Archive for the Historical Category

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

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A New Year, Another Attempt

Posted in Historical on January 8, 2011 by Derek

In July of 2009 I had a wonderfully bright idea to start a blog. So I turned to my girlfriend of 5 and 1/2 years and said, “Hey poop, let’s start blogs together!” Her response was far more enthusiastic than my own (as evidenced when comparing what we’ve each accomplished separately – check out HER blog). We both got uber-excited, chattered about it for a couple of days, and then dug in to this wonderful thing called WordPress. At first, I was amped to the umpteenth degree – I can’t begin to describe exactly what it was that I was feeling, seeing as though that was a year and a half ago, but I know that I was certainly excited at the prospect of writing something that lots of people could read. I like to write, and feel that I’m at least okay at it, so this was most likely the driving force behind the notion.

Anyway, sitting side by side, Steph and I began to create, spending countless hours of the next several days consumed with setting up our respective blogsites. And man, did I have a plan! I would have a series of links to various pages on all of the things I enjoy most in life: film & film reviews, beer & beer reviews, food stuffs, restaurant reviews, Top 10 lists, etc etc etc. And I created all of them, determined to have the most organized and interesting blog that at least I had ever seen.

So what happened? I got stuck. Confused even. I would look to my left and see Steph’s fingers flourishing across the keyboard, with every stroke devising something that would allow her to get closer to her goal of having a respectable blog. And she would look up at me and ask “How’s it going poop?” to which I would respond with a pouty face and furrowed brow “Poorly.” “Just write,” she would say, “you don’t have to organize everything now, it’s not even supposed to work that way.” Of course this mattered little to me. “I don’t care how it’s supposed to work. I know what I want so that’s how I’m gonna design it!” And because of the lovely, wonderfully supportive person she is, she would simply smile and reply “Okay. If that’s what you want to do, I know you can do it.”

So the days progressed. Steph wrote and posted several posts as I continued to half-heartedly work on my rather intricately plotted blog lay-out. I wanted to write something so badly, but had this idea in my head that I couldn’t even entertain the notion until I had everything exactly the way I wanted it. To placate myself I created a post regarding my site being ‘Under Heavy Construction’ or some such nonsense. On July 14th, 2009 I sat down at my desk, made an addendum to the aforementioned post – ‘Still Under Heavy Construction’ – signed off and sat down in front of the TV to play some video games as my lovely girlfriend continued to add to her already blossoming blogging career. And that was pretty much that.

Since, we’ve moved from NH to NYC, and between then and now I’ve managed to rustle up enough gusto to add a couple things here and there, about beer and film and myself, but never took the time to actually write a regular post. I was too attached to the idea of having structure in my blog, of trying to make it what I wanted it to be, instead of simply going ahead and making it. In this desire for organization I became claustrophobic; sure I wanted to add to this thing that petered out so quickly, but damn it all, it was too constricting – there was no freedom in it. Everything that I was supposed to write needed to have its own category, to be designed with a proper heading in mind. And that shit is stressful! There’s no fun in it.

One might wonder how writing about things you genuinely enjoy could ever really be considered stressful or unpleasant; but I’m telling you, it certainly becomes such when you’re trying to write about something to fit a format for the sake of filling space (say that two times in a row at a moderately quick pace without screwing it up and I will personally give you a high-five). I was doing it because I felt like I ought to, like it was some sort of obligation. I was, for some asinine reason, locked into the idea that my blog had to follow the guidelines that I had set forth for it the year and some odd months prior when I initially attempted to start it up. And I’ve been blindly married to this ridiculous conviction ever since – Until now.

From here on out, I say to hell with structure! To hell with organization! I’m going to write my blog however I damn well please! And I think it’ll be the better for it… clearly, considering before this the frickin’ thing never existed.

To anybody who’s actually reading this, and has stuck it out to this point (bless your souls), this most likely seems absurd; because I suppose quite frankly that it is. But the fact is that it took me a year and half to realize this shit and as far as I’m concerned, from here on out I’m going to have a legitimate blog. And I felt that I needed to share this triumph with you. And it’s exciting to me. I’m sure that I’ll have my lulls like all bloggers who simply blog for the sake of it and don’t make any sort of income from the experience do, but I’m cool with that. The bottom line is that I have a real desire to add to this thing now, and instead of simply talking about it, I’m going to actually do it. And by golly, it’s going to be complete with all those things that I had wanted originally: beer, film, restaurants, food, you name it! But it’ll be on my new terms, and it will be magnificent!

So welcome to Life Should Be Lived. Because it should be. I’m sure as hell gonna live mine, and I’ll share the experiences with you. I promise.