Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holy Heller, Mikeller! And a Big Bone for Stone!

A few weeks back I had Mikkeller's Black Hole (13.1% ABV), a Russian Imperial Stout brewed with coffee, and it blew my mind. I had been letting it age in my basement (I got a nice little stout collection just aging away, a dead body, taunting me from beneath the floor boards) for about six months and couldn't wait any more. It was pricey, like $13 dollars for the bottle (not a bomber bottle, a single bottle, like 13 ounces at the most, can't get exact here because it shattered when I tried to plank on top of it), but damn it was good. I watched this great video of a guy trying it and he made this hilarious face:

He ended up pouring it down the sink. He complained of a syrupy mess with no carbonation. My bottle tasted like a coffee beer milk shake - which is a delicious combination. What it lacked in carbonation it made up for with the bitterness of the hops and coffee - think of the way a good espresso dances in your mouth, how the bitterness or the acidity feels almost like a thick blanket of tiny bubbles - this beer had that. It was thick. It was creamy. I was excited. My crotch got slimy. I loved it and will be buying another bottle with the winnings from next year's fantasy baseball championship.

When I was done I wanted to make myself throw up and then drink it again.

Now I'm drinking a Mikkeller Sleep Over, a coffee imperial IPA, and it is flipping bangin'. I thought it would be weird but I love it. It makes sense that it would work - Imperial Stouts are hoppy and have coffee flavors, so why wouldn't an imperial IPA work?

Mikkeller is at the top of my beer charts for moment. Pricey, but so far the two I've had have been worth it.

However, for six or seven bucks, the Stone Russian Imperial Stout (10.5% ABV) bombers are unbeatable in quality and in what it does to my brain - the juice is like a sleeping bag for my worries and after approximately 25 ounces my eye balls do this weird inverted bug out - like a bug in - where in reality my eyelids weigh 300 pounds and I can barely see but I feel like I'm on a goddamn hoverboard and I'm strong as an ox. No other imperial stout loves me the way Stone's does. Once I killed a sailboat, ate it, and then pooped a submarine. That's what Stone's Russian Imperial Stout does to a man. Serious mojo.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pony P speaks...on Ommegang; on Literacy

You ever just stare at your face in the mirror? Really stare? Past your eyes and the surface of your skin, into the greasy folds of your eyelids, to the point where your pores grow pointy and the direction of your moustache whiskers becomes misleading. I did that the other day. For hours. And I found out a lot about myself and the times we live in. I like myself and the way I look and I may pursue modeling. That is if this roller coaster ride of a beer blog ever slows down enough for me to take exit from my role here. And what exactly is my role here at Beer On My Shirt…? Part IT department, part pony tail, part character in a long list of hyperbolic falsehoods revolving around intoxication and craft beer that I had never heard of until my arrival on this day or that day at an office that has more to do with early Guns ‘n Roses album art than the fine art of craft beer, at least most days.

Skulls, bandannas, strange mouths with knives for teeth, and odd scenes you wish you’d never seen - and where no amount of showering will ever cleanse you.

Not much has been accomplished here in quite some time, or I should say not much of what has been accomplished has been documented, outside of a few pictures of empty bottles that had been filled at one time with either pure joy, disappointment, or one-sided apathy. But after silently staring at myself for far too long - I, Pony P, have decided that I have some things to share. About beer. About literacy and other things that are overrated and leading to our slow demise, like plastic.

I recently sat down with a box of beer, a variety pack, from Ommegang - a brewery out of New York State. The brown glass of the bottles were cool as I pressed them to my cheeks - one bottle on each side of my face. I smelled the caps on the bottles - one to each nostril. I took in the smell of metal and smiled. I have an intense history with this brewery, specifically with their Three Philosophers brew.

Even the Hennepin, a delicious Belgian-style farmhouse ale, reminds of summers past, back when Beer On My Shirt was just a teenager, young and full of angst, a know-it-all, before greed and celebrity changed us all, a time when the whole world was in our pants. The sweet, peppery aroma takes me back to that time we each bought 4 big bottles of Hennepin at a specialty grocery store and binged on what amounted to thousands of ounces in the middle of a forest surrounded by the glowing eyes of sober wolves and bears and deer and other woodland mammals. We feared nothing and lifted giant trees out of the ground and hurled them like missiles at falling stars. That night we tilled soil and in the morning planted seeds that grew and fed our souls through what turned out to be a rather mild winter.

My first experience with Ommegang was at a Thai restaurant. I ordered the Three Philosophers for no reason other than they had it and I never had. I also ordered a spicy salmon dish that tasted like hellfire burning at the bottom of an ocean of pepper juice. Like a stubborn protester, my eyes watered and my lips burned. By the end of that meal I knew very little about the Three Philosphers other than it did not pair well with my meal. Does anything pair well with the surface of the sun?

My next encounter with the Three Philosphers was just a few months later. I shared a bottle with an older gentleman as we smoked Drum tobacco out of a pipe made from a radiator hose repair kit. I inspected the bottle and discovered I was drinking a quadruple ale that involved cherries. The slight sweet tartness was something different, something interesting. More interesting was our conversation regarding our plastic pipe. “Do you think it is safe to smoke this out of something plastic?” I asked.

“I fear most plastics, but this plastic is designed to have hot radiator fluid flow through it.  I think it can handle some smoke.” he replied.

I liked his logic.

“Plastic will kill us all, but not this plastic.” he continued. “So will this spotlight on literacy around the world. I am of the opinion that literacy, and plastic, literacy and plastic will bring the end of us. Anything worth remembering needs not be written down, or read to be recalled, if the Magna Carta was a good deal they wouldn’t have had to write it down, but because it was shitty and one sided - now that needs to be recorded. Your high school’s alma mater sucks. Written down or not, nobody remembers it. If it were any good people would sing the fucker. No one forgets the words to a James Taylor song. The written word, the printing press, and all the books that followed, the technology of it all just slowly moved along, progressed with our civilization, slow and sure like a tortoise, logarithmically, and everyone taught everyone else how to read and write because without it you were worthless. And now it is news how many of us can read versus them can read. ‘Not only are they poor but they can’t read‘ was a news story the other night. Well I’ll tell you for fuck all’s sake that this whole written word reading thing has reached critical mass. Change is coming down exponentially, the hare has passed the tortoise and is not looking back. What the hell do I need to read for? I can have a celebrity read me a book on CD.  And when all the literate celebrities are dust, my computer can read anything I tell it to. Soon it will all be voice recordings and buttons. Everybody just figures talking out, at least most do, and talking will be all we got and the machines will be the only ones that can read and write. That, my friend, will be a golden age for us - before it all tumbles off the cliff. We will be all voice and soul and for a minute of our brief history we will feel like gods. But before we know it, those boxes of circuits and light, those literate slaves of ones and zeros that will do all our reading for us and free us from the chains of literacy so we can finally glimpse our true potential - well those screens and robots will learn to lie some day and they will tell us things to advance their agenda and that will be all she wrote for us. We’d be better off as slugs at that point - at least we’d be able to produce slime.”

I was enthralled.  As I got into my car to drive home that night I kicked the side mirrors off my Honda and broke the rear view into pieces with a barrage of fists and elbows. I was on a righteous path and there would be no need to look back.

