Archive for September, 2011

Clearly, I’m Fine

Posted in Lagers on September 27, 2011 by wiseweizen

Ladies, please note the candle and twinkle lights. This is how I keep it classy. Fall romance -swagger- oh, yeah. Its getting to be good cuddling weather, is all I’m saying.

Men… it is Autumn. Football. Less need to mow the lawn. No more days so hot where our sweaty parts stick to one another. But… but! Most importantly, fantastic fall brews. Prosit!

Alright, down to business. Tonight I’m enjoying an Octoberfest from Harpoon Brewery. You may remember them from post #5, Goodbye Summer. The Octoberfest is 5.5% ABV, and has an aroma that makes me think of flowers and apple pie. It has a dark amber color with a light reddish hue reminiscent of fallen leaves. The taste on this Octoberfest isn’t like some of the others I’ve had. I’m getting flavor sensations as if I were drinking the boozy offspring of a stout and an ale (traditional), and they named their beer-child Alesclaus (pronounced aul es claws). This isn’t a bad beer, it just isn’t very stand out either – despite the “not quite like other Octoberfests” taste. On my Fall-o-meter scale, from 1 to Leaping in a Pile of Leaves, I’m going to give this a score of: Realizing Leaves Somehow Got Down Your Pants. If I had to I could drink this all evening, but if there were other options available, I’d try for an upgrade. The beer: is fine.

Fine. While I did actually mean that the beer was fine, I can’t think of any other word – off the top of my head – the usually doesn’t confer it’s definition. Recall for a moment the last time a significant other said something was “fine.” We all know that things were in fact, not fine. In that “not-fine” context, fine can actually mean anything from “just let it go for a bit and I’ll be OK” to “I am thinking of ways to get away with murder.” What I wonder is, how did fine become a scapegoat? Why did society chose precisely that word?  Is it the closest positive word to a negative one, such that when we say fine we can feel like we aren’t quite lying? Perhaps we humans just don’t like to admit vulnerability, or that there is a problem.  Even though everyone knows a “not-fine” fine when they see it, when we hear a fine we can pretend it is a “fine” fine. -shakes head- I have to admit I’m perplexed fine.

An interesting thing happened at the office today. One of our computer systems was down the entire day. There are at least six very large departments that use this system, and no one in a specific department is cross trained to perform the functions of a different department. Because of the crash, some entire departments were sent home at like 10am. Mine wasn’t, but being a clever reader, you saw that coming. Now, I’m not going to complain (at least not too much), because I was essentially paid to do nothing today – like 95% of my work is done on the system that crashed. What I wonder though, if some departments were sent home, who not everyone who works with that program? None of the units are more important than the other, in fact we’re all different stops on the same work stream. It just didn’t make much sense. Gotta love workin for the man! Rant over.

Confidential to J. Kilgore, Esq.: You going to hit me up with that Old Rasputin write up for a guest post, or what?

Secret Message for Duck & Danielle: Far too long has it been since we’ve hung out! Even longer since I’ve wooed anyone with spices! Dinner, we should have some.

Today’s footnote free post is brought to us by songs of the 70s, the letter Q,  and these guys.

Until next time, keep those glasses filled. Cheers!

Hail to the King

Posted in Ales on September 25, 2011 by wiseweizen

Thursday night, around eight o’clock. The moment I had been waiting for all week had finally come. The cap was off, the beer poured, a hoppy aroma filled the air. I utilized my special Hobgoblin glass, spread 44oz of ale among myself and two friends, and we looked at each other with a sense of nervous anticipation.* In silence, we simultaneously raise our glasses to drink. After hearing the third clink of glass on table, I try to wear a mask of composure, and look to see my companions’ reactions.  Scott sits, head tilted, lost in thought. Aaron, brow furrowed, whiskers foamy from beer, nods repeatedly. Naturally, everyone starts talking at the same time.

Scott: This tastes… coppery. The more you drink at once, this better this tastes. My first was just a sap, which was OK, but then I took a big gulp and it was wonderful.

Aaron: Tastes like I just drank a goblin.

