Monday, January 18, 2010

Always remember to tip your bartender, and NEVER forget to thank your drinking buddy.

This is a topic that I've managed to overlook for a while since having started blogging. Right now though I realize how much of an oversight it is and how I must address it.

When we think about beer, we usually think about bars, or places- backyard around a grill and secretly in cars on lunch break at work... (it happens).

And although we do remember the reasons that brought us to drink (whether in celebration or heartbreak among others) we tend to neglect the importance of our drinking buddy.

This is the one person we tend to enjoy drinking with moreso than others. Many times this person is more of the reason why we share beers in the first place rather than merely the actual beer.

Let me tell you the story of my drinking buddy.

My drinking buddy is named Melissa. She is 5'1" and has denim blue eyes. A stranger once described her as "the downest bitch on the block." She can be sweet in the subtlest of ways. And I fell deeply in love with her. It was the fall of 2005 and I used to supervise people for a living- I had an employee that I had never talked to much and she kinda always walked to the beat of her own drum, and I let her. She'd pretty much go on break or to the bathroom whenever she wanted and seemed to pass the time without a notice of me- her supervisor.

I had never given the girl much thought because I was always busy and I usually chatted up the girls that would respond to me brightly and quickly. This girl didn't seem to be that type. -I never singled her out or treated her any differently, although she did have more freedom than my other employees simply because I couldn't tell her otherwise- I didn't know her and I must've been standoffish because of it.

A buddy of mine once saw me talking to her- which was the day I finally took the initiative to do so. He told me he could see me going out with her. I didn't think much of the idea, since she simply seemed like a person that didn't care much to fraternize and whatnot amongst co workers and the like.

Things soon changed when she was given a different position still under my supervision. This position rendered her and I too work more closely. And I found myself going to check on her more frequently- and then I'd find odd jobs to do within the vicinity just so I could talk to her more. She would respond dryly and, at times, even dreamily. She would make me laugh and her approach was very nonchalant and yet pretty. She wasn't a ball buster, but she wasn't a doormat either. We'd make fun of customers together or play around to make the time go by quicker. I soon found myself looking forward to my shifts when she'd also be around. I'd even watch her out of my peripheral when she was on break. I was falling in love.

I made an ass out of myself when I finally got the guts to ask her out- although I didn't do it outright.

I left a note for her- and this is what it said- "The cool points are out the window and you've got me all twisted up in the game."

Smooth, right?


She didn't understand it, and in fact wrote a reply of, "who is this?"

I was a smooth operator up until this point- and I had no better resources at my disposal when it came to her.

I eventually spilled my guts to her- online (what a fuckin' nerd).

From then on we exchanged nervous smiles and I knew that this was going to be the most difficult thing ever. Acceptance would've been great- then again rejection would've been equally as satisfying to my mind's curiosity. This girl just smiled at me and I had no idea what would happen next.

We then started hanging out, and one of our early moments involved a children's party of a co worker. We went together, but not before I purchased a twelve pack of Pacifico for myself and an 18 pack of Budlight for Melissa.

We went to the party and talked to people but mostly remained engaged in each other. We consumed a few beers and other drinks and soon left for a mutual friend's house. There we met up with a pair of friends (more co workers).

We continued to drink and on said friend's couch- Melissa turned to me and kissed me our first kiss. She missed my mouth. And I WAS IN LOVE.

Soon after that we became official and enjoyed a pleasantly long honeymoon period. We were only days old when I met my birth mother on her deathbed where she subsequently died- and I always felt uneasy about the whole thing. I was scared the rush of emotions brought by my mother's death would affect our relationship. However, I loved her even more for being brave enough to meet my family for the first time as a new girlfriend under such crappy circumstances at the services for my dead mother.

Life went on, and when we consummated our relationship sexually I was dumbfounded. Up until this point I had been a man whore. And Melissa was still young and not a whore. This was a big step for both of us, but I figured moreso for her.


After all was said and done, I lain in bed close to crying (despite having been a confirmed man whore). What happened next is a matter of debate between her and I. But I swear I remember her getting up, scratching her ass and going to the kitchen.

All I wanted to do was cry and be held. (can you believe that shit?)

She came back to the room with a beer in her hand and offered me one as well...

NONCHALANTLY!!!! I had met my match at this point...and I certainly had decided I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her at that moment.

The following was a series of events like any other relationship with ups and downs, but my fondest memories of us usually included beer, and yet at the same time some of the worst memories also involved beer.

She took me to Stone Brewing for my birthday.

We went back on Valentine's day to celebrate our love there.

She's my designated driver- and I was an extra set of eyeballs when the trips became treacherous as we were both a little intoxicated, at times.

I've shared so many great beers with her- some beers great- some beers simply in great places. I've spilled my heart to her over a pint, and I've shed tears to her just as quickly. She has been my reason for drinking here and there. But I love her still.

What I am telling you guys is this- thank your drinking buddy. Make sure they know how much spending time with them really means. It's important. It can be a six pack on the beach at night, or it can be at a concession stand at the big game. It doesn't matter, just toast one for your drinking pal- and if you're lucky this person might as well be the love of your life too.

