Saturday, June 7, 2014

Beer #959-1,001 / Day #153-157: Rarefied Air - The Quest For Beer #1000

"They’re men, dear. If they stop competing, then they die.” – JoBeth Williams in “The Big Year”

Upon the conclusion of my original 2013 Big Year In Beer, I publicly laid out the ground rules for the Big Year which I would again be pursuing in 2014.  At least two of my friends, that I’m aware of, accepted it as a challenge and successfully kept pace ahead of me for the first five months of this year.  I blogged my frustrations about trailing behind two men who I considered to have substantial advantages over me:  1. Randy Carncross for working at a brew pub and attaining endless access to new beer all day every day.   2. Chris W. who quite honestly can afford to purchase every beer in the Western Hemisphere, and has the temperament to stow them all away in his stomach in mass quantities... kinda like a Conehead except he’s not as pointy. 
The original Three. Too bad there's no breweries on Attu.
After this past weekend in Paso at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival, and a few additional tastings along the way, I greatly increased my numbers.  I was sure that I had finally pulled into the lead ahead of both Randy and Chris, and before I knew it I was 42 beers short of the magical milestone of 1,000. 

1,000 different beers. It’s an arbitrary number, and there’s no prize, so why does hitting 1,000 seem like such a big deal?  I have no idea.  It just does.  
Another selfie? I thought you'd never ask!
Being the first to reach quadruple digits is like Neil Armstrong stepping onto the lunar surface.  It’s uncharted territory, and many will follow, but there is a certain satisfaction knowing you’re the first. 
With this milestone in mind, I pushed myself this week to sample more than I ordinarily would on an average week.  The last thing I need is some pesky pal sneaking up and hitting 1,000 before me.  Each day I was focused on my goal, with the eye of the tiger, and the belly of a hobo.  Establishments serving affordable flights and tasters were my only chance to barrel through 42 different beers during the week. 

I launched my attack:
*Tony’s Darts Away, Burbank – Two visits, some of the best beer around and one of my favorite spots which constantly rotates their selection.
*Infest practice – My weekly band practice. I asked Matt Domino to bring a couple singles of what he brands “American Shit Lager”. He brought some shit, that’s for sure, but I still sampled it, and it was new to my list.
BJ's: Turns out the name is false advertising
*BJ’s, Burbank – They serve a long list of proprietary brews.  I dropped in at 10:45pm on a Tuesday evening for a nitecap after practice, thinking it would be a quiet place for a couple flights. The place was packed, for no reason.  Apparently this is where Burbankeans go to party.  Bleached blonde whores, dumpy geeks, muscular bros in Affliction gear, old Armenian families, you name it… maybe everyone doesn’t need a beer as much as I do, but clearly everyone needs a Pazookie.
*Boneyard Bistro, Studio City – When the boss says he wants to take you out after work, you say “Yes”, but the deal is even sweeter when it’s at a place with constantly changing primo taps & incredible BBQ, and you’re watching your home team in the Stanley Cup. All of the planets were aligned in my favor.
*Vendome Liquors, North Hollywood – Harley the Cicerone is a saint for organizing multiple beer tastings that are both varied and affordable. He recently started a program of New Release tastings every Thursday.  Perfect timing for me.
With focus and determination, despite my woes and self-pity, halfway into the year I’ve now pulled into the lead.  I’m the first to reach Beer #1,000 in 2014

Am I the new Mozart?
Or Sandy Komito?
Or Sir Edmund Hillary? 
Maybe not. But the 1,000s are rarefied air, especially this early in the year.
Follow me if you must, but be sure to hire a Sherpa.

The beering continues....

6/2 – Tony’s Darts Away samplers, and one at home
959 – LAGUNITAS SF FUSION DOUBLE IPA – Full bodied with a lingering hoppy finish.
Tony's is No baloney
960 – CORONADO HOPPY DAZE IPA – After SF Fusion this one almost tastes rural, like a hoppy wheat field.  Great stuff.
961 – GOLDEN ROAD GET UP OFFA THAT BROWN WITH COFFEE ON CASK – Cask conditioning seems to take the acidic bite away from the coffee, resulting in a cleaner coffee beer. Dangerously easy to drink. I could chug this all day.
962 – MODERN TIMES BLACK HOUSE BOURBON OATMEAL COFFEE STOUT – First off, a Modern Times beer not from a can?  Cool.  Second, Tony’s Darts Away serves this at the perfect temp… not too cold, and not as warm as the cask beer above. I’m tasting the subtleties of everything in the name of this beer, and I’m guessing they would be buried if it was served too cold. Truly an outstanding beer.
963 – GOLDEN ROAD DART’S AWAY IPA – Nice one! Crisp hop bite, heavy dense orangey citrusness
964 – HAVEN BREWING UNFILTERED IPA – Mellow mouthfeel, sharp hop presence. I haven’t had any of Haven’s proprietary beers in over a year, and clearly they’ve stepped up their game. The best Haven beer to date.
From the sublime to the ridiculous
965 - STRAND BREWING HARVEST BALL ORANGE WITBEER – Deep orange color, refreshing, I had this while swimming on a hot summer’s eve.

