Posts Tagged ‘Monday Hangover’

The Monday Hangover: May 19-20

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



Well, the weekend started off right with a stop at Bin Ends on Friday to hit up the Narragansett beer tasting. Brent, the Boston sales manager, was pouring tall frosty cans of the Bock, Cream Ale, Summer Ale, and classic Lager. This is the first time I’ve been able to taste a range of ‘Gansetts side-by-side, and the Bock is still my least favorite of the group. I just don’t like the Nobel Hop sweet-yet-sharp flavor of most bocks. It’s not the brand; it’s the style I don’t really enjoy. The reviews have said that Narragansett’s offering is bang-on for the style, so if you like bocks, give it a whirl. My favorite is still the Porter, which is deliciously chocolaty and great value for the price, though they didn’t have any at this tasting. I’ve got a horde of it back at SquirrelFarts HQ. The Cream Ale is refreshing, the Lager a great go-to with a bit more flavor and character than most macrobrews. The Summer Ale is also a great default beer. It’s a touch lighter than the lager, and flavored with Citra hops, giving it a lovely hint of fruit, but it’s not overly lemony like many other summer beers. A welcome change in my opinion.

The tasting was just the thing to finish off a long soggy work week, though by Friday the weather had cleared to a sunnier attitude. A little taste of Gansett, and a chat with Brent, primed me for weekend mode, especially with a little giveaway. You had a choice of a beer coozie or a Gansett pint glass with purchase of a six pack. It just so happened that my fridge could use a little more Gansett Lager, and I was just lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a proper Gansett glass a few weeks ago.


Total score. Hi Neighbor!



This, of course, was all just the warm up round. When the Lady Friend joined me back at SFHQ, it was weekly Rule 37 time. The novelty of this week’s drink, simply called “Windex,” was its bright blue color, and I played around with some alternative lighting techniques, using long exposures and a bit of light painting. After cocktails, it was time for dinner, beers, and Mad Men, since the Lady Friend makes me wait all week “so we can watch it together.” We tucked into a Bear Republic XP Pale Ale, which very similar to Avery’s IPA, a West Coast malty brew with a dank hop. Tasty, but I’ve moved away from malt heavy beers. Time for bed. Big day in the morning.


The big day in question was a trip down to Plymouth for Mayflower Brewing’s third annual Open House. Since our first visit to Mayflower at their open house LAST year, the Lady Friend and I have been several more times, generally to sample each of the seasonals, and I’ve gotten to know some of the brewery staff. We met up with a small group of friends and repeatedly sampled Mayflower’s brews, all while giving Sarah, the retail manager, as much flack as I could muster. Don’t worry… she throws it right back. I got to meet Drew, the owner/founder, and even played tour guide to my group in a very glossed-over version of how beer is made.

The open house doubled as the release party for Mayflower’s summer seasonal, a Summer Rye beer. This year’s batch had a slightly farm-like earthiness, with some faintly sweet hop underneath. While chatting to Drew, he explained that it was a Belgian yeast that added the slight farmhouse qualities. The taste had a carbonic bite, as compared to the cask version (I’ll get to that in a second) with a bitter snap from the rye grain used, and a slight lemony fruity flavor, though this was likely due to the Belgian-y qualities of the yeast, since there isn’t any fruit in the brew. Overall quite tasty and refreshing. However, they had a special version offered for the party:


Summer Rye Cask (2012) Open House special.
Dry hopped with Citra and Sorachi hops.
Nose: Sweet tree fruit hoppiness. Certainly Citra. It’s got that West Coast nectarine essence.
Taste: Oooh. Citra! Tasty. Tree fruit tart, mouthwatering. There’s a bit of a rye bitter snap to the finish. Very nice. Drew thought it was a bit more flat than he wanted; you lose a lot of carbonation with the cask conditioning. Nice and smooth, and excellent flavor. Citra dominant, but I love Citra.


A good time had by all, and we walked away weighed down with another case of tasty Mayflower brews, much to the delight of the Lady Friend. Time for further adventures, however. Since we had taken the trek down to Plymouth (seriously, it takes FOR-EV-ER to get there. Stupid Rt 3.) we made the most of it. The first stop was the East Bay Grille for some brews and pizza. Bacon and scallop pizza. Which was great, minus the scallops. I don’t like ocean slug creatures getting in the way of my tasty bacon. Anyway East Bay has a nice view of the water, if you look past the parking lot, but it’s kind of overly-fancy and up its own backside with snobbery. Like Marina Bay or most places on the Cape. Their version of a Jack Rose was worth documenting.


Not even close.



This annoys me almost as much as typos on menus. The Jack Rose is a classic cocktail made with applejack (apple brandy), lemon juice, and grenadine. It’s delicious. The abortion at East Bay is simply a whiskey sour, and a lousy one at that. Someone saw “Jack” in the name and made a jump. Do your homework, clowntards.


From East Bay, it was a short walk down the coast to that big Plymouthy rocky thing, and past the boat named after Mayflower Brewery. For some reason, the female members of the group thought it’d be a great idea to walk through the rocks and mud of low tide and dip their feet in the harbor. Have fun with that. With their newly-mudded feet, we hoofed it up the hill to Main Street and into New World Tavern, recommended to me by one of the Mayflower staff for the craft brews on tap. It turned out to be a great place; as we sat down, the server said “Here’s our draft list, double-sided.” Awesome. The list was indeed impressive, and I certainly recommend it. We didn’t see that they offered flights until putting in our order, and I wound up with a Bear Republic Racer X dIPA. So good. The Lady Friend and I followed up by splitting a Cisco Brewing (Nantucket) Moor Porter Nitro, which was just the right beer after the heavily malty and hoppy dIPA. Smooth, creamy, and delicious.


A whole new woooooooorld…



New World was great, but I was also told to hit up the Driftwood Publick House (be sure to check out the Photoshopped “Neon Edges” filtered photo on their website. Looks like someone just got Pshop Elements for his birthday). However, due to the small space, it was somewhat jammed when we got there, incredibly loud, and the waitstaff didn’t seem to know what to do with us. So we bailed and retreated to our fallback position at the British Beer Company. Luckily, there was enough space to establish base camp upstairs in the lounge, and we all chatted amicably, though growing in volume and intensity as the beers disappeared into our gullets. I satisfied myself with Left Hand’s Milk Stout, a wonderful nightcap, though I can’t be sure if it was the nitro version or not. Milk stouts are generally creamy and smooth to begin with, so it’s not easy to discern the usage of nitrogen bubbles. It was delicious either way.


Each time I glanced at my watch, another hour had magically vanished, so we eventually packed up and headed back down to the water. The Lady Friend managed to drink herself into a feeling of discomfort, but made it home without incident. This is why we drive HER car. Another successful weekend of drinkitude. If only I could write these posts faster. Pretty soon they’re going to start lapping each other.

The Monday Hangover: April 21-22

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



The end of the week was way too hot for mid-April, so a refreshing, tropically named, cocktail was required. Dale DeGroff’s South Beach cocktail worked quite nicely. I also tried a version using grenadine instead of simple syrup, which just added another layer of flavor, and is going to be my go-to variation on the drink. Still sweetened, but with more taste than the original. Very good. The Lady Friend and I also split a bomber of Bar Harbor Brewing’s Thunder Hole Ale. I was expecting it to be along the lines of a bitter British malty ale, but it was actually a brown ale. Strangely, it smelled roasted and creamy like a good stout, but had a sharp stale hop bite to the start, then malty brown through the rest. However, the aroma put me in the mood for a stout, so I finished off the last survivor of my Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout Nitro. Delicious.


Saturday brought a bit of a twist: a wine event. I know. It doesn’t happen often, and I’m usually not too happy about it. Silly wine. However, Ke$hia got herself a job with Second Glass, a company that does wine events, tech, mobile apps… that sort of stuff. Apparently they do a thing called “Wine Riot,” a tasting event held in Boston for the past several years. This year it’s expanded to a multi-city tour, and Ke$hia scored us some tickets for the Boston stop. We don’t do much wine drinking (as little as possible if I have anything to do with it) but after all the brewery and distillery visits, this was something that appealed to the Lady Friend. Plus, cheap tickets.


Lots of brotards wearing plaid shorts. Didn’t we all agree that wasn’t allowed anymore?