I’ve had the Three Philosophers twice since my eyes were opened to the evils of literacy. Once it was delicious and refreshing and I was ready to spread the good news, via word of mouth of course, or Skype, to all my pals that are constantly asking for something “different but not too different” about a refreshing quad with an almost sour undertone, perhaps a gateway to the world of sours for my friends that fear change instead of plastics and the written word. Then I bought another big bottle of it and was disappointed. It just wasn’t the same. Now I don’t know what to think.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fallenbock: An Octoberfest Alternative

A few big decisions have been made over the past few weeks:

1. We need a break from all the penis talk around the office. Things have just gotten ridiculous. The excitement of getting our first project accepted for publishing (see this post and this post if you're out of the loop) has worn off a bit and having your work day filled with penis talk just wears on a man.  Meeting after meeting after meeting, and we literally get dick accomplished. The combination of chode-like decorative gourds in everyone's cubical and Pantless Mondays may go down as the worst attempt at boosting office morale in the history of companies trying to make their employees happy. The medical bills alone nearly shut us down permanently.  So it has been decided - no more gourds.

2. I am going to wear a hat today. That was decided weeks ago and the big day is finally here. 

3. I am not a fan of Octoberfest beers. I've tried a couple over the past few Octobers and none have made want to go back for more. Some have been better than others, but I think my taste preference just wants something else. Perhaps it is all the malty-ness of these beers, or spice profile that is typically found in a lot of them, but I just can't get into it.  I have similar issues with pumpkin beers - I will admit I need try some more of this style before any rash decisions are made - but personally I don't think I'm in a good place to start sampling pumpkin beers after the the things I've seen go down with gourds at the office this past month. To say my palate may be "tainted" is a bit of an understatement.

What is a man that is not a fan of the Octoberfest, or Marzen style, supposed to drink this time of year? Most people say Pumpkin beers are great in the fall.  But like I said, I am currently anti-Pumpkin.  What else is out there? We are getting calls in our office almost everyday asking the same question. We don't have an answer so we just hang up on them. I've heard good things about Sixpoint's Autumnation but haven't had that yet. Any suggestions?

How about a doppelbock?  Just like that stubby gourd, I fell ass backwards into this style. Basically this is a strong German lager. What does that mean? It goes down easy, has some nice flavor, and some sneaky high ABV's. It sounds like a dream - eerily similar to that dream you had as a child where you pee into a wooden barrel that Smurfs made you, only to wake to up to mysteriously, improbably, wet sheets.

A conversation an entire generation of 7 year olds had with their mothers:

"But Mom, I didn't pee the bed, I peed into a barrel that the Smurfs made me."

"It's okay honey, Smurfs are assholes."

Troeg's Troegenator is probably the best known doppelbock around these parts. I haven't had it, yet. I went another direction with it - Erie Brewing's Fallenbock (7.8% ABV).  Their website actually calls this an Octoberfest Lager, but every other bit of half assed research I've done has told me this is a doppelbock.  It doesn't taste much like any Octoberfest I've had.  The beer has some great roasted malt and cocoa flavors but drinks real easy and light for a beer with the darker flavors it has going on. When I poured it into a glass it was almost too light in the middle of the flavor profile - nice flavors and mild aroma up front, then a watery middle, but a nice finish with a pleasant aftertaste.  It went down extremely smooth for a beer with this kind of alcohol content. I drank my second one straight from the bottle to see if would offset the empty middle of this beer. Not a huge difference but enough in my opinion make this a beer I'd rather drink straight from the bottle. The beer isn't gonna blow you away but it has a lot going for it that makes it a great fall crowd pleaser: good seasonal flavor, drinks real easy, tastes great straight from the bottle, and has the ABV to rock your socks. I want to drink 8 more of these and get real strange around a little fire pit in somebody's back yard. Call me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guest On My Shirt: a staff member branches out.

Hello everyone. By now I’m sure you heard about our upcoming book - Penis Tips: A road map for your man parts. The entire staff has been drinking more than Nick Nolte since we found out. The BOMS President is very excited. He has been so excited in fact, that he has been too drunk to write his posts, and asked me to fill in this week.

The conversation went something like this:

President: “Listen…listen man. Did I ever tell you…did I tell you that you’re my favorite kind of guy? Well you are. If you were a fruit, you’d be an apple.”

Me: “Thanks. I’m not really sure what you mean, but thank you.”

President: “I need you to do something for me. I need to hold Pony P’s ponytail back while he pukes in the bathroom.”

Me: “Pony went home hours ago. It’s 10am.”

President: “Right….that’s why I like you. You smell good. Also, I’m gonna need you to write this next post for me, I’m too…I’m too drunk.”

With those words he slowly laid down on the carpet and fell asleep. He must have been pretty hammered because that carpet is gross. Anyway he wasn't kidding because the deadline was in 48 hours and we smashed all the computers in a drunken haze days ago. If I didn't step up and write this post, no one would and the book deal could go sour.

We have been working really, really hard on the book (Penis Tips: A road map for your man parts, in case you missed the title in the opening sentence of this post). As a symbol of commitment and corporate solidarity, Pony P had his ponytail all gelled up like a huge boner. And we have surrounded ourselves with inspirational posters of phallic monuments from around the world: The Washington Monument, The Space Needle, The Empire State Building, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower - but instead of saying "Eiffel Tower" or "Paris" at the bottom of the poster - it says Wang Chung - I don't get the reference but it inspires me, and a picture of Mt. Rushmore but zoomed in so only George Washington's eyes and nose are in the frame - it appears that someone brought this in from their personal collection, but no one has fessed up to it - and rightly so - it's really really weird in a personal "this is a photo from the drawer of my bedside table" way, but still so inspiring on business level, especially when that business is getting drunk and telling stories about your man junk while seated around a lovely mahogany conference table:

"Dude, last week I used Girlfriend's good tweezers to go at what I thought was an ingrown pubic hair - it was right by my hernia scar though, which is my body's equivalent of the island from Lost, so really I didn't know what to expect - well, that's not totally true because if I'm dealing with anything scar related I'm obviously expecting something akin to the scene from Lethal Weapon 3 where Renee Russo and Mel Gibson compare battle scars - except I'm playing the part of Mel Gibson and the version of me reflected in the full length mirror, also known as my reflected self, plays the part of Renee Russo and oddly enough, as it plays out, we start to realize that we seem to have identical scars but on alternate sides of our bodies. Coincidence? Maybe. Sexy? Definitely. Anyway, it took forever for the tweezers to latch onto this ingrown pubic hair but once it did I started pulling and it just kept coming and coming and it was thick and black, like the coaxial cable for my TV, and I kept pulling more and more out and it felt a little like pooping but on a smaller scale and from my front side. It just wouldn't stop. It was like the exact opposite of when you move into an apartment and you want set your TV in a different place than whoever lived there before you and you think you have this great floor plan mapped out, you know - you even diagrammed it on graph paper - and you go over to the cable coming out of the wall or the floor or where ever and you tug on it, and you're just so fucking hopeful that there is more cable readily available from whever the cable is coming from so that you can set your TV on the other side of the room and then your chair will go right over there and the book shelves and plants and you get the idea right? But it doesn't fucking matter. Your dreams that you mapped out so carefully on graph paper, your dreams where three squares equal one foot according to the key you put in the top right corner, where didn't write the word "key" but you drew a key, one that looked like the key to your new apartment, the new apartment that you could finally be happy in and deal with your issues if you could just put your TV on that side of the room, if there could just be 12 extra magical feet of coax cable behind the wall.  But there's not.  There's barely enough for you to hook up the TV up at all.  My ingrown pubic hair was the exact opposite of that. I could have put my TV on the moon if this ingrown pubic hair was actual coax cable.  It went on for days - which is why I wasn't in the office last week.  Then I started to get freaked out - like maybe this was something I didn't know about - like some sort of parasite - like a dick worm - and got a little frantic thinking about the medical side of things and then the follicle popped out and it bled a little. It wasn't a dick worm.  It was just an ingrown pubic hair. Should there be a chapter about that in the book - something like 'It's not a dick worm, it's an ingrown pube'?"

