Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stop hiding behind your Fruit of the Looms

Stop putting shit in the beer, stop putting shit in the beer, stop putting shit in the beer. It is a Denis Leary mantra, and I can't imagine Timothy Leary disagreed much either. Choco-Fruit-Pocalypse beers are a pet peeve of mine. Do you need to bourbon barrel age your chocolate cherry stout. Maybe. If it is a good stout, with a reasonable addition of cherries (and chocolate, if you aren't relying on malts to bring that flavor, then some extra character might help. But you have to start with a good base beer! As grandma says, you can't polish a turd. And she's 97, grew up in Hawaii and was a bootlegger, so you know she's seen some stuff and probably did put horse turds in her beer. Hell, I'm going to say she invented it. But good beers with fruit added are rarely what I see at homebrew meetings, where people bring in their second or third beer and it probably got more gravity points from added fruit than any type of character malt. You know who I think brew those beers, these guys:

(I think Leaf might have talked shit about my Porter at the last CBS meeting)

I think there are two reasons this might happen. The first, maybe there are not enough commercial beers around that have fruit in them and people are making homebrew to fill that void. I certainly homebrew to get weird British styes that are hard to find here (except at Goose Island, who seem to think they are a British pub dropped in a disgusting strip mall, may Nisaki bless them and deliver them from the evil of a 49% ownership stake by AnBev).

The second option is that people are trying to hide flaws with fruit. It doesn't work. I'm a novice judge and I'm always at the fruit beer table. Funny story, I didn't think to mention my nut allergy to a competition organizer one day and was almost felled by a Hazelnut Porter. It is BEER! As Laguniutas say on their excellent 13th anniversary beer, "This is a Bronze Age business..." But the fruit and strange flavors prevail. Its tricks, and you don't want to do tricks until you have the basics down. This isn't Tony Hawk, you don't pick up your board and go. You have to learn to skate, then you can try to ollie. Don't try to start with a tail-whip-slide to double-olly through time travel to smacking your own baby bottom before the doctor can at birth while you stare at your own placenta following you out. Leave that until you've mastered getting water, grain, hops and yeast together to make a decent beer. Then be great.

As BJ told me one day when we were kids: Learning to play guitar and then adding effects is heavy metal; using effect pedals to learn guitar is grunge. Who's beer are you going to drink?

(This man has never had a blueberry wheat beer, nor had sex with a groupie that has)

Oh, and I made some rye beer one day but screwed up the yeast. Read all about that here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fermentation Friday: Half-assing your way to innovation

Through the centuries, there have been some bizarre things people put in their home brew.  Sometimes to add flavor, sometimes to serve a functional purpose in the alcohol making process.  Some of these additives became part of the standard processes and recipes, and others, well...

I bet you didn't know that if you don't have a lid or bubbler for your primary fermentation vessel, you can float a layer of dried, crumbled horse turds on top.  It forms a layer that will allow gasses created by fermentation to escape, but not allow harmful infections from the air to get to your sweet, sweet horseshit brew.  But make sure the layer is even, you don't want all that nasty stuff in the air to get through your horseturds.

If your fermentation slows or stops before you have enough alcohol in your brew, it can be a bad day.  But there's no need to dump it down the drain and lose all that time and money you put into your batch; simply add something to your brew that will get your yeast going again.  Like a dead mouse.  A decomposing mouse carcass will add yummy yeast food to get things going again.

Or you could throw in... I mean carefully add old, weeping dynamite.  The waxy, crystalline stuff "weeping" out of the stick is pure, unstable, holy-fuck-nobody-move nitroglycerin.  The nitro will act as a chemical catalyst to wake your yeast up like a triple shot of espresso or... um... a stick of dynamite.

Paddy and I like to carry on this tradition of innovation and half-assery.  The weirdest thing I've ever put in a batch of home-brewed beer?  Grass.  Not marijuana, actual lawn clippings.  This was our very first batch of beer ever and we had been very careful to sterilize everything and prevent any and every possibility for infection.  Paddy was upstairs grabbing a bottle of vodka to fill the bubbler, and I was tidying up a bit.  I picked up a rag on the floor and shook it out for no reason I can really figure out.  The rag had grass clippings on it, and they flew into the beer and sank heartrendingly and irretrievably to the bottom.  It didn't seem to hurt the flavor, though; that's still one of the tastiest batches we've made.  But that was an accident, so I don't think that counts.