The event took place in the Park Plaza Castle, which I had never been to. Apparently it used to be an armory. We hit the 1-5p afternoon session and made our way into the city. Despite a line stretching all the way down the block, we got inside fairly quickly. Annoyingly, one of the “security” guards checked our ID once we got in the line, then the SAME guy checked us AGAIN at the door. Dude, what was the point of that? Just stand at the door, Mongo. Once, inside, we met up with Ke$hia, and she showed us around off and on through the afternoon. There was… wine. Lots of it. Second Glass had a nifty phone app for the event so you could keep track of the wines you liked, and it’ll tell you where to buy them locally. A pretty good idea. We stuck to mostly bigger, red wines, though I also like sparkling because it’s fancy. Oh! And I won a handy little keychain bottle opener from the Yelp! table, which was mostly the highlight of my day.


You can never have enough bottle openers.



The Lady Friend tells me tales of these wine events she’s been to in the past with all kinds of free givaways: glasses, corkscrews, stickers, hats, um, corks, uhhhh, hedgehogs…? I don’t know what they usually give away, but the LF says it’s a haul of free stuff. There really wasn’t much of that at this event. A few stickers, and a pen or two, plus my awesome bottle opener. The event “glasses” were stemless plastic, which makes more sense from a spillage/droppage point of view, but doesn’t really give you much of a souvenir. At least there was plenty of alcohol, which helped because the DJ felt it necessary to BLAST her Top-40 remix tunes loud enough so that everyone had to shout their conversations. What is it with events that they feel the need for 747 jet engine decibel levels of horrible music? I guess when the event is called a “Riot” you need to step it up.


“This totally sick Journey remix is going to blow some minds.”



I won our bet of “which one of us will see someone we know first” when I ran into John Hafferty of Bin Ends. John was sampling the fares and making introductions, but also gave a seminar, which we attended, called “F*ck the Wine Police.” Basically, it was all about wines that were snubbed by the critics and given low scores, but are actually excellent wines. He gave four examples (and we tasted along with the talk) and sure enough, all four were quite good. Critics usually have SOME sort of reason for panning a wine, and John gave the example of a particular Spanish wine. I forget what year he mentioned, but apparently it was a bad year for Spain, so critics avoid Spanish wines from that vintage. Well, as John says, “it turns out that Spain is a pretty big place.” He had us taste a Spanish wine that was actually quite good, but no one would buy it because of the vintage. Hence, the price drops and they snag it by the case to sell at Bin Ends. That’s what they’re all about… finding the hidden bargain wines, so you can get something that tastes like a $60 bottle for a third of the price. THAT is when I start to get really interested in wine; getting something tasty and amazing, but without draining my bank account. An excellent beer might set you back $10 for a 22oz bomber, but an excellent wine could be $80. A very steep learning curve. However, if I can get some tasty wines for beer-type money, now I’m a lot more willing to give it a shot. John’s lecture was right up my alley… if you know what to look for, you can ignore what the “experts” say and find some real bargains. If that appeals to you, go check them out. They’re in Braintree, near the South Shore Plaza on Wood Road (the same road as the F1 go-kart building).


The vendors started packing up about 20 minutes early, which was annoying, so we said our goodbyes to Ke$hia, who told us the gritty horror stories that happened behind the scenes (people changing clothes behind curtains, seven pukers, and other fun). We didn’t see any of this, so our afternoon was quite pleasant. I did actually taste some decent wines, and thanks to the Second Glass app, I know which ones they were. Also, John’s lecture was really enjoyable and, without trying to sound corny, really does make me want to learn more about these wines. I’ll be stopping by Bin Ends this weekend for some more info (FYI, they’re doing a tasting of Mayflower’s beers on Friday night, and The Knot, an Irish whiskey liqueur, on Saturday) and likely do some damage to my bank account, and liver, in the process.

The Lady Friend and I did some wandering around the city, stopping at Wagamamas for dinner, and grabbing a beer in the theatre district before heading to a going-away party for a friend of mine. The party was at a ridiculously nice apartment in the Leather District, and there were REAL Margaritas (fresh lime juice) and some variations (fresh grapefruit juice, and a float of St. Germain). The Lady Friend’s eyes lit up at the prospect of high-quality Margaritas, and she sampled several, leading to her crawling around my apartment later in the evening. Literally crawling. Altogether, a decently boozy day.


That is the Lady Friend with her jacket on upside down.



Sunday was a comedy of errors. We had planned to meet up with Ke$hia after her company brunch, so we drove into Back Bay and headed to the OtherSide Cafe for a beer while we waited, since the OtherSide is set to close (again) on April 28th. It’s a punk/hipster kind of place, but they have decent beers on tap, and it was pouring rain, so a nearby location was key. I sipped on High & Mighty’s Beer of the Gods, a blonde ale which was quite tasty, with a decent amount of sharp hop. Ke$hia got tied up with her company outing, so we headed over to the Sheraton’s SideBar, unique for their “sunken” bar arrangement. Patrons sit on ottomans at a low bar, while the bartenders stand in a sunken pit. Groovy.

However, their service didn’t impress me too much. While the Lady Friend snacked on a trio of Whoopie Pies, I excitedly ordered a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, only to be told they were out of it. Since it was a cold and rainy big IPA sort of day, I went with the next choice on the list, Harpoon’s Leviathan Imperial IPA. When I saw the bartender pouring my beer from a tap, I got suspicious, and sure enough, it was Harpoon’s standard IPA that they tried to serve me under the guise of the Leviathan. When I called them on it, they said they were out of all their craft bottles, leading me to wonder why they didn’t just say that in the first place. That’s kind of an underhanded move. Don’t try that with someone who drinks as much beer as I do. I settled with the Harpoon IPA (which is plenty tasty, just not what I wanted), and we grabbed some food at the Pru before heading back to SquirrelFarts Headquarters to dry out. A day better spent entirely indoors with sleepy pants on.

The Monday Hangover: April 7-8

Friday drinking activities began, as most Fridays do, with the Rule 37 cocktail of the week: The White Lady. Tasty. But there were also a couple beers in there, notably a Lakefront IPA, and a bomber of Blatant IPA shared with the Lady Friend. IPAs don’t get much better than those. Yowza.


Untappd gave us another Saturday quest, though this one would be much easier than our previous journey. The first badge was for National Beer Day, and was earned by simply, well, having a beer. Simple enough. National Beer Day (April 7), is a wholly underappreciated holiday in the US, along with Repeal Day (Dec 7). With the passage of the Cullen-Harrison Act of 1933, “3.2% beer” was legalized, signaling the beginning of the end of Prohibition. Spirits would be legalized on December 7 of the same year. Oddly, National Beer Day is celebrated on the date beer was legalized (April 7) though the bill was signed by President Roosevelt (the one from WWII, not the BULLY! one) on March 22, remarking “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” Conversely, Repeal Day is toasted on December 5th, when it was ratified, though it did not officially go into effect until December 15th.

To make things interesting, in the Cullen-Harrison Act, 3.2 beer referred to the alcohol content by WEIGHT, not by VOLUME, though alcohol by volume (abv) is the standard measurement now. 3.2% abw is roughly equivalent to 4% abv, though some states, like Oklahoma, still adhere to the weight measurement. This is why most macrobrews (Bud, Miller, Coors) are all generally limited to 3.2% abw/ 4% abv: they can still sell to the 3.2 beer states without changing their recipe. In several states, there are heavy restrictions on alcohol content, and “beer” is defined as <3.2% abw. The silliest part? The Cullen-Harrison Act went with 3.2 beer because it was “thought to be too low to be intoxicating.” Anything over that amount of alcohol must be sold in a liquor store. Note: do not move to Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, or Utah. The original act only legalized this type of beer because they thought it was too low in alcohol to do much harm, yet these backward states are still clinging to that, saying anything above 4% isn’t beer. Amazing.


