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the beers of 2010: july

August 4, 2010

July was a good month for beers. You’ve got grilling out on the fourth of July, my birthday grill out with family and a few friends roughly a week later, a few days off of work a little while after that in which we worked in brunch at the Handlebar followed by a round at the Map Room, and a good friend, and fellow beer geek and home brewer’s, birthday to close out the month.

Then, right before the end of the month, Lagunitas released the 2010 batch of Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. Arguably my second favorite seasonal beer and something I always look forward to.  So there were plenty of opportunities to pour a few pints this past month. And so I did.

July 2010:

AC’s homebrewed California Common
AC’s homebrewed Altbier
Bell’s Oberon (with orange juice aka the beermosa @ Handlebar, Chicago)
Bell’s Two Hearted IPA
Chimay Red*
Corona*
Founders Red Rye Pale Ale*
Goose Island Honkers Ale
Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
Half Acre/Three Floyds She Wolf IPA*
Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
Lift Bridge Crosscut Pale Ale
New Glarus Moon Man No coast Pale Ale*
New Glarus Spotted Cow*
New Glarus Totally Naked*
Red Stripe*
Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA*
St. Feuillien/Green Flash Biere De L’Amitie
Summit Horizon Red Ale
Surly Coffee Bender
Surly Furious
Three Floyds Alpha King
Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow Double IPA
Two Brothers The Bitter End Pale Ale
Two Brothers Cane and Ebel
Two Brothers Dog Days Dortmunder Lager
Two Brothers Domaine Dupage French Country Ale
Two Brothers Ebelweiss
Two Brothers Hop Juice Imperial IPA
Two Brothers Prairie Path Golden Ale*

*Thanks to all my family and friends that bestowed these brews on me, and shared them with each other, while contributing to the fun on and around my birthday.

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slow season.

July 25, 2010

This is the slow season. No hockey, no basketball, no football and the halfway point of 9-man stand-around,  aka baseball.  This is the point in the baseball season when the handful of teams that actually still matter for the remainder of the season make a few trades for good players that have contracts ending on their current teams while the rest of the league literally throws in the towel and starts thinking about next season. As fans, we’re treated to a majority of meaningless games.

Sports news is so slow that reports on college football players that receive money from agents, school alumni and other connected riff-raff, four and five years after the fact grabs headlines. As if anyone that has watched college or pro sports in the last 15 years should be surprised that some of the big time money made by big time money makin’ universities, with big time money makin’ sports programs, that have big time money makin’ tv broadcasting contracts, and that recruit big time money makin’ players, is big time dirty.

I give as much a shit about Reggie Bush and/or his family getting money from some lecherous wannabe hanger-on as I do about where Lebron James plays his basketball. I give as much a shit about Cleveland basketball as I do Miami basketball. I care even less about what Pete Carroll knew or didn’t know about Reggie Bush’s money, house or car while he was coaching USC…and I’m sure as hell not going to waste my time reading a book written by a football coach to learn his philosophy on winning. I’m more concerned with my philosophy on paying the fucking mortgage and my equation regarding how many beers comfortably fit on the bottom shelf of my fridge. The NFL and the NCAA need to quite acting like they are honorable and that their fans give a shit. We obviously don’t. Pretending that there is any sort of moral integrity in big time money makin’ sports, college or pro, isn’t something we’re even trying to convince ourselves of these days. Some guys are better than others and that is about as far as it goes anymore. As a fan, I’m fine with that. If it starts to bother me too much, I’ll stop watching and/or stop spending my money on your game. I’ve already cut back…but that is of no real consequence…and who cares.

