A Tail Of Two Cats, And A Lot Of Beer Part II

Ophelia

It’s Friday night. It’s Friday night! Again! Friday nights are always like this. The strangers arrive in waves, and the incessant doorbell chime grieves me. I wish they would stop coming. The weekend always comes again so quickly, and the people appear and here it is again, loud noises, slurring speech, drunken mess in the living room and I can’t get Mum or Dad’s attention for hardly more than a minute the whole night. It’s frightening and crass, these weekend nights. Everyone makes me so nervous, though I don’t know about what. I just cannot relax on these weekend nights.

Mum and Dad forgot to give me the Buspar (anti-anxiety medication) today! That’s what drinking does; it causes rational people to forsake their sense of decency and responsibility, though to be completely fair, I don’t like the medication anyway. But the point stands, as I quite dislike drunkenness, and cannot stand the presence of so many people at such high volumes, so I sit upstairs and watch silently from behind the safety of the banister. I wish Mom or Dad would just come up briefly and say “hi.” It agitates me to no end – oh my, does Mum really need another IPA? Does Dad really need to have that Porter? My god, this is interminable!

When they stay at home, they raise hell all night and grate my nerves for hours until I wonder if I’m indeed an American house cat, or a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. When they go out to bars or clubs, they come home so late, at an ungodly hour, and follow me around the room trying to pet me with their grubby drunken hands. I cannot stand it. They make a big deal out of their variety of craft beers, but I do not believe this is a worthy or proper endeavor of any sort. Grown people voluntarily drinking this abominable stuff, and growing loud and silly. And they think I’m the one with the mental problems. It should not be permitted. Lord have mercy on the individual who invented this devil-juice.

Oh, my god! What was that? Oh, only the doorbell… again….  I just don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. My sister is not supportive at all. She is transparently obsequious, taking interest in the different types of their sinful drinks, making her way from one friend to the next, peering at everyone coyly, nuzzling up to the boys.

She’s disgusting. She’s a disgusting, cheap, little slut, and she’s cruel to me. Her antics have been a severe source of apprehension and even oppression for me. The humans don’t see through her sly charm, but oh but how she torments me heartlessly when they are not around! She’s claimed certain parts of the bed as “hers” and becomes aggressive if I approach, as if she owns the place! Dad originally came to the animal shelter for the sole purpose of adopting me. She was a mere afterthought. He happened upon her and she of course easily deceived him with her saccharine ploys, so he ended up coming home with two cats. Immediately after we arrived at our lovely new abode, she set to work claiming laps, chairs, spaces as “hers.” It’s almost painful to think about it… I know Mum suspects Sister is this way when no one is watching, but alas, it is hard for anyone to conceive of this, as she is so small and delicate, while I’m larger – a bit overweight (yet another source of constant angst for me!)

How they all clearly love my sister, as she moves from one lap to the next. Oh, I’m not at all bitter because that’s not my nature, but it hurts! She lingers in the lap of the boy she likes a lot. She conjures up quite a bit of her malicious charm for him. The blond one turns itchy and red near my sister, but one plaintive look from that brazen trickster and the blond one reaches out to gently scratch her wretched cheek. I don’t understand any of this. Aside from my vulgar sister, honestly, who likes being molested by strangers? Oh, I could die right now. When does it end? 

Blast the IPA’s, porters, and Belgians. I’m going to go hide in the bedroom for the rest of the night.

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The Beer & Bullshit Show Episode 46

If you have some time (quite a bit of time), check out The Beer & Bullshit Show, Episode 46, hosted by Chris Bennett.

The regulars are Chris, Ruby, Nick, and Jim, while I appeared as a guest. We talked about a number of beer and other alcohol-related topics. Discussion includes Firestone Walker’s Union Jack and Wooky Jack; Mirror Pond Pale Ale, North West Pale Ale, and Inversion IPA by Deschutes; Ciders by Cider Brothers; Nugget Nectar; Sierra Nevada beers; among others.

I brought on Mirror Pond and Inversion, because these are a couple of my favorites, and they both happened to be available in my beer fridge. As discussed in the show, Deschutes pretty much does not make a single bad beer.

My Neighbor Stumblefoot

Stumblefoot is a small brewery operating out of an industrial park near my house. We usually bike there because it’s a close and flat ride. Every once in a while, we decide we’ll hit it up and see what’s new. They have a few regulars on the menu, but they like to experiment and frequently have several new items on the menu.

We came here last weekend and had a flight.

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Schwarz Black Lager: This is a smoky, smooth, yet light beer. I don’t usually like lagers, but this one has enough flavor and texture to be plenty enjoyable. It’s well balanced and is comparable to a light porter. (If you were looking for a porter, you’d be disappointed, but as a lager, this is a very pleasant surprise).