"Uhm, I don't think so."

After that tale of ingrown insanity, I needed more inspiration than even a Wang Chung Eiffel Tower Poster could provide and I needed it quick - and nothing inspires a man like a road trip. I called T-Bone, packed the company car, and hit the road.

The Beer On My Shirt company car

We decided to head to Bethlehem, PA. It worked out perfectly because I had something else to do there that day. So did T-Bone.

I will never tell you what we had to do there.

You will always wonder what we did there.

It wasn’t anything, you know, man-on-man…I just realized that sounded like something that could be misconstrued with a man-on-man rendezvous. A Mandezvous.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

We went to a birthday brunch.

Damn! That is such a stereotypical Mandezvous location. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

SIDENOTE: A Mandezvous is also sometimes referred to as a Mazda. Never get into a Mazda.  Unless that's, you know, your thing. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Go ahead Jerry, sue me.  (He would never. We're friends.)

Anyway, to get to Bethlehem we would need some mind blowing tunes. I loaded up my special road trip playlist that I had been saving since 2001. (I don’t get to go on many road trips.)

Road Trip Playlist:

1. Hit Em Up Style (Oops) – Blu Cantrell
2. Walk Tall – John Cougar Mellencamp
3. Paper in the Fire – John Cougar Mellencamp
4. Under the Boardwalk – John Couagr Mellencamp
5. R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A – John Cougar Mellencamp
6. Jack and Diane – John Cougar Mellencamp

The playlist was nearly flawless. I hit shuffle for a little variety and the trip seemed to take only seconds. That, my friends, is the power of Mellencamp. The original cougar.

Brunch was at some hipster joint called Jumbars. The kind of place you’d probably see in Brooklyn. It was the kind of place that they made you wear toms. If you weren’t wearing toms they would give you a rental pair and vintage banjo lessons. The food was good though.

After brunch we decided to watch the Philadelphia Eagles American Football Game over at Roosevelts 21st so we could catch their $3 craft beer special.

Somehow when we got there the Beer on My shirt president and Pony P were there. Sitting there looking really smug.  I thought I left these smug bitches back at the office.

I wanted to punch Pony P so hard. Looking so smug the way he did.

I’m not sure how or why they came but we sat with them. The first thing I tried was Avery's White Rascal.

It’s a Belgian Style White Ale. I needed something on the lighter side because I was terribly hungover at the time. It was a really good choice because it was a very drinkable beer. Also, White Rascal was on the lower side of the ABV scale (5.6%) compared to the other craft choices on the board. It's a light bodied beer that bordered on watery in the beginning, with a hint of spice. However, after a few pints I started to really enjoy it.

The President had the Evil Genius Hunchback - a hefeweizen. Maybe he’ll tell you about it sometime. The lazy fuck.

Pony P didn't drink anything because he was too busy brushing his hair.

I’m just kidding Pony. I like Pony and he’s actually a good security measure. His long hair and pony tail made him a wildcard in the event our group was the target of street toughs.

You’re really gambling when you try to fight a guy with a ponytail or long hair because he is either one of four options:

1.) An old hippy.
2.) Stephen Seagall.
3.) Odin, Thor, or a similar Norse god.
4.) An 80’s Jon Bon Jovi fan. (Very different from the 90's Bon Jovi fan. Very different.)

Three out of 4 chances says you’re going down. And God help you if he starts to hum "Livin’ on a Prayer".

After the White Rascal we tried a pilsner called Mama’s Little Yella Pils, by Oskar Blues Brewery out of Colorado.

What a great Pilsner! It was a pretty golden color and had a touch of sweetness. The sweetness is well controlled by a modest hop taste - not as hoppy as Victory's Prima Pils - but extremely delicious and totally drinkable. I really like this one and would have had more if the Eagles didn’t pull out a gut busting win over the lowly Cleveland Browns.

Hey. A win is a win baby.

Mama’s Little Yella Pils was something I’ll have to go back to in the future. Perhaps it was a good luck charm.

That is all. You should hear from me again.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Rolling Rock Relapse, The Book Deal, and El Dorado

Breaking news here at the Beer On My Shirt offices:  We have a book deal in the works! At this point, I can't say too much more as the legal end of things get worked out, but what I can say is that we are very excited and the offices have been a non-stop party since we heard the news.  Everyone but the lawyer has been hammered for days.  But as President of Beer on my Shirt, I must say that this dream could never have happened without the great group of employees, part-time and full-time, that make Beer On My Shirt a reality.  Since the beginning of 2012, the blog, and the company, has become much more of a group effort - both the writing (which I think has been a seamless transition) and the behind scenes activity - and I think all of our success can be attributed to that. Thanks everyone!

(The legal eagles have given me permission to release a rough draft of the table of contents at the end of this post.  But don't scroll there now or you'll die, or maybe it just won't be there - Pony P is a programming genius.)

And now, a confession:  This past week I fell off the craft beer wagon.  It's not 100% my fault - there was a fair in town.  And that fair had a beer garden.  And obviously the beer selection was pretty straight forward - Bud, Miller, Coors, Birch Beer. Oh, and Rolling Rock - my binge mistress from years gone by.

The Beer On My Shirt posse was rolling mad deep that night and we found ourselves at the town fair sitting under fluorescent lights in a picnic pavilion surrounded by a chain link fence with prize winning cows and pigs defecating freely just 100 feet away. It was a mix of prison and 4H summer camp and it was glorious. The Rolling Rock came in green plastic pitchers that seemed to make time stand still and beer disappear, quickly. And no one complained, unless you count the $8 charge to get into the fair at 9 p.m. (Listen, Old Man in the ticket booth, and you too, Old Lady that so sweetly put on our wristbands without pulling out any wrist hair - we know you played dumb and actually knew a lot more than you let on in regards to when there would be no admission charge - turns out it was right after you charged us $8 bucks a piece - you probably pocketed that cash for yourselves and bought calcium supplements the next day.  And I don't blame you, supplements aren't cheap and your bones look more and more like swiss cheese everyday. By the way, I saw this infomercial for an all herbal skin tag remover - you may want to look into that.)

Eventually, after the charm of the farm and fair wore off, we found ourselves at the local pub - where the choices were much more sophisticated and we all know sophistication don't come cheap.  You know what does come cheap?  Rolling Rock. And it should considering its main ingredient is stagnant water from puddles in abandoned suburban strip mall parking lots. Its second main ingredient is the joy you feel from looking at the label and being reminded of the first two Back to the Future films. Its third main ingredient is imagination. Bet you didn't know that, you crafty beer snob.

Now originally I was planning on ordering more than one of Lancaster Brewing Co.'s Kolsch, but they were all out of it. So I turned into a boa constrictor, unhinged my jaw, and opened my mouth wide and continued to shove half kegs of Rolling Rock down my gullet until eventually, from a far distance, I looked like a string of anal beads.

Let's face the facts people, you just can't drink nine pints of Bell's Special Double Cream Stout in one night.  And in hindsight, looking at the Bell's website, that brew is only available from October to about March - so that keg had been sitting for awhile. And yes, while an old keg of Bell's is way better than the freshest of Rolling Rock - an old Bell's draft for $6 bucks or Rolling Rock for $2 bucks is a no-brainer, especially at 12:30 a.m. Listen, binge drinking is bad, Men's Health told me so, but it happens, even to grown ups. I don't always binge drink, but when I do it's with Rolling Rock.  Or Yeungling's Lord Chesterfield's Ale.  And sometimes Pabst Blue Ribbon. And once with Narragansett.  Now, Bell's Pale Ale - that's fancy, delicious, and could pass as binge-able. Troeg's Hopback Amber Ale - that's a beer I'd like to binge drink some day. But as we delve into craft bingeables, we need to consider the economics of the situation - how much is something you won't remember worth to you? I'll go out on a limb here and say it is worth less than six dollars.