The NBA might be a complete joke as far as a competitive pro sports league goes, but at least they aren’t trying to fool anybody. Lebron James needed to play college basketball like he needed to stay in Cleveland. Get paid and win at all costs. This is pro sports in the 21st century. Anyone that thinks anything else hasn’t been paying attention. Do you know what I know about Lance Armstrong? I know that he won the Tour de France a bunch of times, lost a ball to cancer, dated Sheryl Crow for a while at some point, has a hell of an endorsement deal judging by the commercials and probably was on steroids through all of it. Livestrong Lance. Do your thing. I really, truly, don’t give a shit. I don’t even know why I know about most of what you’ve been up to, but I do. Actually, I do know why…it’s because you’re a winner. You won those races, so I know who you are. If you had lost all of those, you wouldn’t be on my radar since I don’t follow your sport. I couldn’t name another cyclist right now if you paid me.

Every aspect of sports, from the game itself, to the offseason trades, to the prospects in the minors, to the draft, to the contract negotiations, to the possible training camp holdouts (Why the fuck do I know who Albert Haynesworth’s agent is?), to the salary cap, the player’s unions, to the ownership’s positions, to the tv contracts…its all on the table for the fan to form an opinion about. And slow season is the time in which this minutia steps up to the forefront. It’s enough to make a sports fan hate sports. Right about now, I kinda do. But in a few weeks when football season starts, I’ll be appeased. Slow season is just that. Slow. What am I supposed to do? Give a shit about the World Cup? Seriously? The World Cup in this country is for American sports fans that don’t actually give a shit about sports. Or at least aren’t emotionally invested in being a fan of a team. Soccer fans are pretty much like people that watch American Idol, and then buy the winner’s first record. And then forget about that winner once they are off their tv. And I don’t even want to get started on the white urban hipster contingency of American soccer fan. Most of you shitheads that got all fired up about the World Cup last month won’t remember who won it in about a year. Hell, you don’t even remember who the U.S. team played against in the first round six weeks later. You can’t even name more than 5 players on the U.S. team. Quit acting like you were into it. Sports aren’t your thing and its ok. You just like to buy scarves. Keep carrying your high school anti-jock hangups around into your middle-aged adulthood. Its fun to make fun of.

I am digressing. The point of this post is that slow season blows. Baseball is boring and also completely sucks. Basketball sucks even more than baseball and I can tell you which of the 8 teams that matter will be playing in the 2011 finals right now. The World Cup is at best a minor distraction, and mostly for goof-asses that don’t watch sports anyway. Hockey was fun while it lasted, but the NHL has a long way to go before it is taken seriously and unfortunately it seems to be modeling itself after the NBA. Quick, name what channel “Versus” is on your tv? Exactly. No one wants to watch Carolina vs. Calgary. 75% of the NHL season is foreplay and too many shitty teams make the playoffs after a way too long season. I love the game and I can’t be bothered to follow the league until football has more or less ended. Canadians are the only fans fired up for October hockey.

Bring on the football season already. I want to watch these crazy short career having jacked up motherfuckers kill each other. I immensely enjoy this most violent sport and am not ashamed.  I want to field multiple fantasy teams, drink too many sunday beers and love and hate players, coaches and announcers. I watched the Chad Ochocinco show tonight for chrissakes, against all better judgment, while the out of it Cubs went into extra innings against the Cardinals…and then lost. That’s how interesting a Cubs game is right now. I’d seemingly rather watch a famous pro football player fake tv date a large grouping of ridiculous women. This is how much every other sport completely sucks compared to football.

Slow Season is coming to an end. NFL training camps open this week. If you couldn’t guess, I couldn’t be happier.

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the beers of 2010: June

July 1, 2010

If May wasn’t very varied, June picked up the slack and then some. I was almost tired of beer at one point in June 2010. Almost.

On June 12th I attended the Two Brothers Brewing Company’s ‘For The Love Of Hops’ fest. Their annual Hop Juice Imperial IPA release bash. Lots of great Two Brothers brews were served along with hourly guest taps. I got to try a few of those (and only remember one of them), but by the time the fest was heavily attended during the mid-afternoon, if you wanted to try any of the guest taps you had to line up about 45 minutes before they started pouring because the entire keg would get killed in roughly 10-15 minutes. Standing in line is no fun when there are plenty of other beers to drink sans lines.