Vixen Dunkel: This is a dunkelweizen with predictable banana and caramel notes. The description mentions clove, which is not very prominent. It’s another smooth and balanced beer, and smells like a standard dunkel.

Apollo IPA: This is where things fall down for Stumblefoot. If I recall, I do like the Grassyass IPA, but it’s not particularly notable, and the Apollo similarly did not impress as an IPA. It’s fruity, tart, with citrus and Belgian tones (described as orange and passion fruit). It quite honestly has an edge that is reminiscent of a rubber band.

Cascade IPA: Another weird IPA, unfortunately. It has a chemically taste, and does not meet the expected hoppiness level of west coast IPAs. It’s more like a pale ale. It’s again rubbery like its predecessor, Apollo.

Back to Black IPA: This one is hoppy and malty. It’s sort of like a black and tan, and is not bad on the taste buds at all. It’s a little bitter and smoky, but again, if you’re looking for a standard IPA, it’s not the characteristically hoppy kind.

Moho Stout:  One of their better ones. Choclate, caramel, coffee, and smoky. Not very thick or hoppy.

New England and Some Beers

We went to visit a dear friend in New Hampshire for New Years. I definitely had some serious beers while there, because I have long been spoiled by southern California weather, and if I hadn’t resorted to beer jackets, I would have been like,

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We arrived early evening on December 31, and headed over to the Thirsty Moose Taphouse in Portsmouth. They had a gigantic beer list, so things were off to a good start. I opened with the Dogfish Head 61, after being warned that “IPA’s are not the same here.” I have always loved Dogfish Head beers though, so this was an easy decision. The beer was smooth, a little sweet, and hoppy, but not arrogantly so (even though I do love a good arrogant-tasting West Coast IPA). There was a smell of maple, which became more apparent when the beer got warmer. This beer did not disappoint.

Next was an IPA by Smuttynose (Portsmouth, New Hampshire). It tasted more like pale ale, with typical IPA coloring. It had some citrus and tart tones, and was notably un-floral. It’s on the mild side for me, being used to West Coast IPA’s. It smells pinier/bushier than it tastes. Though my review for this IPA is somewhat lukewarm, Smuttynose does make a bunch of other really good beers.

Beer number three was the Green Flash Soul Style IPA, because I had two New England beers in a row and wanted to switch it up. Plus, I hadn’t yet tasted this particular gem from Green Flash. This was hoppy and typical of Green Flash, with a floral and fresh feel. It had a thick head for an IPA, and almost had a buttery scent. Smooth and lovely.

After beer number 3, I lost interest in taking notes, and after beer 4, I took a shot of whiskey.

I thought I’d taken pictures of all these lovely beers, but I guess not. I may have been distracted by the crazy bitch that came to our table trying to hit on me and steel beers from our table that night. New Years Eve is the best because of good times with friends… and watching the crazies in all their glory.

Back To The Bellows (Again)

Last time we were at The Bellows, I posted about a lovely Hangar 24 Essence IPA. We were back at Bellows again recently, and had a couple of more gems.

The first was the Avery IPA, a West Coast IPA with an abv of 7%. Avery is located in Colorado. Beer Advocate gives the Avery IPA an 87% (“very good”). It was hoppy and very floral, with a sharp bitterness. It came to our table with a big thick head.  The beer has a crisp and fresh feel overall.

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Next, we had a Serpent’s Stout, made locally by Lost Abbey (pictured above). You can’t usually go wrong with Lost Abbey; almost all of their beers are pretty amazing. At their inception, Lost Abbey tended to specialize in Belgian-style beers, though I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case any longer. I do have to say I appreciate a lot of their Belgian-style beers more. Serpent’s Stout was OK. It’s an 11% Imperial Stout. I could definitely perceive the alcohol flavor. The beer was malty, with coffee tones, thick lacing, thick head, rich texture, and a sort of metallic edge I could have done without. However, Beer Advocate considers it world class, so my opinion may be in the minority.

Pumpkin Season

Well, this post is a little late now, but I was under the impression that pumpkins were a seasonal thing, at least until Thanksgiving. However, I attempted to buy a pumpkin to make a pumpkin beer keg the day before Thanksgiving, and they were nowhere to be found – not at Albertson’s, Stater Brother’s, or Wal-Mart. I felt somewhat deceived. I honestly wasn’t aware that pumpkins could not be readily procured after Halloween.

We made some pumpkin home brew a few weeks back in anticipation for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, at this time, I no longer recall what hops, grains, or other flavors, if any, were used (besides the pumpkin, obviously). It was probably ready to drink a over a week ago, but we have a tendency to open them up a little too soon, so we waited just a bit longer. It is pictured above (being eyed suspiciously by one of our cats).

