Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beer #1754-1900 / Day #231-246: It's 6AM Somewhere -- Beering In The Mid-East

It was 6:30am at the Minneapolis Airport and I had already sampled five new beers for my Big Year.  I was more than a bit punchy from lack of sleep, but not about to miss this narrow window of opportunity, no matter what the hour, to try some Midwestern brews which can’t be found on the West Coast.  This was another outing for Infest. We were heading to Cleveland and Pittsburgh to play two shows over a long weekend, courtesy of the selfless efforts, as well as the credit card, of Clevo local legend Tony Erba.  Erba is what we call Old School.  Someone who deserves the utmost respect.
It's 6 o'clock somewhere... AM, that is.
While we were excited to play this part of the country, we were mystified by the oddball flight times.  Legend has it United was the only airline with a major hub in Cleveland and they recently shut it down, thus eliminating all direct flights from LAX.  The only option was at least one layover. Not the end of the world, but we were stuck on a red eye.  After a quick three hours of restless flopping around, pitifully pretending I had a chance of sleeping on the way to Minneapolis, it was already sunrise on Friday morning and we had four hours to burn before connecting to Cleveland.  We landed at the ungodly time of 6am (4am back home for those keeping track), but thankfully it was the exact hour all of the airport shops and restaurants rolled up their grated entrances.  My pal Todd Haug from SURLY BREWING told me their beers are available in Concourse G, and whaddya know, there they were at 6am, a heavenly gathering of Surly cans lined up next to all of the Snapples and pre-packaged cookies.  I categorically retract any time I’ve ever taken Minneapolis’ name in vain.  
How about "Sleep"?
With major time to kill, I moseyed through an airport that resembled an upscale shopping mall, with an abundance of food and tchotchke outlets of every make & model touting Minnesota novelty souvenirs.  However, my focus was not on finding the right size SuperMoose T-shirt.  I was bound and determined to sample the finest the Twin Cities could offer, at least within the confines of their airport.
I opted for an eatery called Ike’s, a semi-dated restaurant where everything was detailed with oak and brass, straight out of 1986.  Not my kind of place overall, but I was here for the taps.  I devoured a massive corned beef hash plate in order to justify my pre-dawn tasting. While they didn’t offer flights, the waitress was kind enough accommodate my sad puppy faces, and found a work-around to get me tasters of everything on draft.  I had some decent SUMMIT, GRAIN BELT, and SCHELL beers, but the crown jewel was the appropriately named BENDER BROWN ALE from SURLY, a mildly hoppy, thoroughly comforting brew.
It's 9am and we've hit Rock Bottom.
That killed 90 minutes.  Still another 2.5 hours to go.  I tracked down my bandmates, and while Matt Domino slept it off, Joe Denunzio and Bobby K. joined me at ROCK BOTTOM BREWERY.  Each location brews a selection of the chain’s flagship beers and accents them with a handful specific to each location, which is what I was gunning for.  After the line-up at Ike’s, these were bland and immediately forgettable.  Not to worry.  I planned on investing major beering time this weekend, and I was already up eight new braus by 9am.  I’m coining my own new drinking excuse tagline:  “It’s 6am somewhere!”

