Friday, May 30, 2008

Sportsmanship and chickenship

So, I mentioned yesterday that we had a softball game against a team that is undefeated. When I saw which team it was.

I've played against most of these same teams for 3 years now, and there's one thing I've found that I dislike about lots of the teams in Co-rec softball. The men on most of the teams hit to right field. This, to me, is unsportsmanlike behavior. There will probably be some softball people who disagree, but lets go over the situation.

We were a 1-3 team playing a 4-0 team. They were winning by several runs. The normal practice in co-rec softball is you put your "worst" girl in right field, as that's the part that gets the least amount of work, normally a right fielder just sort of runs out and then kicks the grass for a while, then runs in when the inning is over. I find it HIGHLY unsportsmanlike to be a guy who picks on the worst fielding girl, when your team is already winning and will probably win the game (easily).

So, a right handed batter hitting to right in co-rec, to me, is unsportsmanlike. There are other examples that I've seen this year of unsportsmanlike behavior.

  • Men running into a girl, on the base path to break up a possible double play (that wouldn't have been turned anyway)
  • Men knocking over their teammate to catch the ball when the girl on their team clearly had it
  • Fake tags (normally illegal in softball)
  • People attempting to behead other players when trying to score (and there's an AVOID CONTACT rule)

These are just some examples of people not being sportsmanlike.

I do my best to try and be sporty. Some of the things I do that I think are sporty are:

  • I won't take a walk unless the pitches are extremely horrible (it's slow pitch co-rec softball, if you can't make contact... well, we've all struck out)
  • If my teammate can get to the ball, I will not call them off, this (to me) will raise their confidence and they'll probably play better)
  • I won't use an illegal bat (even if some of my teammates in the past have)

I would rather lose a game cleanly and feel as though I have some dignity, than to lose by "shady" methods.

Until last night. The team we played last night had 5 men in their lineup, of which 4 of them ONLY hit towards right field. I have more RESPECT for the guy who hit to straight away than the rest of their team combined, Office 2/Brown Insurance Agency.

So, from hence forth, when I play co-rec softball, if a guy on their team hits to right field (and it's not an accident); I WILL attempt to hit the pitcher every time I come up to bat.

This is the LEAST sportsmanlike thing a person can do in softball. Hit AT the pitcher. But, if I'm playing in a league with no morals or sportsmanship, then why should I be one of the few people who do? I've talked this over with some of the other guys on my team, and they agree with me. (I've talked to the pitcher and he's ok with the idea, mostly because he'd be the guy who THEY will try to hit up the middle on).

*NOTE, in mostly competitive men's softball, hitting to right field is acceptable. Sliding into another player is acceptable. If there isn't a no contact rule, then taking out the catcher is acceptable. (The fake tag is probably illegal.. and it seems to be in most every softball league).

So that's my rant on sportsmanship and softball. I don't mind losing, I just don't think the way we lost was very sportsmanlike.

As for beer; after the game we went to BW Savoy, I started with a Sierra Nevada Pale, followed by a SN Pale; then switched to an Old Style (the cubs were on). After leaving BW, we went to Friar Tucks next door, and I picked up a bottle of the newest Two Brothers Bare Tree. Also (since they had it) I got a bottle of DFH 120 and DFH Raison d'Extra. Additionally, we got kriddy a 4 pack of Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout.

Got home and had a glass from the growler of Grumpy Troll Brandy Aged Spetznaz.

Well, I had that after I finally cleaned up the kitchen from Monday. Heck, I haven't been home and awake for more than an hour since then, so I haven't really had time to do that.

It seems that tomorrow we are having a beer gathering at Kriddy's if anyone wants to go. Around 4, bring some chips.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday Night Pool League

Last night began the Wednesday night double trouble league out at Jupiters at the Crossing.

We had originally planned to eat next door at Billy Barooz, but didn't quite make it there in time. I had hoped for getting there at 6, but didn't quite leave my house to get kriddy until 6:02. Throw in a four vehicle pile up on 57. And we didn't get out there until 630. We didn't want pizza (Kriddy had monicals for lunch) so we just had beer.

Kriddy went with her old standby Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout; while I started the evening with a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout.

The upfront smell of the whiskey/bourbon was very strong. But it was great to see how much this beer had mellowed. It still had that alcohol kick that makes me feel like I'm having indigestion, but it's a lot smoother than when last years batch first came out. I really need to do a 2006 to 2007 tasting. (Hmm what am I doing this weekend?)

I followed that up with a Great Divide Hercules. Steve (on the pool team) had gone with a Great Divide Titan and I wanted to let him try the DIPA, since he had the IPA. Hercules is so thick and hoppy that it reminds me of what I think my sweat is, the day after some serious drinking. I swear, my pores excrete IPA instead of me getting a headache. I haven't tasted my sweat (recently) to prove the concept, but I think I may have some St. Brigid. (not that I'm going to go work in a leper colony)

I followed that up with a beer that will be added to the list over there <--- MGD 64 Lite.

It was surprisingly, not that horrible. It tasted like a lager. It had that crisp sweet flavor that I noticed in the Highland Shining Rock Lager. There's good in everything (probably) you just have to look for it. The beer is designed for people who are watching calories (and probably gonna drink 12-24 beers in a day), it's not for people who sit around and write about beer. But, we've all probably tried it, how many of us tried it, just so we could say it was piss?

I've had worse, but then, I also enjoy PBR, so does that mean I have to turn in my beer snob card? Ratebeer has it at a 2%. But then, it seems the raters there are trying their best to bash the macro's. Hey, it's no Westy 12, but it's a decent enough drink. (I try not to bash things just for the sake of bashing it).

I followed that up with a Rogue Shakespeare Stout. As this one comes in 22 oz bottles, Kriddy drank the second glass of it. (She had another Sam Smith Oatmeal inbetween). This is an old standby beer for me (at Jupstew). When I just don't know which beer to have, and I know I need/want something, I'll get a Shakespeare. I guess I'm a little lucky to have a beer that's an A (and top 100) on Beer Advocate and as a 98% on ratebeer, as a fuck buddy. (Hey, add the 98 for Shakespeare and the 2 for MGD 64 and it's a 100% beer, one of the best in the world... )

I followed THAT up with a Rogue Chocolate Stout. This one again is in a 22, so Kriddy drank the second glass of that. This one is also an A on BA, and is also a 98% on ratebeer. Rogue makes good stouts. Most beer drinkers don't drink stouts in the summer months, but we were inside and the air conditioner was blowing straight on the table, and it was darn cold, so a good thick beer was called for. Didn't need a light refreshing "just got done mowing" beer; we needed a "man, this should warm me up" beer.

As for the pool, it's an APA league. I'm a 2 in 9 ball (so I am somewhat bad at pool) and a 3 in 8 ball. Kriddy is a 1 in 9 and a 2 in 8 (if she plays 8). I beat a fellow 2 in 9 ball. The way the handicap in 9 ball works is, your skill level determines how many balls you have to make. As a 2, I have to make 19 before my opponent makes his required number. Each ball is worth a point, and the 9 is worth 2. A 1 (kriddy) has to make 14, steve is an 8 and he has to make, I think, 65.

I won my match against a fellow 2. Kriddy just barely won, but did win, against a 6, so she did great. The entire team did awesome in 9 ball, but that's because we've been a 9 ball team for several sessions now.

I'm a 3 in 8 ball. The way 8 ball works is your skill level determines how many games you have to win. The minimum amount to win is 2 games. If I played a 2, he/she would have to win 2 games before I won 3. If I played a 3, it'd be 2-2. If I played a 4, it'd be 2-3. Last night I played a 6, so it was 2-5. He beat me soundly 0-5. He was slightly miffed about losing to Kriddy at 9 ball. A good craftsman never blames his tools... I am not a good craftsman, so the table seemed really fast and the pockets were tight, so that's my excuse.

Billy Barooz kitchen was closed when we got done, so we didn't get to eat there. Instead kriddy decided she wanted Arby's. Well, it turns out all the arby's were closed too. So when we got back to her place, she had a chicken patty and I just went to sleep as it was 1130 or so.

Tonight is softball. We're playing an undefeated team... we're 1-3... this might be ugly.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Natural Gas Leak

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, if not... I'm lactose intolerant. (what an intro!!! can you see where this might be going?)

Last night trivia was canceled as there weren't enough people who wanted to play at hoots. We were there watching the cubs game so we would have been there anyway. Kriddy hadda grilled cheese with bacon, and I had their Southwestern Quesadilla which was pretty good.

Kriddy and I both started the night off with a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, I later switched up to an AB BareKnuckle and kriddy stayed with the Shandy.

After we got done eating and talking to Jared and Kayla (current Miss Hooters Illinois) we headed to 7S to finish watching the Cubs.

Got there and managed to get a parking spot in front of the bar, when was the last time we got to park there, 6 months ago? Go in, Kriddy has a Dark Horse Black Bier; I went with a Woodchuck Amber. I couldn't remember the last time I had a cider. The amber was a lot sweeter and thicker than my "favorite" cider; Strongbow. (Although it seems Strongbow in the U.S. is made by Green Mountain Cidery in Middlebury Vermont; the same people who produce Woodchuck; both being a Bulmers product; so it's owned by Scottish and Newcastle; which was just recently purchased by Heineken International and Carlsberg... probably)

I was still feeling a little tired/sore/under the weather from Monday, so we went back to my place after finishing our drinks. It was around this point, that I apologized to kriddy for what I was going to be doing to her, all night long.