No, we're talking about things we put in beer on purpose, often with much less successful results.  And Paddy and I often stray quite a bit from the beaten path when making beer.  We like to do drastically different things, often things that a professional or even serious amateur brewer would never ever suggest trying.  When making wine, that usually takes the form of using just about everything but grapes.  But beer isn't as widely varied.  You make a beer out of kiwi fruit instead of grain and... well, it's not really beer anymore.  So what do we do to keep things different?

Rice Sugar
This is the most recent experiment on this list.  Paddy and I like Miller High Life.  No, seriously.  On a sunny, 98º Saturday afternoon in August, do you really want to be swilling down a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (described as pouring like motor oil and being so sweet and chocolaty that “only the most decadent chocolate dessert can stand up to it”) or do you want an ice cold, thin beer with light taste and large sized bubbles?  If you said you would rather have the stout, you're wrong.  Or clinically insane.  Or maybe you lost your sense of taste in a horrible large-mouth bass fishing accident.

Anyway, we decided to try to make some High Life.  So we set off to the brew shop with a vague idea of what we needed to do.  We knew we needed the lightest grain we could possibly get, but we'd heard of another ingredient that gives High Life its thin body and light, crisp flavor: rice sugar.  Or rice solids.  Maybe it's the same thing, we're not sure.  Like I said, we only had a vague idea.  But they had a big thing labeled rice sugar, so we bought it.  Then we bought some light malt and a random beer yeast.

The result?  High Life.  The color, flavor, and mouth feel were perfect.  The only difference between what we made and real High Life is that our beer had absolutely no carbonation.  Something went wrong when we primed it, and the beer was flatter than something that's really flat.  Oh well.  We'll probably try again last next spring just before the fruit is ready for wine making, so it should be ready to drink on those hot summer days when lunatics and snobs reach for a warm bottle of chocolate syrup.

DME for priming
And speaking of thick beers, they're not all dark.  There are some very light colored beers out there that go down like a triple-thick milkshake.  The best (and only) one I've had that fits into that category?  Old Speckled Hen.  It used to be on (nitrogen) tap at our now defunct favorite bar.  I used to love going there and getting a shot of rye, a bacon-egg-and-cheeseburger, and a tall, cold glass of Old Speckled Hen.  We all loved this beer so much, Paddy and I decided to try to make some ourselves.  We found a clone recipe somewhere, but true to form we showed up to the brew shop without it.  So we winged it, and I thought I remembered reading that a way you could get that rich, foamy head was to prime the beer with DME instead of priming sugar.  Makes sense, in a way.  DME is sticky, so the bubbles should be small and foamy.  Or does that only make sense to me?

At any rate, we picked up an small bag of DME and used it to prime the beer.  And it kinda worked!  We pretty much made Old Speckled Hen, and couldn't resist putting a cock joke on the label.  Ok, a lot of cock jokes.  But that's just how we roll: foamy and cocky.

Cherries and Honey
Another clone of a favorite beer or ours was Mad Elf.  We've made it twice, once with amazing results, once with less than amazing results. To make Mad Elf you need really dark grains, cherries, and honey.  The second time, we forgot the honey, and the lack of honey turned up the suck quite a bit.  This clone recipe was not from some clone brew book; it was based on info from Tröeg's website, some clever thinking on our part, and some help from the guy at the brew shop getting the proportions right.  So it's a pretty original recipe with some pretty different ingredients and some pretty impressive results... when you remember to get the honey.

So we've covered the win, now here comes the fail...

Ah, the Ginger Fail.  I know I've covered this one, so I won't go into too many details.   The short and chubby of it is ginger was the weird additive, and that part worked brilliantly!  We essentially chopped up some ginger and chucked it in with whatever else we were brewing.  After a couple weeks, it seemed like it was on the right track, but it wasn't sweet enough, so we added more sugar when we racked it.  The mistake?  Not boiling the shit out of the sugar.  So what was a bitter gingery brew turned into something that smelled like someone pissed in an old, sweaty gym sock.

We have added sweeteners to our home brew since then, and I'm pleased to say that boiling the shit out of it avoided any more sockpiss incidents.

Then there's the Serious Strawberry Fail.  This was a really half-assed idea.  Coming off our resounding success with the first Mad Elf clone, Paddy and I felt like maybe we knew something about brewing beer and decided to totally wing a recipe.  Once again, we headed off for the brew shop with no idea what we were going to get.  Starting with the recipe for the Elf Clone, we modified it in ways we thought would make an excellent summer beer.  The dark grains were swapped out for light grains, we kept the honey, and changed the fruit from cherries to Strawberries.  What went wrong?  Well, I don't think those ingredients were ever intended to go together.   I can't sum up the end result with anything as simple as "sockpiss", but it was not good.  Not terrible, just... unpleasant.  I think we ended up with some citrus notes, possibly from the yeast, that clashed with the tanginess of the honey and the sweetness of the strawberries.

