Posts Tagged ‘wifey’

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)
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.


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.


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.

A Sampling of Lakefront Brewery’s Brews

Aside from the weekly Rule 37 drink this week, there wasn’t much to tell in a Monday Hangover post. At least, nothing noteworthy except Saturday night’s event: a beer tasting party featuring some brews from Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI.

I was introduced to Lakefront a couple years ago while visiting Milwaukee. I crashed with Trevtastic and Murs, and it just so happened that they lived a couple doors down from the brewery, along North Riverwalk Way, on the banks of the aptly named Milwaukee River. It’s one of the better tours I’ve been on, and for $7 you get four drink tokens, a tour, and get to trade in your plastic tasting cup for a real pint glass at the end. It’s a pretty sweet deal, and I’ll go into more detail with an official review and tour in a couple weeks, after another trip out to Mil-wacky.

I recently visited Lakefront as part of Trevtastic’s bachelor party shenanigans at the end of Febtober. We were having some samples before the tour (Lakefront highly recommends sampling before the tour, and taking one along with you. It makes the whole experience much more interesting.) and one of the guys in the group pointed out the owner, Russ Klisch, who was standing nearby. I’ve been a fan of Lakefront’s products since I first tasted them, though they’re difficult to find in Boston. I went over to introduce myself to Russ to tell him my thoughts, and let him know about the blog. He took my card, looked at it and said “Drinking blog, huh? Hmmm… well, we should give you some samples then.” Um. Why yes! Yes indeedy, please and thank you. Free beersies! He wandered off and came back with a four-pack of bombers to sample, making the rest of our group regard me as some sort of wizard, able to conjure free beer out of thin air.

With some careful packing, all four bombers made it back to Boston intact and ready for tasting. I wanted to taste all in one session to compare/contrast the different styles from the same brewery, but four bombers (88oz of beer total) is a hell of an afternoon session, especially with abvs starting at 6.5%. So, I decided to invite a small tasting panel over to sample some beers that you simply can’t get around Boston. The attendees included the Lady Friend, Irish Lad and Wifey, the Engineer (who also attended the previous tasting of California beers) and his wife, and my brother the BeerBro, who came down from NH for the night. The two wives settled into a few cocktails, while the other five of us tucked into the Lakefront bombers. The bottles were a wealth of information, with the back label giving many details about the individual brews, abv info, IBU ratings, plato scale gravity readings, and even a lovibond degree. Ubergeeky, though I wish more breweries put this much thought and effort into their labels. It’s nice to see a brewery give you all the information you could want and more, so you can learn about your beer. Nice touch, Lakefront.

Bring on the beers.

Local Acre Lager It’s a lager. Duh.
7% abv, 36 IBU
Made from locally-sourced (Wisconsin) ingredients, an example of a true farmer-brewer product.
Nose: Little to no aroma, but a faint hint of cereal grain sweetness.
Taste: Cereal grain start with a slight bitter snap. There was a medicinal, stale quality to the finish that none of us could quite put our finger on. Wifey called it an “acrid” sensation, almost like burnt plastic. It didn’t ruin the brew, but it was puzzling as to what that flavor actually was. I almost think it could have been some rye in the mash bill, and the Irish Lad wondered if it was the difference between six-row barley that’s normally used, and the two-row included in this brew. It may have simply been the booze, as a 7% lager is definitely up there.

Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale Strong Ale
8% abv, 45 IBU

Nose: Hoppy, with a dark malt aroma.

Taste: Malty, but tastes a bit thin. I got a boozy flavor to it, but it was well-balanced with the sweetness of the grain, though certainly a sweeter beer. The Engineer thought it was too thin, but wanted to drink it all night. It is very drinkable for the abv, and could get dangerous when you pound several of these at 8% and try to stand up. I think the thinner quality actually helps the drinkability, as a more syrupy, heavier ale would weigh on you. Bridge Burner is a great balance between flavor and chug factor. Very nice.

