Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ode to the Parlour

My bar, my bar, I long for your return.
It has been too long and my mouth grows parched.
I miss your rough worn bar top,
weathered from slouching men of broken spirits.

I have searched to find another,
but none can satisfy me as you have.
Always there with a sturdy stool,
and two fingers of golden bliss.

My bar, my bar, the great times we've had.
The cold pint after a hard days work,
the numbing of the nicotine's grasp.
The satisfaction of a greasy meal settled in my stomach.

The barkeep never let me go thirsty.
You welcomed me with beer and whiskey, as if open arms.
You always did me right.
You eased my mind and calmed my spirit.

My bar, my bar, the others just don't compare.
I've been to lounges and pubs and taverns a plenty.
I've drunk with townies and hipsters and frat boys and yuppies.
I've tried them all, from the upscale to the corner dive.

I have enjoyed many adulterous libations.
I can't say I haven't had my share of fun.
The others satisfy the random urge,
but can never provide the comfort you do.

My bar, my bar, you were not perfect, but nothing is.
Your flaws were what gave you character.
You weren't the cleanest or the hippest,
you weren't the cheapest or the most well stocked.

But when I just needed a drink or an escape from the world,
when I needed a smile and laugh with friends,
you were always there for me.
You were my bar.

...I'll miss you, friend.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Saw this over at The Beer Diary, laughing my tail off.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Yuengling Bock

Ahh, Yuengling Bock. You claim your beer "lives up to the quality Yuengling drinkers have come to expect." Is that the 'nicer' version of a mass produced approximations of a style, because that's what I get from your bock. A good 12 weeks after release I got some [8-10 my ass] ($4 for 32 oz growler) and I'm just not blown away. I like bocks, but I like bocks with body and character. This is just full-flavored boring. Like regular Yuengling. And like those Eastern PA beer swilling asses who've suddenly upgraded from Sam Adams. Good for the price, but not really good.

Now, the Genesee I had earlier was great. Cold, expected to be boring, slightly corny. Like going back to your high school and finding the same creature comforts available from the same places.

And yet Genny falters the Yuengling beer is incredibly popular. Well made, well marketed, its astounding. People whine about not getting Yuengling in Chicago all the time. But they're Cubs hat wearing Chad's trying to get their Trixie girlfriends drunk. Fuck them.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back in NYC

Well, we're back in NYC for a few days before we progress upstate. I miss New York. I was ready to leave when I did, leaving for school (my wife's mainly, not mine) but now I'm trying desperately to come back. Luckily, I'm a layabout grad student and can work from anywhere- so I is really the royal I of marriage. Remember the days when women were counted, even in the census, as part of the man? Those were bad days. We gave that rib willingly, and if we recognized that more we'd have a lot less inequality.

Anyway, this is about drinking, so lets talk about that. Last night I went out to the Blind Tiger, where I have been before. Unfortunately, I don't remember ever being there before, as I was entertaining a British colleague (back when I had a real job) and he was quite the traveler and drinker. Having 25 years and 75 pounds on me, I was drunk into submission while he chatted with my then girlfriend. Good times. A fine little bar with a history on the NYC scene, tucked neatly into the last vestiges of Bleecker Street- by the cheese shop, butcher and bread place. You could be in olde New York, if it weren't for the fact that only the butcher has been there more nothing seems to have been there more than twenty years.

Still, a good bar. I was on a quest to drink some Sixpoint beers- named after that hipster star people get tattooed on them, though once a nautical symbol, their website tells me. But no luck (I even checked Beer Menus the day before). I had a IPA from Chelsea on 'Gravity' and the Green Flash IPA. I preferred the latter, it had more malt backbone and a higher FG to balance the hops. Both good beers.

Lots of local chatter, but I couldn't start a conversation. I got up for a moment to get some free cheese and bread (from the neighbors) and some dude took my seat. Chasing him off of it might have been the manliest thing I've done at a bar since college, though all were relatively polite about it. Not polite enough to 1. Notice the half full pint at my seat, or, 2. Ask the dude next to me if it was occupied, but hey, they still let people from 'The Island' into town.

Later this week I'll post some images of the city rubbing salt in the wounds of the bankers who tried to ruin it. Also, beer menus = amazing, check it out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fail !!!

I have returned from Beerfest, and all I can say is "Fail...Massive fail." I discovered that there is no way to get through such a competition without puking. A lot of fuck'n puking.

In the end only 7 teams showed up. That means there were 9 teams who were smarter than us. Not a single person got through the competition without massive projectile vomiting at least once during, and many many times afterward. It wasn't a matter of consuming too much alcohol. It was a matter of consuming too much fluid, in general. The human body can only hold so much (some people more than others). Make that fluid carbonated and you end up with quite an ugly situation. If I chugged a 70 oz glass boot filled with root beer, I probably would have still thrown up.

