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Athens, being the consummate college town, is full of consummate college bars: they play the same six trite, overplayed pop/rap songs on heavy rotation (often so loud you have to shout to be heard by the hottie sitting next to you [well, there’s always the chance s/he’s just ignoring you]), they have many giant screens playing the game du jour and they have a miserable selection of beer on tap.

Yes, the vasty majority of college bars “play it safe” by choosing beers they know will sell well. Popular beer is like popular music: it is watered down to appeal to people with shitty taste. These beers include your typical “Lite” fare, such as Miller Lite, Bud Light and Coors Light (I don’t care if it’s pink, that beer I won’t drink), as well as a few mainstays in every American bar, Guinness, Budweiser and whatever Sam Adams seasonal is in season at the moment. Which is all a shame, because beer tastes best the fresher it is, and the freshest beer comes from kegs.

celebrity-pictures-alec-guinness-gang-symbols

Alec Guinness wants you to drink Guinness draught.

But all is not lost. There are some bars in town with truly excellent selections of craft beer on tap. But how do bar managers and owners choose which brews to pour for their patrons? I chose to pose this question to three bars in Athens in an exploration of how bars choose better brews. Continue Reading »

Cutting corners: it’s the American way, n’est-ce pas? Well, I visited the Athens Do It Yourself shop again last week to return the machine I used to cap my bottled beer, a ridiculous contraption that looked something like a microscopes retarded older brother, and is just about as functional. I asked the proprietor, Eric Hedin, when I should put the beer in the fridge, and he told me it should ferment in the bottles for 10 days at room temperature, then another 10 days in the coolest part of my apartment, or the fridge.

counter-top-bottle-capper

I can't think of anything clever to say about this.

OK, so this ran a little contrary to what he had said earlier about “21 days to good beer”; one day to brew, 10 days in the fermenter, then 10 days in the bottle. So I got impatient. I wanted to drink it NOW. So I did.

Now I’m not very good at critiquing myself. My mom once told me that nothing ever tastes as good when you cook it yourself, and I guess the same goes for beer. All in all, I thought it was a bit premature. I thought it was a bit sweet from the priming sugar that hadn’t yet finished fermenting all the way, and maybe a tiny bit flat (though it poured a good head). But, in striving for scientific rigor, I asked my room-mate Corey to step in and do a guest blog about what he thought of my beer. So without further ado, here is Corey’s take on my brew.

corey making a face

Corey, after having drunk my beer (well, a beer).

~Buy a man a beer and he wastes an hour. Teach a man to brew and he wastes a lifetime~
-Gordy form ABC Warehouse-

Fact. There is a reason for it too. It was my first time as the Assistant Roommate of a Brew Master (ARBM, official title) and the experience has opened a whole new book to my drinking solutions. Not problem. I’ve already solved it.


Watching someone brew beer filled my heart with such joy, more so than building houses for the poor. Once, the process was complete and I was able to taste the creation, I realized it is more rewarding too.


Andy is no longer a virgin in the brewing industry. Cherry popped right in our living room for all to witness. The result, of the first batch to be tested, was surprising. Life’s like a white bucket sitting in your living room fermenting: you never know what your ganna get.


As Brew Master, our leader informed us that he was creating an IPA. Yum, I thought. Bottle opener please. Yum, was the result. The beer had a nice tungsten-amber color and it was carbonated enough to form a nice head. The aroma had the familiar bitter-sweet smell that IPA’s usually have. But I did not want to look and smell my beer all day.


Almost had it. The beer was hoppy enough to achieve the bitter flavor of an IPA. The feel of the beer was great in my book. It did not tickle the tongue from carbonation, and did not sit flat either. The beer was just a little sweet with a slight after taste of a cider. There was an excess  of sugars sitting at the bottom of my glass, but I was drinking a preemie version of the beer. This also explains the sweet taste.


Overall, I enjoyed the brew. Even bought one for a friend to try. The beer accomplished what its original intentions were, to taste like an IPA. The only problem I had with it was its sweet side. Would I buy this beer if it were shelved? Yes, in fact I would buy it even if we already had the bottle sitting in our collection. This only excites me more knowing that when the rest of the beer is actually ready, I will get to enjoy the matured version of this already delicious beer.


