I’m here to once again bring you a series of platitudes about beer drinking. And that, my friends, is this.
Higher ABV in a beer makes it better.
This comes from the “bang for your buck” school of thought.
I’ve been trying to curtail my intake of late – as a parent of both teen and pre-teen children, I know that eyes are on me to make sure my head is screwed on straight. Those post work beery meet ups and workout inspired hard seltzers, which lead to “cooking beers,” and so on, and, well, it’s a slippery slide.
Like a lot of folks, I’m what you call a “Black Diamond” drinker. What I mean by that is, like a skier tackling the toughest of slopes, I start my day with a long gradual descent, during which my mood improves, my confidence builds, and, yes, my ability to make sense and limit profanity pushes its outer boundaries. And then, as if being ejected forcefully from a lift, I go sailing down that downward side of the mountain, hurtling towards danger and potential destruction.
My answer to this has been the “one day, one beer” motto. During the week, I’m holding myself now to just a single beer, had with dinner, to wash down my meal and hopefully pair up nicely with what I am cooking. I try to keep a few Guinness or other darker beers in supply that go well with red meats, stews and other fall oven baked goodies.
But the go to beer has got to be a double IPA. I mean, if I’m only going to have one, it should give me a bit of a brain wollop.
Having added more IPAs to my routine, I can say that the double IPAs only bring double joy, and no real negatives. The extra hoppy flavor is not overwhelming but rather a comforting friend, like Bob Saget’s homosexual companion Joey from Full House.
The Southern Tier brewery is based out of Lockwood, NY, which is in the very southwest corner of New York State, closer to Erie PA than any metropolitan area of the Empire State. They have a wide range of beers and I’ve yet to have one that I didn’t enjoy. This particular 2X IPA, ITBMCBB*, is “an India Pale Ale kicked up a notch to form a true Double IPA: feverishly hoppy with a malty backbone and higher-than-standard alcohol content. Citrusy hops tease the senses with aromatics and lingering bitterness, while just the right balance of malts disguises 2XIPA’s extra gravity.”
I mean, sure, yep, I agree! I have no gift for flowery compliments. It tastes good, yo! It pairs well with chicken, or pizza, or, well, you know, anything you’d want to wash down.
I’m on the lookout for more locally available 2X IPA’s. Please feel free to share your faves.
Let’s dust off the Prose-inator to bring this home:
“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
In that sense, yes, it was a great summer. You’d think that for all of the delicious IPA’s, stouts, porters, pale ales, lagers, and ales I knocked back, there’d be a greater wealth of posts from this past summer.
I made quite a list in my brain of all of the fantastic posts I had hoped to write:
A rumination on the various delicious Saranac beers, served at my hometown minor league park and all celebrated as being “the Official Beer of the Syracuse Mets.” See this Legacy IPA, at left, as an example
A road trip post on the Iron City Light lager, enjoyed on a road trip to Pittsburgh with co-blogger Mr. D’Orso (even tentatively titled “Two Pickets to Titsburgh”). This post would have maybe highlighted my immediate response, when asked how the beer was, and I enthusiastically commented on how cold it was and how it was paid for
A post race/beer recap from this summer’s Boilermaker 15k, annually the biggest local running race I participate in (17,000 runners) and that includes a fantastic beer and live music fiesta at the culmination, and the complication of wearing a giant birthday-cake shaped hat as I do for this event every year (true story), and how a reporter called me a liar when I pretended that I found said hat in a portajohn (also a true story)
More reviews from tasty choices at my two favorite local haunts, Full Boar in North Syracuse, and Buried Acorn in Syracuse
Mostly, what would happen though, is I’d snap a photo, turn a clever phrase or two in my brain, and then fog over into a hazy (often a New England haze) beer induced feeling of complacency and buzz).
Summer, really, is maybe the season best accompanied by beer. Hot days at the ball park, on patios, with friends, are the perfect time to light into a tall cold one. It just didn’t translate to a lot of posts or writing.
Fall, on the other hand, well, the fall lagers, the pumpkin beers, the Oktoberfests and so on, well, there are lots of tasty choices on the horizon for autumn.
But not for me, not yet.
September seems like the perfect time for me to take a little hiatus, ease up off the gas pedal. I don’t really need to knock back so many beers (and hard seltzers and vodka crans and etc etc etc), and there’s less temptation in the fall. The kids are at school, we are more busy chauffeuring and running around, the baseball season has ended, and a lot of social opportunities to have beers with my buddies (rec league kickball games, weekday lunches on the sneak, etc) have kind of dried up.