Funnily enough, it was also Untappd’s Session Beer Day, which meant we’d need to find a beer that was 4.5% abv or less. Naturally, my fridge didn’t have anything that sessionable (there’s some Asian beers in there, but they were clocking in at around 5% or more) and our first stop wasn’t going to help us either: Mayflower Brewery. Their weakest beer is the Golden Ale at 4.7%, just over the cutoff. We decided to pop down anyway for a visit and a taste of their current seasonal, Spring Hop Ale. We met up with the amusingly sharp-tongued Sarah, and sales rep Christina, whose business card boasts the title of “Territory Manager,” which sounds like there would be knife fights involved, necessary to guard your turf. We set about tasting right down the line of taps (though the Spring Hop is recommended after the pale ale, but before the IPA) and gave the new brew a try. They refer to it as a “red, hop aroma, ale” because they like to make up names for these things (their autumn beer is labeled as an “American Dark Wheat beer”).


Spring Hop Ale Hoppy Red Ale 5.3% abv

Nose: Hoppy. Sweet pine. Savory, but not too malty.

Taste: SHARP bitter start, then savory and slightly greasy. The hop cuts the grease, but a savory quality (Sorachi Ace?) lurks underneath. Finishes with a touch of copper metallic, typical of a red ale. Pretty good if you like ‘em hoppy. A DRY finish, resiny and powdery. Leaves me thirsty. Guess I’ll have some more beer.


A couple of tours came and went while we were hanging out at the bar, and we chatted pleasantly with a girl who came in on a beer mission. Her boyfriend sent her to pick up some growlers, and then return to help build a shed. Instead, she filled the growlers, laid claim to a case of Oatmeal Stout, and tasted down the line of taps with us. Apparently she’s a hockey player, and tried out for the Olympic team. Someone not to pick a fight with. She was quite amused by the Lady Friend and I, as various people in airports seem to be. The Lady Friend debated also snagging one of the few remaining cases of the Winter Oatmeal Stout (before it disappears until next winter), and hockey girl suddenly blurted “There’s only one left!” leading the Lady Friend to bite the bullet and stock up. $20 for 24 craft beers is not a bad price at all, and now we have more stout than we know what to do with. For those interested: the full case weighs 31.6 pounds, but seems like a lot more when the Lady Friend struggles to open my apartment door.


Money CAN buy happiness.



In other Mayflower news, they’re currently brewing a super-duper-double-ultra-secret project that will be available “soon” in a very limited release. It’s going to be about 20bbls, so a small batch of something special. Keep an eye on their twitter account for further updates. Their annual Open House is coming up on May 19th, and is well worth a visit.
They’ve also got a shiny new 100bbl fermenter bubbling away and making brewery production a little bit easier. I should have taken one of the tours, because all the tanks were scrubbed and pretty, only to eventually get gunked up with beer once more. Not that it’s a bad thing. We also brought back some souvenir beers from Wis-cah-sin for Mayflower to add to their impressive (empty) bottle collection, and one certain brewery employee was very excited at the prospect of getting to empty said bottles.


She requested this horrifying Photochop for her blog portrait.



We only meant to stop by Mayflower for “a little bit” and wound up staying for a decent amount of time. When it was finally time to go, we headed for the Union Brewhouse. While in the Midwest last week, I had seen that they had Ithaca Flower Power on tap, which I’ve been trying to cross off my list for some time. I’ve had it before (it’s amazing) but never at the Brewhouse. Naturally, when we got there, it was all gone, and we settled for an Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s dIPA. Om nom nom.


Oh you think this is over? Not quite yet.


We hopped on the never-sucky-always-wonderful Red Line to voyage towards the dark and foreboding Land of Cambridge. We were heading to Cambridge Brewing Company for the Irish Lad’s birthday dinner. Since the Lady Friend had a CBC gift card from the Father of the Lady Friend, it was a perfect storm. We’d snag some beer samples, and have a tasty dinner. We needed a <4.5% abv beer for our session badge, and CBC had just the thing: their Regatta Golden cream ale clocked in at 4.2%. Score.


It’s NEVER Sunny in Cambridge.



We were expecting the Irish Lad and Wifey to be on their normal timetable, that is, 20 minutes late, so we were entirely unprepared when they showed up relatively close to 6pm. We had just ordered our five samples, and were about to start tasting when they showed up. It took another few minutes before CBC would seat us, then some awkward transferring of small glasses to the table. Time to taste.





Regatta Golden Cream Ale 4.2% abv
Nose: Light grain, cereal
Taste: Yup. Light golden, sweet cereal grain. Session Badge acquired!

Tall Tale Pale Ale 5.8% abv
Nose: Hoppy; a sprucy hop
Taste: Pine hop, bitter lingers through the aftertaste, but very nicely balance. Yum.

Weekapaug Gruit Gruit 5.5% abv
Nose: Malty, with some herbal notes. Mostly malty.
Taste: Malty, but with a watery middle. Caramel, with a light herbal, almost lavender, essence.

Spring Training IPA India Pale Ale 6.3% abv
Nose: Medium fresh hop aroma. Piney and spicy.
Taste: Sharp-ish hop bitter. Not as sharp as Mayflower’s Spring Hop Ale, but a touch spicy.

Charles River Porter (Cask) Cask-aged Porter 6% abv
Nose: Sour. Winey. Burnt plastic and wood.
Taste: Sour, alcohol taste. Winey sweet/sour, but very dry. Meh. Bleh.


Overall tasty and nice. The Irish Lad got himself into a happy place with three samples of his own, and dinner was munchable as always. After the feeding, we disbanded; the Irish Lad and Wifey back to their house to entertain other guests, and Lady Friend and I back to SFHQ.

Well, after ONE MORE stop.


Seriously. Last stop.



Locke-Ober is one of the oldest restaurants in the City of Boston. Seriously, it’s been there for over 150 years. Anyway, this is notable, because a (somewhat) well-known cocktail was invented there: The Ward 8. The short version is that the drink was invented in 1898 in honor of (or in spite of) some politician named Martin Lomasney. Some say that the drink was a jibe aimed at him for his Prohibitionist opinions, but he won whatever silly election he wanted, and the cocktail is still known around Boston, if you go to the right places. Locke-Ober will certainly make you one, but it’s pretty uninspired. Drink, down in Fort Point, will make a much tastier version, though the recipe itself is pretty dull: essentially a whiskey sour with orange juice and grenadine added. Nice, but nothing mind-blowing. The kick is to get one at Locke-Ober just for the novelty. It’s like having oysters at the Union Oyster House, pizza at Regina’s, or getting into a fight and vomiting at the Liquor Store.


Finally we decided that we’d had enough drinking fun for one day, and retreated to the T. Back to SFHQ, leaving pieces of my liver in a trail behind me.




The Monday Hangover: Mar 17-18

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



Yeah, this took awhile to complete. Sue me.


Friday FINALLY came after another looooong (but warm) week. By the end of it, I was just crawling towards Friday night cocktails, and Rule 37. A large double whiskey sour followed soon thereafter, and things start to get hazy after that.

Saturday, however, was the main event. Yes, of course it was St. Paddy’s Day, but that just meant it was going to be amateur day no matter where we went. The Lady Friend was rather insistent about being out and in the world, whereas I wanted to avoid the city like the drunken plague it was sure to be. At least there are signs to watch for: anyone drinking green beer is a total rookie, for example. And they were everywhere. So we strategically set a plan in motion that would allow for a full day of spirited imbibing, while avoiding the clowntards from the I-495 belt who invade the city on such occasions. I’m looking at you, Lowell. You too, Amesbury.

The goal was to unlock Untappd’s East Coast Brew Crawl badge. Here’s the deal: you go to the Ladies of Craft Beer website, and find your city on their list. There are five bars listed for each city; check in a beer at three of the five, and you earn the badge. The five Boston options are:

Cambridge Common
Deep Ellum
Boston Beer Works (doesn’t specify, but I’m assuming the Fenway location)
Redbones
John Harvard’s

We figured if we stopped off in Harvard Sq, we could hit John Harvard’s, walk over to Cambridge Common, then hop the T up to Redbones to score the badge. It managed to avoid most of the holiday lunatics and still fill us with tasty tasty beers. Sounds like a plan.


Sounds like another T ride up to Communist Cambridge.



After making the Lady Friend take a shot of the good stuff, we headed to our first destination: John Harvard’s Brew House in (naturally) Harvard Square. I’d been here many times in the past, and their beers are all quite tasty. Now that my palate has expanded, the variety of brews doesn’t startle me the way it used to, but I still find them all to be very drinkable.


Oh she’s a brick… dun dun DUUUN dun… brewpub?