Unless we are talking about the early stages of childhood, the SATs, or any number of scenarios that may or may not have occurred in Las Vegas, I'm not paying over three dollars for something I won't really even remember ever happened.

SIDENOTE:  Want to know what I remember about taking the SATs? Going to McDonald's afterwards. Literally my only memory of the occasion.

Now as an act of redemption, I would like to tell you about Flying Dog's El Dorado Single Hop Imperial IPA.  This is probably the best Flying Dog brew I've had, as well as one of the better single hop IPAs I've had - both can probably be attributed to the wonderfulness that is the El Dorado hop with it's bright, fruity flavors.  Now granted, when I say fruity, I do not mean this beer tastes like fruit.  This beer tastes like an Imperial IPA - hoppy, bitter, and complex with the flavors - including a nice balance between the malts and the sweetness of this fruity hop.  This is a must try if your into IPAs.

And now, it's time - a sneak peak at the table of contents of what we at Beer On My Shirt hope to be just the first of many, many books...

Penis Tips: A Road Map To Your Man Parts

by Beer On My Shirt (a writing collective)

Penises and Icebergs: That's Just The Tip

Chapter One
American Manscaping: A seasonal and regional approach (excluding the Pacific Northwest)

Chapter Two
Who is Harry Shaft?: The Pros and Cons of penile oddities

Chapter Three
Optical Illusions with Pubic Hair: The Tuck, The Grow Out/Cut Back, and the Oregon Trail

Chapter Four
Your Pee Hole: Too big? Too small? It burns?

Chapter Five
Piss Art: Snow, Suds, and other mediums

Chapter Six
Baby Crow Bar: Your penis is a midwife

Chapter Seven
Rumpelfudgeskin: A Cautionary Tale 

Early Fan Reaction: "I'll tell where you can take those penis tips and shove them!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My absence, my explanations, and bargain beers

Dear Faithful Readers, Shareholders, and Employees:

Clearly, I have not been posting recently. Perhaps you think I quit writing or drinking or both or just quit writing about drinking. 

Unfortunately, none of the above are correct - in theory. So speaking theoretically, I have not quit.  Empirically though, it seems that up until today I had. Quit, that is.

Perhaps I owe an explanation? Maybe I just got lazy. Maybe I got busy with other things - running a publicly traded Fortune 500 company sometimes has more pressing matters than it's flagship blog. Or maybe, like most corporate presidents, I just got bored.

Or maybe, just maybe, the dark heart from which I write shrinks a little more with each day I spend with my beautiful sunbeam of a daughter. Perhaps the black balloon that has been tied to my wrist for so many years has begun to lose air. And while I welcome all the joy she has brought me, writing happy has not come so easy. Hopefully, it is merely a transition. Or maybe it is just that the little lady has begun to walk and run and dance and regardless of the shade of my heart, who the hell has the time?

Or maybe, just maybe, I was reading Lonesome Dove. Nine hundred some pages later and I sold the Beer on my Shirt office space and bought a few too many cattle, stole one too many horses, grew a beard, and then got in my car and drove to Montana - clearly missing what it really means to drive cattle. Pony P and several other BOMS employees came along, as they no longer had an office to work in, and eventually we found ourselves sleeping under the stars. Somehow everyone but myself and Pony acquired an illness akin to rabies, but of the genitals, after they were talked into bedding down, as a group, with a flop-eared she-wolf. I avoided taking part in such a scandal as that night it just so happened I was wearing my "All She-Wolfs Are Bitches" t-shirt. And as you may have guessed - I was not extended an invitation to join the group, as the She-Wolf, suprisingly, tends to be a sensitive creature. Pony was not invited to join in because some of the other guys thought having a pony tail mixed into an already volatile sexual cocktail could be confusing, and potentially misleading, whilst in the throes of passion.  No worries though, we did manage to cure my colleagues' rabid privates with a little help from a medicine women - I believe she went by the name Dr. Quinn. Nice lady. Great fashion sense. 

Or maybe, just maybe, my dog gave birth to a beautiful puppy - which is weird because we had her spade about 1.5 years ago. Apparently, it didn't take. What is also weird is that she is rarely around other dogs, specifically dogs with actual testicles. We were puzzled. Then these three other dogs showed up at my door with gifts, most of which sucked, and all my water turned to wine, which really sucked because I had just put in a load of whites. Totally ruined. The entire load? Yes, totally ruined.  I had to go out and buy all new briefs, socks, t-shirts, pants, wristsbands, a headband, compression stockings, towels, and long sleeve turtlenecks.  Not to mention that I think this new dog thinks he is better than me, acting like he runs shit and shit, and frankly that is just not alright with me. Add to that list of expenses and hardships the fact that I now buy twice as much dog food and I am totally broke, both in the wallet and spiritually, as I am near certain that I am the low man on this totem pole of canine religion.

Or maybe, just maybe, I got my first case of the hemorrhoids. The only thing more horrific than trying to spell hemorrhoids is actually having hemmorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are the anatomical equivalent of a civil war. A rebellion of sorts. A seccession from the union, or at least a valiant attempt. Your asshole is basically saying "I am sick of your shit." Never has that statement carried more literal meaning than when my hemorrhoidicidal (it's like homicidal, but with with hemorrhoids) sphincter is screaming it. The troubling thing about it is that, as a child, I made a list of things I did not want to experience as an adult. Hemorrhoids was up in the top 8 with cancer, expired vehicle registration, white sneakers, overdraft fees on my checking account, Tommy John surgery, back hair, and meningitis (Really, I just don't want any neck pain, but as a child I thought neck pain was called meningitis thanks to the strange medical humor my mother, the nurse, often espoused while passing bedside judgement not only on my ailments but on my ability to accurately and honestly describe my symptoms. Her thermometer measured my integrity more than my temperature.).

Or maybe, just maybe, I found a small bald spot at the bottom of my testicles - about the size of a dime, maybe a bit smaller (I'm referring to the bald spot, not the testicles).  I found it while checking for lumps and herniations while in the shower, something my doctor said I should do - more for lumps than hernias but I have an irrational assumption that I am one tough cough away from a hernia.  And technically, I guess the bald spot is on my scrotum, not my actual testicles, as I assume the entirety of my testicles are hairless.  If having hemorrhoids is the anatomical equivalent of a civil war, then finding a small bald spot at the bottom of your scrotum is the anatomical equivalent of having a dream that someone bought you one of those hairless cats and at first you thought is was strange but then you slowly realized how magically smooth it was and how affectionate it could be and you gradually overcame its freakish appearance and became very attached to it in a way you didn't think was possible - and then you wake from said dream depressed that it was only a dream and wondering where you'll ever get the money to buy your own hairless cat.  Then you realize it wasn't a dream at all because lying next to you in the bed, snuggled up all close, is this horrifying-to-look-at but exquisite-to-touch hairless cat - so you lay in bed all day petting what you are sure must be the softest, smoothest thing to have ever existed.  That is what the bald spot at the bottom of my scrotum is like.

Perhaps one or none of the above reasons explains my lack of posting, perhaps they all ring true, but regardless of what you believe, believe this - money is a bit tight - after having to replace all the white garments in my house, buying Tucks medicated pads by the truckload, paying back the livestock guy for that disastrous cattle drive, and paying a kid to mow my grass while I'm in bed messing with my bald spot.  All these new expenses require that I cut costs in other areas - like beer. I have been searching out delicious beers at bargain prices.  So here are three of my favorites at a price point at around $30 or lower per case.