My stomach had started gurgling from the cheese in the quesadilla, and it was rumbling pretty good. It seemed everytime that I turned over in my sleep, I'd let out another batch of rancid cheese smelling nastiness. It was bad. After she got up and took a shower when she came down to say bye, and that she was on her way to work, she asked if I had taken a crap already in the downstairs bathroom, it apparently smelled pretty strong.

That was nothing compared to the odor that punched me square in the nose when I finally got out of bed.

Smell MOST VILE!!! It was horrid. My eyes almost started watering. My nose did plug up as a defense mechanism. My god (lower case g, don't take offense anyone) it was an evil smell. Through the haze, I climbed the stairs and voided myself of the quesadilla. That was an extremely foul smelling event too.

So, here's some advice, if you've made it this far.

Don't eat a quesadilla if you are lactose intolerant. If you do, don't combine lemonade beer, an Irish stout and a cider with it. If you do, don't complain about the smell.

Oh, there were a couple of beers that I left off the sampling from Memorial Day.

Moylans Imperial Stout
and brad and I each had some Sam Adams Utopias.

Damn, the Utopias gets better and better each time.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Don't try this at home

Actually, it's probably better if you try it at home, rather than anywhere else.

Saturday, after doing some cleaning of the house for the party (see below, or above, or over there) I wanted a beer, so I grabbed a couple of beers, threw them into my beer bag and headed out to Crane Alley to watch the cubs.

I gave Kai a bottle of Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron and also a bottle of the Duck Rabbit Rabid Duck Russian Imperial Stout. He at first just thought I was showing them to him, but then he was overjoyed when I told him they were his. So he gave me some beer.

First I had a He'Brew Lenny's Bittersweet R.I.P.A. At some point I followed that up with an Avery Collaboration (draft). I know I also had a St. Bernardus Prior 8. I probably also had an Ommegang Hennepin saison. Knowing me, I probably also had a stout.

Beer has a lot of healthful properties. Unfortunately, there are some health risks of beer. The biggest risk, is probably from unsafe activities. Beer itself normally won't make you fat. It's the fact that you ordered the cheeseburger with extra fries that gets you fat. Beer has some really good properties. But, you (i) can become a moron when drinking.

Everyone gets lucky sometimes. I got lucky on Saturday. When you wake up and wonder how you got there, or only remember parts of the getting there, that's luck. I know I shouldn't do that, but I did. We all make bad decisions, I shouldn't have driven. It was dumb luck that I didn't get pulled over, didn't kill myself, and didn't kill anyone else.

So, friends, don't drink and drive. You'll probably get away with it most of the time, but do you really want to risk it? I regret doing it now.

I know that most of my stories are somewhat fun and very lighthearted, but this is "a very special blossom". So there you have it kids. Thankfully everything came out ok, but it's a learning experience. Great, a 37 year old is having learning experiences.

Beer, Bread, Bacon

Yesterday (I guess you could just look at the date of the post to find out when it was, although just putting in May 26 would probably save a lot of useless words; but I'm verbose, so whatchagonnadoaboutit?) we had a Memorial Day gathering at the house. We invited a bunch of people, and even rescheduled it so that the gathering would be at a better time/day for more people to come by and have some good beers. I forgot that, I shouldn't bother.

In attendance were, XG, nEighbour, big brad and donna, meat jennifer and the girls, hippy, and nate also showed up. Originally I had hoped to just be sitting around under the shade tree, sipping on good beer; but it was a little wet from some rain, so we spent most of the time in the garage, sitting around, sipping on good beer.

One of the things in life that everyone needs, is a good friend, who is a chef. I can not emphasize enough, how awesome it is to have a friend who, not only can cook, but can put together some AWESOME dishes. XG is that person for me. Several years ago she made the best cheesecake I've ever had, for me to take up to my dad's for thanksgiving. When I asked her to come down for the gathering, she asked if she could bring anything; so I thought, what would go better with beer, than it's brother (or is it a cousin?), BREAD.

Beer is usually 4 ingredients, Barley, Water, Yeast and Hops. If you take away the hops and use a different grain like wheat, you've pretty much got bread. So XG brought down some great bread, (there was even the possibility of us making some beer bread with leftover beer from the Mama Mia Pizza Beer, but it was too hot inside to run the oven for any time). She made an OUTSTANDING focaccia, a loaf of french (I think) and a loaf of something similar (I can't remember exactly). She also made some pretzels along with a cheese dip. Everythign was awesome!

Heck, I was dipping the bread into one of the beers, loosening up the bread and thickening up the beer. It was great. Beer as gravy!

I started sampling beers around noon, and finally finished around 10 or so (I think). There was a wide range of beer from all over the U.S. and the world, covering a lot of styles too.

Brad brought an Avery Collaboration (batch 002), and some little kings. Meat was going to bring beers, but didn't' need to as we didn't even finish up all the beer I put into the fridge. We had: Stone Imperial Russian Stout (I later sold a bottle to brad, cuz he really liked it); Mikkeller Blackhole; Mikkeller Bad Worse barleywine; Hoogstraten Poorter; Terrapin Side Project #1 Hop Shortage; BBC Russian Imperial Porter (good for dipping bread into); 3 Monts Flanders Golden; Lefthand Double IPA; Mama Mia Pizza Beer; and Grumpy Troll Brandy Spetznaz.

Brad conned me into putting a DL 2k8 into the cooler, so we also had one of those. Ah, now I see why I feel a little funny today, I drank half a bottle of Dark Lord. nEighbour brought over a bottle from his fridge, that was my and hippy's stout, that beer has definitely improved with time. Brad really seemed to enjoy it, and I liked it a lot more too. Also in the fridge was my Welcome Back Pat, in the newly acquired Tap a Draft System. That one came out pretty good too.

Those were the main beers that were drank, additinoally there was a Great Lakes Blackout Stout that someone had, and probably some other things. (I had a couple of Old Styles, to hydrate).

Other than the bread that XG brought, everyone brought some food. Brad and donna brought these ribeye griller things that had cheese. Kriddy made some little smokies. Jennifer made some jalapeño stuffed things. Oh, and oddly enough everything was wrapped in bacon. (Hence the title; beer, bread, bacon.) All the food was awesome and I couldn't stop eating. Brad's griller things were outstanding. He didn't like cooking them on the charcoal grill, but they came out great. Jennifers Jalapeno things were damn good. Kriddys smokies were a hit too. After everyone left, I started eating the bread dipped in the bottom of the crock pot that had the smokies. Bread dipped in bacon grease is one of my new favorite foods. I guess it's probably not very healthy.

I'm sitting here today, oozing hops. Also, I'm a little queasy. I don't have a headache, as I don't get headaches, but this is about as close as I come to a hangover.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, which was nice. Another good part was that nobody died on my deck. I keep thinking I'm going to have one of those Chicago style "kill all your friends" parties, but my deck somehow stands up. I'd guess if everyone was on it the whole time, it may not survive, but who knows.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Struise Mikkeller

Last night I had my bottle of Struise Mikkeller.

It's a rather tasty brew. As you can see, it had an awesome full head. It was more than head, it was practically meringue. After the head got set and I continued to pour down the middle, the liquid beer punched a hole that looked almost like a donut. The beer itself was brown, with maybe a little sickly yellow hue to it. There was also some flocculation, but not too much. There was some brown chunks that settled to the bottom of the glass, and also some that managed to get stuck in the thick foam.

Before I opened it, I read part of the label, but not the full thing. Here it is...

RateBeer Special Release:
Behold the second of’s Worldwide Masters Series! This request edition ale is the crafted alchemy of a party of some of Europe’s finest brewers, Mikkel Bjergsø and Kristian Keller of Mikkeller (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Urbain Coutteau, Carlo Grootaert, Phil Driessens, and Peter Braem of De Struise Brouwers (Woesten-Vleteren, Belgium).
Both breweries have attracted considerable international attention for their artful interpretations of traditional ale styles enlived by a rich sense of invention. And both are also very highly esteemed by the international community of beer tasters. We hope you enjoy this unique little treasure.
Struise-Mikkeller-- the product of master brewing and friendship. Celebrate this sense of camaraderie by sharing this bottle with your good friends!
- Joe Tucker,

Struise-Mikkeller is as we said in the past "Best of two worlds". We delivered an IPA with 130 IBU, but a bitterness hidden the Struise way, counter balanced by maltyness, alcohol and rest sugars. People who do not like Ipa's will actually be amazed, the general hop bomb addict will not understand, so yes this is a controverse brew... enjoy anyway!

So it's 130 friggin IBU!!! Supposedly we can't tell anything above 100, but technicalities aside, I expected to have my taste buds ripped off my tongue. I was wrong...

When I opened the bottle, I thought I got a bottle of "Sunny D". The smell of citrus jumped from the bottle. I've never smelled a beer that had as much citrus aroma. Would that be cascade hops? Which one has that much orange aroma? Is it Sapphire hops?

