Posts Tagged ‘Narragansett’

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 ‘Gansett Cream Ale Tweetup

Last night was pretty sweet.

DigBoston hosted a tweetup IRL event for Narragansett’s Cream Ale release party at the Salty Pig in Boston.

For those who don’t speak Twitglish, I’ll translate.

After last week’s Bock release at Stoddard’s, I was a bit miffed that my social duties didn’t allow for meeting the happening players in the ‘Gansett/Boston beer community, which I had been looking forward to. Fortunately, through the wonders of Teh Twitterz, I was invited to attend the Cream Ale release at the Salty Pig, a gastropubby type place just across the street from the Back Bay T stop in the big bad city. As more details emerged, I found that it was a DigBoston event, Dig being a social event publication and website. They were publicizing it as a twitter meetup (tweetup) IRL (in real life) so you can meet the faces behind the twitter handles. And this time, SquirrelFarts would be riding solo.

Oooooh purty.

I parked in my undisclosed location in the Back Bay area, and took a stroll over through the Christian Science Center grounds, which were BEAUTIFUL at that time of evening. The buildings were literally glowing in the last rays of the drowning sun. Making my way past the homeless man who was chatting on an iPhone, I got to the Salty Pig feeling like a salty pig myself, slightly sweating in the unseasonably warm temps, and done no favors by the brick ovens in the restaurant. Fortunately, there was beer. FREE beer.

Also, there were tshirts. I didn’t have to fight a surly bar back this time. Total score.

Narragansett’s cream ale was a big seller of theirs in the 1960s and 70s, though the style is somewhat unusual these days. One of the best-known regional relics is Genesee’s Cream Ale, affectionately (sometimes derisively) nicknamed Genny Cream. Genesee Brewing is out in Rochester, NY, and any baby-boomers throughout NY State and Pennsylvania will undoubtedly know the name. I recently snagged myself one of their current “heritage” sample packs with the Genny Cream, Genny Beer, and 12 Horses Ale in retro stubby bottles and period labels. I’m a complete sucker for that stuff. Anyway, the flip of it is that ‘Gansett currently contract brews their year-round beers (the lager and now cream ale) at, of course, Genesee Brewing.

I’d go into more of the history, but Honest Pint, who I met last night, did a fantastic job of that already, so go read it here: Narragansett Cream Ale: Crème de la Cream.

The event started slow, but built up pretty quickly. All manner of folks from Dig staffers to bloggers to brewers pounded the (free!) Cream Ale tallboys until the bar ran out and began serving Gansett Lager in its stead. With the event tab compensated by someone other than me, the beer and pizza provided went into my belly most satisfyingly. The weekday diners looked quite confused at the can-clutching crowd, but we chatted away (mostly about beer, naturally) and got to know who was who behind the internet pseudonyms. I thought the cream ale was decent: like Gansett’s lager, it’s a better-than-average offering for its style, but nothing mind-blowing. Still, quite tasty, if a bit bitter on the start and tinny on the finish. It’s a nice beer, best served achingly cold, and should be a smash this summer. Go git yerself some.

The early days of analog Twitter.

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: Feb 11-12

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

Yes, it took me until Thursday to finish this post.

We start, as always, with Friday evening. Instead of our usual cocktail adventures, the Lady Friend and I headed out to the Union Brewhouse to meet up with former MNCC drinking powerhouse Brent, who was back in town for a weekend visit. He had previously spent several months working (and drinking) in Boston with my former company and became a cornerstone of our cocktail crew before relocating back to Milwaukee, and now, Washington DC. The weekend plan was to revisit all of our old haunts and have a grand day of nostalgic boozing.

This guy.

So, following our respective work days, we met up at the Brewhouse. Former coworker Tower (Towah) was there, as was the current office trainee (she’s from Missurah) and another girl from the DC office, Kruppcakes. The Lady Friend and I looked like pros as we readied our 99 Beer lists for the next conquests: Maine Beer Company’s Peeper Ale for me and a Newcastle Brown Ale for she. After one round, we decided to have a quick second brew while Towah was still there (he’s got one of those baby creatures now and doesn’t get out much anymore) so the Lady Friend wound up with a Samuel Smith Strawberry Ale, while I snagged a Saranac Big Moose Ale. Once she found out that Samuel Smith, an English brewery, is known for their nut brown ale and oatmeal stout, she was less than excited about the strawberry brew. Chick beer.