A week later I visited Philadelphia for a work trip, and work I did, but was also able to head out to a few good pubs and restaurants in the evening (The Eulogy, The Irish Pol, The Khyber, Johnny Brenda’s, Kraftwork, National Mechanics). Even though I hit town the day after Philly Craft Beer week came to a close, luckily, there were still some good leftovers taking up taps at the local spots, which weren’t very crowded since I’m sure most of the Philly craft beer scene was hungover and/or back to work.

Later that same week, I attended the American Homebrewers Association annual national conference in Bloomington, MN, which included both a pro brewers fest night as well as a home brewers fest night. I have tried to recall what I could below, but I won’t even attempt to remember all of the beers I got to try there. It was overwhelming, astounding and beyond excellent. I also sampled as much, if not more, homebrew from talented brewers around the country as I did commercially produced craft brew.

There were a lot of beers pouring at the pro brewers night that are commercially available in the Chicago area, it being the midwest and all, so my focus was on trying everything I could that wasn’t. A few surprising highlights were actually the Samuel Adams Barrel Room collection beers. They’re being test marketed now around Boston and Denver, but they sent some out for the AHA. Really great stuff. So here’s the list…as best as I can remember, which is, not surprisingly, not well at all and missing many I’m sure.

June 2010:

21st Amendment Brew Free Or Die IPA
21st Amendment Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat
August Schell 150th Anniversary Hopfenmalz
August Schell FireBrick Lager
August Schell Schell’s Pils
Bear Republic Nor Cal Ale
Bell’s Two Hearted IPA
Boathouse Brewpub Hasselhop Rye IPA
Brew Works Space Monkey
Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA (something special with it…Cask? Dryhopped? Double? I can’t remember.)
Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale (also learned that Deschutes is planning to distribute in the Chicago area in 2011!)
Dock Street Rye IPA
Dogfish Head/Stone/Victory Saison du Buff*
Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA
Flying Fish ESB
Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Belgian IPA
Lift Bridge Minnesota Tan (Belgian Tripel infused with lingonberries)
New Belgium Skinny Dip
Philadelphia Brewing Co. Kenzinger
Revolution Brewing Best Coast IPA
Revolution Brewing Bad Man Rye Ale
Rogue Chatoe Rogue Single Malt Ale
Rogue Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale
Rogue Double Mocha Porter
Rogue Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red
Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale
Russian River Consecration
Samuel Adams American Kriek (Barrel Room Series)
Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red (Barrel Room Series)
Samuel Adams New World Tripel (Barrel Room Series)
Samuel Adams Belgian IPA (Beer Lover’s Choice 2010) – I voted for this one over the next one on the list.
Samuel Adams Rye Pale Ale (Beer Lover’s Choice 2010)
Schneider Weisse Hopfen Weisse Hefeweizen
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss
Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA
Smuttynose IPA
Stone Ruination Imperial IPA
Summit ESB
Summit Extra Pale Ale
Surly AHA Rally Wort (a few different versions of this fermented with   different yeasts)
Surly Bender
Surly Coffee Bender
Surly CynicAle Saison
Surly Furious IPA
Three Floyds Alpha King
Town Hall Masala Mama IPA
Town Hall Imperial IPA
Town Hall (a few others…can’t remember anything but wanting to try everything they were pouring)
Two Brothers Cane And Ebel
Two Brothers Hop Juice Double IPA
Two Brothers Oak-Aged Domaine DuPage
Vine Park Cuvee de Belgium
Weasel Boy Anastasia Russian Imperial Stout (cask)
Weasel Boy Bitter Sable Black IPA (cask)
Wyerbacher Simcoe Double IPA
Yards ESA
Yards IPA
Yuengling Black and Tan
Yuengling Traditional Lager

…and more homebrews than I would even dare to possibly recall…though I do recall my friend A.C. Ross’ West Coast IPA, which was pretty nice.