MyTurn Series DAN Baltic Porter
8.5% abv, 37 IBU
The MyTurn Series is a sort of employee-brew project, much like White Birch Brewing’s Apprentice Series. Apparently Dan’s Baltic Porter was VERY popular, so I was glad to snag a sample.
Nose: Nice roast with a dark chocolate bitter.
Taste: Medium syrup quality. Sweet, dark chocolate syrup is cut by the bitter roast. Very nice, very smooth, very tasty. Unremarkable, in that it’s indistinguishable from any other Baltic Porter, but could be said to be a perfect example of the style. I thought it was outstanding as it was exactly what a Baltic Porter SHOULD be, though in that regard it doesn’t stand out from the crowd. It’s the Toyota Camry of Baltic Porters; perfectly reliable, but nothing that would catch your eye. Still, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

IBA India Black Ale
6.5% abv, 50 IBU
I thought this was a neat trick. There has been a lot of discussion in the craft beer world about “black IPAs,” that is, an IPA made with a darker malt. I discussed it briefly here with the Widmer Brothers Pitch Black. The question is a matter of semantics: how can you have a BLACK India PALE Ale? Many breweries have adopted the term “Cascadian Dark Ale” to appropriately describe their brews, though Lakefront simply avoided the whole thing by calling their brew an India Black Ale. How simple is that? Nicely done.
Nose: Smokey and savory. Definitely a bit of smokiness in there, most likely from roasting the barley, though I don’t recall coming across a smokey quality in any other bIPA. The savory smell likely points towards some Sorachi Ace hops in the mix. The Engineer agreed, getting an aroma of “greasy smoked sausages.
Taste: It’s got a decent bitter hoppy start, but nothing in the follow through. It falls off quickly, with a mild hop linger. It was the Irish Lad’s favorite of the four Lakefront beers, though the Engineer said it “does not have the malt you’d expect.” I agreed, thinking that it was a bit thin, though very drinkable. Strangely, the BeerBro and Irish Lad both got a finish that reminded them of a Scotch Ale. I think they’re both insane.

Serendipitously (an awesome word I never get to use), the Irish Lad had brought over a pair of Oskar Blues’ Old Chub Scotch Ales. We cracked them and set about to comparing. To me, a Scotch Ale is usually all malt with little hop. Most I’ve had in the past range from a medium syrupy quality up to a sensation of drinking a glass of malt extract. The Old Chub, while certainly malty, did not have any such syrup to it, and was the lightest mouthfeel Scotch Ale I think I’ve had to date. That said, it was very nice; malty and sweet with some vanilla notes. After tasting, the BeerBro and Irish Lad conceded that it was entirely different from the IBA, and I still am not quite sure what sensation they were getting from the finish of the Lakefront brew.

We went on to taste a couple homebrews from a Smash project the Irish Lad and I had concocted, and the night’s events pretty much faded from there. Wifey conned us into some silly game that several of us managed to sabotage quite well, and I found myself with a Sweaty Betty Blonde Wheat Ale from Boulder Brewing, and finished off with a fantabulous Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. Overall, the group seemed ambivalent about the Lakefront beers, though I enjoyed them overall. The lager had that unidentifiable taste in the finish, which is a good reason to have others sample with you, throwing in their opinions. Unfortunately, that one trumped the whole group of us. The Bridge Burner was tasty, if a little sweet, but certainly didn’t feel like an 8% beer. That’s a good thing. I felt the Baltic Porter was a perfect example of its style, and would love to pick up another. The IBA just wasn’t doing it for any of us however. It seems like Lakefront is brewing milder versions of various styles, choosing drinkability over innovation. It’s a fine tactic to choose, but I like to see breweries pushing the envelope a bit more. It’s why Sam Adams disappoints me time and time again; they have unbelievably vast resources, and yet create middle-of-the-road beers. Their Bonfire Rauchbier is what led me to have the Lady Friend try a REAL rauchbier. Sure, it comes down to what you can actually sell, and most people don’t want the crazy obscure beers, but Boston Beer Company could certainly afford to take a few more chances. Lakefront is nowhere near that size, so I’m willing to cut them a lot more slack. I love their regular lineup, but was expecting a bit more punch from these special bottlings.

That said, there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch.
Buy some if you can find it.

Quote of the night: “Can beer get a yeast infection?” “Yeah, it’s called brett (brettanomyces).”

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along.
Put it to the test: send me your booze!

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.


Sunset Grill and Tap. Mostly tap.

Too many beers.

That’s the only way to describe Sunset Grill and Tap in Allston.
Their website claims 112 taps and 380 bottles.

It’s out of control.

Not that it’s a bad thing.

Sunset at sunset.

I don’t pretend to know much about Allston-Brighton. It’s over on the Green Line, and takes FOR-EV-ER to get to, because the T makes about 73 stops along Commonwealth Ave for all the little Boston University snowflakes. Some of these stops are honestly about 100 feet away from each other. They only mode of transportation that have shorter distances in between stops are school buses. These behemoths seem to stop at each little dumpling’s individual house, and take 45 minutes to travel a half a mile when I just need to get to work and am stuck behind the yellow monster contemplating the engineering required to affix a battering ram to the front of my car. Or a rocket launcher.