6/3 – A good one at home, two bad ones at Infest practice, eight decent tasters at BJ’s
966 - HUMBOLDT BREWING 500 B.C. DOUBLE IPA – As majestic as an ancient redwood, this is a mighty imperial that towers over the rest
967 - KING COBRA MALT LIQUOR – I feel like I should be wearing baggy shorts and spray painting graffiti
968 - MILLER BREWING STEEL RESERVE 211 – Unparalleled excellence in brewing… but enough talk about Three Floyds…
969 - BJ'S JEREMIAH RED – Mildly fruity for a red.  So-so.
970 - BJ'S HOPSTORM IPA – Maybe more of a light sprinkle, but mildly hoppy and better than expected.
971 - BJ'S HAPPY SCOTSMAN – Limited release, served too cold, but it’s a much better beer when it warms up. A mild Scottish ale with barely detectable hops.
972 - BJ'S TATONKA STOUT – Again, decent when it warms up a bit, chocolatey smooth maltiness, would make a nice ice cream float
Boneyard frivolity
973 - BJ'S GOLIATH IMPERIAL RED ALE – Their best offering, hop forward and wonderfully dense mouthfeel
974 - BJ'S PIRANHA PALE ALE – moderate hop definition, pretty good
975 - BJ'S NUTTY BREWNETTE – heavy roasted malts, perty good
976 - BJ'S PM PORTER – on nitro, smooth and roasty, as nutty as the brown

6/4 – First Kings/Rangers Stanley Cup game, happy co-workers, many samplers at Boneyard Bistro
977 - HESS BREWING JUCUNDUS WHEAT ALE – Decent wit, nice & orangey
978 - MONKISH BREWING GALAXY DEFENDER PALE ALE – Tasty Belgian style pale ale
979 - EL SEGUNDO BREWING HOP TANKER DOUBLE IPA – El Segundo just keeps crankin’ out the superior IPAs. This one is a Double. Keep that conveyor belt rollin’, guys…
980 - DOUBLE MOUNTAIN MOLTEN LAVA DOUBLE IPA – Didn’t really dig their standard IPA, but this Imperial wins some Brownie points.
981 - NOBLE ALE WORKS ENGLISH 101 – Solid, nutty English strong ale
Boneyard samplers in front of actual bones
982 - EL SEGUNDO BREWING STATION NO. 1 AMBER – Shit, they just keep releasing all good stuff. I need to get off my ass & visit El Segundo already.
983 - BROUWERIJ ST. BERNARDUS ABT 12 BELGIAN QUAD -  Sweet, fruity, malty powerhouse of a Belgian quad.  Too good.
984 - ALESMITH RAMBLIN' RYE – Superior, rich, malty, deep brown rye beer.
985 - THE BRUERY HOTTENROTH – Supposed to be a Berliner Weisse, but I’m not getting the typical sourness. There’s some pucker from the heavy lemon, but it’s more like a summer shandy.
986 - ALESMITH SUMMER YULESMITH – The mother effin’ bomb of Double IPAs.
987 - HESS BREWING HABITUS RYE BEER – Very grain-forward, if that makes any sense. Tastes like a field of rye being stone ground for the bread maker. Very good.
988 - CUVEE DE JACOBINS ROUGE – Whoa, good and SOUR, mildly funky like an old red wine.
989 - SCALDIS NOEL – A nice, muscular Belgian Strong.  Super sweet malts, anise, chocolate.
990 - REISSDORF KOLSCH – Excellent! Damn rich for a kolsch. This is what beer should be.
God bless you Harley the Cicerone
991 - ST. LOUIS GUEUZE FOND TRADITION – Horrifically weird.  Major pucker with a blender full of green beans. Super odd. Can’t shake the funk and the spicy green veggie aftertaste.

6/5 – Vendome, Harley the Cicerone’s excellent new release beer tasting, and a so-so bottle at home
992 – BELCHING BEAVER RABID BEAVER BITE RYE IPA – Great bite, creamy mouthfeel, evenly balanced hops and rye, love it!
993 – STONE ENJOY BY 7-04-14 DOUBLE IPA – As perfect as all others in the series.  Enjoy NOW!
994 – BOULDER BREWING 35TH ANNIVERSARY BLACK IPA– Big, roasted malt and hop collision.  Excellent!
995 – STONE STOCHASTICITY QUADROTRITICALE – Slightly sweet, slightly fruity, rich quad that isn’t too heavy or syrupy, just right
996 - OMMEGANG GAME OF THRONES FIRE AND BLOOD RED ALE - I dunno, I don't really dig it. The previous G.O.T. beers were solid, but this one has some wobbly legs on it.
#999 - A pint of Alpiney perfection

6/6 - A few more at Tony's and a big finale at home with the family on a Friday night. This is how it should be:
997 - BEAR REPUBLIC CUVEE DE BUBBA - A sour that lies somewhere between a Sweet Tart and bubble bath soap. I don't love it.
998 - SIERRA NEVADA HOPTIMUM - Their seasonal Double IPA that I look forward to every year. One of the best.
999 - ALPINE HOPPY BIRTHDAY - Never had this one, and never seen it on tap until two days ago. Thanks to Green Flash helping them boost production their Southland distribution is much wider. That said, who knows if this one will end up as limited as most of their other famous IPAs, so instead of a sampler glass, I ordered a full pint at Tony's.  It's on par with their other A-List IPAs. 
1000 - ALPINE PURE HOPPINESS - Complete & utter hop supremacy from SoCal's most sought after brewery.
1001 - INLAND EMPIRE BREWING PEPIN THE SHORT PORTER - Never heard of this brewer before, and I bought this on a whim because it was something new, and it was inexpensive.  I wasn't expecting much, but thankfully I was proven wrong.  Like, really wrong. Big time.  This is a fantastic, well-rounded, full-bodied, deliciously roasty, chocolatey, portly porter.  Now I'm determined to seek out their other releases.
You mean someone beat 732?

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