Grilled Dogfish

Posted in Beer, Film on May 15, 2011 by Derek

Right. So I’ve been gone for about 2 and 1/2 months at this point. I have no excuses other than I was sort of busy/never really felt like posting anything. Sue me.

Regardless, I’m here now with an end to the story that began in the last couple of posts. The short that I created for the 2011 Dogfish Head OCFF has been fully backed, shot, edited, re-edited, re-re-edited, boiled down to 5 minutes worth of footage, submitted, considered, passed on as a winner but chosen to play at the festival, screened, pirated (yes, that’s right, pirated), and is now available for your viewing pleasure right here or on the Tube of You.

The above is Grilled Dogfish in all it’s delicious Dogfish Head glory.

And this the above is the pirated version when it showed at the festival.

My good friend Dave Conte (who helped me IMMENSELY with the production of the short) opted to take a fun, albeit brief vacation down to Austin, TX for the festival and to visit his wonderfully fantastical friends. Now, being that I was unable to, and super unhappy with the fact that I couldn’t go and experience the audiences reaction, he borrowed his buddy’s camera and filmed the screening for me so that I could at least know 2nd hand how it was received. Which actually appears to have been quite well – though I stuck it on here in an effort to allow you to decide that for yourself. Because it’s quite possible that I might be slightly delusional. Only slightly.

In any case, feel free to comment. Be honest and brutal because in all reality that’s the only way I’ll ever get better at what I do. You’re also allowed to be kind if you’d like. I’m totally open to that as well.

Gone, But Haven’t Forgotten

Posted in Day to Day, Film on February 8, 2011 by Derek

Okay, so, I haven’t posted in a few weeks. I know that I said I was going to post as often as possible and keep this thing going and all that great fun stuff. And I am. Which is why I’m here right now doing this. Where have you been the two people who read this ask? Well, I respond to the two people, I’ve been mostly sitting in my chair in my living room. BUT, I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of work… in my underwear yes, but work none the less.

Aside from perusing the internet pretty much every single day in an attempt to find a job, and filling out applications for those I believe I am qualified for (because I’m still unemployed… and if I haven’t mentioned that previously, guess what – I’m unemployed), I’ve been hauling all sorts of creative ass all over the place. Jump back to my last post: I mentioned that I was working on a short film for the Dogfish Head OCFF, but that I needed to figure out a way to make money because I didn’t have any (guess my unemployment has already been noted). And I did. Enter Kickstarter, quite possibly the greatest website ever invented.

To give you a quick overview of how the site works, you choose a project that you want funding for, you fill out a questionnaire regarding said project that the Kickstarter team looks over, and if they like it, you’re allowed to pitch it on the site. From there, you choose how much money you want to ask for, how many days you give for the project to be fully funded, and explain what your project is all about. Then you launch and hope for the best. It’s a great system, and one that I fully endorse and recommend to everyone who is looking for funding for their creative ideas. Oh, I should also point out that you have to get fully backed to be able to collect the money. So if you have a project that you put up that you think will cost $10,000 and give it 90 days to get to that point but only get $9,500 worth of pledges by day 90, the project isn’t successfully backed, no one who pledged is charged, and you’re back to square one. If you succeed, you pay a nominal percentage fee to both Kickstarter and Amazon (who runs the site that allows for the money transaction at the end) of 10% total, which you can allow for in the amount of money you ask for from the get go. The beauty of it is that if your project falls short, you can try it again! And the second time around you can change up your pitch so that people will be more engaged and thus more likely to pledge! Ask for a little less money, give it less days to collect, make a new video, just create a brand new pitch. These guys want to see people succeed, it’s all about the creative community man, and again, I cannot praise it enough. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Anyway, I started a project over there and after about a week it was ready to launch. I opted for the least amount of monies that I felt it would take to properly produce the short, which I have entitled Grilled Dogfish. Those monies were a sum total of $500. I launched it allowing for 30 days to be fully backed, and 26 hours later, because of the kindness of a slew of friends and a complete stranger, it happened! Since then, I’ve had several more backers, and as of this moment, with 17 days left to go, Grilled Dogfish has $660 pledged to it!!! If you want to have a look-see, here’s my Kickstarter page.