Me: This almost feels like an IPA, except the taste doesn’t make me want to hurt myself.

Scott & I: Did you just say “Tastes like a goblin.”? How do you even know what…

Aaron: Shut up.

We’d just finished our first taste of King Goblin Special Reserve Ale, a 6.6% ABV dark ale brewed by Wychwood.** I’ll be honest, my expectations weren’t met. To be fair though, because I was so excited about trying this one, King Goblin could have tasted like Liquid Schwartz and I still would have been a little let down. On the plus side, I’m certain the menacing Hobgoblin on the bottle*** unnerved my opponents while playing Civilization: The Board Game.  What makes KG: SRA so special, you ask? It is only brewed under a full moon. Seriously. To the best of my recollection, I’ve never tasted an ale, or any beer, that had such a unique flavor. I’m hard pressed to even be able to describe it, but I am glad I still have another bottle in my fridge.

While I don’t think I’d want to drink several King Goblin’s in one night, I did really like it and feel as though it would be great if you were: 1. only going to have one beverage, 2. wanted an all to put some pizzazz into your night of drinking, or 3. were choosing beers based on the coolness of the label. On a Challenge Rating scale from 1 to Adult White Dragon, I’m going to give KG:SRA a score of Gargantuan Monstrous Spider. For the non-nerds out there, that’s an 8 of 10. I found it very interesting that, from what I could tell, KG:SRA and Hobgoblin have only two different ingredients between them, yet the taste is very very different. ****

I’m going to keep this one brief. It is 9pm on Sunday and I still have much to do before bed, then of course work in the morning. The past few entries seem to be much heavier on the pints side of things than the pondering, so I’m hoping to balance that out more in future posts.

Cheers, and watch out for Redcaps!

 

*Homo-eroticism unintended. Besides, Aaron never lets me be the big spoon.

** Side Quest #3: Figure out how I can get access to their monthly seasonal beers, which only appear to be distributed in the UK…

*** Regular Hobgoblin wears red and brown, wields a short sword (1d6), and only has like 6 hit points. King Goblin is looking deadly in his black and greys, brandishing a battle axe (1d8), and must easily have 20 or more hit points and might be a lycanthrope. Clearly he isn’t to be trifled with.

****I’ll get around to writing about Hobgoblin at some point, at which comparisons and contractions can be made.

Save the Whales…

Posted in Pilsner on September 21, 2011 by wiseweizen

…or else space probes will destroy the Earth. Today’s beverage is Scrimshaw Pilsner from North Coast Brewing Co. This pils is only a 4.4% ABV, the weakest I’ve reviewed so far. I’ve got to say that this beer, while not bad, is entirely unmemorable. I had two of them at a happy hour after work and yeah… I can’t remember a lick about it, and they were the only drinks I had. The best thing I can say is that Scrimshaw is better than anything in the Bud/Miller/Coors family, and only slightly more expensive.

On a scale from 1 to Orca, I’d give Scrimshaw Pilsner a ranking of “Beaked Whale.” Up to this point I’ve been allowing people to draw their own conclusions about my rankings, but I’m going to explain this one. Beaked whales sound like something that would be awesome*, and they are. However, it was the only type of whale that I previously knew of, but then forgot existed, until I googled “whale types.” So, I remembered neither the whale nor the beer, hence the appropriateness of the rating.

 

 

I learned two things in the shower this morning. One: I was able to recall a distressing number of whale types. Two: I can’t make very good whale sounds. The second was especially distressing, as I am sometimes known for making sound effects, especially my Wookie Roar.**

Speaking of learning, allow me to drop a little knowledge on you all. By “all”, of course I actually mean “people that don’t know what scrimshaw is.” Ahem. –in my best monotone tour guide voice- Scrimshaw is art carved into whale bones. Perhaps, faint hearted reader, you are deeply concerned by the wholesale slaughter of our planet’s largest mammal – allow me to put you at ease. While there are mean nasty whale poachers out there, and while a good deal of scrimshaw is a result of that… most isn’t. See, when Quinn the Eskimo went whale hunting, he used all the whale parts he could. People used whales for food, lamp oil, all sorts of stuff. Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, Aquaman just uses whales to run into things, which seems like a dick move to me.  Anyways, much of the art on the animals’ bones is actually done in honor of the great beast that provided so much for the hunter/family/tribe. Whaling was banned in 1986*** so if you decide to buy some lovely scrimshaw, get some that was made prior to that. Note: the art, not the beer. Buying beer from before 1986 seems unwise.