*After being disappointed in not getting my hands on any elusive Saison du Buff while I was in Philadelphia, back at home, nearing the end of the month, we took an after dinner date night trip into Brixie’s, in Brookfield, IL. Guess what had just gone on tap? The bartender said that they were the only bar in the Chicago area that was receiving any. Good timing. Things have been working out for the best lately…hoping it continues.

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the beers of 2010: May

July 1, 2010

As I was putting the finishing touches on the June beer list I realized that I  never hit publish on May.  That’s indicative of about how much time I’ve put into maintaining this blog these days. If I had a nickel for every half written rant I had in ‘saved drafts’ right now, I’d have exactly thirty-five cents. One of these days life will slow down a bit.  Onto the beer…

Not a big variation this month. A lot of old favorites as I was staying in a lot after our big move into the new house, which coincided with the Blackhawks playoff run. I was on a big Bell’s Two Hearted kick for a while there during the NHL playoffs, May into June. The Blackhawks were on the way to winning the cup and I enjoyed many Two Hearteds while keeping watch of the games. It was not bad.

May 2010:

Bell’s Oberon
Bell’s Two Hearted IPA
Dogfish Head Aprihop
Duvel
Flossmoor Station Mick Jaggery English IPA
Founders Red Rye P.A.
Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA
Lagunitas IPA
Magic Hat Wacko
Rogue Captain Sig’s Deadliest Ale
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Shorts Huma Lupa Licious IPA
Shorts Pandemonium Pale Ale
Shorts Soft Parade
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale (2010)
St. Bernardus Abt 12
Surly Mild
Three Floyds Alpha King
Three Floyds Blackheart IIPA
Three Floyds Pride & Joy
Three Floyds Gumballhead
Two Brothers The Bitter End Pale Ale
Two Brothers Cane & Ebel

Also, Magic Hat Wacko (made with beet juice) is still terrible. Tried it for the second time in as many years and I’m convinced its one of the worst craft beers in existence. Who in the hell is enjoying this one?

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the beers of 2010: April

May 3, 2010

April was a good month for beer in Chicago. Stone Beer week, a Half Acre/Three Floyds night at a bar that is (was) walking distance from my apartment, huge month-long sale on craft brews at Binny’s and not much to do but pack up our belongings, watch Blackhawk games, take in the NFL draft (Seahawks:  Russell Okung + Earl Thomas + Golden Tate + draft day trades for Lendale White and Leon Washington = A+) and get ready to move.

Now that we’re all moved out and are now bill-paying, mortgage-having residents of the near western suburbs and no longer in Chicago proper, these lists might get shorter. A good and a bad thing I suppose. Then again, in another month or so, I can start brewing my own beers again. These monthly  lists could be nothing but homebrews by the end of summer. Regardless, for it being my final month of living in Chicago, I made it count in the beer dept.

April 2010:

Bell’s Oberon
Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale
The Bruery Saison De Lente
Cucapa Chupacabra Pale Ale
Dogfish Head Aprihop
Eel River Organic IPA
Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA
Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale
Goose Island Sophie
Green Flash Hop Head Red
Green Flash Double Stout
Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
Half Acre Gossamer Blonde Ale
Half Acre / Three Floyds Invasion Helles Bock
Lagunitas Chicago Style Fusion Pale Ale
Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot
Metropolitan Krank Shaft Kolsch
Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale
Revolution Brewing Bad Man Rye Ale
Revolution Brewing Samadhi IIPA
Revolution Brewing Workingman Brown Ale
Samuel Adams Blackberry Wit
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA
Samuel Adams Light
Samuel Adams Pale Ale
Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Shorts Huma Lupa Licious IPA
Shorts Soft Parade
Ska Modus Hoperandi IPA
Stone Cali-Belgique Belgian IPA
Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine (aged in red wine barrels)
Stone Pale Ale
Stone Ruination IPA
Stone Russian Imperial Stout (2008)
Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale (cask)
Three Floyds Alpha King
Three Floyds Samurai Gazebo Lager
Two Brothers Cane & Ebel
Two Brothers Hoppy Public Domaine

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the beers of 2010.