Don’t think you’re going to drive over to Sunset either, as parking in the area is notoriously scarce and “permit only” for about 97% of the streets. If you park at Rite Aid, they will certainly tow you. So I don’t make it out to Allston much, with the exception of a pub crawl here and there.

We learned soon after this that tequila shots have no business on a 9-hour pub crawl.

Naturally, the Irish Lad is a big fan of Sunset, though the allure has kind of worn away, as now a trip to Sunset is usually followed by a visit to Do Re Mi Karaoke around the corner so Wifey and her friends can sing the most horrible songs in pop history. Loudly. Wifey can actually sing quite well, but her friends seem to think that volume = talent. Not the case. The Irish Lad does not sing. Evar. So for him to sit through these events is like an aural form of waterboarding. He keeps ALMOST going deaf, but never completely, because that would bring relief. Do Re Mi doesn’t allow alcohol, so generally a stop at Sunset is necessary for some Dutch Courage before venturing into the horrors of “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” sung at Pratt & Whitney decibels. However, he suspects that he’s being conditioned to associate Sunset with pain, because Wifey doesn’t like beer, and as such, is not the biggest fan of a place that prides itself on 100+ taps.

I see no problem here.

Happily, on the last visit, it was the Lady Friend and Sissy, back from Cali for the holidays, who accompanied me to this Palace of Pilseners, Armory of Ales, Fiefdom of Fermented Fun. We snagged Sissy fresh off the plane at Logan, and headed directly for the bar. Being Sunday, we actually found the rarest of the rare: a free parking spot in Allston. Once inside the bar, I perused the list, while they each went with pre-determined samplers. The Lady Friend got the “Stick in the Mud” consisting of four, 5oz glasses of darker brews: Clown Shoes Pecan Pie Porter, Berkshire Brewing Company Coffee-Haus Porter, Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. Sissy started with the “New England Happy Camper” as being on the West Coast gave her a craving for New England beers. Plus, I suspect it’s hard for the hippie environmentalist in her to pass on something called the “Happy Camper.” That one loaded up the Magic Hat Ravell Porter, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, Jack’s Abbey Hopnius Union (India Pale LAGER) and Woodstock Inn’s Autumn Brew.

Meanwhile, I was having my usual problems with Sunset’s extensive list. I’ve come to learn that I have to choose three beers: my first choice, a backup, and a backup for the backup beer, since they NEVER seem to have my first choice, and occasionally, don’t have my second pick either. This occasion threw a new twist into the mix. I spotted Boulder Beer’s Mojo IPA on the list, a favorite of mine that I hadn’t seen in stores for awhile. The waitress assured me it was in stock, and she brought back a brew that was a much darker hue than the expected amber orange of an IPA. “This is Mojo IPA, right?” I was assured once more that it was. It had a thick head, and nosed of sweet malt, with vanilla, as if barrel-aged with a touch of bourbon. The taste was a mildly syrup sweetness, with a roasted/toasty malt characteristic. This was not Mojo IPA. When the waitress returned, I asked her to check what the tap was, and she reported back “Mojo Killer.” Well, that doesn’t actually exist, but the “killer” gave me enough of a clue to determine that it was actually Boulder’s Killer Penguin barleywine, nowhere near the hoppy delight I was expecting.
Le sigh.

Artsy pensive picture.

The Lady Friend was driving us back, so she nursed her first sampler, while Sissy moved on to an Allagash White witbier. Apparently Maine wheat beers aren’t terribly common in the wilderness of California. Slightly disappointed by my Boulder kerfuffle, I hesitantly dared to order the legend: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. Strangely enough, they actually DID have it. This sucker is beyond 100 IBUs, and clocks in somewhere in the range of 18-20% abv. It varies depending on the year. Last year there was a drought of 120min due to some problem at the brewery that led to the entire batch being dumped, but apparently it’s back. Nose: Hop. Wet, dank bitter, with some floral notes. The taste? Whoa. Wait a sec. Whoa. Syrup. Hoppy, but unlike any other. Malt, then an alcohol medicinal finish. It’s a boozy one. Apparently Sissy was starting to feel her beers as well, since she got rather chatty, and let several amusing quotes slip. She lamented living with a messy roommate claiming “Our [messy] bathroom is pretty much like her face,” and said that Lady Friend’s phone “…looks like Nintendo. It doesn’t look like a grown-up phone!” Ok there, Sissy. Time to get you home for some cocktails.

The Lady Friend drove. After that Dogfish 120, everything was kinda awesome and shiny.