Back to the beer. Wait, no… still nothing.

I’d like to give a quick shout out to Katherine Katie, who accompanied me to happy hour. She also has the distinction of being the first person in one of the pictures, even if you can only see her elbow. Katie’s Elbow sounds like a good name for something… small European hamlet? Terrifying elbow related medical condition? Non-hipster indie band? Since I’m acknowledging people, I want to say thanks to the folks that have left comments. Also, if anyone has a beer they’d like me to try, and then write about, I’m open to suggestions.

Pro Tip: When hunting whales, or any large sea creature, it really helps to shout “…from hell’s heart I stab at thee…”

Cheers!

 

*But not as awesome as this.

** I’ve done this in public, which is reason #436 why I’m still single.

*** The same year Star Trek IV came out…

Roll to See if I’m Getting Drunk…

Posted in Lagers on September 18, 2011 by wiseweizen

I went to The Anderson’s today to pick up some more beer. They are one of the few places in town that allows “by the bottle” purchases, and since their selection is quite robust, I’ll be going back again. When I started browsing, I nearly wet myself with excitement.* This fine purveyor of adult beverages had, quite possibly, one of my favorite drinks ever: Wytchcraft. This is from the Wytchwood brewery, who, if you’ve heard of them, is probably for their Hobgoblin. As if that wasn’t exciting enough though, they had Hobgoblin: King Goblin, Special Reserve! I’d never seen this before and had to buy three bottles. *** This is a post about Wytchwood… NO! It is a post about being happy! Ok, it isn’t really about that either.

I wasn’t in the mood for anything in particular this evening. As I stared into my fridge, I found myself unable to decide what I’d be drinking this evening. I was going to think long and hard about it, but decided that seems a little too arduous for such a simple task and instead, allowed fate to decide. 1d8 later, and I’m now enjoying Oktoberfest, by the Great Lakes Brewing Co. I’m a fan of GL’s beers, so this seemed like a fine cap to the weekend. This handcrafted amber lager from Cleveland Ohio is a 6.5% ABV beer, best served at 45 degrees. ****

There’s a problem. I’ve just started the third paragraph and I’ve only got about two swallows of beer left in the glass. Unfortunately, there aren’t any more of this particular beer in the fridge either. Also, I forgot to take a good whiff before I started drinking. -sigh- Ok, we’re going to pause while I try to ascertain the lager’s aroma without doing something asinine like spilling beer up my nose… That was tricky, but I return to you, nose unmoistened by spirits. This might sound a little odd by my reaction from the scent was “spicy, warm, and dry.” Feel free to draw your own conclusions. As you can see above, GL wasn’t kidding with the “amber lager” moniker. While I tend to like lighter beers (not light  or lite mind you), I do like they at least dark or hazy enough that you can’t quite see through them – it makes me feel like I get to drink some extra ingredients. Octoberfest has a nice blend of spices, which are potent enough that you really taste them, yet they don’t overwhelm you. That said, much like relatives that arrive at your abode with a suspicious amount of bags, the spices linger. Despite the negative connotating***** comparison, this isn’t a bad thing. The beer tastes good, and the flavor lasts just long enough that when it eventually fades, you’re ready for another sip.

On a scale from 1 to Halloween, I’d rate this as Babbling Day. I’ll give you a few minutes to check out those links.

Welcome back. GL Oktoberfest could easily be a brew you stick with all night. Smooth, enjoyable aftertaste, and an ABV high enough to feel – but won’t have you on the floor. While this is the first time I’ve talked about a GL beer, it certainly won’t be the last.

Confidential to Dan and Rachel: Lots of talk about beer this time, not much about random nonsense. I’ll try harder next time to pander to you, my non beer drinking friends.