Guess we should stick to the grass clippings.  But when all is said and done, I've just listed 5 times we tried weird ingredients in our beer, and 3 of those 5 times it turned out ok.  4 out of 6 if you count the grass!  Hell, 3/5 is 60% and that's a passing grade!  So if your idea of mixing things up is switching your brand of priming sugar, I encourage you to take a bigger chance.  Head down to the brew shop with only a vague idea of what you want to do, and don't be afraid to wing it.  Pick some random ingredients, throw in some stuff that probably shouldn't even go in beer.  If you have the same luck we do, there's only a 40% chance whatever you come up with will suck!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's all fun and games till someone loses a law suit

So the party is over?  Shit, man, I just got here!  Seems you can't randomly libel people on the interwebs anymore.

I mean, I was just getting into the blogging thing, ranting about things no one cares about, telling jokes only my friends get.  And now it seems you can't randomly say nasty things about people without backing it up.

Well, shit.

Not that libel is a huge part of what we write here... is it?  I mean, the first thing that springs to mind is my rant when Iron City moved to Latrobe.  There's some unflattering comments in there about Tim Hickman and small dogs.  I thought people would realize that it was intended as a joke, but when it came time to publish, I started to have my doubts, so I thought I'd add something to cover my ass:

But it wasn't something I'd heard.  It was completely made up, and as far as I know, untrue.  And unbelievable.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure the person I intended to aim my rapier-like wit at is Tim.  I think he's the director or CEO or something like that, but it might be someone else; but I didn't do any serious research on it.  I mean, I thought this was just blogging, not real journalism. It's not like anyone believes something like that.  It's not like anyone takes this shit seriously. It's not like someone could sue you over stupid shit like that, right?

So do I have to check facts now? Do I have to go out and interview people and spend hours in a library photocopying shit with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford? Cause I'm often drunk when I write these. I've never been drunk in a library, but it seems to me like a good way to lose your library card.

And that's another thing. Do I need to start like, using images that aren't owned by other people? Cause I just randomly take stuff from whatever Google Image Search brings up.

But back to the libel thing, how far does this go? If someone were to take the comments about Tim seriously, I suppose that could be libel. But what about the videos and pictures of drunk people at PSU? Those weren't staged, they're the real thing. And while I tried to remove stuff like time and date stamps from the photos, I guess someone might know who the chick vomiting green stuff into the trashcan is. Someone might recognize the guy breaking everything at the tailgate party. Could they sue me?

 And what about the booze reviews? If I say I don't like a particular alcoholic beverage, is that libel? Or just my opinion? Do I need to hire a lawyer to write a damn blog?

Ok, I've got an idea. Let's try a disclaimer.

There's a pretty good chance that anything I or any other author writes on this blog is either poorly researched, merely opinion, or total bullshit. We're not real journalists and this isn't supposed to be a factual reporting. Much is intended as editorial opinion. Much is not intended to be taken seriously. Much is intended to be humorous, metaphoric, sarcastic, hyperbolic, or silly.

There. I hope that at least mostly covers our asses. As for the pictures? Well, we don't make any money off this site... not many people read it in the first place. And if you're angry that your picture is on the Internet at all... hey, I wasn't the first to post it. Yell at your friend who took the picture. Or if you took the picture yourself and posted it, perhaps you've learned your lesson. And if you're worried about copyright, just contact us and we'll be more than happy to give you full credit and link back to your website from the picture of you passed out on the shitter with your head in a trashcan full of puke.

Monday, August 24, 2009

People who vomit blue and gold

As a follow-up to my last article on Penn State and drinking, here's some videos.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Save DoD

No, I'm not typing some hand-shaking-from-DTs missive about saving D&D. Drinks Over Dearborn, fine boutique purveyor of spirits, beer and wine in Chicago's River North are trying to stay afloat in this bad economy. Having opened not long before the recession hit, they are one of the finest stores around in terms of recommendations, unique tipple and education.

In the interest of full disclosure, we had our BJCP class there and I've gotten to know Kyle as a really generous guy who knows a ton about drinks. He's a certified Sommelier, in a guild of bartenders (who knew there was such a thing), and with this venture master of his own domain. He hosted a wicked cool speakeasy party a while back, to support the Museum of the American Cocktail. BB King's daughter even fronted the band. After the party I watched a friend fall down a flight of stairs, just in case you thought you weren't reading the right blog.