On the subject of quotes: “Hello Cleveland!”  I didn’t dare quote Spinal Tap when we arrived.  I can only imagine how unfunny that line is to Clevelanders after a good three decades of undoubtedly being quoted by traveling bands.  Local scenester Meghan Guder was kind enough to pick us up at the curb… That would be “Us” sans Bobby K. who, as per usual, rented his own car and disappeared, in search of pinball (he says) or, more likely, secretive and utterly horrific bodily dismemberment.  He’s a man of mystery, and while I don’t have solid evidence that he’s a serial killer, when the press interviews me about the newly uncovered, multi-state killing spree which coincided with our tour dates over the past year, I will not hesitate to point out the lanky, pasty, black-clad Nosferatuian spectre that is Bobby K. in the police line-up.
Beware of this sinister spectre
Meghan schlepped our tired asses to a motel in Lakewood, just west of downtown Cleveland.  Domino and Denunzio were completely shot from our odd traveling hours, so they crashed for the rest of the day.  It was 2pm.  As delirious as I was from sleep-deprivation, I mustered my inner beer hunter and insisted on hitting the town.  Meghan had a few hours to kill before picking up her daughters from school, so she graciously led me to MELT, a schmancy specialty (read “hipster”) grilled cheese joint.  As much as it didn’t sound like an awesome idea, my lack of protest was rewarded with one of the most satisfying sandwiches in recent memory.  It wasn’t just a gimmick; these folks know exactly what they’re doing with these masterfully massive missives to all things delectably unhealthy.  The experience was perfected by an impressive tap list of top notch brews from FAT HEAD’S, LEFT HAND, REVOLUTION, and JACKIE O’S.  And I won’t soon forget those Mid-Eastern prices.  $8 for a sandwich as big as your head.  $5 for a pint of an awesome beer that would cost $10 in a tulip glass in LA.
People who don't drink love hanging with me.
After insightful conversations about life in these parts, how Cleveland is a city where strangers don’t talk or smile because “everyone is poor and pissed off”, it was time for Meghan to get back to her family and real life.  And real life was smiling good fortune upon me seeing as how directly across the street was WORLD OF BEER.  While she offered to drop me off back at the motel, I insisted on staying behind solo & fending for myself.  There was no way I was passing up any establishment with 52 taps, 80% of which I’ve never even seen on any beer list.  Maybe it was the endless conga line of excellent beer choices, maybe it was delirium from lack of rest, maybe it was a deep-rooted belief the ghost of Harvey Pekar would grumble past me at any moment… whatever the case, I was euphoric.  At that moment, the WORLD OF BEER was the only world I wanted to live in.  I was one of only three patrons in this enormous monument to all things brau.  Thanks to the knowledge and skills of Krystal behind the bar, samplers kept sliding down the conveyor belt into my gullet.  JACKIE O’S & FAT HEAD’S collaboration black ale, FULL PINT RYE REBELLION imperial stout aged in rye barrels, SOUTHERN TIER WARLOCK dark pumpkin stout… Even if Drew Carey fell out of the sky right now and crushed me to death in my chair, I would have died a happy man.  And after so much joviality, it occurred to me I was also a tired, tired man.  In my malted haze, my eyelids drooped, and I realized I was nodding off, looking like a complete drunk who needed the bum’s rush.  I checked my phone… shit, it’s only 5 o’clock!  I can’t be faded now. 
Matt Lindsay's "serious" pose. Impressive.
Like the cavalry, my wake-up call arrived just in time. It was my pal Matt Lindsay, a musician from these parts who I’ve been friends with for years via mail, but never actually met in person.  Matt is renowned for his part in some of the world’s most intentionally odd and idiotic bands --Tough Skins, Boy In Love, Fossil Fuel, Breathilizor – a bald, bespectacled, deadpan gent with an off-kilter sense of humor who reminds me of Eric Wood circa 1988.  Equally as important, he shares an affinity for fine beer, and insisted on springing for a couple fab bottles of LEXINGTON BREWING ales because he knew I’d love ‘em as much as he does. The KENTUCKY BOURBON BARREL ALE and BOURBON BARREL STOUT were everything I hoped they would be… deep, rich, heavy, stick-to-your-ribs kinda beers.  His enthusiasm gave me my third wind (I had already exhausted my second wind) despite being three sheets to the wind.  I would have been happy to camp out all night on those barstools, chit chatting with Matt and the friendly staff, and sampling every beer in the house, but I was in Cleveland to play music apparently, so passing out at 7pm was not an option.
Astonished I'm drinking Bud.
Matt was kind enough to shuttle me back to the room to pick up my bass, then we headed out to the venue, the ironically named Now That’s Class.  This underground club is legendary in Cleveland lore as ground zero for nearly every bizarre, over the top happening in the hardcore punk scene.  Talk to any of the locals and there’s an abundance of stories covering the gamut from shootings, stabbings, muggings, substance abuse, sexual depravity, and general mayhem.  Only a couple months ago a national story broke regarding two warring factions of hardcore “crews” who battled at a local music fest while armed with machetes!  I was expecting the worst, but aside from a men’s room sink overflowing with standing water & puke, this was your standard hole in the wall.  If there were any issues this evening, I was oblivious to them.
The last full U.S. tour I did was 7-weeks in 1997 with my old band Spazz, so most of these weekends out of town are like a 17 Year class reunion.  Old friends come from out of the woodwork to reconnect for a few brief hours, just long enough to warm my heart like a Hallmark Channel movie.  Although this club was stocked with a good number of quality regional taps and bottles, my pal from the ‘90s, Ms. Suree kindly brought me a secret stash of tasty tasters.  While we caught up on the back porch, I guzzled a good number of Ohio suds from FOUR STRING and GREAT LAKES BREWING.  One of the first guys I ever met with a tattoo of my old record label Slap A Ham, Chris Pellow made a rare appearance.  This guy used to travel to the West Coast all the time in the 90s to see all the noisy California bands who never traveled East.  My old friends Ken Hansford and Doug Long from the band Hellnation made the pilgrimage up from Kentucky.  Despite their distance from me on the West Coast, I toured with Hellnation in Europe in 1999, so I have a special affinity for these guys. 
Despite the smile, Suree will mess you up.
Great times and great brews just kept on coming.  SOUTHERN TIER 2X STOUT on tap, FOUR STRING BRASS KNUCKLE PALE ALE, NEW HOLLAND DRAGON’S MILK BOURBON BARREL STOUT.  I didn’t want this to end, but we were there to play, so I did my best to hydrate & maintain while the show started.  Wetbrain killed it, as did The Inmates who are fronted by Paul who also runs the club and lives upstairs.  Tony Erba, who set up our whole weekend, is also the vocalist for openers Fuck You Pay Me, a ball-busting, fierce hardcore band who I was honored to share the stage with.  Erba is infamous for onstage antics with his previous bands… busting guys’ heads open with the mic stand, fireworks, wrestling moves, carving up his own forehead with broken bottles and performing drenched in blood… but these days the maniacal behavior is replaced with hilarious stage banter and passionate, energetic ferocity which is still absent from 98% of the hardcore bands out there today.  FYPM is a juggernaut.  They take no prisoners, and flatten all eardrums.  Plus they’re just damn cool fellas.  Infest used all of their gear for our backline.  FYPM bassist Justin Haberer actually set up the entire bass backline for me, including his tuner & distortion pedal.  I felt like a rock star, or a jackass, letting him set up everything so I could just plug in & play.  Our set was sweaty, loud, with a handful of hiccups, but mostly solid.  Some of the standard mosh pit mayhem, but thankfully no bottle rockets or machetes.  Leading up to this weekend, Denunzio had been wrestling with severe back pains, but made it through this evening seemingly without issue, or at least he hid his wincing well. 
Not sure if someone did actually pay them.
My brain was running on its last exhausted fumes, fueled solely by beer and sheer willpower.  All chatted out at 3am, I was nursing a WEYERBACHER BLITHERING IDIOT BARLEY WINE, barely able to prop my eyelids open.  I was indeed a Blithering Idiot myself.  We were shuttled back to the motel by the club’s soundman who must have been on speed, and insisted on talking non-stop about his bands, their recordings, their influences.  I struggled to sound interested and interact without being rude and falling asleep on the spot.  The motel was mercifully close. I dragged myself past Rip Taylor’s jovial doppelganger at the front desk, and my head dropped to the pillow like a failed one-liner.