And that’s actually OK.
Those fall beers will still all be on the shelf in a few weeks time. And the summer beers in my fridge will still be plenty drinkable.
It’s a direct contradiction in terms of motivation and effect.
Most people drink coffee because it’s a stimulant. It’s what gets me moving in the morning. Without it I’m about as useful as tits on a lawnmower. I need that caffeine to function and, perhaps more importantly, not kill all of you where you stand for giving me that look. You know the look I’m talking about. There, you’re doing it right now! Lucky for you I had my coffee this morning.
Then there’s beer. Drank for the opposite effect, really, at least in my case. Alcohol is not what I turn to for a pick me up. It’s what I turn to for a lay me down, really. Sit on the deck, grab my guitar, pop open a cold one, and soak up some summer.
ITBMCBB*, this tasty libation is a “creamy oatmeal stout… infused with locally roasted, cold steeped coffee through our HopBack vessel releasing subtle hints of cocoa, roasted nuts and dark mocha.” You getting all of that?
The beer and coffee flavors meld together wonderfully. I drink a lot of dark beers, porters, stouts, and this is one of my favorites in terms of taste. It’s got a warm, rich flavor and the coffee is prevalent. It’s also certainly a stout beer. It’s got both the beer and coffee vibes working for it.
(Sorry, if you want notes, and hints, you need Ceetar. That’s not my bag.)
But when do I drink this thing?
I’m not having a beer in the morning. That’s for 3rd shift employees, and lifers, and fraternity guys who don’t have anything else to pour over their Golden Grahams.
I’m not having this beer with my weeknight dinner. As much as a good stout goes with beef, if I have one of these beers after 5 PM, I’ll be tossing and turning late into the night. Can’t have that, Poppa’s got to get up in the morning, run the miles, earn the bread, make Momma happy.
I’m not having this beer with my lunch on the weekend – I like to nap after lunch. It’s the weekend, after all. DON’T JUDGE ME.
So, the only time I’ve found to enjoy a coffee beer is Friday evening, after work. It’s not as big a deal if I am up late, because it’s the weekend and I’m going to nap the next day anyway.
A window of one night, one meal per week, to enjoy a coffee beer, doesn’t seem like enough. Perhaps I work too hard?
What if you found yourself a thousand miles from home, with nothing but the kindness of strangers, and the beer they bestowed upon you, to comfort you in your hour of need?
Would you hold up?
Would you gird up your loins and take deep breaths and soak up the majesty of this fine land? Would you be sufficiently able to appreciate and respect the unforseen, the unplanned, the heretofore unknown path and revel in the newness and uncertainty of it?
Or would you wilt and suffer in it?
This intrepid blogger, quite involuntarily, had to walk this path and determine this through the only way that an individual truly can. He had to live it. He had to walk this road and determine, upon emergence at the terminus of the path, whether he was better or worse for wear.
This, friends, is my story.
I spent this past week on travel, for work, in beautiful Dallas, Texas. It was “July in Texas” warm, which is to say, it was hotter than butts stuffed up inside of other butts, the way that mozzarella gets sometimes stuffed inside of a pizza crust. But, as they say, a “dry heat.”
The week included meetings, and Uber rides, and Mexican and Thai food, and even an MLB game.
A game in which I partook of a local Texas Amber and another local IPA. They were both delicious, by delicious, meaning, they were cold and caused me to feel less sober than I did at the onset of each one. Because ultimately, that’s the thing, right there.
Our journey home is where things took a turn.
This trip, meant to be from Dallas, to a connecting flight in Boston, and then on to Syracuse, did not go as planned. An audible was called. Thunderstorms, and the kindly guidance of friends in the airline industry, suggested and then imposed the revised itinerary of a detour through Chicago.
It did not go as planned.
Luckily, we made friends. And not just the pleasant, pass the time making idle chit chat type of friends, but “friends with benefits.”
(Bloggers’ note: Non sexual benefits.)
Our new friends, Syracuse residents like ourselves, on business travel also, suggested we share an Uber downtown, as we all called the same “take the train” audible in the absence of concrete air travel plans. “Come,” they said, “live with us, in forests of azure,” to paraphrase the Lizard King himself. In this case, this non travel detour included a couple of key highlights. One being delicious local Chicago pizza (not “Deep Dish Pizzer,” a la the Bill Swerski Super Fans show), and another being local Chicago beers.