We bounced out of the Brewhouse with the intention of changing clothes before heading into the city for the Narraganset Bock release party (Drink the Goat!) at Stoddard’s. Missurah offered to drive, and was supposed to pick us up shortly. Which turned into over an hour wait. Apparently the girls went back to their apartment, snacked on some sandwiches, and Kruppcake decided that she needed a nap. Without informing us. Nice. Thanks for that. In the meantime, Leelz was already heading towards Stoddard’s with the intention of meeting us there. So, we wound up getting to the event about two hours late, leaving Leelz in a lurch, and I didn’t get to see a few industry types that I had intended to introduce myself to. On the plus side, the bocks were plentiful and cheap ($3 tall boys) and Brent even managed to use his schmoozing skills to score us some Gansett tshirts from a reluctant Stoddard’s toadie who was going to store the extras downstairs “for another time” rather than giving them out as intended. What a little tool.

Then it was Saturday, the grand event. After the fiasco with the girls the previous night, we set our plans and let them decide if they were coming along or not, instead of relying on them in any way. In the end, they left their car at the T (which the DC people endlessly referred to as the “Metro”) and we all drove into the city, parking in the Lady Friend’s very convenient garage spot across from Harpoon Brewery. That parking spot might be the reason we’re still romantically involved, due to our frequent visits to Harpoon. Securing places on the noon-thirty tour, we set about enjoying the Harpoon-ness, which started with a sample of the UFO White, and, as a change of pace, included a taste of the Celtic Ale, unfiltered and straight from the tank, instead of the usual IPA. A lovely surprise. The tasting time after the tour had some nice offerings I hadn’t gotten to before, including the finished, filtered Celtic Ale, West Coast Pale Ale (with an English bitter hop style, unlike its name), 100 Barrel Series Black IPA (very nice, Brent took two bombers back to DC), Leviathan Imperial IPA (always tasty), Leviathan Barleywine (not too malty) and the original Harpoon Ale, their first brew. The Ale was a simple amber ale, pleasing if unremarkable, but as the tour guides pointed out, when first released in 1987 it was considered “extreme beer” compared to the macrobrewed adjunct lagers on the market at the time. It was on hiatus for the past several years, and is now back for the time being (at least on the tour), though I don’t know what the future availability will be.

Post-Harpoon, the group sauntered down Seaport Blvd. to the Atlantic Beer Garden for lunch, as is our usual tradition after visiting Harpoon. Good food and a well-thought out craft beer list make it a great stop when in the Seaport District. Be warned: some of the selections, such as Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp and Rogue Dead Guy Ale are actually served in 22oz bombers. Not that it’s a bad thing, but there’s no indication of that on the menu, so double-check with your server if you’re expecting a 12oz bottle.
The other members of the group went with a pitcher of the Samuel Adams Brick Red Ale, as its limited availability (only on tap in Boston) made for a good novelty for the foreigners. Despite the grotesque price ($18… blow me, Boston) it went over well with the group, and I settled with a Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale to pair with my BBQ chicken sangwich.

We made our way over to South Station to jump on the T for our next destination. Brent delighted in showing the girls the grasshopper mural in Park St station, the oldest subway in the country. The grasshopper references the weathervane on top of Faneuil Hall, and served as a test to discover British spies. We caught our dreaded Green Line train (it’s always jammed full) and got off at Copley while the girls rode onwards to visit Bleacher Bar in Fenway. Brent, the Lady Friend, and I however headed through Copley Square down Boylston to Whiskey’s, a past favorite of Brent’s. Cheap bar food specials and plenty of beer gave us many drunken memories several years, ago, so it was time to revisit. We met up with another friend and fellow drinking companion, KFlynn, and relaxed with beers and snacks, eventually being joined by Tresstastic and her boyfriend Josh. The girls finished up over at Fenway and rendezvoused as well, right around the time KFlynn headed out for other plans.

