Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stag Party

Jim beam has been doing some... questionable things, lately. This has me concerned because, hands-down, my favorite whiskey is Jim Beam (white label). I've tried sweeter and stronger whiskeys, but they wear thin after awhile. In addition to white label, Beam has developed and purchased some fine liquors like Booker's, Baker's, Basil Hayden, Old Overholt, and Jim Beam Rye (yellow label). Lately, though, they've come up with (rī)1, an ultra-hip marketing plan to pick up on the re-awakening interest in rye whiskey. Richard and I haven't tried yet, but Paddy says is wholey underwhelming. But now Beam has gone a step further... in some respects. (rī)1 was completely absent of Beam branding, but their latest creation, Red Stag, comes in a standard fifth-gallon glass bottle of Beam with a different label.

It's not the packaging that's hip and cool this time, it's the marketing campagin. If you take a moment to peruse, you'll see what I mean.

Immediately you'll notice their strategy is to associate Red Stag with getting hipster tail. In the background, people in ultra-cool clothes sweat and gyrate to an unheard beat, while a cartoon deer spouts Confucius-esque wisdom on how to get laid.

The add campaign actually reminds me of old posters advertising Absinthe. Just replace the red with green, a fairy with a deer, and update the outfits and parties portrayed in the background. Really, not a bad idea. I mean, those ad campaigns worked so well at convincing folks that Absinthe was a mind-explodingly good time, the stuff was made illegal in many countries for quite some time.

But as I and Beam have said before, the stuff inside matters most. Was this "infused" whiskey some sacchariney cherry syrup? Was it a fifth of a gallon of cough medicine? Or was it a sweetish Manhattan in a bottle? One sounds like whiskey hell, one sounds somewhat tolerable.

So last night, on my way to hang out at Paddy's place, I picked up a bottle. The lady at the checkout said she'd heard good things about it. She looked like someone who has had her fair share of whiskey, and her comments bolstered my slightly sagging confidence.

Now, I've drank quite a bit of Absinthe over the years, and I never hallucinated; I never saw the legendary green fairy. But looking at, I couldn't help but wonder just a teeny bit if some cartoonish crimson deer would start babbling vaguely sexual prose-poetry at me. Cause that might be cool.

Once at Paddy's, we cracked it open immediately and poured two glasses; no ice, no mixers, just whiskey and a glass. First impressions? Not bad. I almost said "it's too sweet" with the first drop on my tongue, but then it splashed across the rest of my palate and warmed my insides as it went down. There was definitely Jim Beam in there, and I liked it. We commenced to taste the shit out of that bottle.

Whoa, hey, um... awesome. Yeah, absolutely! Grab the bull by the balls, carpe diem, it's 5 o'clock somewhere. I mean, it wasn't much of a herd, just me and Paddy, but we were drinking Red Stag and hanging out. It was cool. We actually looked up some recipes for cocktails, because we weren't sure what you could mix with it other than the usual Sprite or 7-up. had some suggestions that sounded tasty: Red Stag and cola, Red Manhattan, Brass Buck (Red Stag and ginger ale), but we just kept drinking it straight.

Paddy isn't really a "potential mate", he's just an old friend. And he's a dude. And that's not really my thing.

Um... yeah. Anyway, recipes the rest of the interwebs had to offer for this liquor were less than appetizing. Some website seemed to want to mix it with every liqueur and schnapps in DeKuyper's lineup. Sorry, but watermelon cherry bourbon is pushing it a bit far for us. And besides, the flavor of Red Stag is strong enough to satisfy the kind of whiskey cravings Paddy and I are prone to, but with its sweetness I think it worked best served on its own. Maybe an ice cube or two. Kind of like a pre-mixed cocktail that's 80 proof.

No, not really. Just two old friends hanging out, drinking some booze, watching TV.

... later on, Paddy's wife came home. Her impression of Red Stag was much the same as mine, a bit sweet, but the bourbon warmth evens that out. We all thought it might be a tad on the sweet side. Paddy even suggested manly-ing it up with some Beam Rye. The sharpness of the rye might compliment the sweetness of Red Stag rather nicely.

What? No! Dude, that's my friend of over twenty years and his wife. We did not get drunk off Red Stag and have a three-way. We just kind of hung out and watched TV. It was relaxing and enjoyable. Paddy made a pot roast, and it was quite yummy. We watched them make Cheetos on the Food Network.

I didn't piss on her either. Moving along, we were about halfway through the bottle when Richard Dicks stopped by. Don't say a fucking word, deersteak! That's his PEN name, not his PORN name! Anyway, by coincidence, Dicks had just been to the liquor store himself and had picked up a bottle. We left that bottle in his car, though, and continued with the bottle I had purchased. Richard's impression was, again, the same. The cherry flavoring is definitely present, but doesn't overpower the charcoal and corn flavor that really makes bourbon the fine American original that it is. Again, he felt it was maybe a tad on the sweet side.