The beer was thin and drying. The flocculation gave it a feel of an orange juice that had a very small amount of pulp in it.

The taste was strong orange, with a hint of lime and other citrus. For 130 IBU (International Bitterness Units) it wasn't bitter at all. When I see a high IBU I expect pine flavor. There was no pine in there at all. It was all citrus flavor. This Double IPA had more lemony flavor than the Leinenkugel Summer Shandy's that I had earlier at BW. There was a slight hint of pepper that snuck in near the end.

It finished very clean, like an orange juice.

The only other Imperial IPA that I've had that was anywhere near this citrus-y was Goose Island Imperial IPA.

This would be awesome with BW Mango Habanero sauce. It would be probably the worst beer in the world to have after brushing your teeth, therefore Kriddy didn't even try a sip.

In other news, we lost at softball last night. :( I slid and scraped up my leg a bit, but not too horribly. It's been just under 2 years since I've slid, the last time didn't go so well. I've still got the scars from it. I put neosporin on it today and have it wrapped so hopefully it'll heal better and faster this time. This is what that last time looked like.

Day of
next day
creative bandaiding

So hopefully this time doesn't get as bad as last time. I'm wearing tall socks now when I play, so that cut down on the abrasion to my leg initially, and I'm treating it better, so it should be ok.

In other other news, my tap a draft is out for delivery, yay!!!

The party has been moved to Monday, bring a beer and a lawn chair.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

go CUB(s)(eerClub)

Last night was the May edition of the Champaign Urbana Beer Club. Each gathering has a theme, Feb was "beer and chocolate"; March was "beers from East of the Mississippi"; April was "beers from West of the Mississippi"; last night was "Imported Beers".

Each person is to bring about 24-36 ounces of beer to share with the group. That's about 2 bottles of 12 oz beer, or a little more than a bomber. As Kriddy goes with me, I normally take 3 bottles of beer.

Back in Feb, we took Highland Black Mocha Stout and Sweetwater Happy Ending. March was Yazoo Hefeweizen, Yazoo Pale and Yazoo Dos Perros Altbier (along with a Dixie Lager). April was Siletz Oatmeal Stout and Siletz Chocolate Porter. If you look at the events list you'll see that there's some great beers that people bring in, from all over the u.s.

For last night, we took in some of the beers that we picked up in Indianapolis. Originally I picked up some bottles in Asheville that I was going to take, but changed my mind. It was going to be
hoogstraten Poorter and Fantome La Dalmatienne, but instead I took in most of the BrewDog Line.

I gave up four beers last night.

Brewdog the Physics (Amber)
Brewdog Riptide (Imperial Stout)
Brewdog Hardcore IPA
Brewdog Paradox 008 Islay Bowmore 1987

I've still got another bottle of the 008, so I didn't part with anything too hard to come by.

This will come off as very conceited, but the Paradox 008 was the hit of the night. Everyone seemed to love it. Many people asked where I got it, so I got to explain to them how to get to Crown Liquors #6 on the south side of Indy, on route 31. (South of 465, exit 2b, I think). Crown has most of the Brewdog line (Brew Dog or Brewdog or BrewDog?) but only the 008 of the Paradox line. I wasn't able to completely enjoy the beers (like sitting at home or in the bar and write about it), and I didn't take any tasting notes, but none of the BrewDogs disappointed (at least not me).

Some of the other highlights of the night were Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Peche Mortel. That's a great beer. Ed (Darklord) brought in two bottles of it. One for the early crowd and one for later, when it's down to the real drinkers. After the crowd thinned out, Dr. Andy busted out a bottle of Westy 12. So that was pretty cool.

Other bottles of interest were Rochefort 10; J.W. Lees Vintage Harves Ale; Chimay Blue; Fullers Vintage Ale. Someone brought in a Hvedegoop, so we got to try that.

The Champaign Urbana Beer Club is a great place to go meet like minded people (if you have beer on your mind). They are very accepting of new people (at first I was afraid of not fitting in) and they all have good beer stories to tell. It's a good mix of people, because CU is right in the middle of the country. Noah routinely goes west to California and gets beer from the San Diego (I think he said) area. Dr. Andy is from Washington state and has family there, so he's the pacific hookup. It turns out they are happy to have me and Kriddy there, because we are the only ones who go to the Southeast. So, we filled a void in the group (that they might not have known was there). So now we're the hookup for DuckRabbit; Highland; Terrapin; and Sweetwater beers... It's a lot of responsibility, but I'll try to handle it.

Our next trip to Asheville is scheduled for the end of July. So place your orders now.

In other news, I'm almost done mowing my back yard. There's only one patch of foot and a half tall grass left before I can say I'm done. I should be able to get to it sometime on Saturday.

Also, I ordered the Tap a Draft system from Northern Brewer. It should be in tomorrow. It's also available on Amazon, but is $40 more, so I thought I'd be frugal. So now I need to make some room in my fridge for MORE BEER!!!. The first one to go on draft will be Welcome Back Pat wheat... should Pat ever come back.

I might have to clean out my beer room due to unforeseen circumstances, but that's not a problem. All my empty bottles will probably find their way into the garage, and the full stuff will work it's way into my cellar, behind the bar.

We're probably going to be having a beer gathering at Kriddy's on Sunday, because I've got a lot of beer I need to drink. It won't quite be the same as the New Years Eve lineup, but I've got at least a 12 pack of bombers that I need to share. We were invited to go to one of the beer club people's place on Sunday, but I'm not sure what to do. Maybe we just do that instead and don't worry about the "hosting" issues.

The only problem with not hosting, is you don't really get to control how much you drink, and then you stand over your beer guarding it. Not sure if I want to do that or not. It'd be more fun to just sit around in the back yard on a lawn chair, under the tree with some buddies sippin on some really really really good beer.

So that settles it, my place, Sunday, 5 p.m. Bring a lawn chair.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

kwak kwak waddle waddle

We are wipper snappers...

Last night, had 3 new beers, happily they went from good to not as good. (Yeah, when was the last time I said a beer was bad?)

Started out the evening with a Duck Rabbit Rabid Duck Russian Imperial Stout. This was an AWESOME beer. It's got an A- rating on BA, (I looked this morning after I drank it, don't want to be a bandwagon person; I liked it before I knew everyone else liked it.)

It poured like black oil. That picture isn't poorly lit, that shit is BLACK! It had brown thin foam, totally a different color than the beer. I held my glass up to a light (and granted it was a big goblet) but absolutely NO LIGHT shone through. There were no bright patches where even a glimmer of light made it through. This shit absorbed light.

It smelled like coffee and chocolate and black olives with a hint of smoke or even a burned smell. This stuff was thick! It wasn't Dark Lord thick, but it is definitely (why do I always spell that word wrong) a thick ass stout. When I went to take my first sip, as my lip pressed against the beer, it had resistance. This beer had SURFACE TENSION; water bugs would have no problem walking across this thing. Jesus could have easily walked across this; and Moses would have had trouble parting it. I pressed through to get to the beer. This stuff completely coated the mouth, it didn't lift off either. It was slightly gritty, but not horrible. It's a thick beer.

It had the slight taste of Black Chocolate, possibly bakers chocolate, the bitter, not sweet stuff. There was a little bit of grape/raisin to it, but not a lot. It finished with a coffee or espresso feel. I also got the sense of a nut, a dark nut, maybe Brazil nuts? This beer was awesome. At around $12 a 6 pack, this is probably the best $2 beer I've ever had. If you can find it, get it, you won't be disappointed.

After drinking this (Kriddy had a BBC stout), we went to hooters for trivia.
(that's not me in the picture)

Yeah, I know all those girls. Trivia was Scary Movies, we won. While there, I had a Boulevard Pale followed by a Killians. After trivia, we went to 7 Saints to drop off the 6 pack for Chibuisi. He had mentioned before that he tried a Bells so I put together a pack for him. It had the Cherry, Expedition, Best Brown, Third Coast, Amber and Pale; so a nice little pack. Andy showed up and gave me $100 for the Darklord and other beers, and looked at the pack and was a little jealous I think. But then after thinking about it, he felt a little bad for improving his cellar at my beer's expense. While at 7S, I had a Flying Dog Rabid Dog IPA, followed by Dark Horse Black bier, then went home.

Got home and poured myself a Pauwel Kwak. The picture doesn't do it justice (well maybe the globe on the bottom does). It was a lovely amber color, almost reddish, like a killians. It smelled like an amber, with a little bit more banana in the nose. The head was almost too big (and then I ruined it), but it still stuck around. It was somewhat thin, and felt... um... clean. It didn't have much carbonation in the mouth feel, despite all that head.

It had a nutty and fruity taste. Not and amber flavor. It was definitely Belgian yeast, giving off that fruity taste in an amber colored beer. There was thin hops and a big malt presence. It finished clean, with a pleasant aftertaste that hung longer in the mouth thicker than I expected for as thin as it felt initially.