So. Sunset is awesome. IF they have the beer you want. The actual space consists of two rooms, and a downstairs (I don’t think I’ve ever been down there). Big City, a sister restaurant lives upstairs with pool tables and some kinda cool retro styling. But you have to go to Allston to partake of the wonders. It’s kind of like CBC in that manner… a great place, but many perils await. Thar be dragons. And tow trucks. BEWARE!

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.


The Repeal Day Celebration

Repeal Day!
A day for true celebration, as we mark the anniversary of the death of “The Noble Experiment,” Prohibition.

A little background: basically the country was going down the tubes because people drank WAY more alcohol back in the day than we do now. We’re talking like five gallons of hard liquor a year in Colonial times. Average. Per person. That’s nearly two shots of liquor every single day. Those numbers did start to come down with the Temperance movements of the late 1800s, until the Teetotalers got their way. Because America wildly overreacts to everything, they decided that an outright ban on alcohol would solve all their problems. The Eighteenth Amendment went into effect in 1920 and said you couldn’t manufacture, sell, or transport liquor in the US. Possession and consumption was still technically legal. The non-drinkers thought it would create a new utopia and last forever. The “Father of Prohibition,” Senator Morris Sheppard, claimed that “There is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail.” Then things went a bit south… bootlegging, moonshining and organized crime skyrocketed until even die-hard Prohibitionists had to admit that it was a bad idea. On December 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th (and final state needed) to ratify the 21st Amendment, and Prohibition was over. Though it didn’t go into effect until December 15th, the 5th is celebrated as Repeal Day.

This is like my Christmas. Only in December.

Anyway, a celebration was needed. Last year I was drinking beers with the Irish Lad and Wifey at their house, and we fittingly had our first tastes of Brew Free or Die IPA from 21st Amendment. Actually, on the way home I got pulled over because my taillight was out. The remaining beers were rolling around the back of my car (they had escaped from their carrying case), and friendly Mr. Police Officer shone his flashlight on them and asked me what brand they were. I should have offered him one, but he let me go anyway.

Repeal Day fell on a Monday this year, so that meant a great excuse for a Monday Night Cocktail Club event. The Lady Friend and I met after work at South Station, and ventured up to the Purple Shamrock, in the Government Center/Faneuil Hall area. Now, on a Friday or Saturday night, the PSham is complete chaos. All the tards from the suburbs or further think that the Faneuil area is the happening place. The reality is an evening of long lines, cover charges, lousy drinks, college kids, overly-made-up skanks, and Jersey Shore types from Revere. It’s great for a night of drunken debauchery out with a group, but if you want to enjoy a quiet drink, this is not the place.

On a Monday night, that all changes.

I had wandered in there a couple years ago on a MNCC saunter, needing to use the bathroom. Then I figured since it was cold outside and warm inside the bar, I may as well stay for a pint. I struck up a conversation with the bartender, Jackie, and we had a lovely chat. She’s from just north of London and a genuinely nice person, who knows how to pour a proper pint of Guinness (with the foam so close to the top that it has a small convex bulge across the head as the surface tension holds it together). I began to stop in for a pint and a chat on many following MNCC excursions, and even on some weekends with a rowdy Midwestern group of friends. Here’s a protip: it really pays to know the bartender personally on a busy night. It might be three deep at the bar, but I’m getting served first.

Apparently, the Purple Shamrock is named for a bit of Boston history, which I just recently found out. Former mayor/governor James Curley, who was cartoonishly corrupted and just plain criminal (seriously, he was in prison a couple of times), was nicknamed The Purple Shamrock (also, the Rascal King. Yes, like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones song). Across the street from the bar, there are two statues of this villain; one standing and one sitting on a nearby bench, both doing nothing useful, as politicians do in real life. I honestly don’t understand why such an unscrupulous person is memorialized and celebrated to that effect, but that’s Boston.

So the Lady Friend and I started there for a bite and a beer. The food is pretty good, and it’s nice and quiet on a weeknight. This time it smelled lovely, like breakfast. It took me awhile to pin down the aroma, which finally clicked as “french toast.” It turned out to be a “Maple Pancake” scented candle in the entryway, and I think it was a welcome change from the usual “holiday” scents of cinnamon and nutmeg. I had a couple Guinness (naturally) and a tasty tasty BBQ chicken sangwich, while the Lady Friend went with steak tips and a water. Apparently, she likes the steak tips at the Union Brewhouse better. We finished up, bade farewell to Jackie, and headed to our first official stop, The Bell in Hand Tavern, just down the block.

Oldest? Well, old, but not oldest.

