Old, Bad, Beer And Drinking It Anyway

I was in a unique situation recently; I’d saved a special bottle of beer and was looking forward to opening it–and I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

 

I was somewhat less aware of every ‘big’ beer or brand in 2010. There were a lot less of them of course, but there were still a ton, and unless you’re making an extraordinary effort, well, some slip your awareness.

 

Stone Brewery, like many people, noticed that the new millenium lent itself to dates like 1/1/1 , 2/2/2, etc. They started a series called Vertical Epic 2.2.2 that released on that date in 2002, nominally designed to age until 12.12.12. The craft beer movement, and Stone itself, was pretty tiny at the time, so the batch was pretty small, but each year everything got bigger.

 

I didn’t become aware of the series on the east coast until roughly two weeks after 10.10.10, which just so happens to be my wedding date. I don’t need to tell you that I bought a few bottles of a beer with a unique name and date released on the day of my wedding. This one was meant to age until 12.12.12, the culmination of the series. Taking advantage of the coincidental timing with the wine grape harvest, this beer is a Belgian Strong Ale with fresh Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Alewife Queens Stone Vertical Tasting Event, now a brewpub!
I believe this is 8-12 going right to left. 10.10.10 right in the middle.

The next question would typically be, “How did it taste?”, but that’s a tricky question. How did it taste in 2010? I honestly don’t recall. On 12.12.12 when me and my wife went to a Stone event in NYC? It was pretty good then, though mostly overpowered by some of the stronger, and older, beers in that lineup. I remember thinking it was very wine-y but still with malt, hops and yeast characters that defined it as a beer. That was a great event, Alewife had all but the very limited 02.02.02 on tap and we got a sample of all of them.

 

How did it taste on 2.10.19, exactly 100 months from 10.10.10? Less good. Perhaps even bad. It was basically flat, and tasted a lot like old white grape juice. The wine notes were prominent, with maybe even more sweetness from the malt with no bitterness. I drank a few ounces of it, but that was enough. Even nostalgia didn’t get me to finish it. Neither did my wife, nor either of my parents who tried it.

Even my Grandmother was willing to try the 10.10.10 for Christmas 2012.

I’ve written about accidentally aging beers before, and while I’d like to tell you I intentionally saved this one for the mathematically appropriate 100 months, it’s not true. I purchased three bottles–We had the first at Christmas time in 2012, tried the other one 2 years later when I noted ‘Not as good as two years ago’, and the third got packed away during a move and forgotten about until recently.

 

Your beers are probably at their best _right now_ so go drink them!

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Ceetar, You Ignorant Slut (or, “Guinness is, in fact, the Perfect Beer”)

With all apologies to my esteemed coblogger, Ceetar, no, “Nugget Nectar” is not the perfect beer.

(Author’s note: Hat tip to, of course, SNL, for providing the inspiration for the title of this post.)

(Author’s additional note: I have not in fact ever tried a Nugget Nectar beer, so it is premature for me to not declare it to be the perfect beer, but I do hope to try one sometime in the near future.)

The perfect beer is, of course, a Guinness.

Not Guinness blonde, or extra stout, which are in fact fine choices.  I’m talking about the original Guinness Irish Dry Stout.

Let’s review.

Why is Guinness the perfect beer?

First of all, it’s the beer that got me off of the “yellow lager at the ballpark” mentality, and out into the great big world of beers that are out there, to see what else tastes different, and enjoyable.

Second of all, it’s available everywhere.  Lots of places have it on draft (more on this in a moment).  It’s generally pretty reasonably priced.

Third of all, it’s got a distinct flavor.  I’ve drank probably 200 different beers in the last two years, but if you put a blindfold on me and put a Guinness in front of me, I’d know it.

Fourth of all, it’s got just 125 calories per 12 oz serving.  Now, any respectable Guinness drinker is either getting a 16 oz pint at a bar or alternately popping open a 16 oz can at home, but, still, even at that ratio, you’re still getting far fewer calories from a Guinness than you are from most craft beers and IPAs.  While that may not matter to everyone, for those of us who are attentive to not being ginormous gastropods, every little bit counts.