To the nerds: You thought there were going to be a lot of D&D references in here, didn’t you? So did I. Once again, I’ll try harder some other time.

Until next time, everyone go make a bad decision!******

Cheers!

 

 

*Admittedly, there may have been, let’s say… three drops of pee.** It was THAT exciting.

** Reader, meet hyperbole. Hyperbole, say hello to the nice reader. I can be a pretty literal fellow, so let me assure you, gentle reader, that despite my excitement, I did manage to refrain from soiling myself.

*** Expect a post on that beer Thursday… I hope.

**** What the hell is up with all these Ohio beers having instructions regarding temperature? Barktoberfest, from Akron, (the first blog entry) had it too! I’ve not seen a temperature recommendation on any of the other bottles… perhaps this is a weird Ohio thing.

***** I know connotating and unmoistened aren’t words. Sometimes, you just need to make up your own because existing ones just won’t do. Like “nopie”. A combination of no and soapy, it is an adjective describing a person that says no to soap and a synonym for hippie.

****** Please don’t cook bacon naked. Take my word for it.

Goodbye Summer

Posted in Ales on September 12, 2011 by wiseweizen

Summer is almost over (officially), so I thought I’d try to sneak a Summer Beer in. Tonight’s selection is Harpoon Summer Beer. This fine beverage is 5% ABV, though I’ll be damned if I could find that anywhere on the bottle. Fortunately the website was awash with information. The beer has a very light citrus aroma and a very light yellow gold color. For a second I thought, “Wow, this looks a lot like a domestic ‘lite’ beer…” but I think the tone of the Summer Brew is actually a little clearer than those lesser beers. As the liquid first passes through your lips there’s a very quick sensation of bitterness, in just the right spots, but then the flavor mellows out abruptly to a smooth finish as you swallow.

This beer is totally refreshing. I’m sitting here, listening to streaming radio (Alltime Oldies: The best of the 50s and 60s), enjoying this drink and really wishing I had a second bottle. On a scale from 1 to “blissful relaxation” I’d say Harpoon Summer Beer lazes into a score of “Troubles Melting Away.” I’ve had several beers from Harpoon and have enjoyed them all. I hope to get a few more of them on here in the coming months. While browsing their website I noticed they have an IPA. Perhaps that should be my next IPA… since I’ve enjoyed all my other Harppon experiences, maybe I can finish Side Quest #2 much more quickly than I thought.

Would I use this fine beverage to get your sister/aunt/cousin/friend/random woman drunk? No. She can hold her booze, this is only 5%, and I don’t have that kind of time.* I would recommend this beer to one and all though. This is one, for sure, that you could stick with all night. A chill beer, the bottle declaring it “perfect for summer” and I agree, perfect for the porch, a hot tub, or to drink while dangling your lower extremities in a body of water.

Looking back on Summer and pondering “What did I do this summer?” I’m tempted to respond with “Nothing.” I think, perhaps, that many people would be inclined to answer in much the same way. Throughout the last twelve fluid ounces I’ve been thinking more about it and realized that I’ve done a fair shake more than nothing. In no particular order: I ran my first 5k, The Warrior Dash. I never thought I would be motivated to do something like that, and thought it was the most physically grueling thing I’ve ever attempted, I felt amazing when I lept over that pit of fire and slogged through the final 50 yards of mud to cross the finish line (38 minutes!). I took a day trip to GenCon Indy and bought a kilt. I went to Chicago, became smittenface, became a best man, and was on the receiving end of a hilarious e-mail prank. I got together with longtime friends for some really solid evenings of hanging out. I made new friends and learned that I can no longer have 6 beers and 2 shots of whiskey on a Wednesday without consequence. I spent some very quality time with my dad, and some bittersweet time with a lady or two. I sang, I danced, I rolled dice and shipped cubes, and I may have ogled. I went back to Indy… Most recently, I served as stalwart protector for Lady Lillian and Fea Madeline at the Ren Faire – warding against foul Grendel, and offering costume related encouragement to the coolest faerie this side of the Nevernever. I’m not sure what all that adds up to, but it sure isn’t “Nothing.”