Satuday morning Denunzio woke me to announce he needed to find an emergency room.  His back pain was unbearably severe and he needed some high powered drugs for any chance of making it through the rest of the weekend.  Tonight we were playing Pittsburgh and there was no way he would make it in his current condition.  The only problem is it was 12:30pm.  Erba was picking us up at 2. Denunzio got up several hours ago, but waited until now to try the hospital.  This was going to be a long day.   Needless to say, when I sprung the news on Erba he was less than chuffed. In disbelief he shouted through the phone, “Does he realize that can take up to 6 hours?!”   Shit, I hate being the messenger.   
Last night Paul from The Inmates & Now That’s Class suggested we meet up for brunch.  I wasn’t sure if it was genuine or just “drunk talk”, but as the rest of us were being kicked out of the motel, he came to the rescue with a massive van for us to pile into.  We hit a divey club called the Parkside were 12 of us took over four tables and I choked down one of the worst sandwiches I’ve had in recent memory, highlighted only by a decent beer selection and good conversation… I found out lovely tidbits like Paul’s psycho ex-girlfriend once threw a potted plant at his head while he was sleeping. I went with a FAT HEAD’S HEAD HUNTER IPA and a THIRSTY DOG OLD LEGHUMPER porter to pass the time.  Beer or not, I was getting antsy. It was mid-afternoon and we still had a two and a half hour drive ahead of us, but we were all captive until Denunzio was sprung from the ER.  Erba took the bullet and went to the hospital to pick him up / coax him out.  Of course, a long delay was stretched even longer when an additional stop was required to pick up prescription pain killers, but eventually our retarded circus hit the road. 
Washed Out next week.  Washed Up this week.
Screaming Southeast down the highway, Domino and I napped on a full length puffy couch in the back of FYPM’s van.  Drummer Steve and guitarist Aaron were at the helm, likely annoyed by our snoring as we careened along with a van full of gear and merch but no air conditioning.  After a lengthy and much needed nap, we were in PA where the air was cooler and the climate less stifling.  I didn’t know the Midwest could be so lush, but was quickly corrected in that these folks all staunchly consider themselves to be on the East Coast, NOT in the Midwest.  The flat horizon was now obscured by endless greenery, which segued into steep, verdant rolling hills, and angular, hairpin roads dotted with farmhouses displaying handpainted signs hawking eggs and corn.  The road twisted downward until the smell of burning brake pads was nearly gag-inducing, yet in an instant we had arrived in the Pittsburgh borough of Millvale.  Tonight’s show was advertised as part of a multi-club, four-evening punk and metal gathering known as Skull Fest.  The venue was Mr. Small’s Theatre, a converted, old ass church made of stone slabs which encased an enormous stage, massive sound system, three full bars, and a backstage that was basically a mini-apartment in the upper story of this behemoth.  First thing I saw when getting out of the van was a biker couple riding their hog down the street with the personalized license plate “AS*KKR”.  This was going to be fun.
Despite the late departure from Cleveland, we were early enough to load in without any pressure and still had a few hours to kill.  Whenever I go to a new city, I research ideal beer destinations in advance and bring a long a wish list of places I want to hit.  80% of the time I only hit one place on my list if I’m lucky.  The FYPM guys had found primo parking spaces in front and weren’t about to drive me around so I could drink like a spoiled college student.  None of my old friends were loitering nearby yet.  I was on my own.  Not a single cab was to be seen, and it was clear I would not be making it to the much touted brewpub destination, The Church.   I had noticed a few neighborhood taverns down the block and figured at the very least I could sidle up with some local salty dogs and grab an Iron City brew.
Thanks to my Untappd phone app and surprisingly good wifi service, a laundry list of local bars popped up in addition to a couple breweries within walking distance!  My first stop 5 blocks down from the venue was DRAAI LANG BREWING.  I was so excited to walk to a brewery, but felt a sinking feeling that this was too good to be true.  Sadly, my gut feeling was soon justified.  Draai Lang was closed, and a huge sign hung in the window announcing their Grand Opening… NEXT weekend.  Dammit!  Looks like I’m settling for an old man bar and some Iron City after all.
But wait, Untappd was telling me there was yet another brewery only 3 blocks from here.  I headed over there, but didn’t stay too optimistic, especially since the address was on a residential street.  There wasn’t shit here but middle aged women with bingo arms sitting on their front stoop chit chatting about other middle aged women with bingo arms.  But what’s that sign on the chain link fence at the end of the block? The chain link fence with the OPEN gate.  Huzzah!  GRIST HOUSE BREWING was here and it was open!  I’d never heard of these guys, but it didn’t matter.  I had found a small brewery, I had hours to spare, and now I was only 2 blocks from the club.  This is already my favorite day ever.  The enclosed dirt & grass parking lot lead around the back of the residential buildings to an oasis of grass roots beer and BBQing.  Dusk was settling in, the air had a comforting chill, the cicadas scritched a deafening chorus in the surrounding hilltops.
Brew Dane.
Locals leisurely sipped brews, played games, socialized, gawked and snapped selfies with a monstrous great dane.  The joint was bustling, but in spite of the robust business, the staff was courteous and took time with each patron, explaining each beer and answering all questions.  I bellied up to the bar and ordered tasters of everything over the course of two rounds.
This was the opposite of Cleveland… Everyone was friendly, gregarious. The couple near me immediately struck up a conversation, asking me about the band.  Three biker dudes sat down and we instantly chatted about common West Coast beers they can’t find in PA.  When I commented on how nice everyone was, one of the greying bikers quipped, “The people in this town are all very friendly, but if you mess with them they’ll kick your ass.”  Not a single arse cheek was met by any boots this evening.  It was all smiles, all good vibes.  I watched the Pittsburgh Pirates winning on TV, relishing my astoundingly perfect half-beef half-pork burger, slurping the elixir of this newly founded brewery which had only opened 3 months prior.  Their proprietary brews ran the gamut from the earthy and roasty CROUCHING PORTER HIDDEN CHOCOLATE to the hoppy and malty BLACK rIPA (the small “r” being Rye) to the smooth and hop-laden delivery of the CAMP SLAP RED to the malty, oatmeally, bready GRISTLY BEAR BROWN.  
The Savage gets a taste before the set.
I had reached nirvana, but I was here to do a job, so I reluctantly headed back to the club just in time to miss the first band.  Aside from FYPM, I wasn’t familiar with any of the other bands, on our show or any of the other affiliated ones for that matter.  Our line-up was an odd, mixed assortment of hardcore punk and true metal.  This room as cavernous, everyone stood around seemingly unaffected through each band.  I had already resigned myself to the fact this show might be a bit of a dud, energy-wise.  The vibe just wasn’t there.  Except for some of Denunzio’s crazed expressions, Infest is not a band that “puts on a show”.  We’re all mid-to-late 40’s dads who still love hardcore punk, still love to play it, but the last thing that appeals to me is jumping all over the place to “perform” like I did when I was 20 and didn’t have back problems.  Given that, I was sure this evening would be forgettable and instantly be lost in the annals of non-memorable gigs.  To make matters worse, while I appreciated their style, the band before us played a string of slow metal tunes that extended well over an hour.  Propped in the middle of the room, I was starting to feel sleepy, as if I would drift off to dreamland in a standing position.  We were the headliner and this was the antithesis of a “warm up” act.  While they were well received, they were also killing our crowd’s enthusiasm with each passing moment.  
I've heard of Swedish hardcore but...
It was time for our set and the only thing on my mind was “getting it over with”.  I was convinced we would be received with a collective yawn for 40 minutes straight.  We were on a big stage with a built-in barricade, so audience interaction would be non-existent.  And whenever there is no audience participation, Denunzio has a habit of clamming up, curling up into a ball and distancing us even further from the crowd.  The rest of us were set up, thanks to the quick backline assembly of FYPM, when Denunzio called out to me… he was at the front of the stage but down on the floor with the crowd.  I figured he was just hob-knobbing, chatting up some kids before we played, but then he asked for me to hand him the mic. 
Maybe it was the complimentary bottle of Patron up in the backstage loft, or perhaps the prescription painkillers were working their magic, but Denunzio told me we should start playing.  He was going to perform the show in the crowd, not on the stage.  Once he made the announcement that we hate barriers, we launched into the first song and the floor exploded.  What was a seemingly dead cathedral was an immediate whirlwind of spikey haired kids losing their minds, mercilessly crushing each other in the pit, and screaming their heads off.  What appeared to be an unwinnable task was now one of my favorite performances ever.  Denunzio had saved the show.  He was the hero of the evening, representing the band on the floor in the eye of the hurricane, taking shots and delivering the goods like a champ, using equal parts intimidation and comradery.  On this ridiculously enormous stage, I had the best seat in the house.  Hardly anyone was watching us.  The real show was on the floor.  My playing was secondary.  First and foremost I was having the best time just watching the insanity unfold with an unobstructed bird’s eye view.
Reunited and it feels so good.

