|Neither bright eyed nor bushy tailed|
3:45am on Friday.
What the hell?
Oh, right. I woke from a surreal dream to kick off yet another surreal real-life weekend with my bandmates in Infest. This time our destination was Washington DC. The show promoter who organized this Damaged City Fest we were playing, an old friend Chris Moore, sadly booked a 6:45am flight out of LAX for us, which meant we all got up at least 3 hours prior. We're all in our mid-to-late 40s and don't take kindly to this sort of thing, but we reluctantly schlepped our asses to the airport in time for our pre-dawn departure. I count on drinking on the plane to help pass the time, but no such luck on this round. 6 in the morning is way too early to start, no matter who you are. Although with an hour layover in Cleveland, and a Great Lakes Brewing micropub directly in front of our gate at the airport, the hour seemed irrelevant and it was clearly not too early to start with a tasty Rye IPA and a few sips of their decent Porter. All too soon, we were on a tiny commuter jet bouncing our way over to DC. With a few steep drops and hairpin turns, we arrived at Ronald Reagan Airport. Reagan, the old codger in the running for "Most Inept President Ever", but likewise, also owed a debt of gratitude as the primary linchpin of all classic early '80s hardcore punk - a great deal of which was spawned right here in the Nation's Capitol by the likes of the early Dischord bands. After running into Chicago hardcore legends Crudos at the airport, and catching up a bit, we were off to our motel in Silver Spring, MD.
|Red stains, this motel is safe, right?|
|Old Man Beer|
|Gov't Issue: Old, sloppy, and proud|
Matt Domino finally awoke from his mouse-motel slumber and cabbed it to the church. The two of us embarked on a long walk to hit the after-show early, over at The Pinch, a small establishment with decent taps, and bands playing in the basement. Best beer on tap, and one of my favorites for the entire trip, was the Evolution Rise Up Stout, a coffee stout that I actually love... I've burnt out on coffee stouts overall, too many average ones, but this one is excellent. Thick like motor oil and not a coffee bomb. After a few brews and a decent sized, not-so-reluctant Fireball shot (I always say how much I hate it, but Domino always talks me into it), we checked out the bands downstairs. With a decent buzz, I lost my shit to Floridian high-speed experts Shitstorm. Totally relentless sonic punishment. These guys rule. I even got kicked in the face during their set, and it was totally worth it. We got the bum's rush at 3am, and drunkenly convinced an off-duty cab driver to take us back to the motel.
|Rare Brew Jawa sighting in DC!|
A quick shower, avoiding the enormous dead roach on the bathroom floor. A quick check with my roommate Denunzio who was clearly down for the count, and not joining me. A quick check-in with the clueless front desk to be sure I was walking the right direction to the Metro station. Let's do this!
|Figuring out public transportation like a big boy|
|Me and an adorable plastic novelty mug|
Nationals Stadium was a great spot for the DC Beer Festival because there was plenty of room to move around, and no chance of it selling out. However, for a Beer Fest they were laughably unprepared for beer drinking on that scale by the thousands who arrived. No water stations whatsoever. Any beer fest worth its salt needs to have free and plentiful water dispensers, common sense... keep these thousands of drinkers hydrated! You're just asking for trouble, and a lot of puke, when 4 o'clock rolls around. Another complaint, practically no food options. Of course, I'm probably spoiled living in LA, the World's capitol of plentiful food trucks. Only four stadium food windows were open and they offered the usual array of ballpark snacks, which are akin to a 10 year old boy's diet: Chicken fingers, hot dogs, pretzels, soda, water. I stocked up on a couple waters, which were mandatory considering how hot this afternoon was, and how little shade there was. Another reason to hate this event was the practically ever-present DJ music blaring in every goddamn direction. At 1:30 in the afternoon, while I'm sampling beer and trying to ask the brewer a question, it's not necessary to have Biggie Smalls overpowering our conversation at volume 11. Annoying as hell, to say the least. The Cape Cod brats seemed to love it, so clearly it wasn't geared for me anyway.
|I hate this DJ and all he represents|
I was lucky enough to try some new brews from old favorites, and discovered numerous new breweries I'd never tried before that clearly knew what they were doing. The Pros outweighed the Cons: Smuttynose, Perennial, Burley Oak, The Brewer's Art, Champion, Capitol City, Lost Rhino, Williamsburg Alewerks, Devil's Backbone....