I'm not sure if the glass part is supposed to come out of the wood, because mine seemed wedged in there pretty good. So I left it in, and used it as a stein. I killed the head with one of the ways you can easily do to get the head smaller in a beer. If you have run away foam in a glass, you can get rid of it simply by rubbing your finger against the side (outside) of your nose and then touching the foam with your finger tip. The oils in your sweat will cause the bubbles to dissipate. It's on wikipedia in the article on NOSE GREASE.
Nose grease has mild antifoaming properties and can be used to break down a high head on freshly poured beer or soft drinks. Wiping nose grease onto one's finger and then touching or stirring the foam causes it to dissipate rapidly

Last was the Hitachino Nest Sweet Stout. I've not been a fan of the other Hicachino's that I've had, but I tried to go in with an open mind. Well, it was 1130 or so, and I'd already had 6 beers, so how close minded could I be?

It poured black, with thin whitish foam that didn't stick around too long. It smelled peppery with a little grape and alcohol. It felt thin (not thin compared to the Duck Rabbit, thin compared to other stouts).

My first reaction to the taste was... WOW.

It was black olive, strong black olive. There might have been a little green olive thrown in, but there was definitely (yay, I spelled it right without spell check) no pimento. (As I wrote it out last night, I put "no red thingies"). There was a little grape flavor but that mostly came from the smell. I didn't get any smoke, chocolate, vanilla or coffee flavor. It was slightly salty and definitely (damn, spelled it wrong again!) not sweet, despite the sweet stout name. Most of the flavor came late, and hit the back sides of the tongue. Eventually it reached the tip of the tongue, but that was really late. After letting it sit, it dried out my mouth, almost like a white wine.

I didn't notice until this morning that the label says "Lacto" so it's a milk stout. I didn't taste the sweetness, but this morning, as I'm lactose intolerant, I definitely noticed the lactose. (I'll let you figure out what I mean by that.)

This morning my feelings on the beer are different than how much I seemed to enjoy it last night. I like beers that remind me of black olives. (I picked up all these beers in Asheville)

I forgot to mention a funny thing that happened to us in Asheville. On Saturday as we were heading out to go on the Brews Cruise, Frank checked the mail, there was a letter from his mom. They knew we were heading down, so she had clipped an article in their local paper (wisconsin rapids, I think) on beer, and sent it down to them to give to me. The letter said something like...

Thanks for everything, we had a good time at the wedding and reception...
If Virgil hasn't made it down there, we saw this in the paper and thought of him.

That's really nice, especially considering I've only met them 3 times, first at Franks 30'th birthday party, second at the bride/groom couples shower, and finally at the reception.

So a shoutout to Frank's Mom.

Congratulations go to Jim (from 7 Saints) who got a job up in Chicago for a beer distributor. He'll be working with some great beers, and maybe someday he might be able to get text messages on his phone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A couple of beer reviews.

As I mentioned, while in Asheville, we stopped at the Thirsty Monk.

The first beer I had there was a St. Bernardus Abt. 12 60th Anniversary.

The beer was served in St. Bernardus glasses, and on St. Bernardus coasters, so the whole look and feel "thing" was appropriate. The Thirsty Monk is very dark, so the picture isn't very bright. This is also a problem if you are trying to look closely into your beer. There are a couple of lights around the wall, so you can hold the glass up to a light to check it out.

The beer was caramel in color with a hint of amber, the head didn't stick around for a long time, but had a good cling. It smelled of raisins or grapes (same thing?) with a little bit of wine to it. It was thin to medium on the tongue, with the feel of small bubbles.

It tasted of bread, muffins, possibly with raisins in it. Delicious beer.

It clung to the tongue, leaving a pleasant aftertaste. After drinking, it almost had a syrupy feeling.

As I was drinking, I tried to think what food would be good, and I think the best food, that I'd like with this would be Billy Barooz (in Champaign) Cajun Creole Pasta. Yeah, that stuff totally rips up my insides, but I love it, and this beer would be GREAT with that. I'm going to have to ask the manager or owner, if I could bring it in sometime to try. Granted, it wouldn't be the 60th anniversary, but just the "regular" St. Bernardus Abt. 12.

The second beer we had was the La Chouffe McChouffe Scottish Ale.

This one poured reddish to brown, and had very little head, even with a very aggressive pour. The head didn't linger, and didn't leave much lace. (Scottish lace? well, scots wear kilts, right? and they don't wear any undies, so no scottish lace, right?)

Kriddy said it smelled of grape, I couldn't place it exactly, but thought it fruity smelling. It was very thin on the tongue.

It tasted like a brown ale, (I know that's generic, but that's what I thought) it tasted like BROWN. There was some caramel, with the taste of white bread that had been lightly toasted, not enough that the bread darkens, but just enough to harden the bread. There was no distinct hops flavor at all in the beer. There was also no aftertaste. It completely cleaned off the palate (which I thought odd).

Both beers were good, but the St. Bernardus was my favorite beer that night.

Beer B-Ashe-ville

If you remember back to "(Insert Witty Title Here)" Kriddy and I went to the wedding for our friends. If you remember back to "The May Beer Crawl 9-10" we got the presents from that reception.

Well, after a week of chauffeuring those gifts around in the car; we finally drove to Asheville. We left on Friday morning around 845, and pulled in around 630 or so (with the time change it took about 8-9 hours or so). The drive itself was uneventful; but somewhat saddish. The route to Asheville from Champaign Urbana goes from here, to Indianapolis, to Louisville, to Lexington, to Knoxville, to Asheville.

My car was full of stuff. In Indy there's several liquor stores, Lexington has the Liquor Barn... we drove past some great places and didn't have any room for more beer :(

We had to get there at a decent time too, as the groom was making steaks on the grill; so we couldn't stop for extended layovers for sampling either.

We got there on Friday and delivered the goods (also was thrown in a congratulatory Dark Lord 2008). After eating, we got into the car and headed into downtown Asheville to a place called the "Thirsty Monk". This place is nice. It's hard to miss, it's the big purple building, with a monk drawn on the side. (Note: I'll make two or more postings today; this one will be the rundown of what happened and stuff, so if you are here for the fun exploits, then this is the blog for you; if you are here for beer reviews, then you'll just haveta wait, cuz I haven't written that yet). The bar has Belgian beers, lots and lots of Belgian beers and belgian style beers too. As you walk down into the place, on the left side of the walkway is a variety of empty beer bottles affixed to the wall. I noticed a bottle of Oud Beersel Gueze and pointed it out to Kriddy as we had just had it on May 3. According to the menu there are 14 beers on tap. Several are popular belgian beers, Delirium Tremens and Noctrnum; Kasteel Rouge; they also had a trappist, Chimay White on draft; in addition to a local Pisgah Solstice; and some national brews, Brooklyn Blanche de Brooklyn; and Brother Thelonius.

Kriddy of course wanted a stout, so I got her a De Dolle Extra Export Stout; Dana wanted one of the Delirium's and Frank and I split a St. Bernardus Abt. 12 60th anniversary. After we finished that (reviews to follow) we shared a La Chouffe McChouffe.

A very nice aspect of the Thirsty Monk, is that they seem to have appropriate glasses for every drink. Not just that they have an assortment of appropriate style glasses; they have the brewery glasses. Dana's Delirium came in a delirium glass; our beers were both served in brewery glasses (La Chouffe and St. Bernardus). Other people were drinking from Kasteel glasses and there was a huge selection of glassware behind the counter. The glass selection itself would probably make beer OCD people jealous. Before presenting each glass they were rinsed in sight to ensure the best presentation for the beers. (Kriddys stout was given a plain tulip:( ).

For going out to have a beer, this is a fine spot in Asheville to do it. For going out to have a Belgian or Belgian style beer, this is probably one of the best places in the U.S. to do it.

After we finished up there, we headed out to find a different place to have some beer. We walked past Greenman Ales and found a bar that didn't have a cover charge. It also didn't have a great selection. I got the Pisgah Pale, which was served in a plastic Miller Lite pint glass. Also people were smoking inside (it's allowed because it's a pool hall too, or something like that). Mix the smoking with the plastic glass, and it wasn't a great place to be. We didn't stay there long, and it didn't leave enough of a good impression for me to remember (or even write down) the name.

We then headed back towards our hosts place, but stopped off at a bar, which I believe was named "Pub". Right next to the flea market area. Inside, I had an O Pale Ale. Everyone else had something too, but nothing too spectacular.

Frank and Dana don't have a great pint glass selection, heck, they only had 2 glasses. Both from the Brews Cruise that they took with some friends previously. So while at the pub, we talked the waitress into letting us lift some glasses from her. So we added 2 glasses to their collection. They weren't standard pint glasses, but they were nice to look at. I don't remember exactly what they were, but Frank asked how they got into his dishwasher on Saturday morning. We finished up at "pub" and went back and crashed.

After we woke up we headed down to the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. It was there, that we would meet up with the Asheville Brews Cruise. While we were waiting, I shared the ABC Scout Stout with Kriddy while frank and Dana had the Ninja Porter. When we did meet up with Mark (the driver for the day) he presented us with a gift bag containing an itinerary, some mints, some Cheezits (that seemed popular) and some other schwag with info about Asheville. On the tour was us 4 and two other people who were kind of local, the Thomas'.