This, my friends, is the Revolution Brewing “Eugene Robust Porter.” I cannot tell you what the brewmasters may have intended, not without internet, but I can tell you that it’s a classic porter style beer, dark and rich and yet smooth and satisfying. Like watching a lumberjack bleed out into the snow while humming a CSNY song.
Somehow, my 14 hour detour of a train ride home included these two things.
And yet, wait. The story gets better.
“Come with us,” my new friends implored. “Take advantage of the hospitality of our employer, we have a fully stocked bar.” These fantastic sassy Chicago/Syracuse gals happened to work for an organization that feels (rightfully, mayhaps) that the best way to ensure their employees’ happiness is to keep them fully stocked with not only beer, and wine, but a vending machine full of free dental supplies.
We felt the need to “pre game” this 14 hour bus ride. On account of the fact that, well, we didn’t have a ton else to do, and the price was right. So we dipped into the “office stash.”
The beer on the right is a Ballast Point “sculpin IPA.” I have knocked back my fair share of these. Grapefruit, tangerine, and others. They all go down nice, like a free beer should.
The beer on the left is a 10% kick ass “double IPA.” My travelling companion, not being the drunk-tional beer blogger sort, found this one to be a bit strong for his liking. I gave it a proper home.
This next one was another “Revolution” brewery beer. I do not have a specific recollection of it, having knocked most of it back in the very brief interval of waiting for my third Uber of the day (from my new besties’ work to the train station).
We headed off to the train station.
But not before getting a couple of brewskis for the long ride home (seriously, how great is my new friends’ work fridge? I might have to update my resume when I get home).
Part 2 to be posted shortly, and, by shortly, I mean, over the next 13 hours of train travel and sneaky IPA drinking. Plus, we have leftover pizza left to consume. So much left to tell!
I want to believe the best in people, in things, in the world around me. I’m an optimistic man. That’s my nature, really, has been for a long time.
Based on that, I wanted desperately for two of my favorite things to come together in a synergistic holistic fashion and be great together. Those two things being a craft beer and Game of Thrones.
But sometimes I have to face the reality of the world. Not everything can be great.
I’ve enjoyed season 8 of GoT so far, and the build up to the series finale. I’ll be sad when it’s all said and done, but I hold out hope that some magical day, George R.R. Martin will finish the series and I’ll have new GoT content to absorb.
In the interim, well, there’s For the Throne.
Produced by Ommegang brewery in Cooperstown, just a few short hours down the road from me, I was hoping to give this beer a glowing review and offer it up as the perfect compliment to the home stretch of my favorite television show (I watch very little television besides Mets games).
But I can’t do that. Why?
Because this beer tastes like Renly Baratheon’s asshole.
I wish it weren’t so, but it is.
It’s touted as a “strong golden ale is co-fermented with Pinot Grigio and Viognier grape juices, then bottle conditioned with Champagne yeast.” It should sound like an odd amalgam of ingredients and process and it tasted that way to me. Too funky to be fruity, it wasn’t a beer or wine or champagne. It was just a yellowish alcoholic mess, like Barney from the Simpsons.
What, specifically, does it taste like? (Note, these jokes will ring hollow to those non followers of GoT).
It tastes like the underboob sweat of Robert Baratheon.
It tastes, well, I’d imagine, like what it would taste like if you wrung out Master Aemon’s diapers into a beer bottle.
It tastes, perhaps, like the gunk that got stuck in Cersei’s hair when she did the walk of shame.
It tastes, I think, the way I would think a hot pie tastes, if the hot pie was just a crust surrounding horse diarrhea.
It tastes like the goop underneath Ser Jorah’s grayscales when Samwell cleaned him up.
It tastes like the last thing Joffrey tasted before he bellyflopped and died at his own wedding reception.
It tastes, to me, like the bottom of the chest that Varys held his castrator in for all that time.
Maybe others might disagree, think it’s a great and unique and interesting flavored product. But I’m taking the black before I take another sip of this sucker.
So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a “Two Beers, One Lunch” post, and there’s actually a good reason for that.
In December of 2018 I changed employers. My new job is located further from the downtown eateries, and, also, because I am newer and still learning, it’s a tougher situation to drink two beers and then go back for an afternoon at work without risk being branded as “unprofessional.” Or “a big lush.”
But this past week, after taking my first turn in an on call rotation, I had accumulated enough hours worked to be able to take a half day on Friday, which meant lunch out followed by a trip home to nap.
You may recall, dear reader, my previous trips to the Hops Spot, saved for posterity here, and then also here, and finally, also here!