After the show, I got to spend quality time with more old friends, particularly Albert Veith and Marky Shotgunblast, the other half of the aforementioned Hellnation from Kentucky.  Al brought me some long lost photos from our Euro tour in ’99, many of which I’ve never seen.   I was different in those days…. So much has transpired over these past 15 years.  My hair was on top of my head and brown, not on my chin and grey.  I was even more of a dork than I am now, usually dressing as non-punk as possible on purpose, often in the form of ugly vintage button up shirts.  I lived in San Francisco, not LA.  I was married to the wrong person, not truly living life to the fullest, oddly stifled in spite of being so creative.  In one of these old pics, I’m holding a bottle of beer and sneering, and at the time I wasn’t mugging for the camera to show how much fun I was having, so much as I was making a joke about how I didn’t drink.  In 1999 I would have been 30 years old.  It wasn’t until I was into my 30s that I actually started drinking regularly.  Drinking in itself hasn’t made me a better person, but I’ve become a better person, and my drinking nowadays has unintentionally become a reflection of how I’ve been able to let my hair down, metaphorically speaking, of course. 
Apparently this Room Rocks
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years are the long-lasting friendships with my old music friends.  We all connect with a common background based on self-sacrifice and minimal gain, driven only by the goal of creating noise we’re excited and passionate about.  It was gratifying and good for the soul to reconnect with Al.  We easily could have been mistaken for a same-sex couple considering how much we hugged each other.  And the party was just beginning.  It was only about 11pm on a Saturday.  Time for the after-show.
I had no idea who was playing, but the FYPM guys were strongarmed into taking me and Denunzio to The Rock Room, a shoebox of a bar, packed to the last square inch with sweating, odorous, crazed freaks donning spiked jackets and torn black clothes.  Back in the ‘80s, we used to call them Quincy Punks, so-named after an infamous “punk” episode of the popular Jack Klugman medical TV drama, where all of the punks were portrayed as over the top cartoon characters with spikey colored hair who acted like uncontrollable primitives no matter what the social situation.  There were a lot of them, but unlike the comical TV caricatures, everyone here was cool and wanted nothing more than to party and dig some loud, fast tunes.  Denunzio and I squeezed through the tight crowd to check out the band.  We were told entry would be no problem because they’d know who we were, and they did.  Whoever the band was, they sounded like The Go-Go’s.  Good stuff, but I needed a beer or five, so we hit the bar.  I was fascinated how a bar staff of only two people could take care of such an overwhelming crowd, but they did it.  All transactions were quick, and boom boom boom every thirsty gullet down the length of the bar was quenched in a matter of minutes.  Denunzio took care of the first round.  Two beers and a whiskey shot.  8 bucks.  We looked at each other with sideways smirks and howled with laughter.  Gotta love these Mid-Eastern prices. 
We only look like this when we're off duty.
A thoroughly sloshed punky girl, no more than 5 feet tall with a ripped black T, slung sluttily over one shoulder Flashdance-style, wedged herself between the two of us.   In a pleasant fog, she eyeballed us both and yelled, “Hey, you guys look like cops!”  
I cracked up and replied, “We are.”
“No, really,” she responded. “Are you?”
“Yes, by law if anyone asks us if we’re cops, we legally have to admit that we are.”
It occurred to me this is why the Quincy Punks stick out to me so much; it’s because I stick out so much to them.  Some of them know who I am because of my current and former bands.  But there are also a fair amount who have no idea who I am, even if they’ve heard my bands.  In a room full of spikes and hair gel and bad tattoos, I look like someone’s Dad who came to pick them up.  Or a cop.  As much as I wanted to milk the situation for comic relief, our rides were antsy, so we headed out with our hosts to sleep it off.
Erba truly is over us at this point.