We then headed out to our first brewery, Highland Brewing Company. Now, I've been to many breweries and brewpubs this year, mostly it was just to have the sampler platter, and had a quick look at their brewing setup. At Three Floyds Dark Lord was distributed in the warehouse, and you walked past the brewing area. The brews cruise is AWESOME. Mark has contacts with the local brewers and you spend time with actual beer people. It's like beer class. When we were at Highland, the brewery was shown to us by Paul, the assistant brewer.

Paul was a great guy to get information from (and seemed like a nice guy too), all you had to do was ask the right questions, and he could talk for quite a long time on the subject. At first, I was probably the "kid in class" that everyone hates because he never stops asking questions. Eventually, (I think) the others there were happy I was with them.

Sure, I asked how the hop shortage was going to/ or had affected them, and Paul talked about their contracts and that it shouldn't be too bad this year, but next year, might be trouble. He told us about where they got their malt (Wisconsin) and also talked about their yeast. After he told us about the worldwide hop shortage, he talked about their Imperial Kashmir IPA. This beer was made with more than 200 pounds of hops. The last few remaining bottles are at the brewery and are for sale at $10 each (22 oz bomber). Frank and I each got one, so I'm not sure how many more are left.

Paul showed us around the brewery and it was very hands on, you could touch the outside of everything, if you wanted. We saw the entire area from their Mash tun to the bottling line to cold storage, and everything else in between. (An interesting thing they do, not sure how many other places do; is their hot wort, as it is chilled, the warm temperature is transferred to the next water that will be going into the brewpot, which saves energy; the cold from the new water is transferred to the wort, while the heat from the wort is transferred to the new water). Also interesting is that because most of their beers are similar styled as scottish ales, they use the same yeast in most of their beers.

While we were going through the tour, I asked if Paul did any home brewing, he said not really, they do their experimenting at the brewery, and he showed us their small scale setup. Then he took us in the cooler, where he had a beer they might do in a small cask, so we got lucky to try the unnamed (but I called it) Paul's Imperial Stout. It was a hopped up version of their Black Mocha Porter.

The brews cruise isn't just a museum visit, it's a beer filled museum visit. While inside the breweries, Mark made sure our glasses were never quite empty. In addition to Paul's imperial, we also got Gaelic, Kashmir, Oatmeal Porter, Black Mocha and their newest spring/summer offering Shining Rock Lager.

As I'd never done the "tour" of a brewery, it was nice to actually go through with it. Once is probably enough to get how it's done everywhere, except for the factories, but I don't really want to go on a tour of a factory that makes beer.

Our next stop was French Broad Brewery. I didn't get the name of the brewmaster, but he was the one who explained his beers over pretzels to us. A great guy, and produced some damn good beers too. His operation was a whole lot smaller than Highlands. While Highland (with a name like Highland) specialized in Scottish style ales. French Broad seemed to specialize in lighter beers. Their Kolsch (style) would be awesome to drink after mowing. But plan ahead, as their beers aren't bottled. Go get a growler before you start your yard work.

We were lucky to get to drink a brewmaster test run of a belgian stout-ish beer. It was good, Frank wanted a growler of it to go, but we finished off the rest of the 5 gallon, so there was no to go cups. However we were given the recipe. (Email me, if you are interested).

Our final stop was back where we started at Asheville Pizza. There we ate and sampled the Shiva IPA, Scottish ale, Ninja Porter and Scout Stout. We were shown around the place, which is very neat. They have a huge game room, and a movie theater. Movie and beer, WHOO HOO. I had the Reuben, which was pretty good. Kriddy hadda pizza, which she seemed to enjoy.

The entire time on the Brews Cruise was about 3-4 hours, it cost $35 a person (out of town rate) and the glasses stay full. We were also given pint glasses at the end (you don't want to be worried about those while walking around).

The last part of the cruise is sometimes a stop at Bruisin' Ales. They have a good selection of stuff that isn't available in Illinois. Also, since we were on the cruise, we got to have a beer while we were perusing the store. I picked out Dale's Pale Ale from Oscar Blues. I'm drawing a blank as to what Frank picked. As we'd already had many local beers I didn't get any Highlands. I did get a 4 pack of Dogfish Palo Santo Marron, and a 6er of Duck Rabbit RIS. Meat has been looking for Pyramid Imperial Hefeweizen for a few months or so, so when I saw it, I got the two last bottles in stock. Also got a 4 pack of Kwak that came with a half yard (or is it a foot).

Bruisin Ales has a Big monk thing that if you open it up has beer in it. We got one of the Single and Triple ales from it.
The guy behind the counter was great, and since we spent $147, he offered us a free glass, so we got a Chimay glass.

After that, we headed back to our host's for a nap.

After freshening up we headed out to Pomodoros (if that's how you spell tomato in Italian or is it greek?) for evening meal. I had the calamari (which wasn't quite as good as the calamari at ShoreLine up in Michigan City) and washed it down with an Alfa Helenic Beer which wasn't that great (it seems to have bad reviews all around).

After that we headed to an ice cream place, where I got to watch everyone else enjoy some ice cream. Kriddy and Dana had some ice cream made with Highland Black Mocha Stout; they both seemed to like it. After that, around 10, we headed back to get ready for Sunday.

Woke up, headed to Bristol for NHRA. It was overcast and dreary. Not hot, so if they ran, it'd be good times. We found our seats after I about crapped my pants several times, due to them testing the rebuilt engines. Even if I'm braced for it, I'm still a very jumpy person. When they hit that nitro methane button, I always jump. We watched the first round of Top Fuel, then the rain started. Each rain delay at drag racing, is a wait for the rain to stop, and then a wait for drying the track. We watched 3 or 4 rain delays before we finally left, which was right at the end of Funny car. We didn't see any pro stock. We did manage to get through 4 rounds of beer at $20 a shot, for fizzy yellow water, so that was great... (wheres my thumbs up emoticon?) We headed out to try to find Depot Street Brewing, but it's in Tennessee, so they were closed on Sunday.

Went back and ate at the Wild Wing Cafe, they had shirts that said "Beer, It's not just for breakfast anymore". With that kind of advertising, I expected a huge beer list, but was very disappointed. There were about as many hot sauce varieties (33) as beers. After we finished there, went back to the house and Frank opened his bottle of the Highland Imperial Kashmir IPA, it was outstanding. Even though it was an "older" IPA, it still had a strong hops smell to it. (You'll get that from 200 pounds). It wasn't very bitter (although it probably was technically bitter) but had most of the hops flavors in it... depending on what you looked for. Spicy, piney, grassy, they were all in there, at some form or another.

After we finished that off, we watched the end of NHRA on ESPN2, where they carried the finish of Funny Car, live, at 1030. That would have been a REALLY long day, had we stayed.

Went to bed, and prepped for the ride home.

Left Asheville around 645, and around noon, pulled up towards Louisville. Kriddy was getting hungry so she looked on the GPS for a brewpub. I couldn't remember the name of it, but knew it was BB something, so when she pulled up the list, and there was Bluegrass Brewing Company, we were set.

Walked in and the bastard love child of Bruce Vilanch and Brian Posehn was tending bar. Sat down, order the sampler. Last year, I had 4 of their beers, and I got to add 7 more to my list. So that was nice. All their beer were good. After he gave us the first 7 samples, I looked at the tap handles and wondered where the rest were (there were way more than 7 taps). So he brought us out three other samples, Gross Batard, Raspberry Meade and Frambozen. I was especially impressed with the Raspberry Meade, it was probably the best meade I've had.

I ordered the fish platter, which was a HUGE FRIGGIN piece of fish. Kriddy got an Italian beef sammich. The fish was outstanding. Remember how I mentioned Gordon Biersch had bad fish. That was just chunks of fish that weren't done properly. This slab of fish was over a foot long and about an inch thick in the middle. It was completely cooked all the way through, all of it was flaky. The batter wasn't burned, but was the color of a belgian triple. I saved up the nutbrown sample to drink with the fish, and it went well with it. Kriddy had the stout (of course) and that went pretty good with the sammich.

We told Jeff (the love child) about going on the brews cruise, and he thought it'd be a great idea to start one up around Louisville. We told him we were heading up towards indy on the way home, and he said for us to stop at Oaken Barrel, and mentioned another place, that I just can't remember now (Brass Monkey in Kokomo? Half Moon?) Dang, I need to write more things down.

After we headed back north on I 65, we stopped at Parti Pak Liquors and got about $100 worth of beer, or so it seemed. Then headed up the road to Crown Liquors. Crown seems to be the little hole in the wall place that everyone ignores. You'd expect Partipak to be that place, but Partipak has a reputation among beer aficionados (it's rated A+ on Beer Advocate) . Crown Liquors doesn't seem to have that cult following. Either crown restocks the shelves after each customer, or they don't have as many people go through. Either way, doesn't matter to me, I'm stopping there every trip I take to Indy. (It's right off U.S. 31 on the south of Indy). Crown has a wide range of Stone, Three Floyds, Mikkeller, Bells and a bunch of other stuff, and it's almost always in stock. I took their last two 6 packs of Bells Hopslam (and will be selling one of them to Meat). The guy working asked me about the Brewdog line (I had just gotten a few down the street) so I asked about the Paradox line, and he showed me where he had some. So I got a bottle of the 8. Crapola, I thought I had previously got the 4,5 and 9, but I got the 5,8,and 9 (back in C-bus) so now I've got another bottle of 8, which I'll just add to Meat's bill.