John Harvard’s Brew House is named for John Harvard. Yeah. Here’s the deal with that. Johnny was from England, and when he was 18, his dad died of the plague (seriously… the PLAGUE) leaving him some cash. Then his mom died; more cash. He became a Puritan minister, and decided to bail out of Limey-land for the Colonies, taking his wife and brother. On the way, his brother died too, leaving Johnny even more cash. Well, he got to America around 1637, settled down in Charlestown, and about a year later, got tuberculosis and, yup, died. At age 30. Dying was a pretty popular hobby back in the 1600s. On his deathbed, he requested that his money be split: half goes to the wife, and the other half towards founding a new college (which was called “New College”… seriously?). Also, he gave them a bunch of books, which was probably a pretty big score for a new school in the 1630s. He wasn’t the founder of the college, but since he gave them a bunch of monies and books, they named the college after him. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Especially since now they have an endowment of $32 BILLION. That’s BILLION with a ‘B.’


This is why I leave a “present” in Harvard Yard every time I visit.



Also, they made a statue of him that isn’t really him.


Anyway, we headed for the brewpub, which is down a flight of stairs, and appropriately dark. It could be Sunday morning or Tuesday night in there and you wouldn’t know the difference. After much deliberation (the Lady Friend can never make up her mind about where she wants to sit. “I dunno… a table would be nice, but maybe just a seat at the bar, but I don’t want to sit over THERE, although there’s a slight breeze HERE, and I don’t like the way the Earth’s magnetic field pulls in that OTHER spot…”) we hunkered down at the end of the bar. Sampler time: five pours of 4-5oz, pre-determined. Here’s the lineup:


Tasty beersies.



Harvard Square Helles Helles Lager
4.4% abv, 29 IBU
Nose: Light lager aroma with a slight stale noble hop in the background.
Taste: Cheerios! Very cereal grain and a touch of sourness in the finish.

Summer Session Ale Hoppy Ale
4.1% abv, 44 IBU
Nose: Hoppy – a piney hop, hippity-hoppier than expected. I’ve noticed a lot of summer ales heading in this direction, like Newport Storm. A welcome change from the light, lemony offerings from Sam and Harpoon.
Taste: Well balanced. Tart, piney hop, but a cereal malt sweetness evens it out. VERY nice and balanced.

John Harvard Pale Ale Pale Ale
This was offered instead of the Pilgrims Porter on the menu, so I didn’t get the abv or ibu info.
Nose: Mild sweet pine aroma, but very mild. Hard to discern, even with a vigorous stir.
Taste: Tastes stronger than it smells. Piney hop, but sweetish, almost a touch of vinegar sour.

Brother Walfrid’s Irish Red Ale Irish Red Ale (Nitro)
5.2% abv, 22 IBU
Nose: Malty toasty. Biscuity.
Taste: SMOOTH. CREAMY. That would be the nitrogen carbonation. Smaller bubbles than carbon dioxide which make a creamier brew. Toasty malt, somewhat watery, with a weak copper metallic in the finish. Very drinkable.

Black Watch Stout Stout
5.8% abv, 31 IBU
Nose: Skunky, stale coffee aroma. Like a pot that’s been sitting around all day.
Taste: Stale coffee bitter. Weak, watery middle. Finishes with a roasted bitter snap, which saves this from being a total disappointment. My least favorite of the bunch.


Brewpubby.



In general, I enjoyed the sampler, except for the stout, which was the weakest link by far. All the brews appear to be unfiltered, and have a cloudy appearance. There’s a cereal sweet grain taste prevalent in all the beers, which is not a bad thing at all. This is why I like to do samplers: you can taste the variety, but also the common threads between a brewery’s various products. First rendezvous reached, on to the next waypoint.


Shiny.



Given the 8.5% abv homebrew, then the shot of whiskey, then the sampler I had consumed, without any sort of breakfast or lunch to speak of, I blissfully entered the happy land of Mild Buzz-ville. We struck out across Harvard Yard and along Mass Ave to stop number two, Cambridge Common. I don’t really know much about Cambridge Common, since I didn’t think I’d ever been there before. Turns out I had been there once, but didn’t remember until I walked past the exact table and something in my brain clicked. Anyway, they have a great craft beer selection, and also offer a “build your own” sampler of four, 5oz glasses. So that’s what we did. Well, the Lady Friend chose her own, but I went with the suggested sampler with one substitution.


Happy paddle.



Lagunitas Doppel Weizen Weizenbock
8.5% abv
Nose: Oh Jeebus. Bubblegum sweet wheat. The Lady Friend said it smelled like “Unibroue, but American.”
Taste: Wheat sweet, but with a bitter, sour hit in the finish.

Slumbrew’s My Better Half Cream Ale
7.2% abv
Nose: Fruity, strawberry. Total fruit. The Lady Friend suggested “strawberry shortcake.”
Taste: Big League Chew, not Bubble Tape, strawberry flavor. Ugh. I really wish they would call this one a fruit-flavored beer, as this isn’t what I expect from a cream ale. Much like the Flagraiser IPA we tasted, there’s a lot of fruit in this. Untappd recommended a raspberry cream ale after tasting this one, so I’m not the only one who thinks this is a fruity beer.

Tröegs Nugget Nectar Imperial Amber Ale
7.5% abv
I believe there was a cider listed on the sampler, but I figured I’d get the Nugget Nectar instead while the gettin’ was good.
Nose: Heavenly sweet resin hop AMBROSIA.
Taste: SAVE ME FROM THE WHEAT!!! SO GOOD, I NEED NEW PANTS. (That’s what I wrote.)

Smithwick’s Irish Red Irish Red Ale
4.5% abv
Hey, it’s St. Paddy’s. Had to have an Irish brew in there SOMEwhere.
Nose: Malty. Light adjunct aroma.
Taste: Meh. Slight adjuncty malt cereal. Nothing great, but perfectly pleasant. You could drink a thousand of these.


Sometime after finishing our samplers, we (she) decided it would be a good idea to order another beer. The Lady Friend gets very cocky when she’s had a few beers, and thinks she’s immune to the effects of alcohol. Until you add a full pint on top of a sampler or two, and she goes from the top of Olympus to the bowels of Hades real quick. It’s a long sharp fall from “pleasantly buzzed” to “oh NOOO… I don’t want to be THIS drunk.” Fortunately, that wasn’t the case this time, but I’ve seen this pattern emerging in her drinking habits. I was still in “pleasantly buzzed” mode, and we ordered a full Nugget Nectar, which is simply top notch. If you haven’t had this beer, go get it while you still can. We split the 12oz pour and had some more happy walking up to Porter Square, where we hopped the T up to Davis, and Redbones.





I’ve written about Redbones before, so I won’t go into it again here, except to say that yes, it’s still awesome. The Lady Friend scored a Groupon a couple months ago, so we tucked into some solid BBQ. Unfortunately, because MA is alcotarded, the Groupon can’t be used towards booze, but we each ordered a beer to complete our Brew Crawl trifecta. For me, it was the Watch City Rescue 1 Kölsch, a beer brewed in tribute of a fallen Worcester firefighter. It had a soapy lager aroma, and tasted very lightly of cereal grain, with a mild lager bitter. Very light and refreshing. It certainly didn’t hold up against some Redbones sauce, but it was refreshing after a day of boozing. Plus…


This is why I like Untappd. It gives my drinking focus, purpose, and a general sense of accomplishment.



Mission completed.

While we were finishing up our meals the Irish Lad and Wifey joined us, followed later on by the Engineer’s Wife, who was at the Lakefront tasting the previous weekend. The five of us headed over to the nearby Five Horses Tavern, which allegedly had some good beers available.


They did.



There were indeed several intriguing choices available, but I soiled myself when I saw one particular item: Bear Republic Mach 10 dIPA. I’ve had many of Bear Republic’s offerings, but they didn’t have this when we visited Bear Republic back in November. So, I had to have it. All I can find from my tasting notes are “SWEET BABY JEEBUS IN THE MANGER” so apparently I enjoyed it. I don’t think there’s much that Bear Republic makes that I DON’T like.