April 15, 2010

The blog has been slow lately. We closed on our house last week and getting everything in place for that to run smoothly took up a lot of my time.  Nearly all of what little spare time we do have has been spent fighting head colds, packing up our possessions and cleaning up our apartment so that someone will actually want to rent it regardless of all the boxes everywhere. When we aren’t doing that, we’re going to see Thom Yorke two nights in a row, watching Battlestar Galactica episodes on DVD or taking a load off and rewarding ourselves at our favorite local pub. So yeah, no time for writing about Rock and bullshit lately. Its April and I haven’t yet finished spouting off about my favorite records of ’09 yet. Pretty lame to still be reflecting on those, but I plan on clicking the publish button on one more rambling post where I’ll wrap that up, covering the rest of the Rock that rocked me over the last 12-16 months. Back to rewarding ourselves at the pub…

The Craft Brewer’s Conference was in Chicago this past week. Every good brewery in this country was hanging out in town, pouring beers all over the place, literally.  If I had a bunch of cash and a bunch of time off of work, I could have easily been out at a bar or restaurant every night of the week drinking all kinds of brews I wouldn’t normally be able to get in the Chicago area. Instead, I was in the process of buying a house and writing the biggest checks of my life. I was grateful for what little cash I was able to spend on the few special brews I was able to try and happy to have a good Stone Brewing event a few blocks from our apartment at my favorite bar. I made it count.

I decided that a fun little project for this blog would be to document all the different beers I drank in the year of 2010. I originally planned on publishing it all in one big monster post around new year’s eve, but it’s already getting a bit daunting month to month…and who the hell is going to read all of that anyway? So I think I’ll post January through March and then just do a new entry around the first of each month. So here goes…

January:
Bell’s Hopslam IIPA
Boddington’s English Pub Ale
Goose Island Christmas Ale
Goose Island Honker’s Ale
Green Flash Hop Head Red
Lagunitas IPA
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb
Surly Furious IPA
Three Floyds Alpha King Pale Ale
Victory Yakima Twilight Ale
Founders Breakfast Stout clone (my homebrew)

February:

Adriaen Brouwer Dark Gold Belgian Ale
Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout
Dogfish Head Sahtea
Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale
Goose Island Mild Winter Ale
Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
Harpoon IPA
Lagunitas IPA
Left Hand Milk Stout
New Glarus Uffda Bock
Revolution Brewing Workingman’s Mild Ale
Revolution Brewing Eugene Porter
Revolution Brewing Antihero IPA
Revolution Brewing Iron Fist Pale Ale
Samuel Adams Nobel Pils
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb
Sierra Nevada Glissade Golden Bock
Ska Modus Hoperandi IPA
Red Scare Hoppy Red Ale (my homebrew)
Founders Breakfast Stout clone (my homebrew)

March:
Amstel Light
Dogfish Head Aprihop
Green Flash IPA
Green Flash Imperial IPA
Green Flash Hop Head Red
Goose Island Honker’s Ale
Goose Island Mild Winter
Half Acre Ginger Twin India Red Ale
Harpoon Leviathan Imperial Red Ale
Heineken
Old Style (Yes, I had an Old Style tallboy…most of one anyway.)
Piece Dysfunctionale
Piece Wingnut IIPA
Revolution Brewing Black Power Oatmeal Stout
Revolution Brewing Coup D’Etat Saison
Revolution Brewing Iron Fist Pale Ale
Revolution Brewing Willie Scottish Wee Heavy
Rock Bottom Rye Pale Ale
Ska Modus Hoperandi IPA
St. Bernardus Abt 12 Belgian Quadrupel
Southern Tier Cherry Saison
Tecate
Three Floyds Alpha King Pale Ale
Three Floyds Dreadnaught IIPA
Three Floyds Pride and Joy Pale Ale
Two Brothers Cane & Ebel
Two Brothers Resistance IPA
Devil’s Pale Ale (a friend’s homebrew)
Founders Breakfast Stout clone (my homebrew)

Now playing: my iPod on shuffle. Fig Dish to Judas Priest to Jane’s Addiction to The Mars Volta…and so on.