If you're in Chicago, go check it out. If you're not in Chicago, tell your friends who do live here to go check it out. If you're ordering for a big event, screw Binny's and order from Kyle. We do for work and he's always given us great recommendations*. Sign-up for their twitter, or e-mail list if you get a chance.

(Image used without permission from DoD's website)

*Also, I've got beef with the walrus looking dude that runs the wine department at my local Binny's. And they are a soul-less chain. Plus, I hear they kick puppies. And who the hell stocks a $15,000 bottle of cognac 1/2 a mile from some of the worst poverty in the country? Get the pitchforks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Last Call

A legend is throwing in his bar towel.
Angelo Cammarata, the Guinness World Record Longest-Serving Bartender, is calling it quits.  After Serving beer since the stroke of midnight, the day Prohibition ended, his reign of 77 years is going to be a hard one to break.  But this isn't just the retirement of a 95 year old man from his job.  This is the end of a Legacy, for Cammarata's Cafe has been sold to a new owner and will officially be changing names in a few short weeks.
His Sons, John and Frank, who actually are the ones who own the bar now, are 59 and 60 years old respectively.  It's time to settle down and retire.  It's time to spend some quality time with the wife and kids, and grand kids, and great grand kids, and...well you get the idea.
I'm sad to see the place go, but I knew it could only last so long.  It is a Shame to see the bar leave the family though.  It was a townie bar if there ever was one.  Everyone knew each other's names.  But unlike most townie bars, they have always welcome newcomers to the mix with a cold pint of Iron and a friendly smile. 

A couple of us visited the establishment last winter to help celebrate the anniversary of Angelo's 77th year of bartending.  He's a spry old man.  You'ld never guess that he was 95 years old, with how he carries himself around the joint and mingles with the regulars.
Hopefully I can find the time to get over there for one last round, from the man himself, if I'm lucky.  I think I'll have a Jim Beam & Coke.  It appears to have worked for him.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Beer!?!

This past Saturday B. James, McPaddy and myself went to "The Brew at the Zoo", a beer tasting event at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium to support the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. I had heard about it last year, and just had to try it out this year. Overall, I'd give it a rating of 6 out of 10.

Free Beer, free food, and monkeys throwing poo, how can you give it such a low rating, you ask? Well as much fun as it is to be drinking while watching lobsters battle stone fish for a perch or watching an ostrich try to mount a giraffe, I don't think the event was operated as efficiently as it could have been. I attribute this primarily to the fact that this is only the event's third year, and I don't think they were prepared to handle the crowds they got. I bet the setup was acceptable for the first 2 years, but now that the word is out on the event, and they sold out of tickets, I think they just got overwhelmed.

There were 6 beer zones setup throughout the zoo, each with a variety of different brews to choose from. Every time you approached one of these areas it turned in a complete cluster-fuck, because there was one or maybe two gigantic lines you had to wait in to sample...something. What exactly, you didn't know until you got there. And if you were at the wrong end of the sample table, you found yourself waiting in a 10 minute line for Blue Moon, when the McSorley's Black Lager was at the other end of the table...Fail.

I think They needed to spread things out more. If not each beer, they needed to give each brewery their own separate table to work off of, and they needed spaced away from each other a little more. Signs would've been good too. How hard is it to print all the Brewery Names on pieces of coroplast and stick them on poles, up high in the air, for all to see. There was also a map of the zoo which showed where each beer was located at. Unfortunately, they had only one sign and it was posted at the entrance of the zoo. So unless you had a photographic memory (or were smart enough to snap a picture with a decent digital camera, not a ghetto camera phone) it really served no purpose. They should have at least printed out fliers to pass out. Some of the beer locations also ran out about halfway through the event, leaving you at one end of the zoo with all the beer at the other end.

There were about 115 beers and other alcoholic beverages to sample, and I think I maybe tried 11 things over the course of the 3 hours I was there. Of those 11, maybe only half were new to me. My original goal was to have left the evening having sampled 20 or so NEW beers (mostly micro brews). Instead I sampled maybe 6, and the place was too much of a zoo (pardon the pun) for me to savor anything or to talk with the vendors. Don't get me wrong. I had a good time, but I didn't have the blast I was hoping for.

