Thursday, July 21, 2005

Homo Light

Ok, so it's not beer. But it's soda, therefore fizzy, therefore sudsy, therefore too ridiculous to not comment on.

My first thought goes back to the trippy book Alice in Wonderland. Will I turn gay if I drink it? What's the antidote, a straight cake? If so, should it be substituted for crackers at communion services? Getting too far off topic... But I don't know what's funnier, that it's pear flavored, pink, or a light beverage. Who knew so many stereotypes could be exploited in a beverage?

Personally, I'd prefer to see Butt Buddy Beer, or Cornhole Cola, or Fellatio Fizz, or Lesbo Light. There's something more fun about alliteration. Damn, there I go again being all insensitive.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Portland International Beer Festival (part 1/2)

PIBF is held in the park blocks of Portland. About 2 grassy, shady blocks are quarantined off by fencing (to keep underage drinkers out). There's an entry gate at the south end where you get your wrist band, 4oz taster glass and 10 tickets. As you walk in, you can hear the music playing and see the beer tents set up around the perimeter. There are many tables with umbrellas & chairs in the middle of the makeshift courtyard underneath the canopy of trees. Plus, plenty of food vendors interspersed. The layout is good... makes it feel like a beer garden rather than aisles of beer vendors where it feels like a big ordeal to wait in line, get beer, drink beer, wait in next line, repeat.

The $20 cover is steep. Very steep, but it seems to weed out the riff-raff. Beers are either 1, 2 or 3 tickets, depending on the cost of the beer to import. Most are one ticket. I checked in at the volunteer booth, got my Bruce Lee "Fist Full of Beer" t-shirt of him holding two pints and was asked if I prefer "tap or bottle". I replied it didn't matter and he sent me to station # 3. Um, ok. Turns out it was the Spaten on draft station... I started off pouring their Dinkelacker Dunkel, Spaten Optimator, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, and their Helles Bock. The Hefe-weisse was kicked in no time -- it was the last day and 92 degrees. Then another volunteer showed up and I was shifted down a couple taps to the Spaten Premium Lager, Oktoberfest (Ur-Marzen)& Spaten Pils where I stayed for the duration. (Description of these beers is here).

Short version: I would do it again in a second and make everyone I know do it too. Very fun. Awesome to see it from the other side. You get to talk and pour beer all day. See the cuties, the drunks, the know-it-alls and the hairy-armpit-moms-who-yell-at-you-for-not-pouring-her-enough-as-she-breast-feeds-her-baby-in-the-other-arm. aaaahhh. All in all, very fun. I loved the two people who came up for a beer, handed me their ticket & when I asked for their glass, they go "doh" and went back to their table for it, only to return embarrassed but happy.

Since I was working the last shift, no beer to drink after. That part was very sad. A guy in charge saw the big bottom lip on me and Jim (the 55 year old volunteer next to me) and gave us 1/8th of a pitcher of the Hitachino Nest Ginger Ale, a ginger-infused beer out of Japan, to taste as they were shutting down the taps. We cowered in the corner with our pitcher and toasted to our good fortune like it was the last beer on earth. It was good, but I'd like more of a bite at the end. I prefered Karl's ginger ale to this one.

So definitely volunteer at your local beer-fest (it's a blast) and pick an early shift so you can drink beer afterwards. Also, if you have a beer-loving friend... both of you should sign up -- things are pretty relaxed where you can ask to work together, making it even more fun. Apparently a whole women's roller derby team volunteered for Saturday night. I heard it was quite a sight.

As I left to pick up my gift certificate with Jim, we were told that the gift certificates were all gone. I guess cowering in the corner with our 4 oz of beer cost us each $20.

"But don't worry," said the guy in charge, "we'll go shopping. Wait here."

Jim and I stand there with one other guy who missed his gift certificate too. The guy returns about 5 minutes later with 7 cases of assorted imported beer.

"What do you like?" be continued below.

PIBF: The Prize (part 2/2)

When the guy came back with the 7 cases of assorted beers, our eyes lit up like saucers. Various sizes. Colors. Styles. Countries.

