Monday, December 26, 2011

Top 50 (Part 1): Andre and Pony P get weird.

Top fifty lists.  Or top ten lists.  Or even top three - like your top 3 three albums of all time - right now - give ’em to me.  It’s not easy to do.  I’ve been there - Thanksgiving eve, fresh from being snuck upstairs to see the second set of a great local band with a new line-up - a few deep on some Mad Elfs and chasing with Pabst in a basement bar (picture me running around in a basement with a guy named Pabst, a stout hairless man with his shirt off, think Iron Sheik meets a bowling ball, chasing stuff, and maybe there‘s a crowd of on-lookers waving cash and placing bets).  The band covered the Lemonhead’s “Drug Buddy” and that inspired me to declare It’s a Shame About Ray (the Lemonhead’s album containing “Drug Buddy”) as a top ten of all time.  To which my friend Andre (yes, I have a friend named Andre, and yes, he is a man that likes a fine lightweight scarf) proclaimed his number one album of all time was the motion picture soundtrack to The Last of the Mohicans.  Starring Daniel Day Lewis.  His defense of this “album” at one point included the phrase - “man, when those violins hit you…I could run up a mountain.”  It was around this time that I noticed a fire in Andre’s eyes that let me know he was serious.  I feared he would punch me in the crotch. 

I was and still am awestruck.  Flabberghasted.   Last of the Mohicans.  Really?  I almost downloaded it on iTunes.  Three different times.  But I don’t have a credit card.  Or any iTunes gift cards.  I am way off the grid.

But top 50 lists, specifically top 50 beer lists, like Andre’s bold pledge of allegiance to Daniel Day Lewis and the stringed compositions that attempt to describe an elk hunt, tend to get my attention.  While out stalking on various social media sites, I came across such a beer list at  The way I look at it, a beer on such a list is a beer worth having. 

I’ve had the opportunity to have more than my fair share of some of these:  Allagash White (a Belgian wit with a slight American twist), Bear Republic Racer 5 (an IPA), Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (a double IPA), North Coast’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Troeg’s Nugget Nectar (a hopped up Imperial Amber), Stone’s Sublimely Self Righteous Ale (a black IPA), and Stillwater’s Cellar Door (a saison).

Obviously all of these beers are very good.  The Sublimely Self Righteous, while I wasn’t completely sure about it when I wrote about it here, has grown on me in a big way.  One day I was lucky enough to have a 21st Amendment’s Back in Black, another Black IPA, followed by some Sublimely Self Righteous.  Both were good, but I was quickly falling in love with the Self Righteous.  That night, I had a bottle of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, a beer I love, and it seemed mild in comparison to the Sublimely Self Righteous I had earlier in the day.  I was hooked.

Stillwater’s Cellar Door is one that I just had recently, once on tap and then again, with Wife, in a big bottle, at this place called The Mint - a bank that got turned into a gastropub - the beers are kept in the vault!  What I love about this beer is the subtleness of it’s complexity.  It’s a saison, but with wheat and sage.  It has a smoothness and an earthiness that really dance around one another.  Very Last of the Mohicans, in it’s own way. 

There are a few more on the list of the 50 best beers that my good friend, Pony P, and I recently enjoyed at a lovely event called Hoppy Christmas or Very Hoppy Christmas or something like that - you get the idea, right? - and I want to tell you about those beers, I do, but all I can think about right now is the fact that Pony P shaved his beard.  He’s bare faced headed into the height of winter. Clearly, he is not mentally sound, and I have some real concerns.  The fact that he took his dog to sit on Santa’s lap doesn’t not make me feel any better about the whole situation.  The fact that he told me about the whole dog and Santa thing has my bowels all knotted up and shaky.  Pony P has taken this bromance to a level of intimacy that, frankly, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with.

Andre’s listening to movie soundtracks; Pony P is shaving his face and taking his pooch to Santa - what the fuck is going on here, guys?  Does the dog ask for stuff?  I mean seriously!  Keep your weirdo shit to yourself.  I don’t go around flaunting my collection of pictures of animals dressed as doctors.  Nobody wants to see a kitten, or a golden retriever for that matter, wearing a stethoscope and a white coat, looking all George Clooney on ER circa 1995.

Thank You uNatrualInspiration!
Anyway, I found another list, this one is the top 50 American Beers and is based on votes.  I’ve had quite a few off of this list as well, some with the man formerly known as Pony P. 

Oh, and I'm in the process of creating a new list: Top 50 most embarrassing things you can do/say while/after drinking one of the Top 50 beers. 

But I’ll tell you about those later.  Right now, I need to go write “Pony” on some cinder blocks and smash them with a sledge hammer.  Yes, I will wear safety goggles.  And a toga.  And yes, I am gonna grow the fuck outta my sideburns.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My walk, my women, and some holiday beers

 I have a distinct walk.  Or so my parents told me, starting in my teen years.  They said they could pick me out of a crowd from a mile away - just by my walk.  I think it may have had more to do with the fact that I was the one in the crowd with my hair dyed some strange shade, although typically, and parallel to my taste in women, I liked to bounce between very black to very blonde. 

Speaking of my women, since the birth of the Beanpod, my daughter, my life has resembled that of a reality cooking show contestant.  I make meals in pressure packed, time sensitive circumstances with ingredients I am unfamiliar with, go to sleep exhausted, and on occasion have the opportunity to drink a delicious beer. 