|Post Beer Fest, trippin' balls...|
Best friend and beer guru Dave Witte made the drive up, with an old UK pal Jamie Thomson in tow. As usual, Dave came prepared, with several bottles of high-quality brew. Jamie pointed out how in our teenage punk rock years, it would have been typical to hang out at the car and drink. Here we were 30 years later doing the same thing, except nerding out about barrel-aged stouts and the subtleties of a persimmon saison. Ha!
|Thomson & Domino: Drinkin by the car, mid-40s style|
Everything went wrong Sunday. We were scheduled to play a quick afternoon show before our flight home. The show started at 12:30pm, which was about the time everyone in our entourage started waking up. Only two opening bands. Factor in how long it takes to get any group moving, but especially this cast of characters who alternately
A. Need a smoke.
B. Need something to drink.
C. Need something to eat.
D. Need to take a shit.
E. Need to stop and talk to someone random
and it's a cookbook chock full of recipes for tardiness and idiocy. Coupled with drummer/driver Bob Kasitz's inability to follow even the most rudimentary of directions (not to mention he parked 12 blocks from the venue) and it was a frickin' miracle we showed up in time to play. It was a small show in an art institute in front of maybe 150 people, a more interactive & intimate setting compared to the 600+ folks who saw us the night before. Lots of high speed, lots of smiles and good vibes, a perfect corker to the weekend. I feel like an asshole missing the two opening bands though.
|Apparently some people have to be told|
By some Act Of God or freak of nature, despite our endless buffoonery, we somehow caught our flight with 10 minutes to spare prior to boarding. The stress of the past few hours was weighing on me, and I realized it was after 6pm and I hadn't eaten a single thing all day. The airport deli was mercifully quick, and I sank into my aisle seat, relieved as hell that I was going to sleep in my own bed tonight, even though my front door was still a good 9 hours away. Another intense, ridiculous, brew-filled, unreal weekend, capped off by a solid night's sleep in my comfy bed, out like a light. Sans magical stripper dreams.
The tally continues....
Sunday 4/6 - Another substantial beer tasting at Vendome, Studio City, thanks to Harley the Cicerone:
- BROOKLYN BREWERY WILD STREAK WILD ALE AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS - Beer #535, Brought in as a bottle-share by a fellow taster, golden and tasty with mild wild funk
- THE BRUERY SOUR IN THE RYE - Beer #536, mild pucker, well-balanced, rye barrelly goodness
- ADELBERT'S BREWERY FLYIN MONKS QUADRUPEL - Beer #537, Creamy and yeasty with a woody barrel bite
- SHMALTZ BREWING HE'BREW R.I.P.A. ON RYE - Beer #538, Rye & barrel tastiness with a slight bite
- HARDYWOOD PARK SIDAMO COFFEE STOUT RESERVE SERIES - Beer #539, Richmond, VA beer I brought in for the bottle share, thanks to Mr. Witte. Caramelly & smooth.
- CISMONTANE BREWING T.J. SLOUGH - Beer #540, brown sugar, caramel, sweeter than I was expecting, but still a nice big beer
- CORONADO BREWING BARREL AGED OLD SCALLYWAG - Beer #541, Barleywine in oak bourbon barrels? I'm listenin'...
- DESCHUTES MIRROR MIRROR BARLEYWINE 2014 - Beer #542, Label says you're supposed to hold onto this until 2015. Is Deschutes too lazy to hold onto it & bottle at the proper time? No matter, it tastes great now!
- LADYFACE ALEHOUSE DERAILEUR BARREL AGED SAISON - Beer #543, bottle share growler courtesy of Mr. Harley himself. Citrusy, evenly balanced farmhouse deliciousness.
- FIRESTONE WALKER SUCABA BARLEYWINE 2013 - Beer #544, Whoa! Candy in a glass, heavy vanilla, hope you're ready for dessert.
- RUHSTALLER OLD SOUL THE KENYAN RED ALE WITH COFFEE - Beer #545, Crazy good, I love the idea of a non-stout coffee beer, complex, well done
- EVIL TWIN LOW LIFE PILSNER - Beer #546, A joke on Miller High Life perhaps? Love this brewery, but didn't love this pilsner. Ordinary.