Straight off the bat, he pulled out a champagne-sized bottle and said "well this is a good start" and handed each of us:
Grand Cuvee Ale Brewed by: AleSmith Brewing Company San Diego, CA, USA Style:Belgian Strong Ale Abv:10.6% 750 ml, $10
We each take the gold-foiled beer, holding it like the pre-shess it is. He keeps digging. "Oh this is a definite":
Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale (Aged in Cedar Cask) An English India Pale Ale (IPA) brewed by Kiuchi Brewery in Japan. Limited availability. $8.79

"If you've never tried a cedar cask-aged beer, definitely try this. Very unique." He keeps digging. "Oh, this one too. I prefer the brune to the triple, but you can take your pick.":
St. Feuillien Brune Style: Double Origin: Belgium Belgian double is one of my favorite styles. St. Feuillien Brune is a great example of the dry side of the style. It pours brown with some red color to it. Big, frothy, unrelenting head along with a high level of carbonation. Chocolaty in aroma with hints of spices and earthiness. The flavor is malty, chocolaty with raisin fruitiness and finishes with a light spiciness and a cleansing citrus rind hop bitterness. If you are looking for a sweet double this is not it; Feuillien is malty but dry and crisper on the finish than most. 750 ml, $8.70

St. Feuillien Tripel Style: Triple Origin: Belgium Golden yellow in color this Belgian beauty pours with a large rock head that stick well to the side of
your glass. The aroma is sweet and of tart tropical fruit. Pale malt and honey flavors dominate with sweet candy and mango flavors lingering. Spicy hops finish it out with just a little bit of an alcohol presence. Complex, and flavorful this one will keep you sipping and finding new nuance for some time. 750 mL, $8.70

"Actually, why don't you just take both to try." He could have stopped digging there, but he didn't. Looking around his boxes like Santa, next he finds a couple that he likes and just hands them out:
Schwelmer Alt An Altbier brewed by Brauerei Schwelm in Germany 500 ml, A slightly sweet and malty German Alt beer. $5.00

Waterloo Freeminer Brewery. Ale Special Bitter-England 4.50% England 16 oz. Waterloo has a rich malt character which gives an unexpected depth of taste. Brewed from an American hop variety, the beer has a wide spectrum of flavour. While the brewery refers to this as a "Red Ale", by all accounts it is the spittin image of a nice, robust, bottle-conditioned Special Bitter. The color might be a tad dark for the style, but the flavor profile is on the money and world-class. Don't know cost, couldn't find a price - say $3

Schneider Edel-Weisse A fairly unique wheat beer style. Higher in alcohol than most wheat ales, but not as strong as weizen bocks. Ale Hefe Weizen-Germany Manneken-Brussel 6.20% 18.00, 500 mL, don't know the cost, say $3.
"Oooh, this is a good organic one":

Samuel Smith Organic Ale, Style: Golden Ale Country: England Refreshing and delicate, the organically certified Samuel Smith's Organic Ale is a golden ale in which malt and hops interact to produce a brew of incredible flavors that last long on the palate. 550 mL $3.49
"Ah, well looks like you guys are doing pretty good. That should about do it," as he keeps sifting through bottles. The guy next to me mentioned earlier he liked dark beers. "Oh, dark beer, I almost forgot. Well if you like dark and chocolate, this is the beer":

Ayinger Celebrator Lager Doppelbock-Germany Ayinger Celebrator The chocolatiest of the chocolately. In a style where malt & dark is king (doppelbock),Celebrator takes the crown. , 12 oz $2.50

"Oh, this is a great one out of Chicago. If you haven't tried it, definitely take this one":
Goose Island 1800 Demolition Ale (Strong Golden) A Belgian Strong Ale brewed by Goose Island Beer Company Chicago, Illinois USA, 12 oz, $4.65
"Well, that about does it. Looks like you all made out better than the people with gift certificates." How right he was. We all thanked him profusely. He gave us each a box to carry our bounty and as he was consolidating beers, he pulls up one that had the most intriguing label. Bright yellow with pretty writing. Champagne top. My eyes sparkled with curiosity. "What is that one?", I asked. "Oh, that's a good one -- guess you'll have to try it too!" He hands me one last beer, the beautiful one:

Cuvee Euphorique, An Abbey Blonde brewed by De Proefbrouwerij Lochristi, Belgium. 750 mL Can't find a description online anywhere but I found descriptions of their Cuvee Diabolique & Angelique. ~$6.50 for Cuvee Diabolique
Wow. I took that last bottle like it was my long lost baby. He smiled and knew he had done more than his share for all of us. We thanked him again and walked out the gates, with everyone eyeing our beautiful bounty. Almost a case of beautiful beers each. I was on my bike and started scratching my head as to how I was going to get the beers home. As luck would have it, the box wedged perfectly into my rear bike basket. I put on my helmet and slowly rode my bike home, totally top heavy and awkward. I felt like a squirrel carrying the best bounty of nuts ever. But I made it. I put them on the kitchen counter, wrote down the names and sizes of each and went upstairs to read more about them. I found the above descriptions on the PIBF website and on various beer reviewing and supplier sites around. All together, he gave us roughly $64.33 in hard-to-get beers.