As I was pretty much grabbing everything in Crown that I hadn't had, and/or wanted, I was ringing up a hefty bill. So the guy working took my email was was going to pass it to their beer guy, to see if I wanted to do any trading. Also, for "special" customers, he had a bottle (or maybe two) of Darklord that he would sell, I mentioned I had 19 of them at home, and didn't really need any more. So we spent over $100 there too.

The GF is now a huge fan of the bourbon aged beers (just not the GIBCS so much, but that one gets better with age). She really liked the BBC Jeffs Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout, so we picked up a pack of that somewhere. We also got her a bottle of the Barley Island Bourbon Barrel Oatmeal (bourbon barrel oatmeal stout, this will probably be her favoritest beer in the world) and a bottle of Stone Smoked Porter as she really liked the O'fallon whiskey aged smoked porter.

It was a great time. All weekend went well, not too many bad beers, (except the coors light at the race). Next trip there will be for Bele Chere. Hopefully we'll be able to get Mark to take us to some of the other breweries, and also to the new ones.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Satan; Cream Pies

I mowed most of my yard last night. I say most because I ran out of gas about 2/3 of the way through. I did manage to finish the front, but it died before I got the whole back done. This was the first time this year that I mowed, so my back yard was quite the jungle. I've never seen dandelions so big.

If I had planned ahead (or maybe I could in the future) I could have made some dandelion wine. Heck, I've got enough back there that I could have a decent salad for several days too. Most of them are mowed down now, but they'll come back, I believe in them.

I probably could have finished mowing in the allotted time, except I spent about a half hour pulling on the cord before I finally thought, maybe there isn't enough gas in there? There was gas in it, but apparently not enough. I ran next door and took some from my nEighbor and filled up the tank. It easily got me through the nearly grassless front yard, but only half through the back. The back yard had grass that was more than a foot tall, and very thick too.

As I was cutting it I was thinking Al Gore thoughts, about how I was increasing carbon, and shit like that. I'm taking a product that takes CO2 and stores it, and cutting it down. Granted, I'm not destroying a rain forest, but in my little piece of the planet, I'm making a difference, and not for the better. I've got these massive bushes that are growing back there too, and I needa cut those down a lot too. Virgil... killing the planet one blade of grass at a time!

After I finished as much mowing as I was gonna get done last night, I put everything away and realized I didn't have any "after mowing beers" in the house. A Leinenkugel Summer Shandy would have been awesome. Maybe a blonde ale; maybe a wheat (not Wit); but alas, about all I could think of in the fridge was a bottle of Satin Solstice, and an imperial stout just didn't seem like the thing to drink when I was hot and sweaty. (I forgot I had a 12 pack of Old Style; I got it for the cubs stuff on it; and hey, it would have been a good "after mowing beer")

So I went and got kriddy, as we were hoping to meet some people out at Jupiters at the Crossing (Jupstew) for some billiards action. Was hoping to get a guy from work and softball there to see if he wanted to play on our league, but he couldn't make it; also another co-worker who is the greatest pool player I know, didn't get my text until 7 a.m. this morning, so he obviously didn't make it.

When we got there, I ordered a Great Divide Yeti... yeah, so I had an Imperial Stout as the first beer anyway... I never really noticed the hops in it before last night. I didn't give it the full drinking evaluation like I've been doing for "new" beers, but I did try to analyze it a little more than just loving it.

Before, I'd only been focused on the chocolate and coffee flavors and the thickness of it. I hadn't paid any attention to the huge amount of hops in it. It's so well balanced, I had to really search for the hops in order to find it, but once I did, man, was it enjoyable. It's odd to me that when I'm drinking a beer, once I get an idea of what a flavor is, that the one flavor then becomes the predominate taste. I can go searching for other tastes but it'll always come back to that one.

I first noticed this while drinking an Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald and I picked out the flavor of black olives, from that point on, this beer screamed black olives to me.

If you are wondering what it is that you are tasting, and have trouble picking it out. Check out the Beer Flavor Wheel.

It's also known as the Meilgaard Beer Flavor Wheel, as he's the guy who thought it up. (The image isn't the greatest, there are better copies of it out on the interwebs, but this was the only one I could get to ... right now). This page seems to have a good breakdown of the wheel. There are other sites too. While I don't have it in there yet, I'll be putting a copy of the wheel into my beer notebook. It'll help with picking out the flavors.

Well, after I finished drinking the Yeti, I switched to a Great Divide Hercules. It was a Great Divide night. This beer has a thick tongue feel to it, almost like a syrup. So bitter and hoppy (did I mention I hate to say hoppy? But it's just so easy... hoppy... hoppy.. what friggin KIND of hoppy? dunno... it was just... um ... hoppy). Now you see why I need to carry around a flavor wheel.

Well, I'm happy to report I don't have any blisters from mowing yesterday, so that's really nice. However, typing is really hard as my forearms are really tight. My hands are also shaking a bit, so that's kind of fun. Unfortunately, while my hands are blister free, the roof of my mouth didn't fare as well from the pizza.

Otherwise, possibly softball tonight (depending on rain), and then we are heading to Asheville North Carolina tomorrow. We are doing the Brews Cruise on Saturday, so that should be fun. I've had some of the Asheville Brewing Company beers and probably all the Highland stuff (which is good beer), but haven't had any of the French Broad, so that'll be nice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

5 New Beers (to me)

Tuesday nights is one of my beer drinking nights. Not sure how it evolved into it, but that's the way it is. Originally (oh so long ago) I was on a pool team that played on Tuesday. Me and a friend (or a friend and I) were looking for a place to kill time before going to pool, and after going to several crappy fast food places, we finally went to the Hooters in Champaign. This was back in ... oh... 2001 or so.

I've been going there (pretty much) every Tuesday since (see the article below on OCD). Most of the girls who work there are my friend, and they are some of my drinking buddies. One of them (Amber) thinks of me when she goes to buy beer, she'll actually go to the mix a six and pick some stuff out, instead of just getting the regular fizzy yellow water. My good friend Megan has a favorite beer of Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat. So I might be influencing their drinking a little. I have influenced the beer selection there. Champaign Hooters has a pretty darn good beer selection for a place of it's ... um... style. It's the only place in town (that I know of; and I know most places in town) that has Bare Knuckle Stout. Lots of places have Guinness, but it has Bare Knuckle (granted it's an AB product and a Guinness clone, but hey, it's something different). They've also got Hoegaarden, Bass, Shocktop (another AB), Stella, 312, Boulevard Pale, and the second new beer that I had last night, but I'll get to that in a bit. For being a place that initially appears to be just a fizzy yellow piss place, they've probably got at least a beer you'd enjoy having (at least if you are reading this blog).

Well, as it was Tuesday, I did my usual ritual of watching Creation in the 21st Century, while drinking a beer. Last night's selection was Big Sky Brewing Moose Drool Brown. I poured it into an Avery India Pale Ale Glass. It came out a dark cherry wood brown. It didn't have a huge amount of foam, but what stayed behind left a nice Belgian lace on the glass. (I like the term Belgian as opposed to Brussels lace). It smelled slightly woody, with a little dirt and smoke, almost like pulling a slightly damp log from the pile. It seemed somewhat thin on the tongue, not nearly as thick as the Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, but then again, what "brown" is? It seemed to have some scrubbing carbonation bubbles that cleaned off the tongue pretty good.
It had the taste of a biscuit malt. Like a "brown sugar" cookie. There was a slight bit of tartness at the end of the sip. Bitterness from the hops was nearly absent. It was mostly sweet. The flavor remained on the sides of the tongue for a while after each sip. This was definitely an easy to drink beer. It would go great with most light brown colored foods. Anything that's battered would go great with this. It would lift the grease from the frying and go well with the slight burn that battered foods routinely get. It'd be too thin to go with a desert and too thick to go with a salad. All in all, it's a good brown beer.

The second beer I had was .... Bud Light Lime. this I had at Hooters. Hey, it's a beer I hadn't had before, gimme a break. I may be a beer snob, but I still drink with the masses... Although this time, I really wish I didn't. This stuff was horrible. It smelled like lime juice, and tasted like ... bud light with lime juice. Whoever the marketing geniuses that came up with this to contend with Miller Chill, should be rounded up and shot. The lime was overpowering. Miller Chill has a strong lime flavor, but nothing like that. Imagine taking a bud light and squeezing have a bottle of lime juice in it. It was that potent. Everything tasted like lime for the next hour. It looked like bud light, smelled like lime, tasted like lime, and remained tasting like lime. You could probably use a bottle of it to make a friggin ceviche it was so lime-y.

After we finished up at Hooters, we went down Neill Street to Radio Maria. Radio Maria has 27 taps, most of them rotate, but there are some staples, including #27, PBR. One of the neat things about RM is the bar (it's also one of the bad things). RM has a neat blue lit bar that looks really .. um... cool. It will give a beer a greenish looking tint to it. Unfortunately, the lights under are really hot, and will heat up your beer if you leave it on the bar to long. I normally look for a dark spot where there is no light, as it's much cooler. If you get a glass with a stem, the heat is normally not a problem. It is definitely noticeable in pint glasses though. So If you go, get a coaster and put your beer on a dark spot... or just drink quickly.