I don’t remember going to sleep, but next thing I knew it was late morning Sunday, and time to head back to Cleveland to catch our flight home.  On our way out of Pittsburgh, we wound up a two lane twisted, steep road and the irony was not lost on me when we passed a senior retirement home while driving up Cemetery Lane.  Those poor, demoralized residents.  I wasn’t feeling all that lively myself.  When I originally saw our itinerary, I equated Sunday as an extra day with free time for further exploration and beer tourism, but it was not meant to be.  We had a two and a half hour drive back to Cleveland and three hours before we needed to be at the airport.  Bleh.  No matter.  After the marathon of liver abuse I had subjected myself the last two days, I felt like my regional beer mission was accomplished, and frankly, I just wasn’t in the mood to drink anything but water and whatever I could find with electrolytes.  The roadside panini didn’t help settle my slight queasiness at all.  I attributed it to the whiskey.  When I stick solely to beer, I have no issues the next day.  Today I was not on my game at all.
I never did taste that Cleveland Pickle.
We reached the Cleveland Airport with plenty of spare time.  As a secondary airport, it wasn’t very crowded, and we breezed through the TSA checkpoint.  I thought some hair of the dog was in order to make these next two flights easier, but the malty GREAT LAKES DORTMUNDER GOLD just didn’t quite hit the spot I wanted it to.  Serious detox was in order.  After a quick shot down to Atlanta, I spent the layover eating a salad and drinking water… anything other than another goddamn meat & cheese sandwich.  Timing wise it was a good day not to drink because I didn’t run across any unique brews, and thus didn’t feel guilty about passing up something good.  The only local brew I found in Atlanta was the SWEETWATER 420 EXTRA PALE ALE which I’d already enjoyed this year.  I was impressed to see a slovenly drinker at the airport bar salting his beer.  Even as a well-travelled beerer, this was a new one to me.  Domino enlightened me that adding salt to your beer is an old timey approach to keeping the foamy head on there longer.  Apparently it also helps the flavor of cheaper beer by cutting down on perceived bitterness. 
Ending the weekend as it had started… respecting the Old School.  

The beering continues...

The family IS having fun.  No, really.   I think.

Tuesday 8/19 – Eagle Rock Brewing event at the Dodger game, pre-gaming with Eagle Rock, Strand, Monkish, and Bravery beers:
Eagle Rock Brewery's Brothers Bakofsky wax philosophic.
1756 - LAGUNITAS BREWING IMPERIAL STOUT – They actually sell a top notch stout at Dodger Stadium now? Clearly I’m living in an alternate reality.