Now, because I know I have this funding coming to me, and also because of the OCFF deadline, I opted to push forward with Grilled Dogfish pre-production and the production itself, making all of my necessary props, costumes, sound equipment and miscellaneous purchases on a credit card that I will pay back as soon as the deadline hits. I had my buddy Dave assist me with creating a ‘Buttwasser’ logo and label, as well as create the teaser poster above, and slated my shoot dates for last weekend. Which happened. And it went awesomely!!! I had a crew of 6 – Steph was our makeup artist and sound wrangler, Cory and Dave were both DP’s, Kelly was my scripty and Matt and myself were the main characters. And everyone kicked ass! They put a lot of time, effort, hard work  and money (they were backers!) into it and I believe we’ve got something that we can all really be proud of. We discovered we had a bit of a sound issue when we looked at some footage on Sat before we shot, but luckily we were covered by the on board mics and I think it’s going to work out perfectly. Other than that, the shoot went smoothly. And Dave got me the footage last night, so I’ll be hunkering down to start editing soon and will hopefully have a rough cut ready by next week.

On top of all this, I registered to take a professional script rewriting course online, which started last week. It’s like being in school again and I’m absolutely loving it! We get structural classes and assignments via email, and have a forum where we post our work to get feedback from other classmates. I have to admit, with all of the Grilled Dogfish stuff I was doing last week and over the weekend, I really haven’t had the opportunity to apply myself as fully as I would like to in the class, but that’s going to change immediately. Being that I paid monies that I don’t have to take this class, and that I’m taking it in an effort to make my script as amazing as possible in order to make a sale, I’m going to squeeze every last drop of phenomenallity out of it. And then some. By the way, the class is through ScreenwritingU.com. I randomly came across this site one day and fell in love with it. The fine gent who runs it, Hal Croasmun, really wants people to succeed, which was something that became very apparent when we had our class intro teleconference. I mean, it’s not like you take the classes and you magically have a salable script – you as a writer need to put a lot of effort into what you’re doing. And Hal makes sure you understand this; that it’s up to you as to how good your script can be. But that effort put in never seems like work when you’re doing what you love. And again, Mr. Croasmun absolutely wants everyone to succeed, whether your a brand new writer, someone who’s been writing for a long time, or someone who hasn’t even heard of his classes. That’s right, you reading this right now, if you write and don’t know what the hell I’m referring to, Hal wants you to succeed. It probably sounds like I’m trying to sell this site to you, what with my enthusiasm and everything, but believe me when I tell you it doesn’t need it. The thing speaks for itself. The man knows what he’s doing and how to do it, and he’s very friendly and approachable, which makes taking the course that much more involving. Check out ScreenwritingU.com and see for yourself.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Oh, and I’ve had a couple of interviews, and worked a full day last week. All of this amounts to why I was gone for so long. But again, I haven’t forgotten. I’ve just had, and will continue to have, a nice full plate. Guess it’s a damn good thing that I’m so fucking hungry.

2011 Dogfish Head OCFF

Posted in Beer, Day to Day, Film on January 18, 2011 by Derek

I randomly found this film festival that Dogfish Head puts on every year about a month ago whilst perusing their website. It’s called the OCFF and I’m uber-excited about an idea that’s been stewing in my brain juices ever since I read about it. Check out the site.

The idea is that you have 5 minutes to tell an off-centered story involving Dogfish Head and you can do whatever the hell you want. Because I have yet to do all the awesome stuff I’ve mentioned I would, many of you who read this probably have no idea that Dogfish Head is my favorite microbrewery, pretty much hands down. Their take on great beer is one that remains both flagship and untouched. Ever willing to go off the deep end and create any number of crazily flavored concoctions, Dogfish Head is a company that leads the pack in creativity and innovation. As a result of this, Sam Calagione (founder and President) is one of my heros. Not to mention the guy is cool shit, and he is uncannily grounded in reality, making him seem completely accessible.

In any case, I’ve got a solid idea for this short that I think will come out pretty kickass. The logline is essentially this: A Dogfish Head employee is jumped and bound in his own home by an evil Buttwasser delivery guy looking to extract the micro-breweries secrets of success. Will he succeed, or will our off-centered underdog prevail?