The first beer I had at Radio Maria was the Issaquah (rogue) Menage a Frog Belgian Triple. Let me preface this by saying, I'm not a fan of this style of beer. Some Belgian triples are ok (mostly the Trappist style) however Duvel, La Fin du Monde, Piratt, those beers I don't like. I thought my tastes were changing and I could enjoy it, but I couldn't.

This beer was the color of a regular macro lager. It looked like... beer. The picture doesn't do the color justice as the blue bar light darkened the beer (you can see just a hint of the green in the bottom left part of the foam ring). It didn't have much head, and what it did, didn't cling to the glass very well. It smelled like Piratt; definite coriander. It tore through my tongue, like it was removing any flavors left from the bud light lime. Then, it sat there, waiting to be joined by the next sip. Each sip cleaned off the previous, and replaced it with another. Like changing socks.

Kriddy said it tasted of banana, I thought it more of citrus flavor, possibly grapefruit. After it warmed up a little it had more of the coriander and other fruits. When I burped, it was the exact same flavor as a hot dog burp, disgusting, but true. (Thanks to chipper dave for the burp check). As I said, I'm not a fan of this style, so I won't be having this one again.

The second beer at RM was Eugene City Hopped Red Ale. We were warned against having this by our bartender, Chris. He said it wasn't that good, didn't go into details why, just said it wasn't that great. When he brought it over, I thought it looked almost like a glass of cranberry juice; Kriddy said it looked like grape soda, and this was before we set it on the bar that adds a blue hue to everything. Holding it up to the white lights it was still dark red to purplish. It had a decent amount of head, but it quickly dissipated into nothing. It smelled like a spiced flower. As it's been a long time since I've smelled flowers, I'm not sure which one it was. This one had a very light presence on the tongue. It didn't seem very carbonated, and was very dry. Not only was it dry, it had a drying quality to it. As I drank it, I got thirsty.
The taste was pure hops. There was no malt to be found. It was a red in color, not flavor. If you got this thinking you were gonna get a Killians, man, would you be shocked. The hops were bitter and stingy. The floral smell was deceptive. It smelled like a flower then punctured your tongue with pine needles. It was like a spiced Christmas tree. This is what I assume a gingerbread man would taste like if he spent all winter hanging on the Christmas tree (and the tree dripped sap on him). The bitterness linger long after the sip. The burp test proved peppery. Chris warning us against this brew probably improved the quality of the beer. As though he challenged me to like this. "I don't like this, so you won't either" "oh yeah, I'll show you!!!" Or, with his warning, he set the bar so low, that there was no way it couldn't be better than crap.

The final beer for the evening was back at the house. Samichlaus Helles. Meat seemed to really like this beer, so him setting the bar high, probably led to my disappointment in it.
It poured out completely flat. Absolutely no head whatsoever. It looked like apple juice. Whatever head came from the pour quickly went away. It smelled like skunky beer and fruit. It felt like I was drinking applejuice, except there was no sweetness to the feel.
It didn't drink like the other Samichlaus, that one has the upfront presence of the alcohol, this one didn't have that. It was still 14% ABV, so you'd expect something, but this didn't initially have that alcoholic taste to it. It had a slight pilsner taste with apricot and maybe some pear. As the glass warmed up, it became sweeter. The beer didn't stick around long, after the sip the flavor was gone, perhaps because of the 14% it evaporated? After about 20 minutes of sipping on this, the alcohol showed up. It was originally poured after coming out of the fridge, so it probably needed a while to get warm. When it did, it got sweeter and alcohol-y. I was only able to drink about 1/3 of this. As I poured the rest down the drain, it fizzed like crazy, so there was the carbonation.

All in all, it was a bad beer night. The highlight came first and everything else was sort of a let down. After finishing the Moose Drool, each of the other beers wasn't empty when I couldn't drink any more of it. If you like La Fin du Monde, you'll probably like the Menage a Frog. If you like lime juice straight, you'll like Bud Light Lime. If you like... well, I don't know what you'll have to like to like the Samichlaus Helles.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

OCD- Obsessive Compulsive Drunkenness

I'm somewhat OCD. I've also probably got a slight case of ADD. This combination means that I do things really hard and really fast, but then my focus shifts and I do something else.

There was a time when I was the cleaning kind of guy. I once cleaned my bathroom five times in a day, the friggin mirror just wouldn't stay clean, and as long as I was in there, I might as well clean the toilet, and vacuum, and get the soap scum... and... and... I've always kind of been this way; I'm a collector.

When I was in high school, I had a nice yo-yo collection. Some were good, some were cheapo's but if I saw a new yo-yo, I'd get it, even if it was the crappy five-cent one at the pharmacy; I'd get it.

There were (and still are) periods in my life when I wouldn't be collecting anything. I'm not sure how that happens, but it seems when it does, I spend a lot of time watching TV. (Yes, I like Monk).

Other things I've collected have been Clive Barker books (I got one in Thailand back in 1994). Magic books and card tricks; unfortunately I have tiny hands so most tricks are beyond my ability. Yo-yo's again, originally in 88-89, the second time in 99; I've got the SB2 , it's a great yo-yo.
At other periods, I've read; I've made "artsy" things; ran; swam; and played computer games. During the games phase, it would be common for me to spend 18 hours a day, each day of the weekend on the computer.

Well, now it's beer. Everything now seems to revolve around beer. Oh, how I love beer. And what's really great is how beer lends itself to compulsion nicely.

There are so many different makes of beer, just look to the left at this years list. How many different ways are there that one can be OCD about beer?

First, you can try to sample as many different beers as possible. This one is pretty fun. You go somewhere new and get more beer. It's also a rather interesting conversation piece, for example, last year I probably had 1199 (or possibly 1200, because I found a bottle that isn't on my list) different beers. Counting the ones I had more than once, I probably had about 2000 pints/bottles/glasses of beer last year. That's a lot of fluids. You may say it's not possible to drink that much, well, it's ONLY 5 a day. Sheesh.

Second, you can collect things with beer. There's cool bottles that make great decorations. How many "good" beer drinkers have a collection of some of the bottles that they've drank? Heck, even crappy beer drinkers have been known to be collectors. Look at that Coors Light guy.

He drank 24 a day for 8 years. That's more than 70,000 cans of beer. And I thought I had a lot of beer-aphanalia.

I've got a spare bedroom that's full of some great bottles, most empty. Some are in storage. In addition to the bottles, the bottle caps are also collectible. This guy has a lot of caps. I took part of my caps and covered my coffee table. I should have enough to do my end tables soon. Collecting beer caps is easy for beer drinkers, they don't take up much space, and most are somewhat unique. If you have a decent memory you can tell a story for most of the caps. Or you can probably BS one.

Next part of beer that leads to OCD is the beer cellar.

I just started my cellar last year. The first beer I stored for later was/is Three Floyd's Dark Lord 2007. My cellar started with 6 bottles. There are two remaining. Every time someone asks if we can crack open a bottle, I turn into a different creature.Give me the beer, my precioussssss.

I've got quite the nice collection of beer going now. Most of it is under a year old, but at the rate I'm gathering my cache of beer, I'd be set for beer for years... that is if I ever drank it.

The thing that probably lends itself best to OCD is brewing beer. If you like to wash things, I've got just the thing for you... brewing beer. If you like to stand over a stove and stir for hours just so that you can ensure one step of the process comes out good; I've got just the thing for you ... brewing beer. If you like to clean (did I mention that) ... brewing beer. When I brew, the first step is to wash everything you are going to use. When I brew, the last step is to wash everything that I've used. There's pans, buckets, spoons, wort chillers, tubes, a hydrometer, and a bagillion other things that you can clean. Not only that, but it leads to perfectionism too. You don't want to put your grains into water that is too hot, nor too cold. What could be better for a person who has a collection of pre-moistened cleaning towelettes than to have to clean something twice? At least twice.

Now you may think, that a person who hates change as much as an OCD person wouldn't want to do all the different beers, but that is actually comforting too. The always having a different beer is just as soothing as the person who never does anything different. It's almost discomforting to have the same beer. Have you ever had a panic attack because there was only Bud, miller and coors products available?

One of the best parts about Beer related OCD is that just the process of having a few beers will help numb some of the anxiety that can come from other parts of it.

So how much BOCD do you think you have?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The May Beer Crawl 9-10

As you probably remember (if you don't just look right below here... sheesh, what do I have to remember everything?) we went up to Chicago on Thursday to go see MINISTRY!!! The concert was awesome. We didn't really pay attention to Hemlock, but then the second act was MESHUGGAH. In attendance was me, hippy, kriddy and my brother Jim. We originally found a spot on the wall by the stage left bar and settled in for Hemlock. We were camped out pretty close to the stairs that lead to the main floor. At one point I looked at a guy coming up the stairs and said "hey, I think you are somebody?" I looked closer and said "oh yeah, you ARE somebody." It was John Bechdel, keyboard player for Ministry. So I got to shake his hand. That was kind of cool. I don't think anyone else recognized him. He's probably the least recognized "member" of the band.

