Sunday, April 17, 2011

Best Beer Day Ever Part 1: Monk’s Cafe

I am now a father.

I have a baby daughter.

Beer, please.

Becoming a parent is something that is difficult to put into words. Think about your darkest days, when your pain seemed to have the power to sink continents and destroy planets. Now imagine the exact opposite of that - a feeling of elation that is strong enough to, well, un-sink continents and create new planets. Now multiply that feeling by the largest number you can think of, or the largest number that one of your smart friends could think of. That is the feeling of becoming a parent, or a least an oddly represented approximation. And then you get tired as hell. And writer’s block. And a weird mole removed.

I’d tell you more about Baby, like her name and her stats - but she asked me to be vague to protect her privacy - and I will respect her request because she is quite strong and has a wicked temper.

I can tell you that she is really smart, has no eyebrows, is probably going to be really fast, and has the potential to hit for power. She is currently on pace for 47 stolen bases and I’m thinking her ceiling this season is around 25 home runs, assuming she gets regular at-bats (fantasy baseball clearly plays too prominent of a role in my life). Baby loves the J. Mascis acoustic album. And as I write this, she is workshopping a blog entitled “Outta my face, Bitchlips!”. Wife, who now also goes by Baby Momma, is against this title for reasons that are not entirely clear.

But enough about the baby, let’s talk about where the action really is - the baby showers. That’s right - showers - as in more than one. For the sake of brevity, I will focus on the beers I drank during the first shower and only give a quick mention to the drinking that occurred during shower #2:

Shower #2 happened in Bethlehem, PA, and I spent a majority of that shower down the street at the Bethlehem BrewWorks. I don’t really remember too much about what I drank other than that I enjoyed it and that Brother Joe spilled a beer on our Aunt. I look forward to returning to that fine establishment.

Now back to Shower #1, which was held in Langhorne, PA. The day of Shower #1 turned out to be one the best beer days of my life. After I dropped Wife off at the shower location and sampled some sort of meat and cheese ball finger food, I headed down to center city to meet up with Brother Joe. He lives right around the corner from Monk’s Café, considered to be one of the best beer bar’s in America. It was the first time for both of us - Brother Joe had tried to go there before but apparently it was closed for awhile because it got hit by a bus.

Monk's, after colliding with a bus.

Monk's is awesome. I started with an Allagash White (5% ABV and 100% wind generated electricity) because they had it on tap and it is a beer I had been wanting to try - also it paired well with the great spring weather that was happening outside. Allagash White is, duh, a white beer or witbier, which means it is an unfiltered, cloudy beer - clouds are white, hence the name white beer - similar to a Hefeweizen but with more of a flavor twist. I believe Blue Moon is considered a white beer, to give some context to those of you new to craft beer. The Allagash White was very tastey with nice subtle hints of orange, a note of spice and even a little, just a little, bitterness - and that is without adding any orange slice to the beer. It was a much lighter beer than what I usually drink but I really enjoyed it and ordered another.

Sidenote: I have since had the Allagash White in a bottle and was not as thrilled, actually a little disappointed - perhaps the bottle wasn’t fresh or maybe just not what I was looking for that day. Another good white beer to try is the Hitachino White, from Japan. I had this at a sushi place and was surprised with a bit of a different flavor profile than some white beers - very crisp and clean with a mellow fruit flavor that I have read some describe as pear. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t had a pear in about 25 years. Because they are awkward to hold.

Back at Monk’s, Brother Joe and I had some delicious burgers and a strange conversation with the bartender about the evils of iTunes. Then I went for a Mikkeller 10 (6.9% ABV), on tap. Mikkeller has been doing a series of single hop IPA’s and Mikkeller 10 represents a culmination of sorts for the series, making an IPA with 10 hop varieties rather than just one.

For those not in the know, a lot of IPA’s are made with different combinations of hop varieties (the hops are generally what give IPAs the bitterness and either citrus, pine, or floral aromas and tastes that are the calling card of the IPA). For example, Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA is brewed with only Simcoe hops. The Southern Tier 2XIPA is brewed with 4 hop varieties - not sure which ones exactly - but whatever combination they are using it is mighty tastey.

So the concept behind this Mikkeller series is pretty intriguing and it would be pretty interesting to try #1-10 in a tasting and pick out the nuances of each different kind of hop, but I only had #10 at my disposal so I went with it. It was copper and hazey in the glass, with the most prominent flavor being a sweet fruitiness and some pine, with a caramel-ness in their as well. It reminded me a more mellow Double Simcoe, because of the sticky sweetness. It was good and I’m glad I tried it because it was different than most IPA’s I’ve been drinking lately.

From here, Brother Joe, who had been drinking Racer 5 IPA, took me back to his apartment and gave me a tour, the highlights of which were his elephant painting, walk-in closet/kitchen, and his collection of Vonnegut books. Pretty cool place - both his apartment and Monk‘s Cafe. We said our goodbyes, I forgot to give him the mix CD I’d made, and I headed back up 95 to load up the spoils of Shower #1.

Now, while an afternoon with Brother Joe at Monk’s Café would be a great day on its own, trying two new beers hardly constitutes the best beer day ever even in the short history of Beer on my shirt, so obviously, there is more to this wonderful day of baby showers and beer…

Coming Soon: Best Beer Day Ever Part 2: ?????

Available now: Brother Joe's Electronic Diary Elephant on Fire