Thoughts? Given that I FINALLY have a legitimate opportunity to combine 3 of my favorite things in the whole world – beer, film and Steph (she’s going to do the make up) – not only can I absolutely not pass this up, but I literally don’t have the right to. It is infinitely beyond my rights as a human being to pass up this opportunity, definitively. I have to do it. Have to.

So, I’m going to shoot it with a few friends of mine. We already have most of the necessary equipment and I’m almost finished punching out a draft. All I really need to do is figure out how to collect the necessary props that I want to feature and I’ll be set to do this thing. Alas, with my current financial situation, all the bills I’ve got to pay and the fact that I was recently laid-off, this last piece is a little more trying than I had originally anticipated.

But I’ll figure something out I’m sure, I always do. But 1st I think it’ll help if I start with a beer…

Source: OCFF, Dogfish Lineup

2011 New Years Resolutions

Posted in Day to Day, Lists on January 13, 2011 by Derek

So this is something that I’ve wanted to get around to for a little bit, being as though it’s a new year and everyone with a blog seems to do these things. Thinking about it, my goals for 2011 are sort of hefty when looking at them collectively, but I’ve always appreciated a good challenge. I’ll usually shy away from them and stand off in the distance, watching as they evolve into something beyond my capacity or ability to deal with; but I’m determined to make 2011 a year of actively being more proactive. That works, right? That makes sense?

So here are my goals for this year that I am already patting myself on the back for having accomplished in the future due to my active standpoint on being more proactive this past year – in the future:

  • Restart a Blog – Hooray for me! I know I’m not hauling ass and posting every 30 minutes or anything, but the damn thing is started and thus far has been going smoothly. I vow to make sure this continues at a good clip.
  • Lose Weight – This statistically has to be one of, if not the biggest, most widely declared New Years resolution that people make. And – I feel quite comfortable stating – that it statistically must also be one of, if not the biggest, most widely failed New Years resolution that people make. However, I shall not fail this fight, for my Princess awaits me in the future, standing upon the altar, ready for me to sweep her away into the spectacles of matrimony! And I need to make sure I am trim and fit and smokin,’ because vanity on your wedding day is not just a feminine trait, regardless of what some guys would have you think. And I refuse to be a hefty Prince.
  • Fight Procrastination – And believe me when I tell you that I am going to beat that mother fucker off with rebar if need be! This guy has been hanging around my entire life, and he’s got an endless array of excuses as to why I should be doing something else instead of finishing the myriad of projects and various other what nots I started my freshman year of high school. Piss off ya groddy little wanka, I’ll tell you when shit should or shouldn’t be dealt with!
  • Finish and Sell Acts of BetrayalAnd I’m setting a deadline for myself on this. I have until the end of the Spring to have it in as many hands as will accept it. From that point on it’s a game of sitting and waiting. For the uninitiated, Acts of Betrayal is my screenplay that I’ve been working on for the past, um, hold on a second… oh yeah, 4 frickin’ years! I sent out a first draft in early July of 2010 and have had the feedback for almost as long. Time to give the damn thing a re-write I should think.
  • Write More Reviews – I consider myself a writer. The problem is, nobody else does. Why? Because I have nothing at all to prove that I am even remotely capable of writing a thank you card, let alone something that garners a source of income. And while this blog will help me (or at least, I’m hoping that will be the case), I want to review more of the things in life that I enjoy the most: film, food, and beer. And I want to do this as much for myself as for others, the idea being that while people can look at my reviews in an attempt to help them decide their course of action or points of contention, I too will be able to look back on my reviews at some point in the future and reminisce about all those wonderfully fun times. Unless of course, they were mindlessly droll or mediocrely interesting. Regardless, the ability to reminisce will be there, instead of not.
  • Take Action – When I have an idea that I think is good, I will do something about it. To what degree will have to be determined at its time of birth, but at the very least I will write it down and flesh it out as much as I did verbally to whoever made the mistake of crossing my path (whether physically or mentally) when it originally came to me.
  • Read More Books – I like to read. That’s pretty much it. This past year I read more books than I have throughout my collective life experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I actually plan on writing a post with this list of books some time in the very near future. This year I’m going to push myself even further and see how many books I can cram into my noggin before it explodes.

