Monday, November 29, 2010

Beer Quest (day one): Bell's Expedition Stout

After reading this amazing review for Bell’s Expedition Stout, I felt like I must try this in order to be complete.  First of all, if you don’t want to try that beer after reading that post then you don’t actually know how to read - you’re just faking it to fit in, staring and nodding when it feels appropriate.  Secondly, what I’ve had from Bell’s is pretty good, especially the Two-Hearted Ale.  And so begins my beer quest for Bell’s Expedition Stout.

Day 1 of my beer quest led me back to the Liberty Street Tavern.  I knew they had a great selection and had some Bell’s brews so it seemed like a good place to start.  But, alas, no Expedition Stout. 

So instead I tried Founder’s Old Curmudgeon (9.8 % ABV).  I really like the Founder Centennial IPA and this curmudgeon stuff was on tap so why not, and saying “give me the Old Curmudgeon“ gave me 0.8 seconds of joy, like I was a fan of professional wrestling again at some city fairgrounds standing on my chair red in the face screaming “give him the Ol‘Curmudgeon!” as the fat masked villain climbed the turnbuckles.  It, the beer not the daydream, had a floral hop component to it, some spice, low carbonation and kind of a syrupy finish.  Overall, good flavor but not what I was looking for. 

Still disappointed at the failure of my expedition for Expedition, I thought about going with another stout. But, with my mind was so set on this particular stout, I couldn’t even begin to consider where to start, a rain man moment if you will - Expedition is my Wapner - so I went another direction and settled on the Racer 5, by Bear Republic (which I already wrote about here).  I love this beer.  It was like a get well soon bouquet of flowers for my taste buds and finished smooth like a mylar balloon that had “keep your head up” printed on it.  I stuck with the Racer 5 the rest of the night while silently vowing to continue my beer quest tomorrow.

To be continued…

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Check this out: Hungover Owls

I was searching for some images of the beach party scene from Point Break by typing "Point Break Movie Party Scene" into Google and for some reason this caught my eye in the second row of images.

This is obviously the kind of image you investigate further, so I did.  It led me to a blog called Hungover Owls. Some pretty funny stuff.  Had to share it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tales of Summer Part 3: "What did you have to go and wave for!?”

The shower is probably the worst place to experience an earthquake. First of all, your probably naked. Second, there is a much higher probability of you having soap in your eyes then say if you were sitting on your couch. Shampoo bottles are falling on your head, water is everywhere and the only thing to hold onto is slippery tile or a curtain not known for it’s strength. Then there is the whole drying off process you’d have to go through before you could run for your life, unless of course it were already raining outside. And do you put clothes on? Maybe a robe (mental note: get a robe)? Or would your naked body go unnoticed as you ran into the streets due to all the natural disastering that is going on around you?

I don’t feel other calamities would pose the same kind of problems if in the shower. If a tornado were happening then you wouldn’t have to worry about drying off - all the wind would take care of that. And I think in a tornado I would go to my basement, where being wet and naked is readily accepted. During a hurricane it is already raining so who cares, I probably would just keep showering. Same with a tsunami - no sense drying off in that situation. But the earthquake - that adds a real fear element to the whole showering process.

ATTENTION STINKY WEST COAST HIPPIES - I now understand why you smell! I, too, would be afraid of the shower and the cleanliness it provides if I lived out there.

Luckily, I do not live along the dreaded ring of fire so I have very few worries that could be filed under earthquake. Although I would not forgo the shower process entirely I would probably drastically shorten my time in the shower if earthquakes were a concern. That might be a good thing because according to Wife I am in there for “way too long”. When I ask her if the words “fortress of solitude” mean anything to her, she just looks at me and blows a smoke ring, an uncanny talent that she has maintained even after quitting smoking (congrats honey). Either she is part dragon like the woman behind the curtain in The Golden Child or she ate our Christmas Cookie scented Yankee candle (cause it smells so good).

ATTENTION ALL OTHER STINKY HIPPIES - I don’t understand why you stink. What are you afraid of? And don’t give me that whole “I wanna smell like the earth” line of crap. I just went outside and smelled the earth in my back yard and guess what - the earth does not smell like dirty hippies!

Regardless, in an effort to further identify with my west coast counterparts I felt it was time to try some of those west coast beers I’ve heard so much about. So a lunch date was set with Ponytail Phil (not to be confused with ponytail guy at the beer distributor) and his wife at the quaint Liberty Street Tavern, chosen for it’s outdoor seating and wide selection of beers.

Normally, Wife would be excited for such an outing on a nice summer Saturday. But just few days before this particular Saturday, Wife took a home pregnancy test and while they seem simple enough to read you still walk away thinking “Are we pregnant? I guess so…” So until she could see her doctor, which was happening on Monday, we were operating under the assumption that Wife was indeed pregnant. This meant she had not had a cigarette in several days and also would not be able to drink any beer, which is a key component in Wife’s ability/motivation to interact socially with others. To say that Wife was a bit on edge would have been a mild understatement.

Labor Day was fast approaching so Wife saw this outing as an opportunity to wear white one last time and had it not been for the seasonal outfit aspect of the lunch date she probably would have stayed home. So in her finest pair of white Capri pants, Wife is prepared to face the world stone cold sober for the first time since she her ninth birthday. The tension in the car driving there could only be compared to the intense look of Tom Cruise’s eyes during a dramatic role.