I know mine is. And all I could ever hope for is that my glass always remain as full as the amount of love in my heart for her. Even though I don't know when my last pint is to be had- I swear I hope it's the pint I get to share with her.

Cheers my drinking buddy and my best friend- Cheers to you, sweet Melissa.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

From Mexico with love

Well, a pair of buddies just came back from their annual trip to see family in Mexico. I missed their company and our usual beer drinking. As a souvenir they brought me back an unusual mug (very unusual) and a couple of beers that one can really only find in Mexico.

I just opened them up and poured them in to the missus' snifter. Here is what I found for each.

Noche Buena Cerveza 2009 is from the newly FEMSA acquired brewery Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery (Bohemia, Tecate, Carta Blanca)-(FEMSA is a Euro Brewing Conglomerate in the news recently and on Skrip's blog)

Here are the goods;

Alcohol (ABV): 5.9%

Color: Clear (filtered) Amber

Mouthfeel: Between light and moderate- typical lager.

Description: Minimal carbonation allows for no head and yet remains quite fizzy. Buttered toast flavors exist (might be possible phenol ester). Relatively heavy alcohol esters are also present. Overall the beer drinks a little stiffer than it appears and almost feels Bock-ish in nature. I would call it a winterbock, but it has too much adjunct corn sweetness to say so. It is a surprising beer and I would drink another one.

Negra Modelo Edicion Especial "Color" is from Modelo Group.

Alcohol (ABV): 5.3%

Color: Burnt Orange (unfiltered)

Mouthfeel: Light Bodied

Description: This beer is a bottom fermented beer that offers very little carbonation, if any. Prunish scents gather in the nose, but this is deceiving. Large Alcohol esters are present and the grain flavors associated with this type are overshadowed by a grape lollipop type of aftertaste. I would drink this beer again, but in varying times and temperatures.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Umami, mama!!!

Well among the perceptions found in beer- sweet, sour, salty, and bitter there remains a largely overlooked division. That fifth category is UMAMI!!!!

Now as a person who attempts to educate others- Umami isn't something I come across often enough, nor is it something easily detected by the ones I teach, at least not in an appropriate context. Umami is a certain meatiness found in Asian cuisine, namely fish sauce and soy sauce. It is exhibited in broths and shrimp. It isn't that much different than A-1 steak sauce. Umami isn't a catch-all type of category, but rather a specialized area that has receptors in the human body just as another category (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter) would have.

Now, the bulk of "umami" perception lies within beer- to me at least. We must consider that it is a thin slice of the savory pie and that as such, I consume more beer than anything else (second and third place going to fries and buffalo chicken respectively). Despite this truth, umami isn't even that apparent to me and is the holy grail of taste perception to beer nerds like me.

I know what you guys are thinking...

I want to taste "umami,' how do I get my hands on it?

Let me say this. "Umami" is a fickle mistress with many twist and turns. Usually, serendipity is umami's counterpart. I was lucky enough to enc outer umami through a six pack of 2007 (that's right) Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine. These bottles had twist off caps which may have helped to facilitate slight oxidation and the further mellowing of flavors associated with aged/umami ridden beer. The beer itself poured an opaque color of rust. Minimal carbonation was to be found, but a slight saltiness was abound in a sea of meat heft laden with dark flavors only comparable to aged steak runoff and soy sauce with a dash of ponzu pepperiness. In fact, an overall green peppercorn flavor prevailed over a sweet maltiness that would have surely dominated this brew upon initial turnout given that this was a Sierra Nevada product.

Umami isn't always purposely intended as a part of a brew's flavor profile. It is rather a part of the noble aged beer category. Over time as beers are allowed to naturally develop, mellowing ales pick up such subtle complexity that it is often said to not have occurred at all by naive palates. In fact, most beer drinkers would consider the beers "fouled" and not as "seasoned" as they actually would be.

This denomination alone can be used to calibrate the learned from the young and is an integral part of any serious beer drinker's repertoire. Sometimes, you just have to be lucky enough to find a beer that has been aged for you purposely or inadvertently.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Give ME head!!!!!!!!

People have different preferences and perspectives- this is a no brainer. The more and more that I observe people I can't help but notice how people always talk about "getting head."

I love it.

However...."head" isn't just a dirty allusion. And it doesn't only exist in the bedroom, or the car, or on park benches....

Head on a beer is quite possibly the closest I come to sex with an inanimate object. Each beer produces a different kind of head. Some beers produce very little. So let's talk about head and what it does to beer and moreso- why.

Lets dispel the first big horrible myth-

"The bartender puts foam in my beer so the bar can make more money by giving me less liquid."

Well, this isn't true. Bars make more money when they use 12 or 14 oz. shaker glasses instead of 16 oz.