The rest of us headed for what was supposed to be a pleasant stroll down Boylston and Boston Common to The Purple Shamrock, paying a visit to Jackie the bartender. With three males and four females, naturally troubles started to arise, mostly in the form of complaints about the cold weather (it was about 35 degrees, warm for February, but the Lady Friend refuses to wear a hat) and bathroom needs. The first plaintive cry of “I have to pee!” started about a block after our departure from Whiskey’s, joined soon thereafter by the rest of the women folk. By this time, we’ve passed the fast food bathroom havens of Copley Square and are heading into the park to cut diagonally up towards the burger joints of Tremont, when Tresstastic insists that “the bar we met my friend at that time for a pub crawl” was straight ahead towards Emerson and Chinatown. She was referring to Beantown Pub, which is actually up Tremont past Park St. I’m certain of this as I am decently sober at this point (more so than most of the group), had been there many times, and had even been there about two weeks ago with the Lady Friend’s parents. She refused to believe me, naturally, and then the Lady Friend started in asking why we were heading through the park, and didn’t I know she had to pee. Yes, I understand that. I’m trying to get us to the bathrooms near Park St as quickly as possible. She had her drunken stubbornness gear engaged, and also began to insist that the correct way was to continue down Boylston. Sigh. Like herding drunken cats. Despite the protests, we continued diagonally through the park in as straight a path as possible, and eventually reached a UBurger where all the concerned parties were able to relieve themselves. From “I don’t have to pee” to “panic mode” during a ten minute walk. I hate women.

That’s why I go drinking with this guy.

Crisis averted with all pants remaining unsoiled, we continued on our way, past Beantown Pub, and reached the safe house of the Purple Shamrock. Brent reunited with Jackie, and we set about drinking the night away. Tresstastic abandoned her original plan of taking the train home because she wanted to dance, a decision spurred largely by the arrival of yet another drinking pal, Shaw, and his wife, Lady Shaw. They had just returned from a tropical vacation, and made a stealthy entrance at the bar, much to the delight of Brent. Somewhere around midnight, the girls decided they would take the T home, and left without asking for directions or instructions. This was the second time in the city for both of them, the first time being the night before at Stoddard’s, so I’m not sure why in their drunken state they thought they’d just magically happen upon the T station. Brent, the Lady Friend and I cabbed back to the parking garage, and no sooner had we gotten in the car, sure enough, Brent’s phone started ringing. The girls were lost. And yelling at us because somehow it was our fault.

To recap: it was our fault that they were lost, in a city they’d never been to. I’m trying to drive and they’re asking what to do. Um, I don’t know. Where are you? They don’t know. Ask somebody where the nearest T stop is? The guy they asked doesn’t know. Turn on your phone’s GPS? They can’t while still on the phone. Hang up and turn it on? No, they don’t want to do that. Holy Jeebus. I’m out of ideas. Flag down a cab, have him take you to the nearest T and hit the Red Line from there? Apparently that worked, because they hung up, and we didn’t hear back. Just incredible.

The next morning, Brent, the Lady Friend and I discussed the various adventures of the previous night. I’m still not sure why the girls didn’t just ride back to Braintree with us, but they were adamant about taking the T. We relaxed and chatted until Missurah came to pick up Brent, and deliver Kruppcakes and him at Logan for their flight back to DC. The Lady Friend went off on various shopping errands, and I went up to Slumerville to the Irish Lad and Wifey’s house. And Zero too. The Irish Lad and I had brewed two smash (single malt and single hop) beers, one with amarillo hops, the other calypso. We’re exploring the differences between individual hops, and both brews were ready to bottle. Another couple weeks of bottle conditioning and they’ll be ready to drink. But that is a story for another time.


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.

How Narragansett Made Natalie Portman a Stripper


Narragansett beer turned Natalie Portman into a stripper.


Now do I have your undivided attention?

Allow me to explain.

Let’s start with the basics: Narragansett is/was a brand of beer quite well known in New England, since it was brewed in New England. The old brewery was in Cranston, Rhode Island, and started back in 1890, named for Narragansett Bay. Their flagship brew, Narragansett Lager (or simply ‘Gansett) was cheap, local beer, which Beer Advocate classifies as “American Adjunct Lager.” In 1914, they installed a modern bottling facility and became the biggest lager brewery in New England.