Of course, I have no idea what everyone else was drinking, even though the Engineer’s Wife asked for my input to help her choose a beer she’d enjoy. Not a clue what we decided on. The Lady Friend and I finished our drinkies and headed out, though the Irish Lad was getting apprehensive about the growing bar crowd as well. We made a stop over at Downtown Wine & Spirits, and scored some Schenkerla beers. This is the brewery that makes the famous Rauchbier Marzen, though since then we’ve tasted there Helles as well. Downtown had three other varieties from the brewery that I didn’t know existed, so we scored those to taste another time. The other three went back to their homestead, and the Lady Friend and I boarded the 100-year-old Red Line once again. Back to SFHQ, my little cocktail cavern.




The Monday Hangover: Feb 25-26

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



There will not be a Rule 37 drink post this week. On Friday, I went to Milwaukee for Trevtastic’s bachelor party. Apparently I picked the ONLY day this year that they’ve had snow (like the rest of the country).


What is this, Narnia?



…and that’s about it. That’s all I remember. I woke up again at Logan Airport last night.

Yup.

I went to Mil-wacky and all I got was this lousy hangover.

So here’s a picture of Trevtastic from the LAST time I went to MKE, and had one of the top ten hangovers of my life.


Somebody is actually marrying him.



For those interested, I will be returning to MKE at the end of March, and will be formally touring and reviewing several local drink-related business, including Lakefront Brewery and Great Lakes Distilling.


That is all.
End communication.
*BEEEEEEOOOOooooooop*

The Monday Hangover: Feb 18-19

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



Friday night started with a mini outing to Bin Ends. Despite mooching at their Meletti liqueur tasting the night before, I returned with the Lady Friend in tow to hit up their Stone Brewing tasting. The sales rep had left early, but the Bin Ends staff was more than willing to pour and taste with us. We worked out way down the line from the IPA to the current Vertical Epic, a chili-infused brew with some lovely pepper flavoring, reminding me of a jalapeño lager homebrew from several years ago. We then browsed the shelves, and I scored some Narragansett Bock and Left Hand’s new Nitro Milk Stout. The ‘Gansett Bock had just come in that day, and I was informed that I was the first customer to purchase it. Score.

Though I didn’t really enjoy the Gansett Bock at the tasting party last week, I’ve since read several reviews claiming that Narragansett really nailed the style. I started to second guess myself… maybe it was a GOOD beer but in a STYLE I don’t enjoy. I like doppelbocks, like Spaten Optimator, but maybe I’m not as fond of regular bocks. I think that the Gansett might deserve a second chance, maybe even alongside a couple other bocks for comparison. It’s not a style I can ever recall seeking out, so maybe I have an anti bock bias. The Left Hand Nitro, on the other hand, (see what I did there?) is something I’ve been dying to try, so finding it at Bin Ends was a total score.

Giggling to myself over the new beer treats, we returned to SFHQ for our usual regiment of Rule 37’s new cocktails. The Lady Friend tried a Derby, since she’s picked up an affinity for bourbon, and I made myself a Manhattan variant using Meletti’s amaro.


Though we had pegged this as a “relaxing” weekend after several events in a row, the Lady Friend agreed to a casual trip down to Plymouth’s Mayflower Brewery. I had been exchanging tweets with Mayflower earlier in the week, and we decided to make the trip to taste their winter seasonal, an oatmeal stout, before it was replaced with their spring hop brew. The Lady Friend was interested in the stout, but didn’t want to buy the sixer without tasting it first. Well, after tasting it, she decided to purchase a six pack from the brewery. Yup. Could have saved us a trip to Plymouth, but then we wouldn’t have gotten to see our Mayflower pals, Sarah and Mike. Mike is part of The Best Beer Blog gang, and seemed a little off, having gotten little sleep the night before, and dealing with an unusually busy tasting day at Mayflower. Sarah, on the other hand, was her usual bouncy smart-alecky self, and we all chatted a bit after the crowd dwindled down. We’ll be making another visit after the spring hop brew goes on the seasonal tap, which should be sometime in early March.


Happy place.
Oh, and that’s the Lady Friend’s jacket on the floor. Classy.



Post-Mayflower, we stopped off at the Union Brewhouse for another couple checkmarks on our 99 beer lists. I’m somewhere around the mark of 55/99, which is somewhat disappointing for the amount of time I’ve been working on it. We go through Brewhouse phases, where we’ll visit several weeks in a row, then take a break for a month or so. The Lady Friend opened with Offshore Brewing’s Hop Goddess, and I went with Mendocino Brewing’s Black Hawk Stout. I found the Black Hawk to be a bit dry and lacking, but this was on the heels of Mayflower’s chocolaty porter, and oatmeal stout. The Hop Goddess, however, was very tasty. A nice mix of bitter and citrus sweet hop approaching IPA regions, though the brew is described as a Belgian Pale Ale. Since it was on tap, I skipped a few places down on the list (I’m going in alphabetical order, while the Lady Friend chose to start at the end of the list) for a Hop Goddess of my own. The Lady Friend continued on with a Sam Adams Alpine Spring (since it was on tap), and then a Red Hook Long Hammer IPA.

Sidebar: Should you want to follow our drinking adventures, you can find both of us on Untappd, a social media/tracking program. It’s kind of like Yelp or Foursquare for beer. I’ve tried Pintley before, but found Untappd to be a much easier and cleaner design. Kruppcakes started last week when she saw me using it during our Harpoon tour, and it’s a really neat program for beer geeks. Hit my “follow” button on the sidebar, or click here.


So, after stuffing ourselves with beer and WAY too much garlic bread (which totally ruined my appetite for the rest of the night) we picked up a pizza and headed back for a low-key evening at SFHQ. We cracked a pint of White Birch Brewing’s Colonial Ale, part of an Apprentice Series they offer. However, it was way over on the farmhouse ale/sour/flemish style that neither of us enjoy. We had no idea it had that flavor profile, and had a couple sips before dumping the rest. I was expecting more of a cedar-infused ale, but the sour/vinegar caught us offguard, and we wouldn’t have bought that style if we had known (it wasn’t included in our tasting). I’m sure someone like the Irish Lad would find some redeeming qualities in this brew, but it’s too far off my palate radar for me to enjoy.


We moved on to an amazing brew: Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. This is the epitome of a West Coast style IPA… fruity, citrusy, sweet and delicious. I brought one of these bad boys back from City Beer Store in SFO, and then found a bomber at Luke’s Liquors in Rockland. I want to freeze this beer and skate on it, then thaw it in the spring and drink it. It’s deliciously flavorful. Most likely, a bit too fruity sweet for some, but just an example of how differently the hops can change the flavors of beer.

We relaxed with our pizza and Sculpin, and set about watching Bridesmaids. If you’re thinking about renting this movie, don’t. It was preposterously bad. The only thing worse than an unfunny comedy, is a BORING comedy. Though touted as a “female version of The Hangover, the two shouldn’t even be in the same category. Bridesmaids wasn’t a comedy: it was just a whine fest. Kristen Wiig’s dull character gets upset over the marriage of her friend, played by Maya Rudolph, (who hasn’t been funny in any role, including SNL) and can’t find a man of her own. While The Hangover is a gross-out buddy romp, Bridesmaids is a total snoozer. The biggest difference is that Hangover derives its comedy from the antics of memorable characters, and the group dynamic as they piece together a blacked out evening. Bridesmaids tries to stand on lazy writing, poor acting, forced one-liners, and female woes with a tired plot about the inability to find a man, and a weak secondary story regarding her failed bakery. Hangover succeeds in the role of identifiable characters, where the audience can relate to SOMEone in the group. Bridesmaids is too focused on Kristen Wiig’s whiny problems that no one cares about. The fact that it was nominated for two Oscars really shows you how much contemporary movies suck. It’s a joke that no one’s laughing at. The Lady Friend was pissed that she spent $1 to rent it from RedBox. That’s how unfunny it was. Don’t even waste a dollar on it.


What a turdblanket.



Lazy Sunday was spent tasting various beers in my fridge and trying to wash away memories of Bridesmaids. I’ve got way too many 12oz singles in my fridge, and devoted the afternoon towards working through part of the backlog. After a Lady Friend dinner (that’s a dinner prepared BY the Lady Friend, not a dinner consisting OF her. It hasn’t been a Donner Party kind of winter this year), I cracked the Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout.