When Hemlock ended, I told Jim to keep an eye on kriddy and hippy and I were going to go try to find my concert buddies, Fred and Tom. Hippy at first didn't believe that 1. I'd know anybody at the concert and that 2. they would actually be Fred and Tom.

Well, I found them, they were on the rail on stage right, directly in front of where one of the Meshuggah guitar players (Fredrik Thordendal) would be. So, we watched Meshuggah from there. It was awesome. The lead singer for some reason reminded me of Gullom (the evil version) in lord of the rings.

We stayed in that spot for the first 2 songs of Ministry. But I couldn't stand to be there much longer, we were getting crushed. The second row on the rail isn't the best place to be during the stage surge.

Ministry performed their songs well. There were no surprise guest artists, so that was kind of sad. When "So What" started, it took a while for Al to come out, so I was hoping, as I'd guess most everyone there was hoping, that Chris Connelly would be coming out. But alas, no surprises.

After we left the pit, I headed to the restroom. As I came out, I said "hey rick" as Rick Nielsen of cheap trick was walking around. So that was cool.

We made it back to the hotel and slept until about 10. Woke up, got dressed and then Thad, kriddy and I headed north... to Wisconsin.

First stop was in Whitewater Wisconsin at a Randy's Restaurant and Fun Hunters Brewery. Randy's was a nice place with a decent selection of beers. There's nothing too great or too horrible about their beers, they are just pretty good beers. (The list should be over at the side). The Warhawk Wheat was ok, except the lemon wedge killed any of the original flavor and smell. The Oatmeal Stout was on a nitro tap, so that gave it that Guinness fizzyness to it. There was another flavor in it that none of us could pick out, possibly licorice, or some other taste. It wasn't horrible, but was just hard to place.

We made it there in time for lunch. I had the fish and chips, which were pretty good. Kriddy had Hippy had the fish sammich. Kriddy had the chicken strips and also the cheese kurds. Most of the foods we got seemed to go best with the Amber Lager and the Pat's Brown ale. The cheese kurds were also good, except eat them quick, they aren't as good when they get down to room temperature. The chicken came with fries but the fish came with their house chips. Seasoned nicely, with a little lemon. We were there around lunch time, and right around 2 the place clears out as everyone heads away. The bartender was friendly and tried to offer me a glass of their barleywine, but it had just run out earlier in the week.

Our next stop was in Madison. Ale Asylum. I had at some point before had their Ambergeddon, and at one of the recent Champaign Beer Clubs had the Hopalicious Pale. Well, they had ten beers on tap, so I got the full load. Their samples are $1 each and around 3-4 ounces, so for $10 it's a hearty portion of beer. We didn't eat anything, but they have a deli in house for custom sammiches and also make pizzas.

The Gold Digger Blonde had a slight banana flavor and was nicely fruity, it'd make a great summer refreshing beer. Kriddy got the Big Slick Stout and it was a nice black stout. Hippy had the Madtown Nutbrown, Which I thought had a nice Butterscotch or Caramel malty flavor to it.

Our next stop was in Mount Horeb Wisconsin at the Grumpy Troll. The Grumpy Troll wins lots of awards at beer competitions. It's worth a trip if you are anywhere near Wisconsin, or Northern Illinois. Hippy had... man, what did hippy have there? Dunno. Kriddy had the Brandy Barrel Aged Spetsnaz. The Captain Fred is their tribute to PBR. The Spetsnaz is a great Stout. It gets even better in the Barrel Aged. It was so good, that I spent about $40 on a growler of it. Growlers aren't made to last that long, so in the next week or so, it's gonna be opened. Let me know if you can make it...

Our final Friday stop was supposed to be New Glarus. In New Glarus, Wisconsin. As you pull into town from the North (I think we were coming from the north) you can't miss the brewery, it's the HUGE building on the left. Unfortunately the brewery was closed. There was a sign in the window that said something like "We're closed, look for our beers in town". So we turned right and went into town. Almost immediately after turning, there's a bar. Puempels Olde Tavern. While it's a smaller bar, and serves up the regular macro swill (most of the people at the bar were drinking Coors light, it seemed) they have some of the best beers in the world available to them.

In the beer cooler was almost every New Glarus beer you could want. From Dancing Man wheat, Fat Squirrel, and Spotted Cow to the stuff that I hadn't heard of: Road Slush Stout, Hearty Hop, Snowshoe. Hippy had a draft of the spotted cow (I think) I went with the Hearty Hop, and kriddy had the Road Slush Stout.

The bartender was really friendly, and very accommodating to us flatlanders. They also had the Edel Pils on draft, and she was nice enough to give us all a sample. Since we were not townies, she pulled out a bottle of the New Glarus Unplugged line, specifically the Belgian Quad. She set three glasses in front of us, and then something interesting happened.

The bar has a tradition of sticking dollar bills to the (it seems) 20 foot high ceiling. They do this with (I think it was) a 50 cent piece a bill and a thumbtack. Push the tack through the center of the dollar, then wrap the dollar around the fiddycent piece. Then throw as hard as you can ... UP! The dollar should stick in the ceiling, if it doesn't try again... and again... and again. If a bill falls on you while you are there, you get to keep it. (There's supposedly a $100 bill above the front left of the door). Well, as were were sitting there, shortly after being given the Unplugged and three glasses, someone gave the bartender a buck to put up, so she tried to do it, but failed. As the bill and 50cent piece came hurtling back towards the bar, it decided it didn't like my glass, so it hit that and shattered the glass. Well, she was very embarrassed so she gave us another beer. This time, the Snowshoe. She must've liked us because she continually gave us stuff. We took a poster for one of the New Glarus beers, the Totally Naked, we bought and apparently took a pint glass; and she also gave us a nice map to the city, along with a city brochure with a large writeup on the brewery. As you can see, it's a high tech operation, as they now accept credit cards! Don't go into the town with a low battery on your cell phone, because there is horrible cell coverage. But that kind of adds to the charm of the place.

New Glarus is known as America's "Little Switzerland". The people were probably some of the most friendly we had met all day. Hippy chatted with a local customer, while another bought me a shot of Appenzeller, which is some kind of Swiss drink that is probably illegally imported by some guy who goes to Switzerland each year and brings back some bottles for his local bar.

After New Glarus, we considered possibly going to another brewpub in Rockford, but it was getting too late. So we headed to my sisters where we spent the night. Woke up the next day, and it was off to try to pick up some presents for the wedding thingy we went to last week. But the person who's place it was, wasn't home, so we tried to find Two Brothers Brewing. We failed at finding it. We turned on the wrong Calumet Road, and then when I tried to figure out where it would pick up again, I picked wrong. The GPS on the phone couldn't find it, so we plugged in the address for Goose Island Clybourn.

I can't believe they are closing that place. It was my/our first time there and it was awesome. The place was somewhat full (fuller than the other places that we'd been) and had a massive beer selection. 17 house beers on tap, is an amazingly large number. Just the ability to store that much beer that they made themselves is amazing. We made it there in time for the end of Saturday brunch, so our food selections were an eclectic mix. To drink, Kriddy went with the Russian Imperial Stout, and she ate ... pancakes. Hippy started out with the Six. Which is a session beer at 2.5%, he had the fish and chips to eat (no, I didn't prod him into it). They surprisingly didn't have a reuben sammich, so I went with a sausage plate. I have no idea what the sausages were, but they were outstanding. there was also some sauerkraut and new potatoes on the plate and some bacon. The bacon went great with ED, which was their smoked Brown Goose ale. The 20th Anniversary Ale was almost a little too bitter/hoppy (though I hate to say "hoppy") to go with the sausages. The 2.5% Six was a nice brown color and did go well with it. I had 2 samplers (4 glasses each), and Hippy had a glass of the 20th anniversary.

When you order the sampler platter, of beers, it's four beers of your chosing, in the 2-3 ounce glass. The bartenders will do their best to arrange it from light to dark, to save the beer drinking palate, and give the best beer enjoyment experience.

After finishing up GI, we went and picked up the presents, then headed back to my sisters to get my brother and cousin to head out and go see Hemlock, Meshuggah and Ministry again. (Wow, nice run on sentence there dummy). Before the show, we saw Sin, the guitarist for Ministry walking around, and we got to talk to him for a couple of minutes (well, it seemed like a while, but it was probably only a minute). We were camped out at the back bar in front of the stage, so we had a much safer vantage point than the pit, and a much better viewing point than under the TV on the right. Kriddy could actually see the stage. Meshuggah had the same set, but it was done perfectly. Ministry had the same set and it was also done well. I actually think I looked more forward to Meshuggah each night than to Ministry. The new Revolting Cocks song "I'm not gay" is good too.

After the show, we headed back down to CU. Kriddy drove mostly the whole way, while I was slumped forward passed out. We dropped off Hippy around 3:30 and got to my place shortly there after. Sunday was mostly uneventful. I left my glasses up at my sisters, and then there were no contacts cases at kriddy's so I went home. I wasn't quite sleepy, so I checked some email, and then transferred my Welcome Back Pat Wheat from bucket into carboy. That thing is pretty darn good.

Afterwards, did the clean up and laid down, finally around 2:30.

When I woke up I was 37 (ok, so when I went to bed I was 37, but ... eh, you get it). Happy Birthday me. (My wish list is over there <---)