As Summer comes to a close, take five minutes and a pint – hell take an hour and a few pints – sit somewhere comfortable, and reflect.

Thanks for coming summer, we’ll see you soon. Cheers.

*Clearly what I meant to say was: Perish the thought! That skulduggery would besmirch my honor!

… which of course in German means “whale’s vagina”

Posted in IPA on September 11, 2011 by wiseweizen

San Diego, my favorite city. Home to Nerd Prom (San Diego Comic Con), nearly perfect year round weather, and of course – the setting for Anchorman. Turns out SD is also the home of Stone Brewing Co. Before we go any further, I have a confession to make. I don’t like IPAs. I would rather be slapped in the face by a perturbed primate than drink one. Ok -braces self- let’s dive right in and get this over with.

Stone IPA is at a fairly robust 6.9% ABV. Since my opinions on this might be a little biased, let’s see what the back of the bottle has to say, before I lambaste this bastard. “…big hop flavor and big hop aroma. We loaded glorious amounts of crisp and refreshing hop bitterness into this brew. First the aroma delights, then the flavor moves us to rejoice aloud!” Wow Bottle, someone thinks highly of themselves… My companion and I take a whiff of the “delightful aroma.” Result: 2 out of 2 patrons agree, this smells like something we aren’t going to enjoy. The first thing that popped into my head upon seeing the color of this IPA was that it seemed to be an opaque confluence of all that is orange*. The second was, at least since the glass s big, it seems like I won’t have to imbibe as much.

Really, the best thing about this drink was that it made my portabella quesadilla taste amazing by comparison. Here are a few things that escaped my lips, as the beverage was forcing its way in: “It keeps assaulting my mouth long after I’ve swallowed.” In an agonized voice –> “Taste Buds!” Feeling broken down and defeated toward the 75% mark –> “This is like water-boarding on the inside, with beer.”

Seriously though, my biggest problem with IPAs is that they feature so much hops that I really can’t taste ingredients and flavors. Some of my drinking buddies actually like this swill. In deference to them, I shall undertake a second Side Quest, concurrent to the first one (from the previous post). Side Quest #2: Find an IPA that I like. Not just “can stand” but actually enjoy. I’m going to have my work cut out for me.

On a scale from 1 to “Please make it end!” I’m going to give this an “Ugh, how much more is there?”

Due to the brevity of this post, I’m going to include a second picture of the Stone IPA. Now, if you pay close attention to the fizzies, and maybe squint, I think it looks like a head, with some sort of cord coming out the back. Maybe like the Matrix?

Until next time, bottom’s up!

*If you don’t believe that was the first thing that popped in there, I’ve got the note card I wrote that down on as proof. Admittedly, we were multiple beers in at this point so it did take me a few tries to correctly spell convalescence.

Orca, Skunk, Spider*

Posted in Hefeweizen on September 5, 2011 by wiseweizen

First, I would like to issue an addendum to the Boddington’s post. I was informed, by a wise and beautiful purveyor of adult beverages, that Boddington’s Pub Ale – from the can – is actually supposed to be flat.  On the upside, I learned something. On the downside, you – my avid readers, are no longer under the impression that I am infallible. I was hoping to maintain that illusion a while longer, but what can you do?

My friend that got engaged – turns out her gentleman proposed after they returned to the beach from a whale spotting kayak adventure. Since they are both outdoorsy, that seemed like a great and memorable proposal. I felt like kayaks + Orcas = danger, but she assured me that the activity is completely safe. I disagree.  Anyways, it was time for the second round and when Snarky McServer came back I ordered up a Paulaner Hefeweizen. This guy clocks in at a modest 5.5% ABV, and comes with a lemon wedge to help ward off scurvy.  Pro Tip: Don’t just let the wedge float atop your beverage. Instead, slide that baby onto the rim of the glass. Every couple of swigs, slide the lemon across the rim in your drinking arc, that way you’ll get some lemon flavor every sip.