Of what I did get to sample, here is my opinion. Keep in mind that unlike M. Randolph, I will NOT be using any technical jargon what-so-ever. I'm a layman. I drink it, I even brew it...a little, but I won't even begin to consider myself an expert. My taste buds are the only critic. They either like the taste or don't.

Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn Brown Ale is an American style Brown Ale. I've had it before but it has been a while. If falls a little in between your typical American Brown Ales and your English Browns. The hops is there but it doesn't provide the bitterness we Americans are obsessed over. That actually makes it a decent beer in my eyes. I like my hops, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, something many American Micro brewers forget.

I tried their Brooklyn Pumpkin Ale, but wasn't too thrilled with it. I appreciate what they were trying to achieve, and it seems like every fall more and more Pumpkin Ales pop up, but I don't think they pulled it off quite right. It tasted like pumpkin flavored cardboard dipped in beer.

Lindeman's Framboise

The sample glasses we received were only 3oz. So when the vendor dispensing the beer keeps telling everyone to chug it and he'll top you off again real quick, by golly you do it. When he starts screaming "chug chug chug", and the his manager has to tell him "this isn't the place for such antics" you begin to wonder if he wasn't sucking on the end of the tap when people weren't looking. Anyways, this was probably the most memorable of the beers I sampled that night. I've also had this one before, but the mixture of the hops bitters with the raspberry tart n' sweet taste makes for an very enjoyable experience.

Pabst Brewing Company

McSorley's is from another local PA Brewery. What was once the Wilkes-Barre Brewery, and is now known as Lion Brewery, the McSorley's line was bought out at some point by Pabst. From what I know, they still make it in Wilkes-Barre though. Their Irish Pale Ale was definitely worth waiting in line for. It had a nice amber hew and a hoppy bite that didn't linger in your mouth.

I also sampled McSorley's Irish Black lager. I really don't know what to compare it to since I think it was my first black lager. It reminded me of a Porter or a Stout, with a nice malt flavor. Doesn't matter to me how it's made, it tastes good.

Diageo (Über Booze Gods)

Red Stripe

Imported from Jamaica, I really can't say that this is a good beer or a bad beer. It's a pale straw colored light lager with a hint of a citrus bitterness that lends to an interesting aftertaste. Either you like it or you don't. The decision is up to you. I like it because it reminds me of the island I've grown to love. Frank Zappa once said, "You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."

Smithwick's Ale

Another brew from one of my favorite Alcohol conglomerates. Smithwick's is an Irish Pale Ale with a slightly reddish brown body and the simple well defined flavor of the red malt. Not the best example to represent this particular style of beer, but definitely one I have no problem drink. Another one of the beers I've had plenty of times before this event.

Smirnoff Ice

Yes, the festival did have a handful of malt beverages and ciders to sample as well. Since there was no line at all for these beverages, I had no problem with taking what I could get. I tried two of their new flavors, Passion Fruit and Mango. Smirnoff Ice beverages have always been loaded with enough sugar to turn an elephant into a diabetic, but these two new flavors were definitely an exception to the rule. Though the Passion Fruit was still a little too sweet for my taste, it was far from being the super sweet sugar kick that typically makes my lips pucker tighter that a prison inmate's ass when they hear the words "fresh fish". The Mango flavor actually had a very pleasant and lightly sweet taste to it. I'm sure it was loaded down with about 2 cups of sugar still, but at least it was drinkable.

Magic Hat Brewing Co.

Everybody seems to love #9, but not everybody has tried some of their other craft brews. I tried some Lucky Kat, which is advertised as an IPA (Irresistible Pale Ale) and has a nice hoppiness to it without being overwhelming. Whether you like Magic Hat or not, I really appreciate that they don't give two shits about conforming to accepted standards. They made a beer that tastes good and called it an IPA. It didn't taste anything like what I'd expect from an IPA, but it did taste good. It seems that most of their beers follow a similar fashion. The only thing they seem to consistently conform to is a resistance to conform. Way to rock the boat Magic Hat.

Yuengling Beer Company

I'm from Pittsburgh, which means I am required by law to have Yuengling Lager in my house at all time, but they do make other beer as well. At the zoo I got a change to sample their Porter. I loved the roasted maltiness of this one. It was nice and dark and went down smooth with just a hint of hops. I might have to pick up some of this. I hope my parents and friends will forgive me for buying something other than Lager.