Friday 4/11 - DC via Cleveland
- GREAT LAKES BREWING RYE OF THE TIGER – Beer #547, Perfect pit stop for our layover at the Cleveland Airport, Great Lakes Brewing has their own brewpub spot on site. Decent food, above average beer. This Rye IPA was a full-bodied treat.
- GREAT LAKES BREWING EDMUND FITZGERALD PORTER – Beer #548, Took a few sips off Joe Denunzio’s pint. Nice one. Not unique, but good everyday porter.
- SCHLITZ – Beer #549, Tallboy can at the Red Derby, DC. I had no idea it was still around, and it’s surprisingly not bad for a cheap, old man beer
- MAUI BREWING COCONUT PORTER – Beer #550, Took a few sips from Alex Sanchez, way tastier than I remember. Slight coconut on the back end, but I get mostly chocolate out of this. Very good.
- BUTTERNUT’S BEER AND ALE PORK SLAP PALE ALE – Beer #551, Another Red Derby can from a NY brewery I don’t see back home. Tastes like piney juniper berries, not unpleasant, but I wouldn’t be able to drink more than one in a single sitting.
- EVOLUTION CRAFT BREWING RISE UP STOUT – Beer #552, On tap at The Pinch. This one is impressive. Enough of a balance so it’s not an annoying and cloying coffee-bomb. We went back for more the following night. I’ve been burning out on coffee stouts overall, but I love this one.
- PORT CITY TARTAN ALE - Beer #553, Good one
- LOST RHINO BREWING FACE PLANT IPA – Beer #554, Poured from a can, after one look at the packaging I wasn’t expecting much, but this was very good, straight forward, I’d have no problem drinking this as an everyday beer.
- LOST RHINO BREWING RHINO CHASERS PILSNER – Beer #555, See above. Really liked this one. Way more character than your average pilsner.
- SCHLAFLY AMERICAN IPA – Beer #556, Great IPA bite. Been wanting to try this brewery for a while.
- SMUTTYNOSE NOONAN BLACK IPA – Beer #557, Wow! Yum! Great New Hampshire brewery. The lady representing Smuttynose was super friendly, knowledgeable about what she was pouring, and not oblivious to the fact that she was being subjected to an enormous frat party.
- OLD DOMINION MORNING GLORY ESPRESSO STOUT – Beer #558, Insanely rich with a nice bite of the bean.
- BROOKLYN BREWING SUMMER ALE – Beer #559, decent, easy drinking, non-descript
- SAM ADAMS REBEL IPA – Beer #560, I felt less like a Rebel and more like a Traitor giving this one a try. Considering how many lackluster SA IPAs I’ve tried, this is one is pretty good, and I think it’s in the corral of some other decent everyday IPAs you wouldn’t be ashamed to drink (Note: I said “You”). That said, with so many other great options these days, many of which are available at the same price, there’s no reason whatsoever to choose this one.
- LEINENKUGEL’S SUMMER SHANDY – Beer #561, Like a frozen lemonade cup after it has melted. Refreshing on a hot day like this, but one bottle would be enough.
- ATLAS BREW WORKS ROWDY – Beer #562, Nice graphic aesthetics with this brewery. Decent rye beer. Tasty, but I’d like to try what else they have to offer.
- PERENNIAL SAISON DE LIS – Beer #563, Fruity, farmhouse ale, good one, worth the longer wait in line.
- BURLEY OAK BREWING ‘MERICA BROWN IPA - Beer #564, great beer! To go with the obvious... 'Merica, Fuck yeah!
- THE BREWER’S ART OZZY BELGIAN GOLDEN ALE - Beer #565, spice, farmhouse, delicious
- MOTHER EARTH BREWING SISTERS OF THE MOON IPA - Beer #566, From North Carolina, NOT the one from Vista, CA. Not bad, not a standout either.