I’ll say this: a way to ruin a good pair of britches… you will soil yourself with delight. It’s that good.

The Monday Hangover: Jan 28-29

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



Wowsers. I might actually publish a Monday Hangover post on a Monday.


Friday started with a break in the usual routine. The Lady Friend was off to have dinner with some friends in Charlestown, and I had some projects to accomplish before she got home. However, I wound up going to a friend’s housewarming party in Rockland, to gather with former coworkers, since we had just lost a coworker and friend of ours suddenly on Thursday night. Some good laughs and beers later (I brought some tasty Dale’s Pale Ale), it was time to head back to SFHQ to meet with the Lady Friend, and prepare for Saturday’s main event.


Last weekend, Lady Friend’s father made it down into the big bad city for dinner and a Bruins game with some friends. Apparently he had a good time, since he suggested that both LF parents make the trek down THIS weekend for the Lady Friend’s birthday celebration (it never ends). I was invited along, so the four of us made a day of it. They rode the Downeaster into North Station, and we met up at the Beantown Pub, right across from the Granary Burying Grounds, where some famous Boston people are hanging around underground. Samuel Adams is buried there (as are John Hancock and Paul Revere), and Beantown Pub loves their little claim to fame as being the only place in town “where you can have a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams.


I had a Harpoon.



I noticed that Harpoon’s Celtic Ale was on tap, and it had been awhile since I tasted it, so it beat out the Sam Adams novelty. The Lady Friend and her mother followed my lead, but I suggested a Samuel Adams Brick Red Ale for the patriarch. As I’ve mentioned before, you can only get it on tap in Boston (they don’t bottle or ship it anywhere else) and I figured he’d enjoy it, which he did. From there, the Widmer Brothers Pitch Black caught my eye, and it turned out to be a black IPA. Now, there’s a bit of a kerfuffle going on in the beer world over this. IPA stands for India PALE Ale, so how can you have a BLACK version of a PALE ale? When I checked this one off my list, I noticed that they also refer to it as a “Cascadian Dark Ale.” Fair enough. It was tasty all the same. The Lady Friend and her father followed this time, while her mother had a taste or two.


Time for ze Germans.



From Beantown, we ventured down to Jacob Wirth’s for some good German beers that you simply can not find in Moo Hampsha. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, so the service was more than adequate, which is not usually the case at Jacob’s. I think it helped that we just had beers, and didn’t bother with a food order. I love the setting (it’s styled to look like a German beer hall) and the selection of brews, but the food service is always lacking.

Opening round: a Hofbräu Dunkel for me (I lectured for quite a bit the other night explaining to the Lady Friend that “dunkel” simply means “dark” in German, and is a dark lager) and a surprise for the Lady Friend. The parents also looked to me for suggestions, which makes me feel helpful. You know that person at the table to whom everyone defers to when it comes time to pick a wine for dinner? That’s me, but with beer. Trust me, you don’t want me to choose a wine, but beer and liquor I can handle. I had been threatening the Lady Friend with a proper rauchbier (smoked beer) ever since she tried a Samuel Adams Bonfire “smoke beer” which was like a weak Sam with a dollop of “smokey” flavor. It was time for her to try the real thing: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. Though it did indeed smell like a campfire, there was enough malt in the brew to balance it out, and she wound up enjoying it. She didn’t love it, but at least enjoyed it. Her palate’s come that far.

A Spaten Optimater doppelbock was the selection for vater and a Matilda, a strange floral hopped conglomerate from Goose Island (they call it a Belgian pale ale) for mutter. I proceeded to have an Optimator for myself, suggested a Jake’s Special Dark (the house dark ale) for LF’s dad, and die frauen shared a tall glass of Schneider Aventinus Weizenbock (wheat bock).


Jah, das Optimator!



After our German beers, it was time for some Italian food. We hiked over to the North End (with a stop at Mike’s Pastry) for dinner at Risorante Limoncello, where LF’s dad had eaten the week before. Plenty of fresh Italian bread, a delicious chicken parm, and even some *gasp* wine made for a tasty stop on the drinking tour. I have no idea what wine we were drinking, but it was acceptable even for my infantile palate. The meal ended with a birthday dessert for the Lady Friend, and a round of limoncello liqueur, a digestif made from soaking lemon peels in booze.


We walked the parents back down to North Station for their return train, and decided to hop over to see a bartender friend of mine at the Purple Shamrock. It was only about 6:30, so the dinner crowd was still keeping things mellow before the Saturday night crowd of 20-somethings from Andover and Billerica douched up the place. We chatted for a bit and had a couple of pints before moving on ourselves. Also picked up an interesting bit of info from Jackie the bartender. She pours a black and tan with 3/4 ale (they recently got Goose Island’s Honkers Ale on tap) and topped with 1/4 Guinness. I always thought it was a 50/50 ratio, but Jackie claims that is a half-and-half. From there, we discussed the Black Velvet, which I know as equal parts Guinness and champagne, but had seen on menus with cider substituted for the wine. Jackie agreed and said that in just about every bar, it’ll be poured with a cider, such as Strongbow. Neat. This is just the dorky stuff I enjoy debating, and finding out what a particular drink order is likely to get you in a real bar. The Lady Friend was intrigued enough by the conversation to have a black-and-tan, after which we headed back to SFHQ, courtesy of the MBTA, the bestest public mass transit system evar. Another good drinking day down.

The Monday Hangover: Jan 21-22

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



Well. Haven’t done one of these posts in awhile.

So, jumping back in, Friday was the usual round of Rule 37 drinks. I had myself a mildly interesting Monkey Gland, and finished off the night with a 24 ouncer of Genny Ice. I think it was around $1.50 or so, which is awesome, considering it’s the size of two beers. I’ve gone through a Renaissance of cheap beer lately, and the fridge is stocked with Genny Cream Ale, Private Stock, and some big ol’ Gansetts. Narragansett Porter, by the way, is actually VERY good. A decent body, with a swath of chocolate flavor, though a bit of a tinny finish. It’s a total bargain… lots of (good) flavor for the price. The lager is very drinkable, and I’ve still got a bright orange can of Fest (their Autumn seasonal Oktoberfest brew) waiting to be tasted. In the meantime, winter is porter season, so go pick some up.


Saturday brought the first REAL snowstorm of the season. Yes, it took until January 21 to get snow accumulations of more than 2″. I’m not complaining at all… I think this has been the best winter EVAR. This was also the day that we set off into the city to celebrate the Lady Friend’s birthday. I don’t know who started this trend, but she’s been using the excuse “It’s my birthday!” for about two weeks now. Your birthday is ONE day. Anyway, a small group of us ventured into Boston to the Omni-Parker House hotel, allegedly the birthplace of the Boston Creme Pie. Despite her NH friends getting scared of the weather and bailing on the festivities (they got less snow in NH than south of Boston, so I don’t see what the problem was) there wound up being about seven of us, meeting at the Omni-Parker House’s bar, The Last Hurrah.

Here’s where the troubles began.


First of all, apparently they don’t serve any food in The Last Hurrah on Saturday, so we’d have to go to the hotel’s OTHER bar, Parker’s Bar (Pahkah’s Bah) if we wanted any Boston Creme Pie. Lame. But whatever… we ordered cocktails (I had an Old Protrero 18th Century Style rye whiskey which was a BIG boy) with the intent of moving over to Parker’s Bar for further drinks and dessert. There was even talk of meeting up with some others at Jacob Wirth’s, the German beer hall-style establishment where we last attended a Harpoon event. However, after finishing our drinks and getting the check, our waitress vanished. Simply disappeared off the face of the earth for about a half hour. Finally, after sitting around helpless like idiots, one of the girls in the group took the check to the bar to get our cards run. Magically, the waitress reappeared as we were leaving (the receipt says her name was Heather). Where was she? Narnia? Annoyed, we headed across the lobby to the Parker’s Bar.

Yeah. More troubles.