I feel like that covers 90% of what I want to accomplish this year, in regards to my own personal goals anyway. I also want to save a bunch of money, get super rich and pay off my debts, get married and go on our 2 week honeymoon without having to be remotely concerned about finances, and start my career indefinitely; but those are goals that I think Steph shares with me to some capacity, so I figured I’d just slap ’em on at the end here. They’re sort of like honorable mentions, but if honorable mentions were more important than regular mentions.

It does appear somewhat daunting, but I, in the future, am already proud of myself for having accomplished all of them, in the past. And I have to say, looking back at all these things that I did this past year, in the future, I’m amazed at how easy it all was. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, quite pertinent to New Years Resolutions, to help all of you out there stay focused and remember that you can do it, whatever it is – you just need to know that’s the truth!

“As we know from life, decisions are far more difficult to make than actions are to take. We often put off doing something for as long as possible, then as we finally make the decision and step into the action, we’re surprised by its relative ease. We’re left to wonder why we dreaded doing it until we realize that most of life’s actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower.” – Robert McKee

Source: Procrastination, 2011, Action

Lentil Soup

Posted in Food, Recipes on January 13, 2011 by Derek

Yesterday, as the afternoon drew to a close and the snow began to lightly fall to the earth, creating a fresh blanket of beautiful white, I thought to myself “What an absolutely perfect setting for that lentil soup!” Being that I had planned for the occasion, having recently had a strong desire to cook something heartwarming and comfy, I had a bag of lentils in the pantry, the proper ingredients for a mirepoix, and I had stocked up the day before with everything else I would need.

I sought out a particular recipe that I remembered seeing on an episode of Good Eats entitled “Pantry Raid 6: Lentils.” Alton Brown, the amazing man he is, has not once failed me with his culinarily scientific genius. I did change the recipe slightly from the original, not having much desire to take the extra 5 minutes to peel my own tomatoes; and grains of paradise, while I know would be a completely justified purchase, are a little expensive and need to be sought out. I made do none the less. Here’s my slightly altered recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cups worth of canned, whole peeled tomatoes, chopped (one 14.5 oz can did the trick)
  • 2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions

Place the olive oil into a large 6-quart pot and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree to your preferred consistency. Serve immediately.

My Delicious Lentil Soup

I wanted a slight heat to the soup, which is why I substituted the red pepper flakes for the grains of paradise and it worked out quite nicely, the heat more of a lasting finish instead of being overbearing and  frontal. I pureed it to a degree where it still had some whole lentils and wasn’t too silky, giving it slightly more substance. Served in a nice soup bowl with a parmesan garnish and a little salt to taste, this went over quite well with the soon to be Mrs. and my roommate. And with a container full of leftovers, we won’t need to worry about staying warm and comfy for the next few days!

If you like a hearty soup, I strongly suggest you try this out; you’ll love it, I guarantee!

Burritos, Dali, N’awlins, and Beers

Posted in Day to Day on January 10, 2011 by Derek

This past Saturday was a good, progressive day for me and a hell of an evening for those involved. So much so that it took me 2 days to recover from it enough to write about it apparently (or at least that’s my excuse).

I spent pretty much the whole day writing that beer post, which is kind of – embarrassing maybe? I’m not quite sure what it is. It’s definitely kind of something slightly more negative than positive though; the damn thing took upwards of the 5 hours that I was awake before having to leave the apartment to go out for the evenings events. I’m going to try not to do that anymore, the spending of excessive amounts of time on posts. How to do so without sacrificing quality is something I’ll have to work on.

In any case, around 7 we (Dave, Erin and myself) left the apartment to grab some much needed grub before heading over to the Hudson Hotel to see one of the opening weekend showings of the play Green Eyes that Steph has been Makeup Designing. We were all quite hungry, so Dave suggested that we should hit up a Chipotle that was near the stop at which we were to disembark. My complaint was that I had heard from a friend of mine awhile ago that it was owned by McDonald’s, which is craptastic and hardly encouraging. He informed me that the chain had been sold to another company or some such, and that the food there was far better than it had any right to be considering. So with that  and the assurance that it was praised for its freshness, it was off to Chipotle we went!