Yes, there’s a pattern. This is my preferred spot to go grab some delicious grub while also having a couple of brews. I’ve yet to have a bad meal there, and they routinely keep a list of 40+ beers on tap from all over the northeast U.S. of A.
This meal started out with the Fat Orange Cat Brew “All Cats are Gray in the Dark” white stout. This is a brewing company based out of East Hampton, CT, and they make a fine ass beer right here.
Pictured in the background, in blur, is one of my regular two companions, whom I will refer to as “the Imbiber.”
I’ve never had a white stout before, but having recently enjoyed a black lager, and after a ringing endorsement of this drink by our server (who swore that if you drank it with your eyes closed you’d never know it wasn’t a dark beer in color), I took the plunge.
Hints of coffee, chocolate and vanilla, as per the menu, and I could say that I wasn’t really feeling the vanilla, but I was all about the coffee and chocolate flavors here. My other companion, “the Sampler,” used the word “witchcraft” to describe this concoction, light in color but dark in taste, and I agreed that that was the best way to describe it. You could legitimately close your eyes and imagine it going down as a dark, rich stout.
The meal? Well, after a number of visits enjoying the classique poutine, this trip I went with the very Indian flavored Chicken Tikka Masala poutine.
Made up of fries, chicken tikka masala (Indian spiced) curry style gravy, chicken, cheese curds and fresh cilantro, it scratched me right where I itch. No, not the butthole. What I mean by that is, no one else in my family enjoys Indian food. Therefore, I look for opportunities to indulge in that style of cooking where I can.
Next up, beer number two, and I went with the full pint here. Because I had the afternoon off and was headed right to bed after this, I figured, why not?
This second beer was the Stoneyard Progressive Adult v1 sour farmhouse IPA.
This was another winner! The sour, ITBMCBB*, is described officially as a “juicy, sweet/tart IPA. Brewed with lactose, oats, natural peach and orange flavors, lots and lots of Citra hops, lactic acid. Mmmmmmm.”
I agree with each of these things! Noticed the peach flavor specifically, but honestly, it was just a refreshingly tart and tasty sour beer. I’d buy another one of these, for sure.
So, let’s review. What have we learned here today?
1. This blogger keeps going back to the Hops Spot to try new menu items and also pick fresh choices from an always changing selection of delicious beers!
2. This blogger has two companions, “the Imbiber” and “the Sampler,” who make for pleasant company and co-enjoyment of beers and poutine.
3. I’m just dreaming about Indian food while eating American fare with my family.
4. Sours and stouts are great! (OK, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you knew that already)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
My beverage of choice this morning was the Kings Country Brewers’ Collective offering of a “Morbid Hour” Black Pilsner.
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
Or, maybe, it’s a financial decision. These delicious craft beers and porters and stouts and imperials all cost more than a draft of American lager that I was happy to slug down all of those years. Maybe a break from drinking is just a way to replenish the bank account. I can respect that.
Or, maybe, you’ve got something cooking like I do.
Bird flu. SARS. Asian swine flu. Swamp fever. Dengue. (NOTE: I am not a medical professional).
Basically, life has sneezed AIDS into my mouth and now I’m hurting.
For the better part of the last six days I’ve felt more or less like the guy in “Jurassic Park” who gets eaten by the T-Rex when he’s sitting on the toilet. Wet, panicky, hiding, on the bowl, waiting to die. That’s my week.
Not really the recipe for finely crafted words about the merits of a certain sour cran concoction served up by the local watering hole, which has been calling me over an Instagram post since Friday.
Not really the recipe for a Flagship February post about Guinness, the beer that really put me on a road towards finding out what else there was to drink in the beer aisle that I was missing out on.
Not really the recipe for that “cross promotional” theme I had been cooking up in my head based on the recently enjoyed Harpoon Dunkin Porter – like, when do we get the Heinz Ketchup Red Ale? The Oscar Meyer Dirty Dog Water Light Lager? And so on…
Not really the recipe for my idea of tying quirky beers to odd folks in my neighborhood, like the whisper thin Asian teen at my local Wegmans who pushes carts back in to the store, and talks to himself loudly all day, or the lady at work who draws her eyebrows on asymmetrically and reminds me of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.
And, sure as sugar, not the recipe for drinking and appreciating beers!
So, in the interim, I shall sit here and suck on my ice water, and dream of better health and thirstier days, and the wherewithal to put it all down in new prose for this fine blog.