Sam Adams Winter Seasonal Extravaganza!

Sam Adams Winter BoxDespite Neil’s ardent protests to the contrary — I like Sam Adams. I enjoy it. It tastes delicious. I would order it at a bar. I would be happy if someone brought it to my place for a party (however, if you bring Heineken and you don’t drink all of it, I’ll have to start thinking of interesting steak marinades for it… and if you bring Bud Lite, that just means you hated me in the first place).

So, when Freshdirect offered a chance to sample 6 Sam Adams in one convenient 12pack for $16.99 of course I took it!

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Beer Nirvana

Echoing Neil — there is paradise on earth. It’s called 112 beers on tap. And we have notes to prove it!

Suffering slightly from beer ADHD, we figured we’d go with 2 tasting flights to start the night. Which lead to another flight. Which lead to two very happy liquid bloggers. The following notes are in chronological order and are exactly what we wrote down in the bar — meaning you probably shouldn’t take the last couple seriously. (Also, we need to figure out a better notes taking system that doesn’t look like I’m listening to an organic chemistry lecture in the middle of a bar).

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Paradise is in Allston

The scribes of this illustrious journal found enlightenment on Friday night, and, as I always half suspected, the key to happiness is more of a gnostic secret than a zen insight. It’s not fair, but worry not – you’re here now and I’ll share it with you.

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On the consumption of liquid from an animal horn

A while back, one of the chemists in my department threw a a sort of medieval-themed Christmas party with her housemates.Now, I’ll interject that for us, that’s not a huge stretch. For reasons related to our field of study, we tend to be a pretty granola-munching bunch. Dressing up as bards, knights, and wizards is not really a big deal. Well, except for me. I’m not above it, I just don’t own any costumes. I should probably rectify that.

I wouldn’t let details like that slow me down, though, so I of course I went.

After cajoling my way across the drawbridge they had installed in their foyer, depositing my 6-pack of really decent Trader Joe’s Winterfest Double Bock into the fridge and retaining one for myself, (how do I remember that after this many weeks? I’m not sure.), and squeezing my way into the livingroom where Robin Hood and his merry men were playing Simon and Garfunkel tunes on a guitar and a mandolin (really), the hostess came through and offered me what must have been the horn off of an angry 100-kg sheep.

“Oh my. What is this?”

“Mead.”

“Wow. I’ve never tried that before. Is it good?”

“Well, C made this batch, but we’ve got a few bottles of the store-bought stuff in the fridge. Wanna try?”

“Well, I’ve already got a beer.”

“Set it down and I’ll show you how to drink from it.”

How you drink from a horn is actually obvious if you think about it – you have to hold the point so that it’s in front of you and tip it back. I took a swig, it was rather tart but pretty good. She took the horn away and let me get back to my beer.

The party progressed as any non-catastrophic party with that many people in period costumes would: we got a little drunk and started singing. Eventually, one of my better friends came up to me with the horn.

“Have you tried the mead?”

“The homemade stuff, yeah.”

“This is the stuff from the store. I think it’s better.”

In our crowd, that’s blasphemy. Things made at home are always better. Admiral Ackbar would have known what was happening, but I walked into it. “Really? Let me try it.”

I was empty-handed, so he handed me the horn. It was nearly full. I tasted the mead; it was sweet and good, though not necessarily better. I said as much and tried to hand the horn back.

“Oh, no thanks. I’ve had enough.”

I drank a little more, or maybe a little more than that, wandered around with my new prop, and did all that party stuff that always happens but which we can never actually recollect very clearly the next day. Eventually, I decided I had had enough mead.

It was at that point that I realized the most important fact about horns: You cannot set a horn down without spilling all the liquid inside.

I tried to find someone else to take the horn, but everybody said they had had enough. It was still half full. There are worse problems to have than alcohol that you can’t set down. Out of primal instinct, I drank more — it’s just what you do when you’ve got alcohol in your hand and you’ve already had a few. At some point I actually internalized that I was drinking mead well after the point which I decided I didn’t need to have anymore; my plight became dire and my search became more desperate. Not that I stopped drinking then, either. That’s just not how it works.

Eventually, someone took it off my hands. I have no idea who, or how much mead was in the horn at that point.