No!  Richard and I did not fuck in the bathroom!  There was no fucking.. It wasn't that kind of party!

No. He most certainly was not. None of us were. We weren't dressed like underage kids sneaking into a pseudo-trendy club. We were just hanging out. Damnit, this hipster ad campaign is starting to get on my nerves. I'm beginning to feel ashamed that I like Red Stag.

But I do like it, and so did everyone else. So before the night was over, the bottle was very empty. Richard was tempted to get his bottle from his car to continue the boozing, but we all had to work the next day, so we called it a night.

No! No orgies! No one had sex. At least, not while Richard and I were there. We were just hanging out. And Red Stag was fine for that. You don't need to be going out clubbing, or having a wild sex party, or even doing some serious drinking. It's a good sipping drink when you want something strong and sweet, but not brutishly forceful or vomitously candy-like. It's a good alcohol to just chill out with.

Whatever, dude... whatever.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Home Brewery

So, I've moved, so I haven't been posting much. I still owe you guys some notes from drinking in the UK and how I went (fake) gay for CAMRA. It was Roger Protz's deep blue eyes, and his amazing British teeth.

 Actually, he has very lovely teeth and is a thoroughly lovely man.

But today, today is about home brewing. I took some photos of the new setup, which is like the old setup but with less space. Why less space, well, its the new layout. Now, its less space for brewing, but more space for fermenting. And Kegs. By which I mean, out with the old:

And in with the new!

15 cu. ft. of cool wonderment. Fermenting, lagering,
6 kegs on draft and at least a case in there as well.

So here's how it rolls, for all you people claiming you can't do all grain because you don't have the space. I have a 950 sq ft apartment 1 bedroom apartment. You probably have a kitchen bigger than my bedroom. Hell, you might have one bigger than my living room. Suck it up.

Cooler on counter, cooler on chair, kettle on floor. Fill up seven gallons. Lift to stove and boil. It won't boil well, you'll get a shitty hot break, but you'll make beer. If you have decent stove, you'll be OK. I have an old apartment stove, I'm still ok. Boil it down to 6 gallons, rack 5.5 to the carboy/bucket, toss it in a corner or closet, maybe in a bin of water with ice packs and let it rip. To make the tun, I used a 12.5 gallon (50-75 can) Igloo cooler. Its not the best, but it works. Leeches some heat (2F) in a one hour mash, but what doesn't. I drilled through the lid and have a sparge arm built in. Ball valves are put on with stuff I got at the hardware store, using O-rings, washers, pvc and brass. More on making mash tuns in a few weeks I hope. HLT is the same. I use 2 Ikea brand pitchers to recirc through a funnel. That's it. I mean, with a pump I wouldn't have to lift the kettle, which is nice and could recirc better. I could also get a burner out back, but this is the system. Anything more means I'm moving to a RIMS setup somehow. Not the best idea right now. Oh, and stir the crap out of it when cooled, look at this cone of trub!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Three Sheets

Yes, this is an ad. No, we're not getting money for it. This is an awesome show I've come across, and I think if you like this blog you'll probably love this show.

I know there's some similar and more "respectable" show called something like the Thirsty Traveler. Too much class for me. Classy is not how we roll here at JABB. Three Sheets is similar in concept to Thirsty Traveler, but this guy gets fucking plowed. I mean, he throws them back! It's pretty interesting on many levels, and I recommend catching an episode or two if you get FLN and can find it buried deep within the bowels of obscure, small-audience, special-interest digital cable channels.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

International Talk Like a Pirate Day


Don’t ferget ye landlubbers that today be “International Talk Like a Pirate Day.” So belay that clacker n' secure ye blunt, ye lily livered sprogs. Time to git all ship shape and bristol fashion, fer we throw sheet towar’ the horizon t’ join other gentlemen of fortune in the sweet trade for the day.

How says ye?

To celebrating this good day I plan to heave canvas and haul wind t' Saxonburg fer a musket festival. I'll be meet'n me matey thar fer a Clap of Thunder. It will be full of sea rats n' marauders alike, n' we'll be free to plunder their stash of rum. The grog will flow till we be loaded to the Gunwhales and lay down among the dead men, or fall in with a lady of expansive sensibility.

If it be grog ye be after then might I suggest this preparation. "the proportion of a quart of water to every half pint of rum". This fer a real kill-devil. Not the candy ye ladies drink whilst floating about in your jollyboat.