A little more history: The Bell in Hand Tavern claims to be the oldest tavern in the country. Well, according to this article, not quite. But it is pretty damn old. Sidenote: I will have to make trips to Charlestown (Warren Tavern, 1780) and down to Newport (White Horse Tavern, 1673, beating the Bell in Hand by over 100 years). Anyway, Bell in Hand was founded by Jimmy Wilson, Boston’s town crier. It became known as a place where the colonists met to discuss and plan the revolution.

These days, not so much. The revolution is over (we won! U-S-A! U-S-A!) and now the Bell in Hand is another douche central like the Shamrock. They have karaoke during the week (fortunately not on the Monday we were there) and live cover bands on weekends. On a Saturday night it’s usually wall-to-wall dbags. Again, I’ve been here many times before, usually with a party group, and it’s a blast, but totally not my scene of choice now. It made the list because it is a historically important spot in Boston, and if we’re drinking to celebrate a historical event, we’ll do it in the right place. The Lady Friend and I sipped on some Samuel Adams Brick Red ale, a beer that can only be found on tap in Boston. It’s pretty good… similar to a Sam Lager, but without the hoppiness. A good, easy-drinking ale; a proper Boston drink. Naturally, this necessitated a trip to the lav, which appears to have been remodeled since I was here last. At least, it’s nicer than I recall, but memories from the Bell in Hand tend to be rather fuzzy. As a puzzling feature, the urinals are awkwardly mounted about a foot higher than seems necessary. I’m not sure if this is on purpose, or for a certain reason, but it does generate an unfortunate amount of, shall we say, splashback. Just a tip for the gents. Also, apparently they just phoned it in with the soap dispenser… nothing wall mounted, just a pump-top bottle which I’d bet would go missing within the first 20 minutes of a typical Saturday. Drunk guys will steal or smash anything that’s not literally bolted down. Just because they can.

We ventured to our next stop, No. 9 Park, which is practically next to the State House. It’s a fancy restaurant and equally fancy bar where the cocktails are top notch. This was another MNCC discovery, and one worth several repeat visits. I got to know Ted, the bartender, and we chatted about drinks and such until he got promoted to bar manager, and his shifts changed. Happily, he happened to be working on Monday night, and we exchanged pleasantries. The Irish Lad and Wifey had joined us en route, and we lounged in the corner booth. While we were making our drink choices, Ted brought over a round of Last Word cocktails, a very fitting Prohibition-era tipple, which was a very generous and appreciated gesture. It also made me appear to have connections, and, who am I to argue? I’m kind of a big deal.

So, we enjoyed our Last Words, and put our drink order in. Among the drinks were a Mint Julep for the Lady Friend (her Rule 37 for the week, as she had never had one before), and a Negroni (Plymouth gin, Cinzano vermouth) for me. Wifey had some vodka drink, followed by one with apple brandy and gin, and the Irish Lad was pleased with a West Coast Green Flash IPA. We sipped and chatted, and Wifey waved out the window at passers-by. There was a guy at the bar with a top hat/rabbit puppet who seemed to be a few crayons short of a rainbow. We finished, said a quick word of thanks to Ted, and ventured out to our next stop.

This is where I’m supposed to tell you about the bar 21st Amendment, next to the State House.
They were closed.
On Repeal Day.

So, it was off to Silvertone Bar & Grill instead. I heart Silvertone. Dark, cozy, good food, good drinks. It’s a well-known place among industry types, and a great place to relax. The food and drinks are both decently cheap, but without skimping on the quality. Again, on a weekend it’ll be packed, but with a more hipster crowd than the Faneuil bars. On a Monday night you can squeeze into a booth and order up some comfort food, which is just what we did. Mmmmmm grilled cheese with bacon. Wifey had a raspberry Stoli and Sprite, or something liek that, while the rest of us had some Mayflower IPA. The IPA tasted off to me, with a spicy/nutmegginess to it. It could be that my palate was out of whack after the Negroni. I’m not sure. But this was the last stop for the night. The Lady Friend was fading fast (even though she had a half day of work on Tuesday and didn’t have to get up early) so we finished up and headed for the T. Repeal Day ended with plenty of drinks in my belly, and half of my fries and sangwich (with bacon!) in the fridge for lunch the next day. I miss the Monday Night Cocktail Club.

Lobstah tree!

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.


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.

Rule 37: Champagne Night!

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

Rule 37 Bonus Round: Champagne!
Well, sparkling wine.

The Lady Friend had acquired a quite economically priced bottle of Australian De Bortoli Sparkling Brut (Family Selection) from Bin Ends, on our last visit. Perfect for mixing cocktails. So we did, for a Very Special Wednesday Cocktail Night.

I started with a Spritz! which is a happy little word that requires an exclamation point to follow it.