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The pumpkin beer ended up having a smoky and smooth flavor. It was somewhat on the darker side and had a full body and a tangy finish. I could have done without the tangy finish (note for next year).

Giving Thanks To Beer, And Alcohol In General

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for a great many things, including friends, family, a good job, and good health. As this blog is largely devoted to beer, I am of course also thankful for beer and alcohol in general.

I met my husband while drinking. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be in a fraternity or sorority without having a penchant for alcohol, but that wasn’t us. We met on a rainy night in February that involved lots of drinks, apartment party hopping, and a friend accidentally lighting something on fire at one of those parties (because he was drunk, as we all were). Back in those days, I was a 19-year-old sorority girl with an unrefined palate. I was probably sipping on whatever sugary, crass, cocktails were passed my way. I will regret this poor taste for the rest of my life, but regardless, that night was the beginning of a series of fun moments, many involving more drinking.

In college and some of law school, I was a fan of Jack on the rocks. We went through a period (early twenties) when we really liked wine. We still like wine, but love craft beers above all. Beer can make a dull day glisten with unexpected delight, and can turn a boring meal into an interesting one. There are so many types and styles of beers that the excitement never ends.

When we got married about 8 years after dating, we made sure to have good beers at our wedding. We had a small keg of Piraat, a beautiful and deceptively powerful Belgian trippel by Van Steenberge, a 10.5% abv delight (his choice). My choice was Westcoast IPA by Greenflash (7.3%). We got a keg of Modelo just in case anyone had lighter preferences, but predictably, that keg was not as popular. At our wedding, people had great beers and great fun; some probably had a little too much fun. It was a night to remember, except for the guests that drank too much to remember.

Cheers to beers, cheers to love, and cheers to my husband.

I am very thankful for all of these on this Thanksgiving.

SAMSUNG

Stone Enjoy By 10.31.14

Went to Shane’s Pizza & Pints for dinner and some drinks. It used to be Hendo’s. Hendos’ food and drinks were alright. Their meatballs were notable. Everything else was rather standard, and not particularly cheap either. It’s certainly convenient, so I end up coming here more for that reason. Currently, they are still using Hendo’s menu, and I’m not quite sure what changes are going to be made.

It’s not surprising for Stone to have good beers. This one was decent. It was floral, hoppy, with a very bitter edge. It was a little heavier than I would have preferred, and I think the bitterness was one of the most noticeable and immediate qualities. It’s not one of my favorites though. A little too floral and too bitter.

Hangar 24 Essence (Imperial IPA)

Went to Bellows to celebrate a friend’s recent promotion. Bellows is the whiskey/scotch-focused, classier version of Churchill’s. I like whiskey too, but I learned in my early twenties that drinking Jack on the Rocks makes the night go by way too fast. Bellows has some great food, but their beer selection pales in comparison to Churchill’s. Of course, that’s the point. Churchill’s has all the beers and greasy pub foods, Bellows has all the scotches and fancy foods you can’t pronounce. The stuff they do have is thoughtful, though.

Had a Hangar 24 Essence IPA. It’s a fairly standard IPA (and I do not mean that in a bad way at all). Beer Advocate gives it an 86 (“very good”). It does the citrus tones and hoppiness very well. I liked it enough to have two of them, and I am only now realizing was an Imperial/Double IPA. If I had known when I was drinking I might not have had two of them then gone on to drink wine. In retrospect, I should have known, since the beer came in a smaller, tulip-style glass. Then again, I’ve been to snooty foodie places with craft beers that pour regular IPA’s in 10-ounce servings too.

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A Good Weekend With Ballast Point

Ballast Point has a lot of good stuff. Of course they are not perfect. There was that one time they had a few batches of Yellow Tail pale ale that tasted like soap. At first, I assumed the bar did not properly wash the glasses and asked for a new glass. The second was the same. I assumed that particular bar just had bad dish washing practices, until I ordered a Yellow Tail at another bar the next weekend and it also tasted like soap.

But that can all be forgiven, because of Sculpin, which is one of my favorite IPA’s. Oh god, it’s so lovely. Sweet, citrusy nectar. Beer Advocate considers it world-class. I drank it while painting my nails this weekend:

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Sculpin is far from Ballast Point’s only redeeming quality, though. They have several solid beers. It’s beer week and I tried a Homework Series #3 IPA a few nights ago, which is an English style IPA. Hoppy and malty:

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Interesting that they call it “English style” IPA – didn’t the English invent IPA’s? You’d think that all IPA’s are by default “English style.” By the way, I do not have a reputation as a cannibalistic serial killer at that bar (The Regal Seagull). That’s just the way they do their tickets for food. When you order (delicious) sausages, instead of a number, you get assigned a random fictional character. 

Final note: Ballast Point also has a tasting room and home brew mart with great supplies and grains. Overall, lots of good stuff.