Wednesday 8/20 – Samplers at Tony’s and a couple at home:
1757 - CONGREGATION ALES ESB (ON NITRO) – Hey, now that’s a damn fine beer.  You’re finally stepping it up, you Congregationers!
1758 - HIGHLAND PARK BREWERY NOT NORMAL FARMHOUSE ALE – Unfiltered, straw-colored, spiced saison, great for summer.
1759 - MOYLAN'S BREWERY MOYLANDER DOUBLE IPA – Malty full-bodied Imperial IPA.  Am I crazy or does this taste a bit minty?
1760 - TRIPLE VOODOO 8 TENTACLES DOUBLE IPA – Thick hops, piney with a viscous mouthfeel.
And they're not even drunk.
1761 - EL SEGUNDO BREWING WHITE DOG WHEAT IPA – Really hoppy, dry wheatfield crunch, tastes like a session IPA but it’s not.
1762 - EL SEGUNDO BREWING SLEEK ZEKE PALE ALE – Crisp, pronounced hop bite, I dig it!
1763 - MAD RIVER BREWING SERIOUS MADNESS BLACK ALE - Chocolate malty sleek brew
1764 - MAD RIVER BREWING STEELHEAD EXTRA PALE ALE - Piney, hoppy, floral, yeasty finish. Doesn't taste like an actual steelhead at all, thankfully.
1765 - MAD RIVER BREWING JAMAICA RED ALE - Tastes like the Steelhead Extra Pale Ale except it's red. Not a bad thing, just not distinct.

Thursday 8/21 – Thursday New Release tasting at Vendome and a few at home before heading to LAX:
1766 - GREEN FLASH BREWING CITRA SESSION IPA - Interesting minerally quality like hops were filtered thru rocks
How real men drink... in airport parking lots.
1768 - DESCHUTES BREWERY FORAY - Belgian style IPA, heavy peach, straw colored, mild hops
1769 - SIERRA NEVADA BREWING HARVEST SINGLE HOP IPA EQUINOX - Like the floor of a forest, gritty and earthy, that Equinox hop has a distinct bite!
1770 - NOBLE ALE WORKS CHINOOK SHOWERS - Part of the ongoing single hop series from Noble, hops are zesty and a touch orangey
1771 - CENTRAL CITY BREWERS RED RACER IMPERIAL INDIA PALE ALE - Interesting DIPA, strong with a hint of tangerine. Hard to describe. Not typical at all. Not sure I love it, but I don't dislike it.
1772 - BREWERY OMMEGANG SCYTHE & SICKLE - Definitely tastes like a harvest ale, a hint of spice, a little sweet, kinda like a Belgiany pale
1773 - BREWERY OMMEGANG ABBEY ALE - Delicious dubbel, thick and licoricey.
1774 - LAGUNITAS BREWING HOP STOOPID - Driving to the roof of Wally Park LAX, skunk o rama
I bought beer.  He bought Jello.

Friday 8/22 – 20 hours of sleep deprived traveling and tasting in Minneapolis & Cleveland:
1775 - SURLY BREWING BENDER - Roasty and thick and describes this moment perfectly at 6:30am in Mpls
1776 - SUMMIT BREWING EXTRA PALE ALE - Ok, it's no Surly though
1777 - SUMMIT BREWING OATMEAL STOUT - Gotta be nitro, that is smooth, pleasant cereally maltiness
1778 - AUGUST SCHELL BREWING AXEL'S BONFIRE LAGER - Mild, creamy Vienna lager, great breakfast beer
The only world I want to live in.
1779 - GRAIN BELT NORDEAST - Decent amber lager, lightly malty
1780 - BOULDER BEER COMPANY SINGLETRACK COPPER ALE - Light, inoffensive, whatever
1781 - ROCK BOTTOM (MINNEAPOLIS) MOLLY'S TITANIC BROWN ALE - Dark brown but really light on flavor. Whatever.
1782 - ROCK BOTTOM (MINNEAPOLIS) TALL STACKS RED ALE - Nice hoppy red, good one
1783 - FAT HEAD'S BREWERY TRAILHEAD PALE ALE – One of many great taps at Melt, Cleveland. Excellent hop juggernaut with citra & simcoe.
1784 - FAT HEAD'S BREWERY GOGGLE FOGGER HEFEWEIZEN – Unfiltered, easy drinking.
1785 - JACKIE O'S FIREFLY AMBER – Smooth sippin’ .
1786 - REVOLUTION BREWING ANTI-HERO IPA – Nuclear hop detonation, devastating.
1787 - LEFT HAND BREWING MILK STOUT NITRO – Creamy dessert topping.
Krystal pours my meth.
1788 - FAT HEAD'S / JACKIE O'S COLLABORATION AFTER HOURS BLACK IPA – Kicking off a fine afternoon at World Of Beer.  Roasty and doughy and hoppy. Love it.
1789 - FULL PINT BREWING RYE REBELLION – Imperial stout aged in rye barrels. A dense mouthful of sweetness and high alcohol. Five star material.
1790 - SOUTHERN TIER PUMKING – Strong pumpkin flavor, probably the best pumpkin beer I’ve ever had.
1791 - SOUTHERN TIER WARLOCK – Dark pumpkin stout, roasty, like a heavy pumpkin pie.
1792 -ARCADIA BREWING RAPUNZEL IPA – Crisp & pineappley.
1793 - ROCKMILL BREWERY PETITE SAISON – Yeasty & estery, heavy orange, rural goodness.
1795 - TROEGS BREWING MAD ELF – Cherry chocolate. Yum. What is it? Part barley wine?  Part strong ale?
1796 - FLYING DOG BREWERY HORN DOG BARLEY WINE STYLE ALE – Killer, deceptively easy to drink.
1797 - LEXINGTON BREWING KENTUCKY BOURBON BARREL ALE – Heavy on the vanilla, excellent.  Thanks Matt!
1798 - LEXINGTON BREWING KENTUCKY BOURBON BARREL STOUT – Awesome coffee oatmeal stout, wow, thanks again Matt!
1800 - ANHEUSER-BUSCH BUD LIGHT PREMIUM – Surprisingly not bad.
1803 - PABST BREWING STROH'S – Not as bad as expected. Good for an Old Man Beer.