Nay, this be fer a real rum, to be drunk by men. The stuff that's used to scrub the barnicles and scum from me ship's bottom. Once you've spliced the mainbrace, be sure to pillage yer guts out in every port ye make land. Kill the women and rape the livestock, but be sure to return with some swag, and perhaps some booty, fer ye captain,

lest he force ye to kiss the gunner's daughter.

Fair winds to ye corsairs!


Friday, September 18, 2009

Bourbon Heritage Month

It's been a little while since I last posted something to the site. It's not that I ran out of ideas, or that I'm tired of blogging, or I'm overworks. I'm always tire and overworked. OK, maybe I have been a little preoccupied, but for a good reason. I haven't posted in a while because I haven't been sober enough.

For the past few weeks I've been celebrating...hard. What have I been celebrating? Well, National Bourbon Heritage Month of course.

Since 2007, the month of September has been officially recognized as National Bourbon Heritage Month by the United States. Apparently even the US government squeezes out a nugget of genius every 40 years or so (repeal of prohibition, legalization of homebrew, Bourbon Heritage Month).

If you're one of the two readers out there that already know about this month, that's awesome...cheers! We here at JABB, well, we like to celebrate bourbon all 12 months out of the year. Now, if your asking yourself "Why is the government passing bills like this? Don't they have better things to do?", you obviously have stumbled upon the wrong site. You must be in the wrong place or were looking for justanotherboobsblog.

Sorry, I don't have that site up and running yet. Anyways, this month is important because back in 1964 Congress recognized bourbon as "America's Native Spirit", and God damn it, we should have a month to celebrate it.

I'm not going to get into all the history of bourbon and it's origins (***cough*** Pennsylvania). There is more than enough info out there on that subject. Just check Wikipedia and the rest of the interweb. In celebration of what I love, I'm just going to sit here in front of my computer and drink. Yes, I know it's the morning, and I'm at work. There's a reason why God made ginger ale the color it is. I've got a couple of bottles of various bourbons that are on there last legs, so I figured I'd just finish them off.

In keeping this short, so as not to cut into valuable drinking time, bourbon kicks ass. It spans all walks of life. From the inbred hillbilly to the affluent aristocrat, bourbon yields a kinship that breaks down societal walls (kind of like mullets).

Two people who can't agree on which is a better car, a Bentley or an IROC, can at least sit down with a glass and agree that "that is some damn fine bourbon."

So back to the bottle I go. Don't expect much more out of me for the rest of the month. See you in October.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beer... or something...

Wow, so, uh... no one's blogged in awhile. So, um.... beer. I had a beer last night. It was called... um... shit, I took a picture of it...

There.  Negra Mode... um... Model... Modern... Modem...  Negra Modelo!  That's it!  Google saves the day again.  So yeah, I had one of those.  I'm struggling to remember what exactly it tasted like, here, but not because it was bad.  On the contrary, I thought it was quite tasty!  But I wasn't paying enough attention to really remember the finer details.  Let me back up a bit and explain why.

This was a going-away-happy-hour for someone leaving where I work.  He's a pretty well-liked guy, so quite a few people wanted to show up.  Instead of hitting the usual places for such affairs, they picked some fancy place no one had been to before.  Now, I had a going-away-party thrown for me once at a fancy place no one had been to before, and it's a real crapshoot.  It turned out moderately ok for my party, but the location was quite a haul for most folks interested in attending.

But this place we went last night was close.  A really classy joint, too.  A patio out front, downstairs restaurant area, upstairs bar area, and even an upper deck with a gorgeous view of the river and downtown Pittsburgh.  The back bar was small, but stocked with unusual things and backed with wavy sheets of copper.  They had the usual stuff, but I also saw things like Bluecoat Gin, and Root, which Richard has mentioned before.  The help, as is almost always the case, is what really made it nice.  I ordered two shots of Wild Turkey 101 for myself and the departing coworker, and after some walking around and running downstairs, the bartender said "Sorry, we're out.  Well, actually, we had two shots left, but there were some floaters in it."  I paused for a moment, then said "Thankyou for that.  A lot of bartenders would have fished them out and served me the booze anyway."

And that's the truth.  Don't believe me?  Ever been to a bar or a restaraunt where there's fruit flies buzzing around?  Where do you think they make their homes and lay their eggs?  Uh-huh.  I'd stay away from the 99 Bananas.

So I ordered two shots of Jim and a 7&7.  Not to sound like a skinflint, but it came to $17.50 and I was a bit shocked.  It wasn't like I ordered Woodford Reserve, it was Jim Beam and Segram's 7.  That's like $1.75 worth of booze in those three glasses.  I didn't raise hell or anything, and I tipped well because he didn't garnish them with fly larvae, but still... it was a little on the steep side for a Pittsburgh bar; even a fancy one.  And the departing coworker couldn't even finish the shot in one go.  He stumbled around a bit and tried not to cough it up.  Which happens sometimes...