So of the 11 beers I tried, 6 were new to me and two of the new ones weren't even beer. Not quite what I hoped for in a beer tasting. It left me wanting, but you take what you can get. Will I do it next year? Not sure. Though a cool concept, I think I can dedicate my efforts to exploring the zoo or I can dedicate my efforts to sampling the beer. If they don't change how they run and operate things, I'm not sure if I can pull off both.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Those of you that yelled the proper response to that out loud in your cubicle, causing everyone to look at you funny, most likely spent 5 years in the drunken stupor known as Pennsylvania State University. What's that I hear? Hisses? Cries of unfairness? Did you just say "Don't be a hater"? (Really? "Hater"? Wow, we'll talk about that one later on...) But I am in no way being unfair, or a "hater". In fact, I went to PSU for a couple years, and had many fun times there. But that's exactly the point, and the point of The Princeton Review who named PSU the #1 drinking party school.

I'm sure some of you are saying that "party" doesn't necessarily imply drinking. And you're right. There's plenty of awesome college parties that don't involve drinking, right?

Ok, so can we be realistic about this? College is the time when American kids first start to take part in adult festivities, mainly focusing on drinking shitty beer and fucking anything that moves (or doesn't after drinking enough).

But what makes this even more prevalent at PSU? There's bigger schools, smaller schools, better schools, worse schools... in fact, there's no factor you could pick that isn't either above or below some other school. It's not at the absolute top or bottom of anything except partying. That, to me, seems to indicate not one cause, but several factors working together. Let's dig deeper.

The most distinguishing thing about PSU, other than partying, is football. Saturdays in the fall, football reigns supreme. With the enormous influx of fans and alumni, the population of the county doubles. Not the town, the county. No, seriously. It actually doubles.

The stadium alone holds just a few thousand less people as there are in the entire county. And these alumni who pour in on Saturday set a fine example for the impressionable youngsters...

...who follow in kind.

But to be honest, it all stays relatively wholesome and within the bounds of common decency on game day.

... more or less. But that's game day. Just one afternoon out of the 168 hours in a week. What do you do the rest of the week?

Nestled into the middle of picturesque nowhere, Penn State is a pretty fucking big university where there's not much to do on a Friday night. There's two theaters, two Wal Marts, and a mall with about 20 stores. Paris it ain't. But there are 54 fraternal organizations, and 21 bars. That's fine for everyone over 21, but the bars generally employ the afore-mentioned football team's defensive line as bouncers. You don't get into a bar unless you're genuinely over 21. And if you're from a state that issues shitty cardboard driver's licenses, you might not even get in if you're over 21. So what's a college freshman to do on a Friday night?

Delicious. And that does appear to be a dorm in that picture, with the heavy freshman-proof wooden door in the institutional burgundy aluminum door frame with heavy-duty hinges.

But it's not just juniors and seniors at the bars and freshmen and sophomores drinking in dorms, there is drinking everywhere. Bars in town, frat parties, house parties. Sometimes the sports teams get in on the act too.

But what's wrong with a little drinking? Nothing, really. Paddy and I aced Drinking 101 at PSU, and look what upstanding, productive citizens we grew up to be!

But that's part of college. It's not just learning what they teach you in class, it's learning how to be part of society. Learning what is acceptable and not acceptable. Learning how to be an adult amongst other adults. That process can have high points and low points, but that's all part of learning. You learn that drinking can have many effects and consequences. Sometimes you get a little loose...

... sometimes a lot loose.

Sometimes drinking can have unfortunate consequences for you...

... sometimes it can have unfortunate consequences for everyone.

If you're not careful it can lead to poor decisions...

... wardrobe malfunctions...

... more poor decisions...

... fucking terrible decisions...

...the floor....

... the ground...

...and finally a trash can.

But really, this is shit people need to sort out before they enter the real world. These are situations adults face, and it's a lot better to fuck it up when you're in college than when you're at your new job's Christmas party and you vomit on the CEO's wife and need to be carried to the bathroom to sleep it off on the tub. What you call drunken debauchery, I call life lessons.

And looking at it that way, PSU's #1 party school ranking takes on a whole new ring. Someone from Harvard or Yale may have never paraded drunkenly down the street with a sign that says "fuck the police." How much more embarrassing and career-ending would that be if you made that mistake in your 30's?

So where students see the #1 party school, I see the #1 life school.

That being said, The University of Pittsburgh is far more academically-oriented and I learned a lot more there than I ever would have at PSU.

And, on-the-whole, Pitt had way hotter chicks.

Just saying...

For more info on drinking at PSU, see:

College prowler: Penn State - Nightlife


Bar Tour: State College Area - Night Life, Bars & Entertainment