And I have to say, I was impressed. Super impressed actually. The menu was simple and the food is prepared right in front of you. You have your choice of meats, like steak and chicken, and some stuff you’d expect to have on a burrito (including 3 degrees of salsa/hot sauces and a killer guac). They slap it all on there, roll it up, and serve you what amounts to between a pound and a pound and a half’s worth of food for a very reasonable price. I’m going to actually review my experience in a separate post, so I won’t go into too much detail here; but I ordered a carnitas burrito with a Mr. Pibb (awesome), and by the end of the surprisingly delicious experience, I felt like I was gonna keel over. I can’t remember the last time I felt that full. I tried to take a pee in an attempt to expel something from my overly stuffed body. Nothing happened, I just stood there in frustration. I didn’t feel sick or ill or like I needed to spend some time on the throne at all – I was just fucking stuffed.

So we left Chipotle and ventured out into the light snow, myself attempting to coerce my companions to roll me down the street, and walked a few blocks to Columbus Circle, the entire time I was half-moaning/half-sighing quite audibly. Not necessarily complaining, but certainly not too happy about my current state. I was that full; and again, I needed to expel and could have cared less what it was. As long as something was coming out of me in some fashion I felt like I was making progress. I don’t really think it helped any, but it certainly made me feel better to know that everyone was aware that I was in some sort of agony.

In any case, we went into the mall over at Columbus Circle to kill some time before the show. The initial reason was to stop at Borders and browse for anything of interest. We were lucky enough however, to discover a Salvador Dali exhibit. Showcasing some magnificent bronze sculptures, beautiful paintings and hand drawn artwork amongst other things, this little surprise was quite awe-inspiring; as were the price tags on the pieces, which are all apparently up for sale. Though I’ve never spent much time studying it, art in general is a thrilling experience for me. That a persons mind and imagination can create such wonderfully beautiful feats is an extraordinary thing. And this exhibit was no exception. I strongly suggest that if you have the opportunity to go, you take it. It was quite literally awesome.

After the exhibit we ended up in Borders for a short bit, but my focus was mainly on my uncomfortableness and I didn’t care much about books at that point. I was fidgety with my newly conceived Burritillian child, so looking for my next read was absent from my mind. Dave and I did notice that Snookie was coming to sign her new book at some point in the next week or so though, all of which is about as absurd as a miniature pink elephant. I fail to see how things like this are allowed to happen. I know why they do, but how they are allowed to is beyond my intellectual capacity. I have no real frame of reference on the girl, but I do know that she was punched in the face by a teacher who is apparently quite the upstanding gentleman; which speaks volumes on her character. And hooray for that guy, living out the dreams of what I assume to be at least a few thousand people.

As 9 o’clock drew near, we departed from Columbus Circle and headed over to the Hudson Hotel to ensure our timely arrival for the 9:30 showing of Green Eyes. Though doors opened at 9, we had ample time to peruse the hotel lobby, heeding particular attention to the vending machine whose contents ranged from a $350 pair of gold handcuffs to an $8,000 photo session with some guy who, for $8,000, damn well better have been in one of those prim little packages displayed inside. Being that the show was running a little late, we weren’t gathered up by the director (Travis Chamberlain) until right around 9:45, at which point he took our group of 7 up the elevator, down a couple of corridors, and into one of the honeymoon suites. There, we were very intimately seated in the back row of 2 rows of chairs set up in a room that was roughly 15’x10′. Mr. Chamberlain departed for a moment to gather the second group of 7, giving those of us seated some time to take in the decor: a bed, two side tables, one with an old 60’s era radio, wood paneled walls covered by army camo mesh, and an amazingly awesome (possibly hand woven) picture of a violent looking tiger leaping into action above the bed, amongst other things.