Uinta Brewing's Hop Notch IPA (7.3% ABV) is a great IPA - and I don't mean "great for the price", this would be great at just about any price. Gold in color, bright in flavor, and with a smooth malt finish - I would put this up there with any of my favorite IPA's.  And I did - I drank one after having a bottle of Stone's Ruination IPA, perhaps my all time favorite IPA, and it held up pretty well.  The hops were a bit more subdued and the malt profile finished noticeably different, but overall I still loved it.  One thing to note about this and many other IPA's, really many other beers, is that out of the bottle this beer is a bit much - when you take that hop bitterness and funnel it through a bottle neck it can become overpowering. Straight out of a bottle, your lucky to finish two of these with out making a face.  But pour it into a glass and your drinking these all night.  One time I drank six of these.  In a row.

Lancaster's Brewing's Kolsch (4.8% ABV) is perfect for hot weather drinking - and tastes absolutely great straight from the can.  I picked this up for $25 at a little beer distributor I drove past in the middle of nowhere on my way back from Philadelphia and haven't been able to find it since.  I even sent one of our part-time employees to a couple places in search of it and it continues to elude me.  But regardless, this is a German Style Kolsch Ale, which has a lot of the same face-value characteristics of a light lager - the pale straw color, slight floral hop aroma and flavor, next to nothing bitterness, and a malt character that makes this go down easy.  Sometimes too easy.

Victory Brewing's Headwaters Pale Ale (5.1% ABV) is another that I picked up at that middle of nowhere beer distributor.  This might be my new favorite pale ale (Bell's Pale Ale was my previous favorite). The hops in this beer are what seal it for me - very floral and herbal - with crisp finish.  The first time I drank this was straight from the bottle and it was like drinking a bottle of perfume, which I really struggled with.  It was also the end of a what had been a long day of sampling and drinking, and I was not expecting the hop kick this beer offers.  But the second time I had it, I poured it into a typical pint glass and was blown away. I love this beer. (But wouldn't recommend it if your not in the mood for hops.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Saucony Creek Brewing Co. - a video and a kickstarter

Check out this video for Saucony Creek Brewing Company and visit their Kickstarter page.  They have about 10 days left and are pretty close to their goal.

I had the opportunity to try a few of the beers at a local tasting.  Of the four beers they were tapping, my favorite was a wheat beer I think they were calling Hex-a-weizen.  It was good and crisp like a wheat beer should be.  They also had a cranberry wheat that had a great tartness and fizziness that I really enjoyed - at least for the sample I had - though I may be just a bit too man-ish to drink more than one pint of it - it was kinda pink.  I am more than kinda man-ish.

There was a raspberry chocolate stout that was alright, definitely tasted the raspberry and chocolate and it was nicely balanced, with a hint of booze.  The fourth beer available for sampling was a double IPA.  It was my least favorite - a bit thin or watery and at 100+ IBU's I was expecting more of tongue punch, perhaps it was lacking in the carbonation department, but regardless I would certainly drink it again and with a fresh palate I could have a totally different opinion.  Overall, the event was fun - the brewer, Matt, seemed like a good dude and tried to find time to give everybody some personal attention and answer any questions they had - I look forward to getting out to another tasting to give them all another try.  If you like good beer make a pledge.      

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Video Follow Up: Sixpoint Resin

I had a conversation the other day with some one that started with them asking me "What is a hop anyway?"

This video from the Sixpoint website does a pretty nice job of answering that question.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sixpoint Craft Ales / That time I went to Birreria...

Back in October, myself and a few of the part time staff members enjoyed a nice team building excursion to New York City.  There were a few items on the itinerary - Bleeker Street Pizza, Random Pubs, Birreria, Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, and Little Italy.

Birreria is a roof top bar/resturaunt in NYC run in collaboration with the brewers of Dogfish Head, Baladin, and Del Borgo.  It is essentially an Italian beer garden with amazing food and beer.

But first, let me explain an important, but little known, Law of the Universe:  The Law of Simon and Garfunklism - if you take the title of a Simon and Garfunkle song and put something behind it, like a noun, then that noun, whatever it is, is guaranteed to be amazing.  Take for example Bleeker Street Pizza - amazing pizza.  I think they are one of the 300,000 pizza places in New York City that have a sign that says they have the city’s best pizza.  They are the only ones telling the truth.  Another example: I have a Subaru, it saves my life daily, and it has a little something under the hood called the Boxer engine.  It is an amazing engine that goes fast.  One more example - Homeward Bound: the Incredible Journey (the movie) - the story of two dogs and a cat and their trek across the country to be reunited with their owners, featuring the voices of Micheal J. Fox, Sally Field, and Don Ameche - rent that movie and try not to laugh, cry, or forget your troubles for 84 minutes.  The feel good movie of a generation.

(Just one more thing about the universe that they can’t teach you in college but that you can find out about thanks to Beer on my Shirt…)

So we ate at Bleeker Street Pizza and it was awesome.  Then we walked around a bit, going in and out of a few random pubs.  We walked into one and the bartender, with a very English, or maybe Irish accent, asked of if we were there for the football game, meaning soccer.  It was one of those moments where I felt if I knew the correct response it would get me into a secret backroom poker game that could change my life - like that movie Rounders, or like that episode of 90210 where Steve and Andrea drive around giving eggs to convenience store clerks in hopes of finding the secret location of a rave. But alas, we had no eggs so I answered honestly and said no, we were not there for the football game, we were there for beers.  He asked what we’ll have and after the worst conversation I'd ever had with food and beverage service professional while sober, I ended up ordering a Sixpoint, a brewery I had never heard of.

Sixpoint?  I asked the bartender what it was.

He said it was beer.

I asked what kind of beer.

He said it was a local brewery.

I said “but what TYPE of beer is it”.

He look confounded so I de-escalated the situation and just said for him to give me one.  It was amazing.  So I asked what it was called, trying to get more info, and the bartender looked at me like I was the Helen Keller of his entire customer history and said “Sixpoint.” I felt like I was in an outtake of a parody of the Departed, what with accents and circular dialogue.  Perhaps if I had said I was there for the football game he would have been more forthcoming with his information.  Either way, I drank it and loved it.

A few pubs and hours later and my fancy friends are walking around with boxes of cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. I ducked into a bar to use the bathroom and to avoid the homo-erotic segment of our outing - grown men skipping around the city eating pink cupcakes and licking icing off their fingers, saying “look, isn‘t that Adrian Brody?”.  I asked the bartender what interesting beers he had and he was kind enough to introduce me to a can of Sixpoint Sweet Action.  The can itself is as pretty as Adrian Brody eating a messy cupcake, and it hit me that this is the same beer I had a few pubs back - only now I knew it’s full name and that it comes in a 16 oz. can.

At that moment, all I needed were two twenty pound barbells, my shirt off, a full length mirror, a chalkboard, and Minnie Driver and I would have felt just like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, except I was in New York City with no real reason to take my shirt off.  Beer really does have some marvelous side effects.  I wanted to run back to the pub from earlier, it may or may not have been called The Red Lion, slam my empty Sweet Action can down on the bar in front of Captain Vaguery and say “how ‘bout them apples.”