This isn't to say that there aren't dangers in such events, nor am I saying we didn't get drunk. massive amounts of beer were consumed by all, but there were plenty of sober (smarter) people around to help out if someone needed it. It was definitely not one of my shining moments. But as I said, I survived. It's the day after and I got through it at near full capacity. I was even drinking beer today. Will I ever participate in another event like this? I don't know, but for right now I'm going to say "no way."

My only hope is that through my lack of judgment, I have spared you the pain and misery that comes with extreme stupidity. I have taken on that burden, so that you may drink on in moderate it should be.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beerfest !!!

Today I embark on a quest to Brookville, PA. About an hour and a half northeast of Pittsburgh, this quaint remote town truly is in the heart of Pennsyltucky country. Like so many other small towns, the only real development is a 2-3 mile stretch around the interstate ramps. There are just enough amenities to support the local farmers, truckers passing through, and each other. Aside from farming, the one industry they can claim is that Brookville is where they make all the Major League baseball bats (that's why they're breaking all the time). The largest structure in town is the Sheetz mega gas station and convenience store, where all 48 gas pumps are in use full time, and the MTO line is 10 people deep. The second largest structure in town happens to house an adult video store.

About 15 'country' miles out of town, after traveling through rolling hills and valleys of farmland, we arrive at the backdrop for my adventure. A friend of mine is a co-owner of a small plot of land out in the middle of east-ka-bum-fuck. An old motor home has been built upon over the years, and now is a pleasant cabin with a large patio and a 15 ft diameter fire pit (FIRE!!!). On this beautiful plot of land, McPaddy and I will join 30 other individuals to engage in what may be the stupidest idea we've had in our adult lives... Beerfest!!!

That's right, we're doing it. And I assure you that nothing good is going to come of this weekend. It will be a day-long endurance trial involving 16 two man teams and nearly a dozen different drinking games.

The games will include a rotation of 30 minute rounds to engage in the following games throughout the day: Flip Cup, Das Boot, Shotgun, Quarters, 3 Speed, Putt Putt, War, Balance Beam. Teams will earn points based on performance during the event. After a break for dinner, the final round will begin with each teammate participating in either Edward 40 Hands, where two 40s are duct taped to your hands, or the Power Hour Dance Off, where each person takes a shot of beer every minute while dancing until only one man is left standing (uh, dancing). Additional points can be either earned or deducted for various acts of drunken godliness or the inevitable party foul.

The weeks leading up to this event have been filled with both anticipation and apprehension. As I state at the beginning, this may be one of the more idiotic things that I've done.

The Disclaimer: We here at JABB do not encourage or condone such activities. Do not try this at home. We are professional alcoholics,and therefore do not have any brain cells left to tell us this is a very bad idea.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This Day in Booze: We Want Beer!!!

The year was 1932. The sun was setting on the days of prohibition. America was a hornet's nest, and prohibition was the little kid jamming the stick up in it. Public outcry against prohibition was rampant. Organizations such as the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA) and the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR) fought fervently to end prohibition. WONPR particularly hurt the prohibitionists and their cause. Throughout the years, there was always an assumption that they could count on the support of women almost unanimously (Take that! Women's Christian Temperance Union).

I know I used the one picture before in another post, but it's just such a damn good picture.

The great depression had hit hard, and people were more concerned with unemployment than keeping alcohol out of peoples hands, and opening up the breweries meant jobs. Presidential nominee, Franklin D. Roosevelt, practically built his platform on fighting dry laws and ending prohibition. Even some of the most outspoken prohibition supporters had flipped sides, and were now touting the benefits of repeal.

Now that I have set the stage, the date is May 14th, 1932. New York City Mayor, Jimmy Walker, organized a day-long Beer rally known as the "We Want Beer Parade." Nearly 100,000 people showed up in support of repeal and the legalization of beer. On the very same day the city of Detroit held a similar even of there own, in which some 40,000 people attended. They marched and the chanted "Who want's a bottle of beer?"

"We Do!"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

This day in Booze: Beer Pump

On May 9th, 1785, the British inventor Joseph Bramah patented the beer-pump handle, also known as a beer engine. using hydraulics, it allowed beer to be dispensed by simply pumping the handle, which connected to the keg via a flexible hose. Prior to his invention, beer had to be dispensed from a wooden tap in the end of the keg. With the invention of the beer pump, the kegs were able to be stored beneath the bar, in the cool earthen basement.

Through time, improvements were made, gas delivery systems were invented, and the beer pump eventually evolved into the modern beer tap that we all know and love today. So the next time your sitting at the bar, enjoy a fresh cold pint, just remember that you owe it all to Mr. Joseph Bramah and his beer pump.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wandered off, sorry.

So, I've wandered off of late, as has BJames. R Dicks is hanging in alright, but the other two of us wandered off. Now: McPaddy hasn't posted at all, so we just tell stories about him. BJames has been busy, but I've just been banging around my office a nervous wreck, when I'm not napping under my desk. Been drinking, but not much. Actually drinking half-bottles of beer at home, thanks to SWMBO suggesting if I didn't want a whole beer, I could just use my capper-thing to seal one up. Which I do, so I'll have halves of two different beers instead of two or three. Pretty nice. Of late I've been trying to hit the gym harder than the bottle, but its a close race.