The second group returned and were seated in the row in front of us (blocking my view to degrees, somewhat to my dismay), and the show began. The story is that of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Dunphy, newlywed during his brief military leave some time in the mid 60’s, and their erotically volatile honeymoon. I am going to write a review of the play some time in the very near future, so I will again refrain from going into much more detail here; but I will tell you that while at first the experience was one that took a little getting used to, and regardless of the fact that at times it was hard to see what was going on from my vantage point, I left the Hudson Hotel on Saturday night with my mind at work, trying to sort through the implications and the metaphors and the possibilities of the narrative, both in regards to the story itself and to current events. It certainly was one hell of an experience, one that stuck with me almost immediately. Adam Couperthwaite and Erin Markey as Mr. and Mrs. Claude Dunphy had much to do with this, their performances creating a very tense and very real atmosphere (on occasion unnervingly so). And while I haven’t seen many plays to really allow me to draw comparisons, I feel extremely confident in saying that Green Eyes is an experience unlike any other.

I feel remiss for those who wanted to see it and can’t, my understanding being that the show has sold out for its entire run. But hopefully the company will be back again next year, allowing those who missed it the opportunity to see this thoroughly engaging, psychosexual Tennessee Williams play.

After it ended, Dave, Erin and I waited in the hotel’s Library Bar, where one could purchase a Green Eyes Cocktail (none of us being that one), for Steph to come meet up with us. From there, we opted for a beer at Sunswick, our favorite local back in Astoria, where we would be charged regular NY prices for great craft beer. I would have loved to jump into a quick review of the beers that I drank, but unfortunately I didn’t make a note of what I ordered. What I can tell you definitively is that both of my libations were delicious and thirst quenching, which is exactly what I was looking for when I entered.

What I wasn’t looking for was for everybody to abandon me to the merriment of others, which all three of my cohorts did, and only moments after I had ordered my second beer. Steph had had an orange juice while at the hotel, which had given her a stomach ache, one that I’m sure the beer that she drank didn’t help much. So she left with Dave and Erin, who had to go because Erin needed to get up early the next day to work. So they all left, rather quickly I might add. Though I was able to slow Steph down enough to get her Kindle so I would have something to do for the next 20 minutes while I waited for and consumed my beer. It’s a good thing I’m understanding, because if I wasn’t, I’d try to make them feel bad by writing stuff somewhat similar to the stuff I just wrote.

So I paid for the beers and left, making a brief stop at a bodega to pick up a couple of tall boys to nurse when I got home. And then Steph, Dave and I watched the first couple episodes of ABC’s Modern Family, which was an absolute riot. The premiere episode has one of the funniest moments of television I have ever seen, hands down! It’s a great show and I look forward to watching the rest of the first season.

And so much for writing shorter posts in shorter amounts of time. I’m coming to the very real understanding that it’s going to take me awhile to get to that point. Whatever. I guess if I don’t give a shit and you do or don’t want to take the time to read this, then we’re all happy in the end, right? Right?

Source: ChipotleDaliGreen EyesSunswick

Beer: Thoughts in General, Part 1 (My History)

Posted in Beer, Historical on January 8, 2011 by Derek

Beer. It’s the new wine. Man’s other ‘best friend’ and indeed one of my closest.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment when I realized there was more to beer than what I had been experiencing in college, which is honestly an extremely disappointing thing for me to have to admit. The mass marketed, light-lager garbage that I had been mistaking as beer for who knows how long, provided to my by an acquaintances boyfriend, was more often than not something I would drink as a means to get drunk (it was college); but there were occasions while sitting around the apartment when I would simply want to sit back, relax, and enjoy a cold brewski. And those moments for me were always a time of contemplation, reflection – partly regarding whatever was most relevant for me at the time, partly about life in general, and partly in reaction to the watery, overly carbonated, mildly sweet but otherwise tasteless beverage I held in my hand. For even then, it was apparent to me that most beers that I had been exposed to pretty much tasted exactly the same. Were I to do a blind taste test, I was certain that it would be nearly impossible to distinguish between the various different American lagers available to me. However, there was nothing I could do. I would simply sit back and accept it. It was what I knew and I had no frame of reference to even begin to complain. Que sera sera as they say.

