing terribly interesting there, other than: avoid anderson valley's cream ale unless you really want super sweet butterscotch beer. Anyway, this evening transitioned into saturday morning, for which was planned a day of paintball! I love paintball. It's the best. But that didn't sound like enough effort, so of course CAPS LOCK and I went for a four mile run. Woooo!

The actual paintball was pretty fun - it started slow with some less than excellent courses, but got better throughout the day. I prefer more open-ended courses, while they did a lot of linear stuff, but it was still challenging and fun. Sadly, as weekend warriors we were ill-equipped to deal with the automatic weapon toting paintball pros we were up against, but fun was still had, and welts gained, by all.

The beer that capped this little adventure (as well as way too much driving and a lot of Popeyes food) was Great Divide's Colette - a farmhouse ale or saison. I'm a pretty big fan of saisons, and this was an interesting take. Light and refreshing, it refrained from a lot of the spice that most versions go fairly heavy one. Instead, the flavors had an enjoyable clarity, allowing me to pick out some nice lemon zest, as well as some yeasty notes, resulting in a lightly tart and extremely tasty beer. This goes on the list of excellent summer beers that don't skimp on flavor.

Anyway, hope your days are exciting and your beers delicious - til next time!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Epitome of Class

That's how I'm defining the latest outing with Sparrow and CapsLock. See, when you're a twenty something, most people get these pretensions of class, and stop doing things like drinking at a playground. I, on the other hand, highly endorse all forms of ridiculosity.

Especially those that start at 11:45pm and end with the three of you drinking wine from a bottle, smoking cigars, and scaring off teenagers. Basically I get a call informing me that drinking adventures are happening. I ambush the car, giving Sparrow a heart attack, and we're off. After grabbing a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada Summerfest, a bottle of some red wine, and a cigar, we're off.

Sparrow and I have a long history of staking out the various little parks/playgrounds in suburbia and spending the early mornings there drinking beer and doing everything from talking deep philosophy to fan-casting our friends in Harry Potter. Also, swinging on the swings. This is a fantastic old tradition of ours, and so we were enjoying this once again, along with CapsLock.

Why do I call him CapsLock? Well, see, everything he does IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. He doesn't cook breakfast, he COOKS BREAKFAST AHHHHHH! He doesn't do push-ups, he DOES PUSH-UPS GRAAAARRRRRGGHHHHH! He doesn't head-but tables, he HEAD-BUTS THE FUCKING TABLE TO DEATH. He's a lot of fun to say the least.

Now, when we arrived at our old spot, it was already full of teenagers. And while CapsLock and I debated a hostile takeover, we realized there was an identical spot just a little ways away. So a short drive and a walk down a sketchy path through the dark woods (which wasn't actually that bad), we arrived at the other playground. We'd heard voices, but they'd disappeared as we'd gotten close so we figured they'd run off. Except, as I explored the area with my flashlight, I had the sneaking suspicion that several large forms weren't actually part of the equipment.

Starting a conversation with "Hi? We're not cops guys. It's ok" is pretty awkward, but apparently pretty effective, because it quickly defused a weird situation, and let us get back to what was important: the beer.

In between debates about personal philosophy, finishing the cigar, and swigging red wine from the bottle, I was thankful to have on hand my Summerfest. As those who've read this before know, this is one of my favorite beers. It's a great example of a beer that doesn't try to hard, but manages to be tasty and flavorful without being super aggressive. From start to finish Summerfest is a pretty mild beer, but that makes it perfect for a hot summer day (or spring evening as may be the case). It's got a lot of sweet malts with a nice hoppy undercurrent, and the sensation of a cool drink of water without lacking in the flavor department. The malts are grassy and the hops add a nice clean bitterness to the finish.

All in all, one of my favorite session beers for the summer, this was a great beer for a great night. Oh, and someone tell CapsLock that holding a position based on an unknowable factor is ultimately not very useful, even if it is interesting :-P

May your days be hot and your beers refreshing! Cheers!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The thing about spring

A wonderful thing happens during spring, where the cold weather finally flees off back to wherever it comes from (Minnesota obviously). However, I admit to sometimes feeling a little bit lost when my dark, dark heavy beers feel out of place. Those beers make me feel warm and content and full, not light and refreshed. And I love them for that, but come summer time, I'm a little lost.

Luckily, brewing companies recognize this and release all manner of deliciously lighter beers - oftentime a fruity or hoppy beer to compliment the hot weather and long days outside. I'm currently grooving on Sierra Nevada's Glissade, a Golden Bock that is lightly hopped but very flavorful. The nose is hoppy and wheaty, and the flavor goes along with that bring out nice sweet malts to match the mild IPAs. Not the most aggressive, but a really pleasant session beer, this is a good one for the long hot days outside,

I've also been enjoying a friend's leftover Snake Dog IPAs from Flying Dog. I'm not typically a big IPA fan, but this one is light and refreshing and exactly the sort of splash of water I need on hot days. The smell is all hops from the generous head, and the taste just enhances more nice floral hops and citrus fruits. About the depth of my IPA enjoyment, it's still a great beer.

I also feel I should mention another beer I really dug on, although admittedly it doesn't fit with my spring theme. Recently local brewer DuClaw has come out with a beer called Black Lightning. Now, I'm all about storms and lightning, but I was distraught to hear that this wasn't a black ale but a black IPA. I was concerned about the hoppiness of this beer, but my first sip set my heart at ease. The roasted malts and coffee flavors blend nicely with the hops, opposing eachother but creating a nice balance in the process. Definitely an aggressive beer, this isn't for the weak of heart. And like I said, it doesn't exactly make you think of spring, but it's delicious enough to deserve a mention.