Along comes Prohibition, and SOMEHOW ‘Gansett is granted permission to continue producing beer for “medicinal purposes.” Still, sales were in the toilet, and the Haffenreffers stepped in. The Haffenreffers (that name sounds like a combination of a swear word and a sneeze) operated a brewery in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, which is now the Samuel Adams Brewery. Seriously, everything ties together in New England. Haffenreffer made a bock, but is famous for creating Private Stock malt liquor (which is now made by MillerCoors).

Yeah, that one.

Anyway, this dude named Rudolf F. Haffenreffer (what an awesome name) became the president of the Narragansett Brewing Company. He died in 1954, and the Haffenreffer brewery went down in 1965, at which time their beers became the property of Narragansett. Around this time, ‘Gansett began running some animated television ads with a comedy duo named Nichols and May.

Ok, now for Part Two. Nichols and May were a comedy improv team in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They met in The Compass Players, (a theatre group that later morphed into The Second City) in Chicago, and honed an act performing in nightclubs. Eventually, they moved to New York, made a splash, and within weeks were booked on the Steve Allen Show. In 1960 they had a Broadway show and subsequent album called “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.” Their style was mostly of a deadpan, witty, call-and-response nature, with one playing off of a miscommunication from the other and running with it. This was a completely different style of comedy from the mainstream at the time, and inspired countless comedians thereafter. They split up in 1961 and went their separate ways, but remained in the entertainment industry.

Somewhere in their brief, five-year span together, they were hired to do voice a series of animated ads for… Narragansett. I couldn’t find out if they were hired through an agency or what, but the ads are genuinely amusing. I’m guessing they ran somewhere between ’58-’60 and probably during Red Sox games, as Narragansett was the first brewer to sponsor televised sports starting back in 1945. Red Sox announcer Curt Gowdy became a spokesman for the beer often uttering the slogans “Hi Neighbor, Have a Gansett!” and “…that straight from the barrel taste.

Someone at Narragansett uploaded a whole bunch of these on YouTube. Awesome.

So what does some cheap regional old man lager and fuddy-duddy comedy duo from the ’50s have to do with NATALIE? Calm down… here’s where it all starts to come together.

Don’t give me that look, young lady.

If you didn’t catch it above, the “Nichols” in “Nichols and May” is MIKE NICHOLS. Why should you know that name? Well, besides marrying Diane Sawyer, here’s a couple little projects he’s done:

– Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Nominated for 13 Academy Awards, won five)

The Graduate (Seven nominations; Nichols won Best Director. The 20th highest-grossing film in the US)


Working Girl (Six nominations, including Best Picture. Won for Best Song)

Postcards from the Edge (Two nominations)

Regarding Henry

The Birdcage (One nomination)

Primary Colors (Two nominations)

Spamalot (Won three Tony awards, including Best Musical)

Closer (Two nominations)

Wait, what was that last one? Closer? Oh, what were the nominations? Huh, “Best Supporting Actor, Clive Owen” and “Best Supporting Actress, Natalie Portman.”


Apparently, Nichols and Natalie worked together in 2001 on a stage production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. I guess she did pretty good and held her own against her costars (Meryl freaking Streep, Kevin Kline, and that Philip Seymour Hoffman guy) and she landed the role of Alice in the 2004 film Closer. It’s a damn good movie, and also stars Jude Pretty Boy Law, Clive Owen, and Horseface Roberts. It’s full of love, cheating, and great acting, (except for Horseface, who plays a fauxtographer) and eventually leads to Natalie playing a stripper. Yes.

I think she’s tying her shoe.

1.) Narragansett Brewing became a big deal in New England.
2.) They hired Nichols and May for some ads, giving them a boost in popularity, and arguably helping to start Nichols’s directing career.
3.) Nichols becomes a big deal in the theatre/film world.
4.) Natalie is born in 1981.
5.) 20 years later, Natalie and Nichols work together on The Seagull
6.) Nichols casts Natalie for Closer
7.) Natalie Portman has a role as a stripper.
8.) I sit on my couch drinking ‘Gansett and watching and rewatching select scenes from Closer.

Therefore, Narragansett made Natalie Portman a stripper.

Check the math. It all adds up.

One final question remains: Natalie, what does Narragansett TASTE like?


Hi, neighbor.

Also found on YouTube… some old guy in a bar doing the Curt Gowdy ads.

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