When I think about it, I believe my first real beer imbibing experience came when I went to Steph’s sisters house for a Christmas party about a year after we started dating. Kerri was being courted by her now husband Scott, who was, unbeknownst to my person at the time, a beer enthusiast. Quite the fine gentleman, he offered me a beer. “Fuck yes dude!” was what I’m sure my immediate response was. Again, I was in college, and under the legal age to provide myself with alcohol. I was utterly fascinated when he offered me my choice from a Sam Adams Winter Variety Pack (yes, that whole thing deserves to be capitalized). I had heard of Sam Adams before, but distinctly remember thinking that I had not tried anything from their company yet, let alone heard of 80% of the beers that were in there (being the beginning of my beer quaffing career, ‘styles’ of beer simply didn’t exist for me yet; it was all simply beer). And I can remember playing it safe for the first couple of rounds, sticking with Sam Light because it was the closest I could get to the tasteless concoctions with which I was so unfortunately familiar; and yet, there was a flavor to the stuff, what it was I couldn’t begin to say, but it certainly was that – flavor.

As the night wore on and I got progressively drunker (that’s a word, do you believe that shit? Sounds funny, right?), I remember actively making the decision to take a chance, to close my beer wings and take a screaming dive into the unknown. My first attempt was either one of two heavier options: Old Fezziwig Ale or the Holiday Porter. I want to say it was the porter, because I definitely remember being taken completely off guard, like I had just been kicked in the mouth by an exceptionally pissed off clydesdale, as if I had tried to brand its privates or something. Yes, it was that dramatic and that unexpected. Mind you I was drinking the stuff straight from the bottle, not properly from a glass (if anyone is to be held accountable for this, it’s Scott, for I knew not what I was doing), so I had no idea that the stuff was devoid of more light than solitary confinement, and the most intense beer experience that I had had up to that point was a Sam Light. Needless to say, there was no way in hell that I was gonna go for another one of those bad boys the next time around; and I’m not even sure I didn’t just pawn it off on someone else so I simply didn’t have to deal with it.

In any case, the experience didn’t deter me in the slightest. I was a college student by trade, and drinking meant getting drunk. I simply couldn’t stop because I ran top speed into a couple horse hooves with my face. Nay, I needed to surge forward, continue to plumb the depths of the unknown! I was drunk and eager -to get more drunk or to try something new at that point I couldn’t say, but surge forward I must! And so it came to be that I stumbled upon, quite merrily I might add, the delectably exquisite Cranberry Lambic. That first sip was something of an eye-opener to me. It was phenomenally delicious, tart and sweet and lightly carbonated and oh so flavorful. And it was glorious! Nothing like the Holiday Porter at all. I was shocked, awed even.

And then it hit me. Everything I had partaken in that evening was indeed beer, falling within completely different parts of the spectrum certainly, but definitely, unequivocally all falling within that same category: beer. And in my ever increasing drunken state, the epiphany occurred; the shit that I had back at the apartment in Keene was not beer at all – it was flavorless, super carbonated, yellow water. Something that was designed to appeal to people who lacked an interest in tasting the things they drank; something that was meant, it seemed to me, to serve the purpose of nothing more than getting people drunk. My eyes had been opened. Graciously, I stepped through the door to a brand new world and let it close behind me, not once looking back. The various liquids I had experienced in those few short hours were the epitome of the answer that I had been seeking – something new, something different, something ever changing and varietal.

That door by the way, that metaphorical door that led me into the wonderful world of beer? Also happened to be the not so metaphorical door to the bathroom. For I had enjoyed the Cranberry Lambic so much the first time around, that I went back for another, and then another. And by the end of the night, proceeded to violently expel much of that which I had enjoyed during Kerri and Scott’s Christmas gathering.

But it was unquestionably worth it. Because now I don’t drink beer to get drunk. I drink beer because it’s great. Better than great. In all its ever evolving variety and complexity and availability, it has become a significantly important part of my life. And my tastes have changed quite dramatically. Porters and stouts, as well as IPA’s are some of my favorite beers to quaff due to their intensity and depth of flavors.

And referring back to my opening comment about not remembering how or when I initially realized that beer was more than what I had experienced in college, apparently all it took was a little pondering to recall the event, and a little more contemplating to remember it in all its magnificent glory.

But alas, I began this post with the idea that it would be a single entry, covering much more that I have to say in general regarding the topic of beer. But because this memory came back to me in full and took on an entire story of its own, the rest will have to wait. Not long, but wait it must. And I’ll try a little harder to stay focused next time. No promises though. Until then, go out and have yourself a few real beers!

Source: Winter PackHoliday PorterHorse Kick, Cranberry Lambic