My most recent challenge involved a mystery packet of seasoning that reminded me of fajitas when I smelled it.  With some steaks defrosted in the refrigerator, steak fajitas seemed like the logical choice.  Unfortunately, I was sans the necessary vegetables.  The discovery of a can of green enchilada sauce in my pantry and some shredded cheese with a first name of Taco lead me to a nice little medley I called Steak Fajita Taco Enchiladas.  Cinco de mayo en diciembre!

Speaking of December, let’s talk some holiday beers.  There are tons.  I tend to classify them into two categories - you have the spice-heavy and the non-spiced.  Obviously, I consider a holiday beer spiced if it’s brewed with a mix of spices, like clove and coriander and even pepper.  I am generally anti-spice.  It’s not that I don’t like these beers, like Bell’s Winter White Ale or St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, but they are certainly not at the top of my list because I feel like the spice dominates the beer.  And like I just said, I’m anti-spice, unless your talking Dune-House Atreides-Arrakis-Paul Muad’Dib-Sandworm spice, then the spice is king, of course.

Winter Warmers are a style of beer that sometimes are brewed with spices, but generally it is the sweet malty body that you notice more than any spice, and typically you get a little alcohol warmth at the end.  Sam Adams “Old Fezziwig Ale” is a good example of this that I enjoy.  However, some beers labeled as winter warmers can be all about spice, which is not really true to the style, so the category itself can be hit or miss for someone that is not a fan of spiced beers.  This idea gives any beer labeled a “winter warmer” the distinction of being placed in a sub-category in my mind that I call Crapshoot.  I’ll usually only take a chance on one of these if I see it on tap and can have a taste before I order, which, for the record, is a practice that Wife tends to abuse.  I haven’t really said anything about it to her, but I’ve noticed she’ll ask for a sample of a beer she’s already had.  Is she forgetful or frugal?  Will I ever really know?  Can anyone ever really know anything about the elusive enigma we men simply call “Wife”.  Generally, I’m just happy to survive another night next to a mystery that sleeps with a small hatchet under her pillow.  Wife says the handle helps her - it’s for her neck.  I fear it may be for mine.

The non-spicey holiday ales can be all over the place, but I have three in mind that I really enjoy, each pretty standard and easy to find round this time of year, at least round these parts (I mean, I want to blow your mind with some crazy holiday beer you’ve never heard of, but this is only the second holiday season here at Beer on my Shirt, and I want to be honest and give you the beers that I was looking forward to this holiday season.  I am always open to suggestions though).

The Mad Elf (11%ABV) - Troeg’s makes this and it is awesome.  Brewed with honey and cherries, it has a unique flavor that reminds of the time I went to LA after Christmas and drank way too much cough syrup.  Sipping the sizzurp, as they say.  Mad Elf can have a similar effect to the sizzurp, as it is potent and goes down too easy.  It is a go to for me when cooking dinner for the family.  Twenty minutes and dinner is done and I’ve got a sweet buzz after one Elf.  I’m living the dream and ready to listen to an album containing lyrics I don’t really understand but about to have my mind blown by said album because the Elf has prepped my brain for deeper understanding while eating some chicken breast seasoned with herbs de provence - that’s what the Elf does to you, to your soul.

(For those not familiar with the sizzurp and its effect, here at Beer on my Shirt we have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy.  And yes, that is working out quite well.)

The above mentioned album was Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ Real Emotional Trash, and I had it for about 6 months before I listened to it with the Elf.  I mean, I had enjoyed the album but had very little grasp of the what the hell he was singing about at any given moment.  Two and a half bottles of Elf later and I’m totally sympathizing with the tragic tale of Hopscotch Willie - he was panting like a pit bull, minus the mean.  True story.  And I still love the album. 

Celebration Ale (6.8% ABV)- This one is by Sierra Nevada and it really is the only beer of their’s that I’ve had and love.  It has a little hop bite to it but also has a nice malt foundation to balance it all out.  This is one of my favorites all time, not just holiday time.  One of the best all around American beers I’ve had the pleasure of funneling.  I’m kidding - about the funnel, not the flavor - you must savor this amazing nectar. 

SIDENOTE: I have never funneled a beer in my life.  Pretty sure about that.

Santa’s Private Reserve Ale (6% ABV) - Made by Rogue, this red ale also has some hop to it.  This year, I felt it had a bit more of a metallic/copper taste than I remembered.  I consider this like a little brother to the Celebration Ale, similar characteristics, but this has a bit more pine taste to it that dominates, where Celebration has more of a balance between hops and malt.  Either way, I like it.  Definitely something I’ve drank a few of and would not hesitate to do it again.  And the label has Santa on it.  Sold! 

Also, this beer seems to have a positive effect on mathematical reasoning skills - three of these puppies and I am twice as good at math.  It follows that 6 of these would make me 4 times as good at math.  Now, I’m already pretty mathematically inclined and when you take that raw talent and multiply it by 4 you get…well, you probably wouldn’t be familiar the concepts I was about to reference, so drink a few Santas and get back me.  We’ll hang out and prove some trigonometric identities during commercial breaks while watching one of the 3 NASA channels I get.  And yeah, those are pay channels, bitch.  (Uhm, no sir, they’re not.)