I do know that the rest of the party was freaking awesome.

The next morning, notsomuch.

Mead? In the words of the last person who sold me something on half.com: “AAAAA ++++++ Thank you !!!!!”

Horns? Pretty cool, whether on or off of a ruminant.

The juxtaposition? Lethal.

When to pop the tea question?

Happy lunar new year! Xin nian kuai le, gong xi fa cai, etc, etc. I have to confess — I am pretty terrible at being chinese (unless I’m awesome at being chinese, like… when getting food freebies in Costco). I decided I wanted a small little Chinese new year get-together chez moi and I ended up having to call my mother…

Me: “Mommy? What do chinese people eat on chinese new year?”
*Mother audibly signs* (some things you can only ask mothers)

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Here Dad, drink this.

My dad is, to first approximation, a gun-owning construction worker from a red state. To the same degree of accuracy, I’m a tree-hugging socialist who spends most of my day in a box with climate control and fluorescent lighting. We get along — we are still family, after all — but there still exists something of a divide.

When I was growing up, there was always a case of Budweiser in the garage fridge. Never Bud Lite, never MGD, and never anything in a glass bottle. My dad didn’t brag about it — he didn’t call it “Bud Heavy” like a tool — it’s just what he drank.

I think there are cultural reasons for that. There aren’t a whole lot of nice things about Bud that I can say, but this much is self-evident: it’s cheap, it contains alcohol, and it’s easy to down three after sweating your ass off all day. In other words, he drinks Budweiser like I drink Corona.

He said once that when he was younger, he drank Michelob, but after a point he decided it wasn’t worth the extra money. This is telling; though I’m way too young to actually know this for sure, I have my suspicions that back when my dad became a Budweiser drinker, the beer options in his part of the United States were pretty bleak indeed. If all you’ve got is shitty beer, you might as well drink Bud.

But of course, this isn’t the Seventies, this is the — I dunno — the Noughties? I don’t think there’s a liquor store in the country that doesn’t have at least two different really awesome beers. And here my dad was drinking Bud.

Due to a weird confluence of circumstances, I was halfway through college before I started drinking (what’s the statute of limitations on underage alcohol consumption?), around the same time as my big political awakening. Because my relationship with my parents isn’t predicated upon me sharing the details of my personal life with them, and because drinking with your parents when you’re underage is, generally, kinda weird, the first thing my dad learned about my drinking habits was when I showed up a week after I turned 21 with a Costco case of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Okay, yeah. I know. It’s not Bud, but it still kinda sucks. I could defend that action, but instead I’ll just call it a novice mistake and take a mulligan. It’s the equivalent of reading Chris Hitchens; you live, you learn, and you put it behind you.

Anyway, he thought that Mike’s was okay, albeit too expensive. Once I started learning about what beer really was, that notion stuck with me: my dad’s tastes were malleable.

In hindsight it’s obvious. I mean, he’s not stupid by any stretch. He makes a living with his hands; I only vaguely know which way to turn a wrench. He has some entrenched habits, but, if he’s exposed to conflicting evidence, he is willing to think about them. Sort of like voting Republican – he did it for a long time, but he stopped once all the bodies started coming home from Iraq.

I developed an abiding love for Sierra Nevada that year, and next time I went home, it was with a couple six-packs of that stuff. He hated it — “How do you drink something that bitter?” — and was totally unreceptive to my argument that beer was supposed to be bitter. No way; that’s crazy. Sort of like arguing about gay marriage; just no way to get any traction, because there’s no fundamental agreement of any sort.

I spent the next few months experimenting with different beers, as any nascent beer-drinker might, and stumbled upon the magic bullet: Newcastle Brown. Now, Newcastle is not the perfect beer, but it isn’t at all bitter, and it does have a good flavor to it. Next time I was home, I brought some.

He liked it, no reservations. Victory. “Hey dad, wouldn’t it be cool if you had healthcare?” Why yes, yes it would be.

Next time I went home, there was a case of Newcastle in the fridge. Next to the Budweiser, but still. That was a while ago, but I was home last month, and along with the Newcastle and the Bud, there was a six-pack of some really tasty local nut ale.

There’s hope.