– 1 1/2 oz Campari
– Prosecco (I used the sparkling we had on hand. Didn’t have any Prosecco)

Um. It’s pretty simple. Dump the Campari into a rocks/old fashioned glass over ice and top with the sparkling. I used a flamed orange peel rather than the suggested orange slice.

I got the recipe from one of the blogs I follow, the Savoy Stomp, which used to be called the Underhill Lounge. The author took a trip to Italy, the land of Campari, and did a few posts about it. This one happened to catch my eye. You can watch a video of him making it (along with an Americano) on his site here: What I Learned in Italy (Part 3).

As for the taste… Wowsers! It’s like they’re fighting in my mouth. The bitter Campari and the sweet wine are rastlin, and there’s no telling who is going to win. Certainly an interesting drink, and one worth trying. If you’re not a Campari fan, the sparkling helps take the edge off, though if you ARE a fan, there’s still plenty of flavor.

The Lady Friend arrived at SFHQ about 45 mins earlier than expected, so instead of finding me washing the dishes, she walked in to me sitting on the couch snacking on some BBQ chips. While I then attended to sorting out the kitchen, she started off with a Saranac Chocolate Lager and wanted to try one of those Manhattan things I’m always drinking. She’s not really used to the boozy cocktails, so I started her off with a lighter whiskey, Redbreast, instead of my preferred rye. Redbreast is a pot-distilled Irish whiskey (one of the only pot-distilled ones left) and the bottle was a gift from the Irish Lad and Wifey last year after I completed my black belt test. It’s quite good… much better than many standard Irish offerings, and I really don’t use it enough. The Lady Friend is getting interested in the difference between bitters, and the Manhattan is a good showcase. She got Angostura with this one. Finishing that, she moved on to her Rule 37 cocktail, the Long Hello.

The Long Hello

– 3/4oz apple brandy (Laird’s Applejack)
– 3/4oz St Germain
– 1 dash Fee Bros Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters
– Champagne to top
– Grated nutmeg garnish

Shake the brandy, St. Germain, and bitters, and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with champagne. Dust grated nutmeg over the top as garnish.

Apparently, she liked it, claiming it was “by far the most fall drink we’ve had, and besides the Bourbon Bramble, it’s my favorite this fall.” Ok then. Simple enough. I did manage to find whole nutmeg (turns out it IS in the spice aisle) and I think that helped the flavor quite a bit.
Onto my next drink.

The Typhoon

– 1oz gin (Bombay)
– Dash of Pernod
– 1/2oz fresh lime juice
– 4oz (top) champagne
– Lime Twist garnish

Shake the first three ingredients and strain into a cocktail flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with a lime twist.

I found it was a bit more liquid than expected, so I used a collins glass. The Lady Friend found this recipe somewhere, and it came with this bit of info: “At first glance, this cocktail may seem elegant and refined, but within the bubbly is a monsoon of flavors and a potency that suggests you hang on to that palm tree before you have another.” Strap yourselves in, we’re in for some chop.

Taste: Whoa. Strange. Definitely a tart lime taste, and a whole buncha licorice. I think I added more than a “dash” of Pernod. It was more like a splash. Sparkling adds a bubbly bite to the whole deal. Really interesting.

The French Revolution
From Gary Regan’s “The Bartender’s Bible”

– 2oz brandy
– 1/2oz framboise (Flag Hill raspberry liqueur)
– Top w Champagne

This one was for the Lady Friend. I believe this one was simply built in the glass. She made it, so I didn’t see what happened. Dump in the brandy and framboise, top with champagne and give it a stir. [UPDATE: The book says to stir the brandy and framboise in a mixing glass with ice, then strain into a champagne flute and add the wine.] The Francophile in her couldn’t resist the name, or an excuse to use her raspberry liqueur. I think we were watching some episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia by this point, so I didn’t hear how the drink tasted.

There you go. Four new recipes to try with a bottle of sparkling. Have at it.

The Monday Hangover: Nov 12-13

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

Following last weekend’s trip to Cal-ee-for-nee-ah, it was nice to get back into the weekly routine of cocktail night on Friday. There were Rule 37 fufillments, a whiskey sour made with an overripe lemon (yargh… not recommended) and a cracking of a new bomber, imported from the west coast: Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea Imperial Coffee Vanilla Porter. The Lady Friend was quite keen to try this one, as she’s been gaining an interest in stouts and porters (she found an Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout in Healdsburg that was quite enjoyable for her and JJ.) The Ballast Point, however, was WAY too coffee bitter for my taste. It was more coffee than porter, with cold-pressed beans overpowering the other chocolate and vanilla flavors in the brew. I’m not a coffee drinker, and called it quits on this one after a couple sips. The Lady Friend took down the whole bomber. I guess she liked it.