So ask me again if it was fun and would I volunteer again? A resounding "HELL, YES".

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

That's just the kind of helpful girl I am

Yours truly will be pouring beers at the Portland International Beer Festival this Sunday. In lieu of working one shift (3-6:45), I get my $20 admission fee waived, a free beer mug, t-shirt and 10 free drink tickets worth 4 oz a piece. Awesome!

Oh, but imagine my sadness when I learned that by chosing to work this last shift (all but one were already filled) means that I don't actually get to drink the beer since volunteers aren't given the drink tickets until after duty is served. Did they think volunteers given tickets up front would just skip out or be too drunk?

How did they know?

They do give folks volunteering this last shift a $20 gift certificate to a local beer store. And maybe if I cup my hands and look extra pathetic and thirsty, someone will "spare a spill" for a girl who just wants to try some fancy euro beers.

Either way, I think it will be fun to see it from the other side. Here are my instructions:
Here’s your final reminder for pouring beer at PIB.

SHIFT: SUN JULY 17, 3:15-6:45pm


• This has been a big problem in the past. We will immediately dismiss any volunteers who do this.
4. Do not pour over the 4 oz line (marked on glass). Foam above the line is OK.


Please check in 15 minutes prior to your shift at PIB’s main entrance (NW DAVIS & NW PARK AVE). We’ll give you a quick orientation. Then it’s off to pour the best beers in the world. After you’re done, we’ll set you up with your glass & beer tickets for you lounging pleasure. If you’re working the last shift on Sunday, you’ll get your gift certificate afterwards.

Any other questions? Write us or call the hotline:
800-301-7713. We'll call you right back.


Rick Carpenter & Tanya Weitz,
Pet Cross
Portland International Beerfest

You have been assigned to work Sunday 7/17 3:15PM-6:45PM

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to St. Louis

I found myself driving across Missouri the other day heading back to Atlanta from Montana. I suddenly remembered that I wanted to bring back a 12-pack of Fat Tire. Not too much room left before crossing the Mississippi where Fat Tire is all but non-existant, kind of like Coors back in the 70's with the exception that Fat Tire is actually tasty.

You may be surprised how difficult it is to find a supermarket or a liquor store somewhere close to the Interstate in Missouri. I finally convinced the wife that we needed to stop for directions. No, really, it was her that got us on a 30-minute side trip to nowhere.

I asked the clerk at the unmemorable convenience store if there was a supermarket or liquor store nearby. She said, "well, there's a Wal-Mart supercenter." I said that'd be fine. I know that they sell beer in Georgia at least. She described how to get there, real close, and I got clarification from the brown-toothed customer that walked up. Thank goodness, because I'd have missed the turn to get there. It's hard to explain, but you have to take a right turn when it looks like you're supposed to go straight.

Get to Wal-Mart. Same as every other Wal-Mart for the most part. You know, pick up some meat and produce, a new outfit, a TV and some bait. Head to the back of the grocery section where the coolers are. And the first surprise? ... Wal-Mart sells liquor! A whole endcap consisting solely of 750 mL bottles of JD. Jack Daniels for the less-rednecky reader. Sweet! Missouri is cooler than Georgia with respect to alcohol sales. Still not as cool as Montana because you still can't buy on Sunday, but luckily it was Saturday.

After the initial shock wore off, time to complete my original mission. Get Fat Tire.

Got it, headed to the register.

Got out the debit card. Almost forgot to show ID. She checked it, but this is where things got real weird. She also asked my wife for ID.


So, she'd already checked my ID. I brought the beer up. I was paying for it. My name was on the debit card. Why does she need my wife's ID? Not that we didn't comply, but I don't get it. She said it was the law. I don't doubt that it is, but I fail to understand it. And I question the legality of the matter if she had refused to sell me beer if we didn't supply the extra ID.

Allow me to throw out a theoretical. (Yes, I realize that I just turned that word into a noun.)

What if I were shopping with my 15-year old daughter? Or my 3-year old son? Or my bodacious 20-year old college girlfriend? Or my 28-year old wife who left her purse in the car? In which of these situations would she be allowed to sell me beer? In which would she be able to refuse the sale? Do I forfeit all rights as a consumer in Missouri simply because I am buying an alcoholic beverage despite the fact that I am carrying legal identification verifying that I am of the state's legal consumption age?

For the love of July

This month is officially American Beer Month. So throw a pint back (or seven) to celebrate this frosty beverage. And if you're feeling like taking a couple quizzes on your favorite beers, brewing preferences and bars... you can do that too.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I'll Second That

...the Mole a la Rogue, that is. Had some courtesy of Sara this weekend. It is muy bien, to say the least.