... and in fact the women we work with stood around and mocked him for not being able to handle a shot of Beam.  Hey, it's Pittsburgh.  We grow 'em tough here!

He eventually gulped down the last of his whiskey under heavy female derision, and I mentioned to another coworker that the two shots and a drink cost me $17.50 plus tip.  He then told me his beer was $2 plus tip.

So I switched to beer for the night.

Since I hadn't heard of the beer my coworker was having, I decided to give it a try.  He was drinking, of course, Negra Modelo.  They gave it to me with a wedge of lime in the mouth of the bottle, and a fancy snifter to pour it into.  I discarded the lime and poured it into the glass; I wanted to know what this tasted like without any alteration.  It was dark in color but thin in body, so it went down smooth for something with full flavor.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and had another.

Someone asked me what I was drinking and I told them.  They asked if it was like Yuengling.  I paused, as the question came as a complete surprise to me.  I mean, I do like Yuengling a lot, and since it's from PA I try to drink it more often than I would otherwise.  But I hadn't thought to compare Negra Modelo to Yuengling.  I guess, compared to Yuengling, it was darker and slightly smokier, but just as smooth and thin in body and texture.  The head was made of slightly smaller bubbles, making it a bit foamier, but the overall experience was... no, it wasn't really anything like Yuengling.  She explained that Yuengling is her benchmark.  In her mind, all beers are are either good or bad depending entirely on how similar they are to Yuengling.

At first it seemed like an odd way to judge things, but as I thought about it, it made more and more sense.  If you find anything you really like, it's logical to use it as your bench mark.  It saves you from having to analyze the details of things; you can just compare your gut reaction to something you know you like.  Sure, it seems a bit narrow-minded in some respects; it doesn't really allow for trying new things.  But what if you want something, but don't want to be an expert in that particular field?

Here's a for-instance: I'm not really a cigar smoker.  I smoke maybe 3 or 4 per year.  I don't know how you describe the flavor of a cigar beyond "strong" or "mild" (and those probably aren't even the proper terms).  If I walk into a cigar shop and I want to have a cigar, do I really want to first read a 1000 page book on cigars?  Do I want to take a class first?  Let me answer that for you: no.  This isn't a life-long passion, I don't want to explore the broad and complex world of rolled tobacco, I just want one cigar.  So I place my trust in the proprietor and say "I had an Onyx cigar once and I really liked it.  Could you help me pick out something similar that I might like?"

So I suppose walking into a bar and saying "I like Yuengling, but I see you don't have any.  What could you recommend?" is perfectly valid.  And if the bartender scoffs at you and says you should try a Huisbrouwerij Sint Canarus Potteloerke, then he's a stuck-up asshole.  If he's interested in making money, he should find you something similar to Yuengling.  And if he wants to help bring you into his hobby of beer, acting snooty and giving you something completely unlike Yuengling isn't the way.  This is how comic book shops go out of business.

I encouraged her to try what I was drinking, but she was having none of it.  My reaction to her question seemed to reveal that it did not pass her Yuengling test.  However, I think she might have liked the Negra Modelo; it was smooth and went down easy, but had much more flavor than my much-touted favorite Miller High Life.  Not too hoppy, but possibly too dark for her.  Not really chocolaty, but kind of smokey.

Many people saw my coworker and I drinking Negra Modelo and I think by the end of the night most folks had at least one.  The bartender had to run downstairs and get more.  Everyone seemed to agree that it was good stuff.  Yuengling it wasn't, but it was good and I'll probably get another some day.  Ultimately, my Yuengling-loving coworker didn't try one.  She drank Yuenglin pints all night.  But I won't bug her to try it again because yinzer chicks will kick your ass!

Monday, September 7, 2009

We need to talk about your flair...

Bartender flair is something I've wanted to post a video of for some time now, but I could never find a video that really blew my dress up. This one is definitely good enough.

Now, I have some problems with this sort of thing; it doesn't really have to do with mixing drinks, it's just juggling. If you look closely, you can see about 7 shots of booze spilling out all over the place as he flips the bottle, which in my eyes is alcohol abuse. And that's why I haven't posted a video like this yet. But this guy's presentation and preciseness caught my eye. It's not 8 bottles, it's not a 12 minute routine that empties 7 of the 8 bottles, but it's really well executed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

HOPSTOBERFEST is coming, October 3rd.

Hopstoberfest is coming on October 3rd. I'll be there with a Mild and something else, maybe a Black IPA.

If you are in Chicago- be there!