Fifth of all, and perhaps best, when you get those beautiful 16 oz cans to drink at home (do not buy the bottles, while they taste like a Guinness, they don’t do this), and you crack one open, nitrogen from a “widget” is released, simulating the draft beers that are charged with nitrogen, and you get this fantastic and wonderful visual effect (forgive the shakiness here, I am squatting after a long day of work, exercise, drinking, etc.).  Not to mention, that very comparable draft beer taste and feel.

Last of all, and, maybe the best reason, Guinness is delicious.  Drink one, you’ll see.  You will feel like Arnold does in “Predator” when he gives the flamethrower battle cry from the trees.

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Run, Relax, Refresh: Now and Later

Lest the reader think that the default state of the Barley Prose blogger is in full repose, drink in hand, perhaps being fanned by palm fronds or fed grapes by bikini clad servant girls, I’m here to inform you that there’s actually a very active side of the spectrum on the Barley Prose writing staff.

That’s right, it’s another installment of Run, Relax, Refresh!

Run!

First, the run. This is the very well known “Tipp Hill Shamrock Run” 4 mile race course.

This “spring” race (spring in quotes, because, in Syracuse, a March race usually features temperatures very un-springlike) is an annual tradition, being run for the 14th time in 2019, and most years attracting upwards of a couple of thousand runners. Getting people to come out and run a hilly four miles in weather best described as “balls-ass cold” is no small feat, but this historic neighborhood is just the draw to get people to shake off their late winter doldrums. There is live music along the course, people in wacky costumes, and tons of free booze (mimosas, Jameson, etc.) being handed out to the less speed-inclined. It’s a fine morning workout and I’ll be running it myself for the ninth consecutive year.

My local run club gets out on this course a couple of times each winter, with the cooperative efforts of local pubs, for a course preview followed by morning refreshment. Here we are.

Coffee? Uh, no, I’ll find something frothier

NOTE: many of the runners in my club opted for coffee and breakfast pizza post-run, not everyone is so inclined to cracking into a draft beer at 9:30 in the morning, but, then again, not all of them write for such a prestigious publication as the Barley Prose blog.

I held back a bit on pace, knowing that I had a 14 mile training run (technically a half marathon being raced at training pace, plus a 1 mile cooldown) on tap for the following morning. Plus it was my first day back after a week in Cancun and I was feeling the briskness of a Syracuse February morn.

Here’s my Strava of the course.  Because, of course, unless it shows up there, it almost certainly didn’t happen.

Relax!

We started and ended our run at the Now and Later Bottle Shop and Tap Room, placed conveniently right around mile 1.3 of the race course. This is a concept that I am a big fan of – while these folks don’t brew their own beers, they keep a well stocked set of beers on tap for convivial moments, such as after a group run for example.  The bar is complete with funky taps and a nice range of semi-local micro brews.

Choices! But, just you wait…

The other half of this facility is a place where the buyer can go select a four, six or twelve pack of a wide assortment of beers to take home with them. It’s a good concept, have one in the tap room and get more to go! They have a number of their choices stocked in the cooler adjacent to the bar. This is really the kind of wall I can get behind, politically and spiritually.

Wall of beers <sniff>
Refresh!

My beverage of choice this morning was the Kings Country Brewers’ Collective offering of a “Morbid Hour” Black Pilsner.

Bonus points for the glasses with the tap room name on them, for the forgetful sort

There’s a nice interview here with the folks at KCBC, a Brooklyn brewery located in Bushwick. Both the brewers and their clientele count themselves as fans of “metal” and brewed this beer specifically for a series on the “most metal breweries” and for a music and drinking fest entitled the “Decibel Metal and Beer Fest.” This beer, despite being called a pilsner, is in fact a black lager or “Schwarzbier,” but was named as a pilsner so as to be more appealing to the masses.

I enjoyed the crud out of this beer!  It was smooth and had a nice finish.  Dark, but not as heavy as a porter or a stout.  Not sure what it is about a dark beer, it could be that I started out as a Guinness man and the dark beers just all appeal to me.  I’ll be digging into this thought in an upcoming post.

As usual, I will let the prose-inator carry this post to the finish line…

“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a

made love to a

in the middle of a

while listening to the Greatest Hits Album of the world’s greatest band, ever, that being of course

and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of

and, finally, that baby cried

tears of

into a frosty pint glass.”

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