Hopefully you're enjoying some of this lovely weather - see you all next time!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Something to distract me during finals

Seriously, this is why I'm writing this. The more I focus on outlining my notes, the stronger my headache grows and the more I suspect my eyes might pop out and go scampering off.

For those of you lucky enough to love things other than the legal profession, you may not know what outlining is. Basically, because law school doesn't give multiple grades, you have one exam. One giant test, covering an entire semester's worth of knowledge, which will determine your grade in this class. Outlining is the process whereby you take the notes you took in class, and turn them into some manner of organized mass about the material for class.

Saintly teachers will allow you to bring these into exams, from whence you can check and receck your definitions of trespass to chattels. Sadly, evil, evil professors will sometimes refuse to let you use these outlines. Or your textbook. In case of that, I recommend lots of studying. Or, if you're me, slacking off with my roommates and having a good beer.

In this case, I would say go for something dark and filling. Your impulse, in these times of lovely weather, may be to reach for something crisp, refreshing, and maybe even a little hoppy. And normally I'd be with you. Currently chilling in my fridge are Flying Dog's Snake Dog IPA, and Sierra Nevada's Glissade. I'm even dreaming a little of Troeg's Sunshine Pils and Sierra's Summerfest.

However! Be swayed not by these tempting brews. You're about to settle in for several hours of mind numbing horror as you re-read, re-interpret, translate, and organize the mass of horror known as your (my) notes. A good beer for this would be Great Divide's Yeti, preferably the espresso aged variety. Lacking that however, I'll go ahead and pimp the beer I'm currently stocked of in my fridge - Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter.

Now, when I first tried this porter, I was sad. It tasted...watery. It was sort of dark and a little roasty, but pretty underwhelming. Especially for a beer performing well in Washington Post's Beer Madness 2011 ( But, as they tell me, patience is indeed a virtue. Like a wonderful flower in springtime, as this beer warmed it's flavors opened up into a wave of delicious tastes. Vanilla bean fresh off the...vine? (orchid seed pod, thanks Sparrow). Chocolate, and wonderful mild chocolate malts. Mmmmmm. Truly a beer for me to brace myself against the madness of outling and help me last long into the evening, tapping frantically.

For those of you done with exams, cheers to you. For those about to take them, good luck. And for those without exams, will kindly die in a fire :-P. Hope you're all having a good spring out there - I'm curious to know if you have a favorite spring beer (Corona, classified as pisswater, doesn't count. Even with lime. Especially with lime). Leave it in the comments if you've got a favorite/have a new beer you think I should try. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

So it's been a while...

So, clearly it's been a while since I updated my blog - sadly I havent had as much time or money for good beer this semester, and rarely am I possessed by the same urge to write about it that I once had.

However, I am still struck from time to time with the urge to write about a recipee I just tried, or a restaraunt I enjoyed, or sometimes even the latest bottle of beer I finagled.

What I'm wondering is whether you, my loyal readership, feel like it'd be interesting to read about these things, or whether it's time to hang up the hat and admit that I'm not cut out for a life of blogging.

I got inspired by eating at this new local food truck which blew my socks off, so be prepared for more of that if you encourage my listless ramblings :-P

So, let me know your thoughts when you get a chance - it's much appreciated.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Beer is relaxing

This is just a fact. Beer can be very relaxing. Much like a hot bath, or a nice cigar, a cold beer can really offset a tiring day. Case in point - today I was sick and tired and exhausted, and just generally pissed off. What at? Nothing, really. Just pissed.

So I poured myself a glass of Troeg's Pale Ale. I've had troeg's twice and been impressed both times, so I was intrigued.

The beer poured golden, and that cold crisp first sip just relaxed every muscle. I sighed and quaffed more, enjoying the simple pleasure of the beer, to the exclusion of all else.

The beer itself, apart from magic relaxing qualities, was quite good. A pretty typical pale ale, the citrusy hops were nicely balanced by some sweet malts. Not a terribly complex beer, but just really simply and tasty. And sometimes thats all I want. Not a beer that I have to consider and attacks me from all angles. Just a nice simple beer at the end of an exhausting day.

Definitely something I'd look to for a session beer - worth a try for both the casual beer drinker and the regular.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stone's brilliance

Good god. I had originally planned to consolidate my posts, but this isn't possible. This beer was so good that it deserves it's own post. I've written before about Stone's Smoke Porter with Chipotle, but the other night I got a full 12oz pour of it. And good god. There's a reason that I like that new bar, Alewife, as much as I do.

The flavor starts out, rich and dark, with roasted malts, some smokiness, and a slight coffee flavor. And then you're hit the face, WHAM, with rich spicy flavor. It's not overwhelming, and it blends nicely with the dark flavors.

The best part though, is after the sip. After you've swallowed the beer, and are resting, you feel a little tingling. It's the spiciness of the beer in the back of your throat, providing a deliciously heated, but not extremely spicy finish.

This is no hot sauce beer, no gimmick. This is a beer with an awesome flavor profile, that will knock your socks off. Or at least, it did mine anyway. This beer is up there with the Italian Chili Pepper stout, although sadly no less rare.

Really just a fantastic beer. My hat is off to stone for their innovation and creativity. Hope your beers are just as good, Cheers!