As we approached the tavern, I spotted Ponytail Phil and his wife (whose name I am omitting due to the fact that I forgot to ask her if I could use it or if I did ask I can’t recall what she said) sitting at a table outside. At this moment I decided to do a drive by and act as if seeing them there was a chance encounter rather than pre-determined. I thought the other people sitting outside would find the situation very movie-like and hence might provide them with some incidental afternoon entertainment. I will regret this decision for the rest of my life. Never again will I make a decision based on the entertainment value it may hold for absolute strangers.

As we drove by their table, I slowed to snails pace and started to shout to them, “Hey, what are you guys doing here?” I wanted to preface my fake excitement at this fake chance encounter with an odd but endearing soft-wristed hand wave I had been working on that I thought would be perfect for this situation. Unfortunately, as I started the waving process I bumped Wife’s hand which, to my horror, was in the midst of applying lip-liner or lip-stick or some type of lip make-up. And while my signature drive-by hand wave was soft-wristed in nature, it had enough power to knock said lip-coloring device from Wife’s hand and directly onto her white capri-panted lap.

And then all hell broke loose (cue the Misfits).

Wife: “What did you have to go and wave for!?”

Me: “We know them so I waved”

Wife: “What the f--- for, they know were coming.”

Me: “Because its funny.”

Wife: “What the motherf--- is funny about that?”

Me: “Well, the fact that they are expecting us makes it funny, and the wave itself is a funny wave…”

I tried to explain the whole acting like it’s a chance encounter rather then a planned meeting, and how the wave was crafted for precisely this type of situation, and how the dropped make-up aspect makes the situation even funnier, and basically she wasn’t seeing the humor in any of it.

She called me a lot of names. I parked the car (I thought about circling the block for another wave by opted not to). She tried to clean up the mark on her pants, unsuccessfully, actually making it worse. She called me more names. And then we went and had lunch with our friends.

Again, my goal for this lunch date was to try some beers for the West Coast. I started with Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA (7.0% ABV). This was the kind of IPA that you could drink all day. Tastey, hoppy, lots of flavor, but very drinkable because the flavors are nice and balanced so there isn‘t much of a bite. I recommend this if you like hops and even if you don’t - this beer might change your mind. I order this every time I see it on a menu, which has been exactly 3 times. Loved it every time.

I’ve also tried their Racer X (8.3% ABV), which is the double IPA version of this beer. Also very good but probably wouldn’t recommend it to someone who isn’t too into hops. I had one of these, it was on tap, and they served in a heavy glass chalice. This is more of a beer that you drink slow and enjoy each sip as it has great flavor up front with the hops and then smooth maltiness at the end.

The last beer I tried was Green Flash’s Hop Head Red (6.0% ABV). At the tavern I loved it. A hoppy red ale with all kinds of stuff floating around it that smelled delicious. I liked it so much that when I saw a six pack of it at my grocery store I had to buy it. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it so much the second time around. It was good but has a pretty bitter bite to it and not as good as I remembered it. But that happens sometimes. Maybe my palate was subdued by the flavor of the Racer 5 so I didn’t notice the bite that Hop Head Red had. Who knows, maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it the second time around.

Does that happen to anyone else? You try a beer and get one impression of it, either good or bad, and then you have it again another time and that impression changes? Maybe you really liked it the first time and then were disappointed the second time or maybe you weren’t too fond of it initially but then pleasantly surprised the second go round. I wonder if it has more to do with your mood or your palate. Either way, I’ve found it is usually a good idea to give a beer more than one chance before you form a solid opinion.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Only In Dreams...

Due to a late dinner last night, I have a case of the 5 a.m. farts (maybe it was the Bell‘s Two Hearted Ale - which was very very tasty by the way - a mild, very drinkable, citrusy IPA - or maybe it was the asparagus and gorgonzola cheese).  But as the fart type implies, it is 5 a.m. and it is Saturday so I am fast asleep and dreaming.  In my dream state there is only a Voice and it is saying “Don’t worry, it will be a sweet smell.”  And in my dream state this seems like a perfectly logical statement, even though after about 3.5 million farts in my lifetime, exactly 4 farts have had a sweet smell.  The odds are stacked against me, however, in dream world I have the decision making ability of a rabid raccoon and the Voice sounded pretty sure of itself. 

So I let one rip. 

This wakes me up a little bit but barely.  I still have one foot in dream world.

Contrary to the Voice's statement, the smell is not sweet.

Regardless, farts are funny in the real world AND dream world so the Voice and I start laughing.  Then the Voice says, “I can’t believe you fell for that one,” as if it is the oldest trick in the book or something, so I am like “Oh, you got me again, Dream Voice,” and we both continue to have a good chuckle.  Now the interesting thing about this is that while the Voice is only laughing in dream world, I am in fact laughing in the dream world and the real world.  I am sleep-laughing about a practical joke played on me by a Voice in a dream, in which the Voice convinced me to fart by ensuring me that it would smell sweet.  How do you explain that to Wife when she shakes you awake and asks you “Are you laughing…and why does it smell so bad in here?” 

But seriously, the Bell's Two Hearted Ale was very good.  I highly recommend it.  I was so impressed that today I decided to buy another Bell's beer to see what that was like.  I got a six pack of Bell's White Winter Ale - a very light wheat beer with some spice to it and a lot of carbonation - like a "warmer" hefeweizen - which is nice for the chilly nights.  Pretty good but doesn't get the glowing recommendation that the Two Hearted got.  However, it is a nice change of pace from the heavier winter seasonals.

Thanks for reading, recommend a beer on my Suggest a Beer page.  

Coming Soon:  The last installment of the Tales of Summer series!  Wife tries to wear white one last time before Labor Day and I ruin everything with a simple wave of my hand.  Also, I drink some beers from the West Coast.