We put in our orders for drinks and desserts (the Lady Friend’s coworker, D, felt compelled to get an $11 bowl of chowder) and amiably chatted amongst ourselves. Time goes on. And on. About twenty minutes later our drinks arrive, followed shortly by the food. What the hell? Was there some reason it took so long to get two cocktails and five beers? Ugh. After finishing said nibbles and tipples, we waited for the waitress to reappear so we could get our check. And waited. And continued to wait for another half hour or so. It was appalling. When she finally did make it to a nearby table, apparently someone at our table caught her eye and indicated that we’d like the check. I missed it, but allegedly the waitress made a face and dismissive “one minute” gesture. Now, the “one minute” finger can be done politely, as in “Ok, I see you, I’ll be with you in a minute.” This was more in the spirit of “Yeah, whatever, I’ll get to you when I feel like it.” Wow.

Now, we’re a group of seven, dressed decently (not formal, but no hoodies or tshirts) spending our money on their expensive cocktails and desserts, and they act like they’re doing us a favor. We weren’t loud or disruptive, or even intoxicated in the slightest, since we had each had two drinks over about a three hour time span. The incredibly inattentive service basically wasted hours of our night, and by the end of it, no one felt like venturing out to another bar. We could have had several more rounds of drinks at the Parker Bar, but the waitstaff seemed determined to prevent us from doing so with their constant disappearing act. Neither bar was terribly crowded, so there was no reason I could see for such a lack of service.

The message I got? “We don’t need your business.”


Fine. You won’t get it again.


On Sunday the Irish Lad and I brewed some beer, but I’ll save that for another post.
I’m still peeved about the Omni Parker House.

Don’t give them your business. They don’t seem to want it.

The Monday Hangover: Dec 10-11

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



Another week down.



Friday night we skipped over our usual Rule 37 cocktail night to attend a party in Natick. It was the Irish Lad’s company holiday party, which I had bartended last year, and took on the role once more this year. I put together a limited menu of well-known cocktails and set up shop. The Lady Friend was on hand to chit chat with various peoples, eat three ice cream sundaes, and fetch me a beer and a hot dog. The Irish Lad procured a keg of Jack’s Abbey Hoponius Union India Pale LAGER, and the keg kicked long before the party did. It was tasty. The Engineer and his wife were both there, as was Wifey, of course. Her friend requested a mixture of cranberry juice, orange juice, and club soda, which Wifey overheard and asked for the same, but with vodka. Another amusing moment was when Wifey asked for a refill on her Cape Codder, to which I replied “Do you really want that? Or do you want The Mystery Drink?” Of course, she couldn’t resist, and went for the mystery drink, which was a variation on a Rum Stone Sour, and very sweet, much to Wifey’s delight.

If there’s any question as to what the most popular liquor is, using this party as a baseline, it’s vodka by an overwhelming majority. Vodka really caught on in America in the 1950s, and by the mid-1970s, became the best-selling liquor in the country. Below is the breakdown of drink popularity from the party. This is a rough recollection; I really should have kept track of real numbers.

50% vodka tonic
20% vodka cranberry
10% gin & tonic
5% vodka “martini”
5% rum & coke
10% everything else

Another fun one: some guy came up to me and ordered a Martini but “with splash of orange juice.” Instant suspicion… gin or vodka? “Vodka… but light on the vodka and with more orange juice.” Um, ok, so that’s a Screwdriver, and nothing close to a Martini. Whatev. I did the whole fancy bit with the shaker and he seemed impressed.

I went through two and a half of the big handles (1.75l) of vodka in about 3 hours. That’s over a gallon of vodka. Yikes.


Apparently when you’re this guy, the rules of parking don’t apply.



Saturday’s event was another Bully Boy tasting, this time at Curtis Liquors in Weymouth. Yes, Bully Boy is now available at Curtis! I had made a Twitter comment many weeks ago to the effect of “Oh Curtis Liquors, you complete me… if only you sold Bully Boy.” I was then contacted by both Bully Boy and Curtis saying it was in the works, and now, here we are! The Lady Friend and I had some liquid shopping to do, so we stopped by. There was only one Bully Boy this time, Will, and we chatted a bit in between shoppers sampling the samples. Lots of fun stuff coming down the line from these guys, so keep an eye out. I’ll let you know what’s up with the BBoys.











In the meantime, the Lady Friend and I wandered the aisles seeing what there was to see. We picked up a couple bombers to drink that night, and I scored a sixer of 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die IPA. I marveled at the sight of Bully Boy on the shelves, though the $30 price tag is right at the limit of the price point. My general shopping rule for the South Shore is Curtis Liquors for craft beer, and Atlas Liquors in Quincy for spirits. That seems to be the best compromise of price, as the liquor at Curtis is a bit more, but with more beer selection, wheras Atlas has some of the best liquor prices, but more expensive brews. However, Curtis is bigger, and closer to SFHQ, so I stop by there quite a bit. I’ve gone through a decent chunk of their craft beer inventory, and have now been struck with beer ennui, cursed to wander the aisles with nothing seeming particularly exciting. I’ve reached a point where the interest lies in six packs costing $10+ and I usually just don’t want to spend that much. I did score a Wachusett Larry dIPA, which is something to snag whenever you see it, as it’s one of the few offerings from Wachusett I enjoy. It’s very very tasty, and not at all like their Green Monsta IPA.





We finished up at Curtis, and headed over to the Union Brewhouse for some more progress on our 99 beer list. Though not particularly crowded, one raucous group of of late twenty-somethings managed to drown out all other conversation with their howls and entirely unnecessary table pounding. Fortunately, they left soon after our arrival leaving behind a pile of Bud Light, Coors Light and Michelob Ultra bottles, the owl pellets of the Local Yokel. Once again, what you drink is your choice, but when you’re in a place with 17 taps and 100+ bottled beers, please have something other than the horrid light macrobrews that you can get ANYWHERE else.

As for the Lady Friend and I, it was a Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale for she, and a Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Tremens for me. I’ve had the Delirium Tremens several times before, and it’s very, well, Belgiany. Makes sense, being a Belgian ale and all. Light body, full of carbonation, and cloudy, yeasty, banana-clove. Not my go-to. It was an effort to take this one down… I just wasn’t in the mood. The Lagunitas of the Lady Friend looked much more appetizing, as a hoppy and tasty dIPA. This one has a bit of a story behind it. Basically, around this time of year, Lagunitas would be releasing their Brown Shugga seasonal, but they decided not to this time around. It just takes way too much of the brewery’s resources to produce, and would take the equivalent of three regular production cases per one case of Brown Shugga. Keeping their strangely aggressive sense of humor, the brewery said “There is no joy in our hearts and the best we can hope for is a quick and merciful end. F*@& us. This totally blows. Whatever. We freaking munch moldy donkey butt and we just want it all to be over.” Source. So, they made Lagunitas Sucks instead, and it’s pretty tasty. I haven’t had the Shugga yet, so I couldn’t tell you what we’re missing.

After her Lagunitas, the Lady Friend went on to sip a Southampton Publick House Double White Ale, while I continued to take down the DT. Lots of Belgian floating around. We decided to head back to SFHQ for an evening in and pick up a pizza on the way. After the Lady Friend called in our order to Bertucci’s, we finished our beers and got sorted for the dropping temperatures outside. This is where the Grand Scarf Kerfuffle began. She couldn’t find her scarf, which was a gift from her grandfather. Well, allegedly it was a gift TO her grandfather from someone visiting Scotland, and he regifted it to the Lady Friend. So she liked the scarf, and it wasn’t draped on the back of her chair at the bar, nor had it slid to the floor. A search of the Phantom didn’t reveal it either, and she lamented that it must have fallen off at Curtis. Which is nowhere near Bertucci’s. Sigh. So, detour to Curtis, and it’s nowhere to be found. Well, guess it’s gone. Over to Bertucci’s, pizza acquired, back to SFHQ. Turn on the light. Um, is THAT the scarf, lying there on the floor? Yup. Happy Lady Friend, slightly peeved SquirrelFarts. Time for pizza and beer before I choke someone with a 100% Scottish wool scarf.

It was a bomber of Alpine’s Pure Hoppiness IPA, one of the last California survivors, while the Lady Friend had her first go at a Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard ale. Very malty, and the high abv started taking effect as the evening wore on. We watched North by Northwest, because she had somehow never seen it, and I finished off with a can of Brew Free or Die. They’ve got a new can design (since last year) and it’s pretty awesome… it’s got Mount Rushmore (which coincidentally features pretty heavily in the latter portions of North by Northwest) and Lincoln is breaking out of the rock to kick some ass. Or so it appears to me.