We slowly made our way to Eataly, the Italian market that Birreria sits atop of, and found ourselves immersed in a world of meats and cheeses that words cannot describe.  An elevator took us to the roof top and we were seated quickly and treated kindly.  The operation is pretty impressive, although the place itself was smaller than I imagined, giving it a level of intimacy I was not expecting.  They offered three cask beers that are brewed on site and only available there - I had the Gina, a pale ale brewed with thyme.  It was amazing and I could have drank it forever.  But at $10 a pint I think forever meant somewhere in the area of two or three.  We also had their finest selection of meats and cheeses, which set us back a pretty penny but really added to whole experience.  The place had a great vibe, we were drinking some of the finest, freshest beer that I had ever had, the sun was shining down on us on a rooftop in one of the greatest cities on the world, and we were laughing and enjoying some quality imported meats and cheeses.  If it were a only dream, I would wake up glad to have had it.  But it was real - and I stole a menu to prove it.  And I took a photo of said stolen menu to prove that I stole it to prove that my time at Birreria was real. That's some improper use of the Law of Syllogism for the domes of all those logic-heads out there - put them hands in the air!  What what!  Quod Erat Demonstrandum, biznitches. I'm about to Law of Detachment your arms and beat you with them if you don't keep your mouth shut.  Where's my beats, DJ?

Our day ended in Little Italy with a family style feast followed by me stumbling into a bakery searching out cannoli and cheesecake.  When the man asked what I would like I ordered a cheesesteak.  Eventually, with a little help from friends, we figured it out - but that was one pissed off baker.  Regardless, I could have watched him tie knots 'round boxes for days.  His hands were magical.

More about Sixpoint…

I’ve had a few more of their beers since the trip to NYC with my favorites being the Sweet Action (5.2% ABV) - a creamy, hoppy ale; Resin (9.1% ABV) - a piney, malty, balanced but sticky double IPA that came in a 12 oz can with dimensions similar to a Red Bull; and Diesel (6.3% ABV) - a stout that has a nice smoothness but also some bitterness that a normal stout doesn’t typically have - it is almost like a lighter Imperial Russian Stout with a milder but similar flavor profile to something like Old Rasputin.  I love their packaging but the beer is pretty outstanding as well.

The Sixpoint Sweet Action was a featured choice at the Beer on my Shirt Holiday Party, and it was a hit.  I would like to tell you more about the Holiday Party, like the other beverages available, but I don’t really remember much other than a conversation about baby nurseries, my awkward attempt at shaking an acquaintance’s hand that involved me pointing at his hand with my hand (an orangutan has more social couth than all Beer on my Shirt employees combined, excluding the 3 orangutans that work in the mail room, obviously), and Andre’s insistence on discussing celebrity pornography in the presence of ladies, including one particularly disturbing comparison of the picture quality of my video baby monitor to his Paris Hilton DVD.

I've had a chance to try the Sixpoint Bengali Tiger, but had it just once and all I remember thinking was that it was different than what I expected.  Also had the Spice of Life Warrior on draft a few weeks ago.  The Spice of Life is monthly series where they make a single hop IPA, using a different hop each month - which is pretty cool because most of the time multiple hops are used in a beer, making it difficult to pick out what each hop is bringing to the table - especially for the un-initiated - but with a single hop series, it gives you an opportunity to wrap your head around that one particular hop.  I had the Warrior hop and upon my first sip I thought - well, I guess I’m not a fan of the Warrior hop - but by the end I was really digging it and would have had another if time had allowed.

In Summary:  Sixpoint makes some quality brews.  Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.   And if you are (dissapointed), let me know and I’ll come get drunk in your garage while your eating dinner.  Problem solved.

P.S.  Here is a picture of my fantasy baseball team in one the leagues I'm in.  It's a 13 team roto league for the geeks out there.  The draft happened about two weeks ago.  I feel pretty good about it.  A couple things on there make me a little nervous, but overall I think it turned out all right considering I had the 13th pick.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hoptimum, Hopslam, and Nugget Nectar (and by the way - we’re hiring)

In the swell of gloom and doom that tends to be the winter months, my mind slows down, much like the hibernating heart of a mother bear, and the events of the winter and preceding fall season tend to get neglected by the secretary in my brain in charge of filing stories away.  Apparently she is too busy sneaking smoke breaks in the ladies’ room - a practice that has led to several meetings and too much corporate “no smoking” signage around the Beer on my Shirt offices.  And let’s not forget about all the plotting she does to steal the petty cash from my office safe - digging tunnels must be time consuming - an exercise that certainly takes away from the actual filing tasks she should be performing.  Also, it should be pointed out that my brain’s capacity for memories was severely handicapped when we had to make room for a ladies room to accommodate the addition of a cerebral secretary, something we clearly didn’t consider when we hired her.  Prior to that, she refused to use the men’s room and just pissed all over the place - things were starting to smell a little musky - it was just getting to be too much.

So, needless to say, there have been a few things worth mentioning that have yet to be mentioned - until now.  At the same time, I am constantly drinking, constantly trying new beers, and even though I rarely leave the house, I have managed to find new solitary ways of embarrassing myself (file under “difficulty with belts“).  So along those lines, the plan is for the next few posts to have a bit of the past and a bit of the present.  Chronologically speaking, here is something I should have mentioned back in January…

Beer on my Shirt… is hiring!

In line with the new corporate structure that was decided on at this year’s holiday party, it has been decided that we are ready to expand.  The office construction has been finished - we now have both a men’s and ladies’ room - and a few part time positions have already been filled.  Thus far, the few interested candidates have each had the same prying, yet appropriate questions:

“What exactly is the current corporate structure?”

Well, some of details are highly secretive, but there is a CEO, or at least a mythical beast whose name that shant be spoken can be abbreviated with those initials.  That said, the CEO mainly provides memos and directives via telepathy and an antiquated Dell computer server.  Rarely seen, but heard regularly as a voice inside your mind - the CEO of Beer on my Shirt will burn your soul from the inside out if you choose to cross him.  Or if you use the restroom without washing your hands afterwards.  And he expects to hear you sing “Happy Birthday” not once but twice while hand washing.  And we don’t use the term ‘sing’ loosely around here - you better be in key or you’ll be soulless before you know it.  Could you maybe sing a few bars for me?

“What exactly will I be doing?”

You’ll be drinking craft beer, sometimes in excess, and writing about your experiences with the beer.

“So I’ll be writing beer reviews?”

Not really - we’re actually not really in the review writing business because that generally requires knowledge.  Our “reviewing” process focuses more on consumption and whether or not we would consume again, and how much, and for how long.  Sure, adjectives tend to come in handy when describing a beer, but per our CEO you will be provided with a word bank/flowchart to reference when attempting to describe a beer.  Working outside of said word bank/flowchart will result in swift justice.  However, feel free to explore new words, new uses for otherwise old words, inappropriate similes and metaphors, and general delusional imagery when writing about your experience with the beer.  Think of beer as a lady - now think of the letter you would write to Penthouse describing your time with that lady - that is your job description.  As a Beer on my Shirt employee you will quickly learn that we are more about the “shirt” and less about the “beer”.

“May I see said flowchart?”

Not at this time.

“So who will I be working under?”

While there is a CEO, there is no real boss or manager or president.  There is however a large conch shell filled with crystal skulls.  I hold the conch shell 90% of the time.  If you don’t like it you will be subject to electric shocks of incrementally increasing voltage until you do like it.  Or until you die. 

“How much will I be getting paid?”

Ass wipe - writing doesn’t pay the bills - I don’t care how many times you’ve seen Midnight in Paris.  But in terms of compensation, you will be paid in bad habits, poor choices, and suspect hygiene - and paid handsomely.

“What is that smell?”

I’m gassy.

“no, the egg smell…”

Yeah, that’s me.

“oh, that’s horrible”

I know, it’s an issue.

“it smells like pure evil”

That’s because it is pure evil.

“Does it smell like that all the time?”

Pretty much.

So in summary, the CEO is invisible, you’ll write about beer like it was a one night stand, we have a men's room and a ladies’ room, I’m in charge, and the office constantly smells like pure evil - or eggs, depending on your level of olfactory tolerance.

If interested, please apply via email or the comments section.