- AVIATOR BREWING DEVIL’S TRAMPING GROUND TRIPEL - Beer #567, citrus bite, estery, nice
- LEGEND BREWING BROWN ALE - Beer #568, Richmond, Va, they've got a long way to go, esp with the competition in The Richmond area alone
- BLUE MOUNTAIN BREWERY EVIL 8 BELGIAN STYLE DUBBEL - Beer #569, not bad, bready, yeasty, dark, mild molasses
- BRECKENRIDGE BREWERY VANILLA PORTER ON NITRO - Beer #570, dessert, creamy
- CHAMPION BREWING PACECAR PORTER – Beer #571, chocolatey & good, yum, Charlottesville, VA represent!
- THE DUCK-RABBIT RABID DUCK RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT - Beer #572, NC brew, very nice
- WILLIAMSBURG ALEWERKS SPRINGHOUSE ALE – Beer #573, delicious golden-amber saison, damn good
- EVOLUTION CRAFT BREWING EXILE ESB - Beer #574, OK, didn't love it like I loved their stout though
- Capitol city brewing amber waves ale - Beer #575, hoppy amber ale, very nice
- Sly fox brewing phoenix pale ale – Beer #576, canned in PA, good pale, solid
- SweetWater 420 extra pale ale - Beer #577, pungent, hoppy goodness
- Atwater brewery vanilla java porter – Beer #578, Detroit brewery, nice vanilla porter, but “nice” like all the rest
- Fordham Route 1 session ipa – Beer #579, Delaware brewery, creamy hops, not light like other session IPAs
- Devils backbone pear lager - Beer #580, tasty, easy drinking, not overly fruity, good one, and I happily chose it instead of the billionth IPA
- Smuttynose Durty mud season brown ale - Beer #581, Wow, that's a damn good hoppy brown. The love child of your favorite brown and fave IPA. Last of my DC Beer Fest brews.
- JACKIE O’S RUM BARREL OIL OF APHRODITE – Beer #582, The venue we played at was All Ages – No Alcohol, so we had a few at Dave Witte’s car. Anytime I enjoy a bottle from Jackie O’s, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. This was no exception. A flawless, outstanding Ohio brewery.
- WILLIAMSBURG ALEWERKS BITTER VALENTINE DOUBLE IPA – Beer #583, Freakin’ yummy DIPA, thanks Mr. Witte
- TIRED HANDS THE EMPTINESS IS ETERNAL WINE BARREL FERMENTED PERSIMMON SAISON – Beer #584, Mild hops and tartness, supremely delicious.
- GREAT LAKES ELIOT NESS – Beer #585, Hanging out for the second evening at the “after show” at The Pinch, some fella who sat down to talk to me about the bands knocked over my Evolution Rise Up Stout, spilling it in Matt Domino’s lap. He bought us both the Eliot Ness on tap. Wow, really good beer. Thanks for taking one for the team, Domino!
- COORS LIGHT – Beer #586, Generously offered at some guy’s house party that we crashed around the corner from The Pinch. Thirst quenching at 4am. Still, not necessary good.
- SAINT ARNOLD ELISSA IPA – Beer #587, Tasty & refreshing, even moreso after a 3.5 hour flight.
- FRANCONIA WHEAT – Beer #588, Damn good, impressive for a wheat beer, especially for an airport bar selection. Full bodied, unfiltered, really like it.
Monday 4/14 - Home
- AMERICAN RIVER BREWING COLOMA BROWN ALE – Beer #589, Bottle I picked up recently in NorCal. Pretty good. Actually liked it better when I finished the bottle a day later.
Tuesday 4/15 - Home
- SANTA CRUZ ALE WORKS IPA – Beer #590, See above.
- LAKEFRONT BREWERY ANNIVERSARY SERIES BELGIAN STYLE APRICOT ALE - Beer #591, Thankfully not a sweet fruit beer, the apricot is subtle, the yeasty Belgian style lends to it. Not bad.
- SIERRA NEVADA DEVESTATETION BLACK IPA - Beer #592, taking lemons and making lemonade, or in this case, taking a bad harvest and brewing a killer beer anyway.
- JOSEPH JAMES RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS - Beer #593, inky and delicious, well done, Comrades!
- FLYING DOG UNDERDOG ATLANTIC LAGER - Beer #594, Basic lager but better than a Bud, good everyday beer
- ESTRELLA DAMM INEDIT WITBIER - Beer #595, designed by and for some fancy Euro chef, it's mild, yeasty, kinda citrusy, but not a show stopper. They spent more time on the packaging than the beer. Don't believe the hype.