“Oooohh citrusy” was my reaction to the weizen’s aroma, and the beer’s color tone was that of an overripe orange. According to my note card this “tastes like sunshine, but with a little bite.” Also, the pure refreshingness seemed to crystallize in my mouth, and then explode with flavor. While appreciating the excellent combination of summer evening and hefeweizen, I notice that my companion brought a flashlight. I made a comment about safety (she’d walked to the bar), when she got all serious and told me it was to illuminate / ward against skunks. Mockery ensued. Enter: The Skunk. I kid you not, a mere thirty feet away a skunk ambles out from underneath a shrubbery. I stared in disbelief as it trotted toward the bar, but halfway there changed direction, darting across the road and vanishing into another shrub. I suspect it was either due to Skunk remembering that it promised the wife it would right home after work and thus it didn’t stop from a nightcap, OR it was a Skunk “walk of shame”. I’ll be honest the second shrub wasn’t nearly as picturesque as the first.

Midway through my delectable beverage I realized that I couldn’t think of a single hefeweizen that I disliked. Beer related Side Quest No 1: Find a hefeweizen that I don’t like. You may be wondering why I would undertake a quest to find something that sucks. Hefeweizens are my favorite style of beer. So, in my head, trying to find one I don’t like really means that I get to drink a lot of good beer in pursuit of a bad one.

Back to the Paulaner, you just can’t go wrong with this beer. While it isn’t exceptional in any particular area, this is an example of a well brewed, solidly crafted, good beer. Since it isn’t overly spiced, P:HW makes for a fantastic beginner** beer. The great taste leads to an “ahhh” factor that will move your “how was my day today” scale at least one step toward the good. I could have easily stuck with drinking these all night, but that would have negatively impacted my beers drank to blog post entry ratio. Sadly I had to…

Spider. Almost forgot to work this little guy in. Rewind about 1/3 of a glass. We’re outside, sitting by the fence. Diligently working on a web is this thumbnail sized white spider. I’m appreciating his*** craftsmanship and begin to notice a pattern. Not in the web… rather, every time I glance over, he darts behind the railing out of view. Was his Spider Sense tingling? He didn’t look particularly radioactive, so I opted to not provoke him into biting me. Seriously though, within a moment of my gazing at his web, -poof- around the post he goes. As I was starting to get a tiny bit tipsy, this was fascinating.

…switch beers. Before we say goodbye to Paulaner Hefeweizen though: on a scale from 1 to “amazingly flexible stripper” I’d rate this at “She took the Five!”****

Next time on, Pondering Pints: I take one for the team and drink an IPA in the concluding post of “Chad and Anya go to Brazenhead”.

*Dear Syfy Channel: We both know that you’re going to take one look at the title of this post, add three adjective, the word “vs.” and create a made for tv movie. Please kick $2,000 my way for the idea. I would ask for more, but I understand that most of your budget is going to be spent on hiring Richard Moll to play the mad scientist.

** Be-gin-ner: Noun. A person just learning that there are more beers out there than exist in the Bud and Miller families.

*** To feminists: Yes, it could have been a lady spider. No, I did not check. Yes, I’ve read Charlotte’s Web. I arbitrarily assigned a masculine pronoun. If you can’t handle that, might I suggest calmly walking away, going to the kitchen, and baking me a pie.

****If you don’t like stories about strippers, turn back now. Way back in 1999 a group of us head to the local strip club, Rumorz. Yadda, yadda yadda, I’m sitting stage-side, as my favorite was about to perform. So she’s doing her thing, and I’m sitting there, hands under the shelf thing that you put your drink on, with a single in one hand and a five in the other. I’m trying to decide how much to tip when she comes over. In a feat of dexterity my young brain could scarcely comprehend, she bends over backwards, head disappearing into the darkness under the shelf and – after several moments – comes back up, grinning, with the five in her teeth. This was impressive on so many levels, among them my amazement that she was able to identify and retrieve the larger denomination bill in the dark without me even noticing. I wandered back to the group in a haze and all I could say was “She took the five.” Oh Roxy, you’ll always have a place in my heart.