Back to the drinking. Went to the CBS meeting this week, Randy Mosher led us through some basic tasting with the sweet new Siebel kits. I took a porter that received meh reviews. Not surprised, I didn't think it was all that good myself, sad since the earlier version was good. I used dry yeast this time and had a hard time getting the kettle up to boil, so I think some vegetal flavors snuck in. Good roast again, could have mashed higher or had some carapils in it. Bitter tomorrow, and that will form the yeast cake for an oatmeal stout. That's about it for the boring diary. Tomorrow or Sunday I'll be back with some more commentary. I've let myself lapse into obnoxious navel gazing, while my fellows move along with some awesome booze commentary. I'll catch up guys... Also, we're now on twitter. We might be sharing a single account- which will be some awesome schizophrenic fun!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Know What You're Celebrating

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

It's that time of year to throw back a couple of cervezas and perhaps a few shots of tequila as well. Break out the guacamole, the chips and salsa, and don't forget the aspirin, because you're gonna be hurting come morning. Much like St. Patrick's Day, we don't always know what we're celebrating, but we see this as a day to celebrate everything Mexican; the food, the culture, the beer, the music, the tequila, the beer, the beer...

Now I don't want to be one of those douches that thinks Americans blow Cinco de Mayo way out of proportion, and who complains that we just steal other people's holidays and bastardize them as an excuse to drink. But personally, I do like to know what I'm celebrating.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, the Fifth of May does NOT commemorate Mexico's independence. That would be September 16th. The 5th commemorates the Battle of Puebla, which in 1862 is when a small Mexican force defeated a much larger and more powerful invading French force (there's a contradiction in terms for you).

Here is the kicker: Cinco de Mayo is not a Mexican holiday. It's American. No, I don't mean the fact that we as Americans make a bigger deal out of it than they do in Mexico. I mean, it is an American holiday, as in it started in America. The origins of the celebration come out of California. By 1862 California had already seceded from Mexico, and had been a US State for nearly 12 years. But that doesn't mean they didn't still hold some kinship to their motherland. Eventually the French would succeed in occupying Mexico, and the people of California began celebrating the one big victory the Mexican people had, as a show of support for the Mexican cause and a mutual hatred of the French.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is only really celebrated hardcore in the local of Puebla. The rest of Mexico typically sees it as a holiday equivalent to how we American's see Columbus Day as a holiday.

So there is your little history lesson for the day. And the next time someone complains about how we Americans treat the Fifth of May, you tell them the truth (and be sure to call them a douche). So join me today, raise a drink, and let us celebrate this truly American of holidays.

Una cerveza y un tequila, por favor!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Arak Al-Sumot

Yes, it does exist! Actual traditional booze made in the Middle East. The stuff is called Arak, and I was fortunate enough to find some of it in Jordan during my latest trip overseas. The stuff tastes like...well, exactly like all eastern Mediterranean liqueurs taste; like licorice. But unlike Ouzo or Sambuca, Arak isn't syrupy and doesn't have a sickeningly sweet candy taste to it. On the contrary, it is very light, with a strong anise taste, and a slightly bitter aftertaste. Arak is made of neutral spirits distilled from grapes. Typically distilled 3 times in a copper pot still, with the aniseed being added during the second distillation, it has a fairly high alcohol content of a around 50% on average.

I picked up a bottle of Arak Al-Zumot, a product of Zumot Distilleries, based out of Amman Jordan. Probably the most popular arak is Arak Haddad, made by Eagle Distilleries, also based in Jordan. They make 5 or 6 different types of arak. I chose the arak I did partially for the aesthetic appeal of the bottle, but mostly because the smaller 375ml bottle was necessary to stay under my duty free allowance. (damn customs!)

The traditional way to drink arak is to mix it approximately 1/3 arak to 2/3 water, with ice being added "after" it is mixed. As with most anise flavored liqueurs, this dilution causes the clear liquid to louche and turn an opaque milky-white color. Now I've had my share of anise liqueurs and spirits, and nothing I have ever tried louches quite like arak. It's an instant change from clear to white as the anethole emulsifies. The reason this happens so quickly is because arak is a spirit and not a liqueur. It doesn't have all the sugar and other additives most anise drinks have, which slow down the louching process.

Anyways, I strongly recommend giving it a try if you find a bottle. I was expecting it to be just another anise liqueur with a different name slapped on it, like so many others. I was thoroughly pleased to be proven wrong. I think the lightness of this spirit and lack of sweetness opens the door to many unique applications that I wouldn't think of trying with Sambuca, or the like. I think it would go great with iced tea or ginger ale. Lets just hope that nobody comes up with the idea for a licorice mojito...blah!