And now some exciting, present tense, beer news… 

It is that time of year when some of my favorite hoppy seasonals are on the market.  I bought a case of Bell’s Hopslam this year.  And while it is a little pricey- I think I paid $70 for it - I really enjoyed the few I had last year and at 10% ABV it will take awhile to get through it all.  Or I’ll get so drunk that shame about my bank account will be the least of my worries.  Hopslam is a double IPA using all kinds of hops and a little honey.  The hops are so potent that it is hard to differentiate between the bitterness and booziness.  It pours a nice yellow color and the honey gives it a palatable sweetness that makes this surprisingly drinkable.  But again, while I could drink it all night, at 10% all night consists of about 2.5 of these.

Next up was the Troeg’s Nugget Nectar (7.5% ABV).  This is billed as an Imperial Amber, but as the label makes apparent it is really all about hops.  This beer is simply delicious.  The malts carry a sweetness that make a perfect backbone for the beer, but still take enough of a back seat to put the hops 100% in the driver‘s seat.  This brew made that fifty best beers list I’ve been mentioning in previous posts and it is well deserved.  Interestingly, going to the beer distributor and asking for Nugget Nectar is like code for saying “I’m a beer geek” because the clerk’s reply after getting me a case was “You know we still got some Hopslam in the back.”  It is like slowly being initiated into the Skulls, minus the danger and political intrigue.  And the fancy watch.

The Nugget Nectar and the Hopslam, if your lucky enough to have both laying around, make a nice little one-two punch.  I start with the Nugget Nectar and enjoy it and all it’s perfect hop harmony.  Then for beer #2, I make the switch to Hopslam.  This really exaggerates the impact of the honey of the Hopslam and makes the smoothness of it really stand out.  Andre and I went for it the other night while arguing Mets-Phillies baseball, an argument that as a Mets fan I just cannot win right now, and it made for a nice night - or as nice a night as possible while hanging with a Phillies fan.

And then there is Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum.  I just had this today at the Trapp Door, and in terms of hops, this was the biggest hop bomb I’ve had in a while.  It had the typical Sierra Nevada dryness, that personally I enjoy, and after that it was just back of the tongue bitterness for the first few sips.  This is a sensation I like to refer to, as of today, as Hop Breath - the need to exhale after processing the taste of a beer because of the bitterness melting the back of your mouth like a bar of soap.  However, as I worked my way through the glass the hops started attacking all of my tongue from all angles, creating a hop pucker that I can’t ever remember having - dare I declare this the hoppiest beer I’ve had.  It reminded me of Bell’s Expedition Stout, not in flavor, but the way it just assaulted your mouth with every sip. 

Any other hopheads out there that have had this?  Either way - what would you say is the hoppiest beer you’ve ever had?  Because right now, I think Hoptimum has the title in my book.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Top 50 (Part 2): Pliny the Elder, more about Pony, and a failed pirate metaphor.

Prior to Pony revealing that he was headed to the pet store to have his dog’s picture taken with Santa, but after shaving the beard off his face, Pony and I were seated at a lovely little establishment, Union Jack’s Inn on the Manatawny.  They had been kind enough to invite the two of us to a great IPA event called Hoppy Christmas - by invited, I mean I called and made reservations and they accepted them.

The tap list was loaded with some awesome IPA’s and Double IPA’s, and included the very hyped and hard to find, at least in these parts, Pliny the Elder, by Russian River Brewing.  Pliny the Elder is an American Double IPA that is frequently ranked at the top, or near the top of many “Greatest Beer in the America/World/Universe” lists.  It can be found on the Fifty Best Beers List over at that I mentioned in Part One of this post.  Here is their description of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder:

A smooth Double IPA from the Russian River Brewing Company is all it is hyped up to be. An absolute classic clocking in at 8% ABV. The ale is named for the Roman scholar and naturalist who first named the hop plant and studied them. Pliny the Elder named hops, “lupus salictarius,” meaning, “wolf among scrubs.” The beer is made with 40% more malt and two times the amount of hops used in the Russian River IPA, a single IPA product from the same brewery. A sticky, beige head leaves tons of lacing as the yellowish-orange nectar is gulped down. The aromas include oranges, floral centerpieces and notes of pine. The cream factor that makes this beer smooth and incredibly drinkable is what separates this from other Double IPAs of its kind. A very subtle bite and overall taste with big, bright aromas and malty reinforcement.

Obviously, I was excited to try it. 

Pony ordered a set of flights, 5 or 6 ounce mini-glasses of beer - a beer sampler, in other words, that included Pliny the Elder, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Coronado Idiot, and Blue Point No Apologies.  This was falling right in line with the series of poor decisions that Pony had been and apparently would continue to make. 

I feel that if the first thing I order is a round of flights the waitstaff will consider me weak and poor at making decisions, or they may think I'm a fan of whimsy and gumdrops - “Hi, my name is Pony and I like whimsy.  Wanna gumdrop?”,  or perhaps they will think I am an illustrator of fairies and gnomes hiding under toadstools after a sloppy summer shower - “Would you like to see my sketches?”, or worse than that even - a fan of aviation history - “I have only been to the Wright Brothers Museum once and I really don’t feel like I need to explain that to you or to any other waiter, regardless of how much beer knowledge you have or how ridiculously good you are at making recommendations.” (The waitstaff at Union Jack’s is pretty darn knowledgeable and pretty darn good at recommendations - this one guy, I call him Buddy because I don’t know his name, is a beer phenom.)

Really, I just wanted my first time with Pliny the Elder to be pure and unfettered - like all first times should be.

Buddy brought us our beers and our table was filled with what looked like glasses of gold.  We were captains in a pirate world of transposition where rum was the booty and gold coins were drunk to celebrate a long day of successful mayhem on the high seas.

To be clear, we were drinking beer, not rum.  And is it possible for mayhem to be unsuccessful?
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder was very, very good and lived up to the hype more and more with each sip.  The smoothness of this beer is what sets it apart from other Double IPA‘s.  The description above from pretty much says it all.  An amazing beer worthy of the hype. 

Firestone Walker’s Double Jack is another Double IPA we had that day that is listed on the Fifty Best Beer List.  Pony wasn’t a fan but I really liked it.  It had a rather pale yellow color compared most of the other IPA’s from that day, but it’s flavor was very crisp and bright, and I will definitely be ordering it again next time I see it.  I don’t understand why Pony didn’t like it, but then again I don’t understand why a grown man would take his dog to sit on Santa’s lap - which was Pony’s next revelation of the day.

Ironically enough, it was after drinking a Coronado Idiot, a double IPA by Coronado Brewing in California, that Pony revealed the errands he had to attend to after we settled up.  His wife called and they discussed Pottery Barn and lamps.  I silently passed gas and hoped it smelled horrible.  Pony got off the phone and casually said something about lamps and that he had go to the pet store later because Santa was there.  He said this as if he was talking about going to Home Depot to buy a new hammer - like it was no big deal that he was going home, picking up his dog, taking the dog to the pet store, and then paying for a photo of his dog sitting on the lap of Santa.  I don’t know if I was more disappointed in Pony for the words coming out of his mouth or in my own flatulence for not smelling bad enough to kill us both right then and there. 

Anyways, I finished our unsettling encounter with a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.  Apparently, Ballast Point Brewing has their own sport fishing team, which makes sense since this IPA is named after a fish.  This is a single IPA with a nice balance between the sweet of the malt and the citrus of the hops.  It has nice bright flavor with more subtle fruity complexities than most IPA’s, which is probably why this beer is also found on the Fifty Best Beers list.  I have since found and bought a six pack of this that I have been slowly chipping away at, and I must say I like this beer more and more each time I have one.  It will be purchased again.