In the beer industry the amount of head has an unspoken standard at an inch worth or so- depending on style. American craft beers are typically poured in this manner. Carbon dioxide is used to serve beer because it literally melds into the beer (it's soluble in beer). Carbonation gives a beer texture and literally enhances the beer's overall aroma and flavor by allowing particles of beer to enter the nose and mouth. The nose has already been proven to assist in the ability to taste.

"Well, I only like head on beer when it comes from a nitrogen tap."

--Well, you are an idiot.

Nitrogen is used in beer dispensing when the beer being dispensed is one not made to be effervescent. Nitrogen allows the beer to flow from the pressurized keg without imparting the same amount of carbonation as carbon dioxide- resulting in a creamier consistency. A beer dispensed from nitro is more likely to be served "still." Head is achievable though and actually has a frothier consistency- the very spout has a perforated disk to make sure head is produced, although by shaking up the particles instead of being impregnanted with gas.

So technically, you're not an idiot. Don't make me change my mind though.

Pouring a perfect beer with a nice head isn't rocket science, but you have to pour a lot of beers before you can perfectly pour beers you've never encountered before. As the liquid comes from the tap and/or container you'll get a feel for what kind of carbonation you have. Then the only thing to do is control you pour with the motor skills God gave you and hopefully you have assigned the appropriate glass for the job.

Pouring a beer into the wrong type of glass is like getting a handjob at the circus-

That's the end of it- no punchline.

Most specialty beer glassware actually tells you how much head is required just by the shape and marks (if any).

Look at the photographs below and study the shapes of the glassware and look at the styles of beer contained within. Of course there are variations and each beer from each brewery is different, but it's a good start.

This is a Scotch Ale in a "thistle" glass. The shape of the glass allows the head to develop and pucker up slightly at you. However, it doesn't allow the nose of the beer to lose too much of the smoked peat aromas that are a signature of this style.

Weisse Bier is usually served in large "vase" glasses. The shape flares a little like a tulip pint, but the glass is larger to facilitate more room for head.

Imperial Stouts require a nice bit of "chocolate milk" head. Snifters are usually the glass of choice because it holds in most of the prized nose of such a bold beer.

For Belgian/Belgian style beers, a generous amount of head is always present due to the high levels of carbonation in the beer via live yeast production of additional carbonation through conditioning. Glassware ranges from goblets to pokals, but each is roomy enough for foamy delight.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year Beer Resolutions

Blah, blah, blah- new year....blah, blah, blah....

So- hey kids! My 2009 didn't end as well as I hoped, but it did see my beer consumption drop by 95 percent, facilitated a weight loss of 30 lbs. and welcomed a sober holiday season.

(I know- I can't believe that shit either- but it's true)

My beer resolutions are simple and I think I'll keep them to myself for now, but here are the resolutions you folks should be taking on for 2010.

Numero Uno-

Don't be a beer douche bag-

Instead if name dropping beer names/brands on people who have no idea what you're talking about, try to relate to them and wedge beer style education into the mix.

I am not impressed with a person that talks of Racer Five IPA.
I am impressed with a person that knows Racer X IPA, and has an ability to differentiate between the two. (never head of Racer X have you?)

Education is paramount and conversations should always be geared with you either having walked away with more beer knowledge or having educated (to any extent)someone with less experience. This keeps the beer world moving round and round. I can get into beer conversations anywhere- and although I usually do the bulk of the teaching it is equally satisfying to have learned something new myself. And anybody that can talk about beer can be a friend of mine. It's just good social politics.


The best thing you can do for yourself from a drinking standpoint is to understand why these beer products even exist.

Beer is a proven anthropological propellant. it is a social lubricant as well. It is artistry in a bottle.

Wine making has the concept of "Terroir"- don't make me explain it, just google it. It pretty much means serendipity for vinters.

Brewing has a much more complex profile simply because it is not made by serendipity, but by the hand of man- with intention and purposefulness. The vinter is much like a cook heating up a can of soup. The brewer is an artist drawing upon an almost innumerable amount of variables to create an ideal beverage.

There are more beer styles than wine styles. (this is very true)

While there may be wine blending- beer constantly berths new styles and experiments with rules and even goes "retro" more often than not.

This isn't a liquid meant for slurping- it is something to be taken seriously and enjoyed just as life should be fully enjoyed. Also, much in the same way breasts should also be enjoyed. (this is especially true)


Shop for good beer at good small businesses. There are tons of mom and pop stores that offer a variety of craft brews. Please spend your money there and keep the cash local. Be wary of elitist small businesses that may only offer beer to supplement sagging wine sales. (this does not help good people- but instead fuels opportunists that more than likely are gouging prices anyhow) A good rule of thumb is an ability to ask questions about the craft beer and have them answered thoroughly by the retailer.

Anything else is a travesty of the three tier system and merely a good ol' fashioned conservative wallet rape!!!!


Brewers are passionate people and it would be wrong of me to recommend that you take all that hard work into account without also requiring that the place you obtain the products from is also in line with the same ideals/ethics as previously described in the process of making/drinking good beer.

These are some pretty decent resolutions anyone can make at any level.

Just remember to drink well and be well.