Saturday 8/23 – Starting in Clevo, then some major Pittsburgh tasting:
1811 - THIRSTY DOG BREWING OLD LEGHUMPER ROBUST PORTER – Nice, roasty chocolate porter.
Gristly goodness.
1813 - GRIST HOUSE BREWING GRISTFUL THINKING – Session pale, easy drinking, grain forward.
1814 - GRIST HOUSE BREWING CAMP SLAP RED – Hoppy red ale, smooooth.
1816 - GRIST HOUSE BREWING BLACK RIPA – Hops and malts and loveliness in a glass.
1818 - GRIST HOUSE BREWING WHEATIN' FOR THE WEEKEND – Orangey & light, great summer brew.
1819 - GRIST HOUSE BREWING HIGH IQ BLONDE – Smooth, easy drinking, basic blonde.
1820 - GRIST HOUSE BREWING GRISTLY BEAR BROWN – Maybe my fave, deeply malty & oatmeally.
1821 - STRAUB AMERICAN LAGER – Regional Shit Lager from St. Mary’s, PA. Exactly like every other Regional Shit Lager. It has its place.
1824 - YUENGLING BREWERY BLACK & TAN – Sooo much better than the standard Yuengling.

Sunday 8/24 – Major recovery time and all-day traveling back to SoCal:

Monday 8/25 – Home, finally relaxing:
1828 - EVIL TWIN BREWING MOLOTOV COCKTAIL - Completely over the top Imperial IPA, almost too much, practically a barley wine it's so potent
1830 - BISON BREWING ORGANIC CHOCOLATE STOUT- Smooth and creamy, could be a tad thicker for my tastes, but still a winner

Either shocked or about to burp.
Tuesday 8/26 – Happy to chill at home:
1831 - NORTH COAST BREWING COMPANY BLUE STAR - So simple but so well done. Distinct wheat and barley grain flavor but still light. Love this one.
1832 - SCUTTLEBUTT BREWING HOMEPORT BLONDE - Acidic on the finish, can't say I love it.
1833 - GENESEE BREWING BARREL TROLLEY NUT BROWN ALE - Basic roasty brown ale with a yeasty finish. Not bad at all.
1834 - WELLS & YOUNG'S BREWING STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING ALE - Tastes like a cream soda. Stupidly syrupy sweet.

Wednesday 8/27 – Home:
1835 - ABITA BREWING ABBEY ALE - Malty, caramelly dubbel, the best Abita brew by far.
1836 - SUDWERK BREWING DUNKEL WEISS BOCK (20TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES) - Acidic and a bit harsh on the finish, then I realized this is a beer from 2010. With that in mind, this hybrid is not bad otherwise.(Sudwerk commented on my Untappd check-in with the following: " Congratulations! That beer birthed our sour program!")
1837 - ALASKAN BREWING WHITE - Citrusy and smooth. Primo like the rest of the Alaskan roster.
1838 - SAMUEL SMITH INDIA ALE - Nice, mellow hopped ale, albeit mild by today's standards.
1839 - SPRECHER BREWING PUB BROWN ALE - Lighter English style Pub Brown Ale, nice malted barley, Cor Blimey!

Thursday 8/28 – Quick flight at Tony’s and a few at home:
1840 - RUBICON BREWING HOPSAUCE DOUBLE IPA - Straight up tangy, piney, citrusy, hop attack. First time I've had anything from this Sacto brewery.
1841 - LADYFACE ALEHOUSE ONAGER- Like a slightly wild farmhouse ale. Good one.
1842 - LADYFACE ALEHOUSE GUILLOTINE - Dark, rich cherry woodiness with some decent pucker. Excellent.
1843 - LADYFACE ALEHOUSE TREBUCHET - Subtle, straw colored sour farmhouse ale. Damn good.
1844 - AVERY BREWING JOE'S PREMIUM AMERICAN PILSNER - Good accompaniment to frozen pizza.
1845 - ROGUE ALES JUNIPER PALE ALE - Above average pale ale, mildly hoppy, a lil' creamy, not bad.
I said I wanted some Buddha, she was bummed to discover I was talking about a beer.
Friday 8/29 – Tastings at The Other Door, District Pub, and Cushion Teresa’s:
1846 - CHEERDAY BREWERY LUCKY BUDDHA – Total shit beer from China, but the coolest bottle I’ve ever held.
1848 - BRASSERIE D'ACHOUFFE McCHOUFFE - Heavy vanilla, nice Belgian strong.
1850 - EPIC BREWING IMPERIAL PUMPKIN PORTER - Oh hells to the yes.
1851 - EPIC BREWING STRAIGHT UP SAISON - Loverly and floral.
Work it, Cushion!
1852 - SAMUEL SMITH TADDY PORTER - Malt-o-Rama, damn that's good.
1853 - SAMUEL SMITH NUT BROWN ALE - Nutty-o-Rama, darn good.

Saturday 8/30 – Santa Clarita area tasting with The Beckers at Newhall Refinery, Wolf Creek, Lazy Dog:
1856 – AYINGER MAIBOCK - eh.
1858 - WOLF CREEK BREWERY GOLDEN EAGLE BLONDE ALE – Bleh.  And this place looks like an omlette house circa 1986.
Photographic evidence Gina Becker drank a beer.
1859 - WOLF CREEK BREWERY TIMBER WOLF RED ALE – Pretty good.  Wolf Creek has recently started cranking out some beers I actually really enjoy.
1860 - HEADLANDS BREWING HILL 88 DOUBLE IPA – From the SF Bay Area. I’ve never seen this brewery anywhere, what’s it doing here.  I want to taste whatever else they have, but unfortunately I’m not digging this DIPA.
1864 - LAZY DOG RED - OK
1865 - LAZY DOG IPA – Crisp hoppiness, very good.
1867 – SAKU PORTER - I just like the fact that it’s Estonian.