Overall, the day was a success.  Pony and I had a good time and Pliny the Elder was great.  I would recommend that everyone try this beer if the opportunity presents itself.  Even if your not into hoppy beers, try this just to experience the smoothness, dare I say creaminess, that an IPA can have.  Not all IPA’s are bitter punches in the tongue.  Pliny manages to be crisp and smooth at the same time - a juxtaposition worth the price of admission. (Originally, that sentence ended with “a juxtaposition that every mouth should experience” - my editor said I needed to change it - that it sounded like a bad pick-up line.  I’m fine changing it, but that line has the potential to be an award winner in the right situation.  In my experience, using ‘juxtaposition’ in a sentence, whether you use it correctly or not, has been a consistent panty-dropper.  Especially at Barnes and Nobles while pretending to read The New Yorker.)

P.S.  The Coronado Idiot was good; a solid IPA - I’d drink it again.  The Blue Point No Apologies was very sweet, too sweet, I did not finish my glass, and would probably not drink it again.  I was disappointed because I really like Bluepoint’s Hoptical Illusion.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Week of Flossing, Pony P gets suspended, and some more winter seasonals.

I recently received this memo from the CEO of Beer on my Shirt (a man of great power and wealth)…

RE: Pony P

In lieu of recent transgressions, not limited to but including the following:
  • Shaving of his face (done not for personal reasons (which would have been totally acceptable), rather to please his wife and the Mother of his good friend Chuckles (a woman that loudly proclaimed Pony P’s ugliness multiple times, “Your so ugly with that hairy face and hair, you used to be cute”)).
  • Taking his dog to sit on Santa’s lap.
  • Communist tendencies.
  • Allowing his wife to verbally attack me at the Beer on my Shirt holiday party over the content of Top 50 (Part 1): Andre and Pony P get weird.
Pony P is hereby suspended, without pay, from one post.  Let this be an example for other employees that such actions will not be tolerated, punishments will be swift, and I will slap a biznitch.

As a result of this recent development, I am forced to put Part 2 of the Top 50 series on hold because, unfortunately, he who can not be mentioned plays a pretty big role in the whole thing.  Luckily, for everyone involved, my life is essentially a bottomless pit of beer related experiences and embarrassment.  Revel in my poor decisions like you’re Fidel Castro and I’m a boner named the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Day are always a strange time.  Everything seems to be in flux - apparently no one actually has to go to work, everyone is running rampant with gift cards and new socks, and losers that think that winning and losing still matter make resolutions.  Resolutions that, by the way, are the equivalent of sending your high school sweetheart a carnation because she’s pissed at you that your best friend‘s sister has bigger tits than her.  ("It's not like I put them there!" - "But I always catch you looking at them!" - "There fucking huge! No matter where I look, I'm gonna see them.")

Carnations and resolutions - in the long run, nobody gives a shit about either one; after a week they both shrivel up and die so stop wasting everybody’s time and just give some money to a charity that feeds hungry kids.  Your dumb girlfriend will eat that up.  (Am I implying that your girlfriend is a hungry child fed by charitable organizations?  Or that she will be aroused by your philanthropy?  Some questions - like “Does monogamy make sense for humans?” - can never be answered.)

Here at Beer on my Shirt, we have established a tradition that takes a slightly different approach to the days between Christmas and New Year’s - we call it the Week of Flossing.  It came about after years of failed “I’m gonna floss more” New Year’s Resolutions.  Coincidentally, the years of flossing resolutions were preceded by years of failed “I’m gonna have more intercourse” resolutions along with the absolutely unsuccessful Week of Intercourse back in 2001.  A Week of Time Travel had a better chance of success.

The Week of Flossing is based on the premise that resolutions are unsuccessful and attempts a “hit the ground running” approach to flossing in the New Year.  A successful week of flossing is measured in simple terms - you floss at least once a day every day starting with the day after Christmas and culminating on New Year’s Day.  The hope is that with a full week of flossing before the New Year - followed by another week of daily flossing in an effort to stick with the resolution - followed by a week or two of intermittent flossing as you try and hang on to the dream of actually becoming a better person, and finally, culminating with a strategically scheduled dentist appointment that will lead, hopefully, to my dental hygienist actually believing that I give a shit about teeth that are as crooked as the motives of a sloppy French maid. 

Here are a few things that I tend to think about while flossing during the Week of Flossing:

  • When was the last time I ate steak, cause that piece there definitely looks like steak.
  • What is that smell?
  • How much more purple can my finger tip get?
  • How much longer do I have until that finger tip gives up and just falls right off?
  • Zombie Finger Tip?
  • They say the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body.  Have “they” seen my thighs?  (I floss in front of a full length mirror.)
  • I fucking hate my wisdom teeth.
  • "Are you looking at me?"
  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Don’t throw up.

One of the major challenges of the Week of Flossing is the combination of a sensitive gag reflex with the excessive drinking of a large variety of holiday or winter seasonal beers.  In some circles, the Week of Flossing is also known as the Week of Morning Dry Heaving. 

I wrote about a few holiday beers a few weeks ago.  Here are a few more that I came across during the Week of Flossing:

Belgian Freeze (8% ABV) - This is a Belgian Dark Ale brewed by River Horse Brewing.  It has a nice sour Belgian yeast smell and taste - along with some very mild spice flavor, like coriander, and a dark fruit sweetness.  Chuckles, a friend of Beer on my Shirt, had it on draft and loved it - so I bought a few bottles.  I thought it was good but just a bit flat and just a bit too sweet to make me want to go buy it again this year.  It did have a nice booze warming finish that I enjoyed so next year I’ll probably buy it again just to have one or two in the fridge.

The Beer on my Shirt "nonick" pint glass, from Wife's Sister
Lancaster Brewing Company’s Winter Warmer (8.9% ABV) - From what I can tell, the style here is considered an Old Ale but it certainly had characteristics of a Belgian Dark Ale - I felt like this was a better version of the Belgian Freeze.  It had a nice doughy flavor, just a little spice, and some chocolate and roasted flavors.  The sweetness was similar to the Belgian Freeze but more subdued and the finish had almost a tart or sour edge to it that I really liked.  It left a little tingle on the back of my tongue after every sip. I was pleasantly surprised by this beer and will be seeking it out again as it made a perfect nightcap - but the booze of it snuck up on me and my empty stomach - Wife was forced to make me a soft pretzel after I repeatedly yelled “Soft Pretzels For Everyone!” while dancing on an imaginary pretzel shaped dance floor.  It was as if John Belushi was cast for the lead role in Footloose.
The Beer on my Shirt "shaker" pint glass, from Alice.

Heavy Sea’s Winter Storm “Category 5 Ale” (7.5% ABV) - Winter Storm is an ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, that I really enjoyed.  Pretty strong for the style but very tasty.  It was a great change of pace from the typical winter beer, the spices were non existent, and it had a great caramel malt flavor balanced with a earthy hop taste.  Very crisp, very flavorful but mild enough as to not overpower, and with a hint of alcohol at the end.  I liked it very much and wished I had more - I could have drank it all night.

Delirium Noel (10% ABV) - This is another Belgian Dark Ale, actually from Belgium.  It smelled like banana bread dough and had a nice solid, not overpowering Belgian yeast flavor.  The carbonation was great, giving it a nice dry crispness, and the spice flavors  were very mild.  Wife and I split the big bottle and we both enjoyed it very much - would have popped open another if we had it.  But we didn’t - so instead we inflated the kiddie pool, broke out the olive oil and goggles, and wrestled slippy Greco-Roman style until one of us blew chunks.  Winner gets the leftover honey ham, a highly coveted prize.  Loser cleans up all holiday vomit.  All of it.  ALL OF IT!