Told you it was awesome.



Sunday. A trip up to Moo Hampsha. Ugh. The Lady Friend was heading to her parents’ house to help decorate the Christmas tree, and they requested my help for a very special project: distract Maggie the Kitten so she wouldn’t mess up the tree while they were hanging ornaments. Welllllll… ok. If I must.


I wasn’t entirely successful.


On the way, we stopped by a Stop n Shop in Stratham on the way to get me sorted with a Mix & Match six pack. I really wish all liquor stores had this feature. Many times I don’t want a whole sixer of one particular beer, and just want one or two to test it out. I managed to make a pretty quick selection of some new and some old favorites:


- Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale (an ale with a bitter start a Belgiany banana-ness to the finish. Ew.)

Sam Adams Holiday Porter (too malty, not enough roast. A weak offering intended as a crowd pleaser like most Sam)

Shipyard Blue Fin Stout (Drank this one after dinner. Nice dark roast, not too sweet, not too bitter.)

Red Hook Winterhook (Nice. It has the ale flavor consistent with Red Hook brews, with some mild winter spice)

Shipyard Fuggles IPA (Got two of these. It’s simple, but good)

I started with the Winter Hook, and moved to the Geary’s after. The Winter Hook wasn’t bad, but the Geary’s didn’t appeal to me. A real bitter-stale start, then that yeasty banana-clove grossness usually associated with wheat beers. The Shipyard IPA went well with a dinner of spicy marinated chicken and roasted potatoes, and the Blue Fin Stout was lovely for after the meal. The Lady Friend drove us back to Assachusetts, and I had the Sam Holiday Porter to finish the night off. Not bad, but nothing amazing. It supports my theory that Sam Adams makes beers for a very wide audience, and doesn’t want to offend. Still, it was a nice end to the weekend, and helped me ease into a happy slumber, another weekend gone too soon.


“Wut?”




The Monday Hangover: Dec 3-4

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.



It was a long week. At times it seemed to fly by, but that was countered by the times that dragged on for an eternity. Finally Friday came, and something strong and warming was called for. That wound up being Aberlour A’bunadh single malt scotch. The wax-sealed bottle was a birthday gift from Wifey and the Irish Lad, and, with the exception of a small taste the night I got it, I hadn’t really delved into its depths. I poured a decent dram and took a sip. PHOAHRAH! What does that label say? Oh good lord… 60.4% abv, cask strength. That’s 120.8 proof for those playing along. Yowza. Lots of alcohol punch. But, once that evaporates, the resulting flavors are really nice. A’bunadh is aged in Spanish Oroloso sherry casks, so it gets a nice red hue, and a tasty sweet flavor. There’s a whole lot more going on behind that, but then this would turn into a review instead of a weekend recap. I had the Lady Friend take a sip when she came over, and she looked like steam was going to shoot out of her eyeballs. It’s probably one of the higher abv things she’s ever tasted. Cask strength is no joke. But delicious.

The Lady Friend cracked one of her Sixpoint Diesels before our cream cocktails. After the disastrous Parisian Blonde, she went to her old friend, Margarita, while I sipped an Avery IPA.


We lacked the energy to get much accomplished on Saturday, except sipping on the last remaining Pliny the Elder while playing a game of Scrabble. I’m still a touch bitter that she managed to successfully play a ‘Q’ and a ‘Z’ in the course of the game leading to her victory. Following that, we rallied for some pregame drinks at the Union Brewhouse, and two more crossed off of our 99-bottle list. The next slot on my list was for Lindeman’s, which wound up being their Framboise, a raspberry lambic “beer” that tastes like soda. It’s chick crack. I’ve had tastes several times before (“It’s like drinking a Fruit Roll-Up!”), but never an entire bottle to myself. It wasn’t easy. Full of sugar and lots of carbonation. I resorted to downing most of it in one go, while the Lady Friend sipped on her skunky green glass Spaten lager. The next round was an Ipswich ale for me, and a Berkshire Brewing Co. (BBC) Lost Sailor IPA for she. After the sugar fruit bomb of the lambic, the ale tasted horribly bitter to me, and I really didn’t want to finish it. The Lady Friend enjoyed her IPA, though she’s had a bit of an issue with pronunciation lately, calling it “Berk-shy-er” instead of “Berk-shur.” It’s odd, because she’s from New Hamp-shur, not New Hamp-shy-er.


BEWARE



After the Brewhouse, Saturday’s main event was a trip to Norwell for dinner and drinks at The Tinker’s Son, (Warning: A commercial autoplays on the webpage) an Irish pub and restaurant owned by a friend of my buddy, Shaw (ScrimShaw, the ShawDog). The food was great, and the beer list excellent. In addition to the usual fare of Guinness and Smithwick’s (the Lady Friend got an education before we went… it’s pronounced “Smiddicks”), they had several options on tap including Bear Republic Racer 5, Stone Double Bastard and local offerings from Pretty Things, Blue Hills, and Wachusett. Impressive for most bars, not to mention an Irish pub. I started off with a Guinness, as did most of the group, and the Lady Friend had a Smithwick’s, but switched over to Racer 5 for her second, as did I. Great food, great crowd (we mostly talked about craft beer and race cars, excellent dinner conversation), and great beers. At the bar later on, Shaw (who was celebrating a birthday) was busy double fisting a Jameson Gold in one hand and a Stone Double Bastard in the other. This is usually about the time his inebriated alter-ego, “Schwa,” makes an appearance, though apparently he kept his Hyde-ian doppelganger under control, despite the elixirs consumed.


The Underbones Bar. 24 taps. Happy place.



Sunday brought another grand event: the Lady Friend’s first visit to Redbones, in Davis Square. It’s a very popular (and delicious) BBQ restaurant with crazily vivid murals all over the place and a fantastic beer list (24 taps). I’ve been going there for years with Wifey and the Irish Lad, but the Lady Friend had never been, despite previously living about a mile away in Somerville. We got there around 2ish, and headed down the stairs to “Underbones,” the underground bar/restaurant area… it’s dark, dank, and much better than the the cramped, cafeteria decor of the upstairs section. Time for beer! I opened with an Anderson Valley Mendo Mellow Estate Ale, which was very… mellow. It was a sweetish ale, nothing wild, but generally mild and tasty. Beer Advocate lists it as an American IPA, but it wasn’t very hoppy at all. The Lady Friend countered with a Brooklyn Brown, and the Irish Lad hit back with a Boundary Bay ESB, which was very IPA-like. Come to think of it, I wonder if they switched our beers. That actually would make a lot of sense. Although, after reading the reviews of the Mendo Mellow, it seems like they were correct after all… it didn’t seem to impress most people.

Wifey, being an anti-beer, went with a Margarita to start, and followed up with a Twisted Tea, which confused the waitress who thought it was a cocktail. Nope, just a bottled hard iced tea. As for the rest of us, our second round consisted of a Meantime London Stout for me, and a Tröegs Mad Elf (11% abv) for the Lady Friend and the Irish Lad, both of whom get very silly when the abv’s start pumping. I was very pleased with my stout, which I feel was the perfect beer to have after lunch… slightly roasted bitter to cut through the BBQ spice, and a dry creaminess to smooth out the finish. Mad Elf was a bit nutmeggy/wintery, and it looked like it was a struggle to get through, though they seemed quite happy after that 11% kicked in.


The murals start talking after a couple 11% beers.



After lunch we hit the annual Harvard Bookstore Warehouse Holiday Sale, where the warehouse is converted into a new and used bookstore to get rid of back inventory. Used books start at $1. Newer books are up to 60% off. Awesome. While others shop for specific titles, I usually go for gross poundage, and see what quantity I can get for my self-imposed $30 cap. This year was a new record: 11 books for $25. Now I need more bookshelves.

The two hours of book browsing (I can spend all day in a bookstore) helped take the buzz out of the group, and we returned to the home of Irish Lad and Wifey. They had asked me to do some photography for their holiday card, including the monster dog, Zero. I had a frosty-delicious PBR while shooting, and the Lady Friend and I packed up back to her apt to finish my laundry. Clean clothes! Finally, back to the Liquor Lair of SFHQ and my lovely, lovely bed. Rest would be necessary, for the next day, December 5th, was a big one: Repeal Day.

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