Sunday 8/31 – Harley’s grand finale farewell tasting at Vendome and a few at home:
1868 - ALLAGASH BREWING FLUXUS (2014) – Mildly spiced golden ale, more like a wine than a beer.
1869 - BROUWERIJ BOSTEELS DEUS BRUT DES FLANDRES (2010) – Heavy floral and sage notes. I haven’t had this in 5 years so this may be the same vintage I originally tasted.  Very champagne-like.
1870 - BRASSERIE DUBUISSON SCALDIS PRESTIGE (2013) – Heavy oak, musty like a corked wine, but not unpleasant.
1871 - BRASSERIE DUBUISSON SCALDIS PRESTIGE DE NUITS (2013) – Immediately tastes like a tannic red wine. Ale aged in wine casks from Burgundy.
Proper send-off for Harley the Cicerone
1872 - HANSSENS ARTISINAAL SCARENBECCA KRIEK – Serious funk, Hostess cherry pie aged in mildew.
1873 - CASCADE BREWING SANG ROYAL – Sour aged in wine barrels, but no harsh acidity. Perfectly balanced.
1874 - THE BRUERY SUCRE AGED IN NEW AMERICAN OAK BARRELS – Heavy, thick caramel beer. Five stars. Whoa.
1875 - AVERY BREWING 5 MONKS BOURBON BARREL AGED BELGIAN STYLE QUINTUPEL ALE – Dammit, how does this exist? It’s too good. Viscous, desserty, caramelly, dense, incredible.
1876 - BEACHWOOD BREWING GREENSHIFT DIPA – Beachwood does all IPAs well and this DIPA is no exception.
1877 - STONE BREWING WOOTSTOUT 2.0 – Woot woot! Glad someone brought this to the bottle share, not I can sit on mine for another year or two. Exactly what I wanted in a stout. Fab.
1878 - SANTE ADAIRIUS RUSTIC ALES APPRECIATION – Saison aged in wine barrels with boysenberries. And I thought I didn’t like fruit beers. My contribution to Harley’s going away tasting. And I only brought it due to the generosity of Chris Wilder.
1879 - CASCADE BREWING THE VINE – Loverly sour tripel, puckery but easy to drink.
1881 - THE BRUERY 2 TURTLE DOVES – Out of production Bruery gem, Belgian dark with pecans & cocoa nibs.  Wow, thanks to Vendome bottle share coaxing this out of the closet.
1882 - DESCHUTES BREWERY BLACK BUTTE XXIII – Heavy praise to the Vendome bottle share. Heavy, malty porter attack. Luscious and delicious, it really held up all these years.
1883 - PRETTY THIINGS LOVELY SAINT WINEFRIDE – Excellent brown lager, brewed using a decoction method. Yes, I’ll pretend I know what that means, but I have no idea.  All I know is decoction is delicious.
1884 - BEAR REPUBLIC BREWING PETER BROWN TRIBUTE ALE – Not all that awesome.  Wouldn’t you want to make any “tribute” awesome instead of average? The Pretty Things brown I just had right before this blew it away.
1885 - LOST COAST BREWING ALLEYCAT AMBER – Decent, but nothin’ to write home about, or to buy again.
Todd is making sure I don't guzzle the whole thing.  Dammit.
Monday 9/1 – Tasters at Yard House, sharing Greek microbrews with The Emerys:
1886 - DESCHUTES BREWERY ARMORY XPA – On nitro, crazy refreshing, floral hops.
1887 - YARD HOUSE IPA – Crispy hop punch.
1888 - DOGFISH HEAD FESTINA PECHE – Tart, peachy, citrusy, but not aggressively sour.
1889 - LOST COAST BREWING 25TH ANNIVERSARY ALE – Wow, Lost Coast made a beer I really like! Excellent Belgian style dubbel. Sweet, yeasty, heavy.
1890 - SEPTEM MICROBREWERY MONDAY'S PILSNER – Not bad, standard cheapie lager except this Greek microbrew wasn’t so cheap.
1892 - SEPTEM MICROBREWERY THURSDAY'S PREMIUM RED ALE – Cookie dough yeast and good hoppiness. Great!
1893 - SEPTEM MICROBREWERY SATURDAY'S PORTER – Chocolatey and delicious, yeasty, smooth.
1894 - ROUGH DRAFT BREWING WEEKDAY IPA – Bleh, tastes soapy.
Jon Emery's coolie phase is in full effect.

Tuesday 9/2 – Home and practice:
1895 - CENTRAL CITY BREWERS RED RACER I.S.A. IMPERIAL SESSION ALE - Toothy malts and mild hops, very nice session IPA.
Milkin' it with Harkins.
1896 - ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING FALL HORNIN' – Seems a bit early for pumpkin beers, but I picked up 7 of them yesterday. This one is liquid pumpkin spice, heavy nutmeg.
1898 - CERVECERIA CUAUHTEMOC MOCTEZUMA S.A. DE C.V. BOHEMIA – Surprisingly decent Mexilager.

Wednesday 9/3 – Chillin’ at home
1899 - MARIN BREWING IPA – Tasty subtle malt, balanced citrusy hops.

I'm confident in Doc Brown's ability to get us Back To The Future.

No comments:

Post a Comment