The following day brought a Tröegs Hopback Amber Ale to sip on mid-afternoon, with a Negroni before supper. The Lady Friend had picked up a bottle of Gallo sweet vermouth for me, a brand which I hadn’t tasted before. It has much more of a wine quality than some of the other brands, thought it blended quite well, assuming its place behind the bold Campari and schizophrenic gin flavors of the cocktail. The Lady Friend rather enjoyed a Tröegs Pale Ale with dinner, but there was much more beer to be tasted.

Saturday night was the main event. I had been talking to the Irish Lad about coming down for a sampling of the brews I brought back from Cali, when we got an email from JTops the Engineer, whose wife was busy babysitting that night. He went to college with Wifey, and is a craft beer drinker, as well as cocktail/spirit geek. Initially, he wanted to go out for some beers at a couple Boston-area craft bars. Instead, we invited him along to the beer tasting night, which helped to add a new element to the group, as he is generally strongly opinionated about most things. When I say “generally”, I mean “always”. And when I say “most things”, I mean “everything.” And he’ll be the first to tell you that. But, he does have the knowledge to back up his opinions, and is prepared to cite specific examples and show his work when called upon. Wifey was along as well, and sugared herself with some Smirnoff Ice, a couple Dark & Stormys (Stormies? Also, “Dark ‘n Stormy” is a trademarked term owned by Gosling’s Black Rum. Because of this, a “Dark ‘n Stormy” legally must only be made with Gosling’s. What a douchy move on their part.) and a pina colada that was half gone before I could turn around. The rest of us loosened our belts and tucked into the brews.

Nelson Golden IPA Alpine Beer Co., Alpine, CA
Hopped with Nelson Sauvin, a New Zealand hop. I was talked into two bombers from Alpine in the City Beer store by the very helpful clerk, Stephanie. Alpine is about 30 miles from San Diego, and according to Stephanie, was flying off the shelves. They got several cases in the day before I was there, and the stock was already quite dwindled. She suggested I snag it while I could, so I grabbed the Nelson and one other, Pure Hoppiness.

Nose: Citrus right away. Strong tree/ stone fruit. Sweet and delicious. With my nose close to the liquid, I found an undercurrent of some cannabis-like bitter, lurking beneath the citrus explosion. Though I was initially dismissed for that, the Irish Lad came to my defense, smelling a bit of dank, and pointing out that hop plants are related to cannabis. So there.

Wifey said it smelled like tropical Mike & Ikes.

Taste: Doesn’t taste like it smells, and that becomes apparent right away with a sharp, dank, bitter start. It’s almost like a rye bitterness, which the Engineer suggested. It does have that spicy snap to it, then the expected citrus/ grapefruit sweetness washes in. I was getting a bit of mint/ menthol underneath which helped to open up the flavor. But again, the others thought I was crazy.

Armageddon IPA Epic Brewing Co., Auckland, New Zealand
The Lady Friend read somewhere that only 1,000 litres of this have been created. We weren’t sure if that meant 1,000 litres just this year or in the history of the beer. Allegedly, it used to be brewed with Simcoe hops, but was recently changed to Falconer’s Flight. According to their website, they use Simcoe, but there was no brew date on the bottle, so we have no idea what batch this was from. This was a 500ml bottle, a little more than a pint.

Nose: Mild piney bitter hop with some sweetish maltiness to the aroma. Also a slight citrus, and a reddish colored pour.

Taste: Much stronger malt than the previous Nelson. A hop spiciness, with some dry resin finish. Drinkable, and very well balanced. We all liked this one, but the Engineer was harder to please, noting that the nose died off too quickly, with a low alcohol push. He was “tasting the bittering hop by the end of the glass.”

Sculpin IPA Ballast Point, San Diego, CA
The only Ballast Points I’ve found out here are the Big Eye IPA, and whatever fishy names they chose for the pale ale and porter. I snagged this in the City Beer store intrigued by the promise of a citrusy West Coast style IPA. Apparently it won a gold medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup.

Nose: Tropical! Sweet and juicy.

Wifey said it smelled like a Jolly Rancher.

Taste: Piney hop start. Wet, juicy melon. Watery and refreshing. This time, the Engineer came to my defense with the watery comment. I don’t mean watery as a weak flavor, but rather a wet, clean, and opening sensation on the tongue that allows more flavor to come out. It’s the opposite of syrupy sweet.
The Engineer and Irish Lad both spoke of cucumbers and melon rind, with some puckery citrus. Wifey had a sip and proclaimed “ruby red grapefruit, but ONLY the ruby red kind,” and the Lady Friend just said “I like this!”

Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale Boulevard Brewing, Kansas City, MO
We took a break from my California hops to taste this one that the Engineer had brought along. It’s called a farmhouse ale, and was very wheaty-Belgian that poured cloudy. “Look at the haze!” was the comment from the Engineer.

Nose: Whoa. Took a big whiff… bigger than needed for this one. Very aromatic. Wheat. Banana clove. Bubblegum. Phew.
The Engineer: “Funk. Whole bunch of funk.”

Taste: WHOA. “That’s got some balls,” was my exact quote, though the Irish Lad suggested “Robust.” Took a bigger sip than necessary. Has some body to it, and a strength in there. Not a fan of this style, but it has a punch behind it that carries it along. The Tank 7 was really well done.
The Irish Lad noted that “the alcohol (8%) really makes it a nice drink,” while the Engineer proclaimed that there was “a whole bunch of cheese” in there.

Sockeye Red IPA Midnight Sun Brewing, Anchorage, AK
You know what you can get in California? Beers from places like New Zealand and Alaska. I bought this out of novelty.
This poured darker than I initially expected, until I realize it was a RED IPA.

Nose: Sweet up top, but a savory undercurrent that was puzzling the Engineer. Cheese and sausage. Savory meaty. Strange, but not unpleasant, just unexpected.

Taste: A little flat. Lower carbonation. Sharp bitter start, eases into a metallic copper taste, but not too much. A nice blend. This was the Lady Friend’s least favorite so far, due to the sharper bitter hop, rather than citrus sweet.

Double Daddy dIPA Speakeasy Brewing, San Francisco, CA
So, on our Cali trip, Ke$hia Ho was trying to decide if having Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA on tap was a good choice for her bar. I tried to order it at several places, but they either didn’t have it, or they were out. The Lady Friend and I finally did get a taste at Ke$hia’s bar, and liked it, but determined that it had a rather peanutty flavor to it. Having set the baseline, we could now find out if the double version was better.

It should also be noted that at this point in the evening, we broke out the cards and started playing “Asshole.” So, the notes may fall off a bit from here.

Nose: Staleness. Mustiness. Earthy, definately earthy, with a malty nuttiness.

Taste: Malty. There IS a peanutty flavor, as in the Big Daddy single IPA, but it’s much smoother and rounded out in the double.

Maiden the Shade specialty ale
Ninkasi Brewing, Eugene, OR

This was recommended to me by Stephanie again. Plus, it had a nice label and a pun name.

Nose: It… just smells like an ale. Nobody in the group could come up with a better description. Malty grain.

Taste: Touch of bitter, but slight. Malty, cereal sweet. Tasty, but unremarkable.

Dogma Brew Dog, Fraserburgh, Scotland
On the label, it’s described as an “ale brewed with honey, kola nut, poppy seeds and guarana.” This launched a whole debate between the Engineer and the Irish Lad about brewing “weird beer for the sake of being weird.” The Engineer said plainly “Brew Dog bugs me,” while the Irish Lad admitted that they make “innovative tastes but not always successful beers.”

Nose: Sweetness. Malt, but sweetness under the malt. Honey. Lots of honey.

Taste: The Irish Lad found this one “very gin-y.” It starts bitter, with a lot of honey sweet that starts in the middle, and grows to the finish. I thought both their Punk and Hardcore IPAs were interesting, and grabbed Dogma on a lark. It was certainly different, and I’m glad I tried it, but not something I’d have on a regular basis. I don’t really like honey all that much, and it seems to be the primary sweetener in this one. As the Irish Lad summed up, “I’m not saying it’s a good beer, but I’m happy I tasted those flavors.”

After eight different brews, we called it quits, and the unruly mob was forcefully expunged from my lair. The Lady Friend and I kicked back with a Lagunitas IPA to close with, since the Irish Lad had brought one over. I’ve puzzled before why he doesn’t like it, as I find it piney bitter, but generally tasty. Apparently he catches some sort of plastic quality in the brew, and the Engineer wasn’t terrible keen on it either. Regardless, the Lady Friend and I sipped it peaceably before retiring. Sunday brought a Widmer Brothers Drifter Pale Ale to sip on with some crispy bacon around the noonish hour. Delightfully and deliciously citrusy and tasty, with some lovely salty bacon. Then I busied myself with getting very little actually accomplished by not leaving SFHQ at all until finally crashing into bed to start another lovely work week.

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