Now drinking: Stone Ruination IPA after another night of cleaning and packing.

Beer/Rock Nerdism: A+.

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reset button #3: (march) madness.

March 19, 2010

During my morning and nightly commutes, when I’m not listening to my rock ‘n’ roll records, I usually flip between NPR and one of two sports radio stations. I know sports radio is mind-numbing, and I can usually only hang in for up to 15-20 minutes at a clip, but I’m a football junkie and the offseason is as busy as the regular season, plus my Chicago Blackhawks are having an interesting season, so I’ve been listening. Anyway, a few weeks ago I heard a radio ad that actually caught my attention. Which is surprising, because I flip at the first sign of a commercial 99.9% of the time and radio ads are the worst of the worst. Bad actors doing bad voice overs mixed with bad broadcasters, bad scripts, and especially on sports radio, D-grade beer commercial humor hammering you directly over the head. This one caught me though.  I don’t think I’d ever previously heard a radio ad for vasectomies.

The hook, basically, is, get your vasectomy on the Wednesday before the early rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament. You get snipped, no big deal cool guy, and you then get to stay off your feet and chill for a few days. May as well spend it lying around watching hoops all day, right, dude? The urologists office doing your outpatient procedure even throws in a frozen bag of peas (get it!) and a voucher  for a free pizza at a local chain they partnered with.  Free pizza and some dick joke lolz with your outpatient sterilization is the shit! What health care reform U.S.A.? Who cares what it costs! I said basketball and free pizza, motherfuckers!

A personal hero of mine, the great stand-up comedian and social critic, Bill Hicks, once said, “If you’re in marketing, kill yourself…” That one always hit close to home and hurt a bit since I’ve participated in more than my fair share of  marketing meetings over the years. Though, it doesn’t mean Bill wasn’t 100% right.

Just hearing an advertisement for a surgical procedure that causes sterilization should be surreal enough. The fact that it’s tied to a major sporting event and that it fits right in, being plugged with the same humor and tone as ads for mass-produced beer brands, used cars, fast food corporations and discount men’s suits, is downright disturbing. I can’t decide if this is the most brilliant marketing initiative ever or if it is just another goose step in the long march to the bottom.  Somewhere, someone wearing a suit, sitting in a cool looking chair in a mansion is laughing at us while crazy middle-class Christians are protesting health care reform because they are worried that tax dollars might get used to pay for some gal’s abortion.

We live in a country that markets vasectomies via basketball tournaments and we have people in government that find it their duty to stop poor people from getting affordable medical care, abortions included. So Funny. So fucking sad.

But let’s not lose sight of what is most important. Who don’t like ’em some free pizza?

Right now, somewhere in America, a freshly sterile man with a swollen nutsack and a half-thawed bag of peas shoved up his crotch is sitting on the couch enjoying some awesome insurance covered pain meds as he watches highlights of today’s NCAA tournament hoops action on Sportscenter. He’s thinking of how long he has to wait before he gets to bang his wife again now that he doesn’t have to worry about having another kid, a dirty plate of half-eaten pizza crusts at his side. His office pool bracket is still looking pretty damn good and he’s got two more days of games yet to go this weekend. Hell yeah!

Uncool and Heavy’s official and fully potent NCAA Final 4 picks:

Semi-Finals:
Kansas over Pitt
Duke over Wisconsin

Final:
Kansas over Duke