~MMMM, beer~
Homer Simpson

Keep your glasses empty,
Corey

This is the last chance to submit a name for my beer. The poll begins this weekend, and the winning suggestion gets a free six pack of the beer you named.

Hooray Beer!

I hate beer commercials. I don’t need Brian Billick telling me to drink Coors Light (shit, I wouldn’t drink Coors Light if Clint Eastwood told me to [OK, well, maybe if Clint Eastwood told me to]). Bouncy buxom babes aren’t going to make Miller Lite taste any less like fermented urine, and I don’t care how many real men of genius Bud Light salutes, their marketing is obviously aimed at binge drinking, backwards-cap-wearing, chest-thumping bros.

Beer ads piss me off. If you can’t win me over by the merits of your beer, no ammount of celebrity endorsements, silly gimmicks or scantily clad women is going to get me to part with my money for a lousy drinking experience. But there is an exception to every rule: Red Stripe.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Silly Red Stripe, who would ever mistake beer for fabric softener! Hooray beer indeed.

Do you have a favorite beer ad?

Some people are foodies, well I’m a beerie (…that sounded a lot cooler in my head). That doesn’t mean I don’t like food; in fact, if I could do one thing for the rest of my life, it would probably be eat. I just don’t like cooking food. That doesn’t mean I can’t; it just takes way longer to cook food than it does to actually eat it.

Well, I was reading Aimee’s blog and I got inspired. I also got sick of my diet of frozen dinners and Subway sandwiches. So I decided that it’s time for another installment of “Cooking with Beer.” For some inexplicable reason I’m on a Cuban kick, so I decided to make Tostones (fried plantains), Arroz con Pollo (with beer!) and Flan Cubano.

ingredients

All the ingredients lined up nice and pretty. Already poured myself a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Turned out to be quite a daunting task. It took over half an hour and two glasses of wine just to get everything sliced up.

veggies

Chopped green bell pepper, diced onion and three cloves of minced garlic.

pollo

The "con pollo" part of "arroz con pollo"

spices

Oregano, salt, bay leaf, saffron, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and ground cumin

After that, I fried the chicken for a few minutes in olive oil, just until it was browned (I’d show you a picture, but really, it isn’t that pretty). From there, I sauteed the veggies in the leftover oil.

sautee veggies

Saw-tee them veggies.

Meanwhile, I watched the premiere of “V” on ABC. Gotta say, I’m not too impressed. It has Juliette from LOST on it (total hottie), and in theory you can’t go wrong with an alien invasion, but ABC just didn’t pull it off too well. It seems like ever since LOST became a runaway success, ABC has been trying to copy the formula with epic over-the-top shows. It’s just not working. But I digress.

After the veggies sauteed, I added the diced tomatoes (out of a can, I’m sorry to say), the spices, water and a bottle of beer. Now, I would have used Cuban beer, if I had any idea where to find it. I had to settle on Corona. My American ignorance thought “hey, proximity! Mexico is close to Cuba, right?” I brought that to a broil (well, a simmer, since I don’t even know what a broil is) then added the chicken and let it cook for 30 minutes.

mix water spices beer tomatoes

Water, spices, tomatoes and BEER!

At this point, the wine ran out. Luckily I had saved enough to cook with.

So sad

😦

From there I added the wine and rice and cooked for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I fried slices of plantain in vegetable oil.

frying plantains

It's like a banana...only not.

Now the flan was a miserable failure. The recipe called for me to mix 3/4 cups sugar with 1/4 cup water in a pan and melt the sugar. Well, the water evaporated off and the sugar burned, leaving me with a crusty, unusable pan. Having been cooking for over two hours at this point, I just gave up on it.

finished

Not too shabby.

The finished product turned out alright. It wasn’t fantastic, but that might have been because of my choice of beer. My first inclination was an IPA, but with Cuban food, that might not have worked out so well. A Red Stripe might have worked out better, but I was satisfied with the end result. It actually tasted better reheated for lunch.

Do you have any favorite recipes involving beer that I should try for my next “Cooking with Beer”? And don’t forget to help name my homebrew for a chance to win a free six-pack!

If you remember last time I tried bottling my beer, the faulty siphon (COUGHoperatorerrorCOUGH) resulted in my only finishing 18 out of 52 bottles (damn you SkyNet…). But tonight I decided to give it another go. Because the day a damn machine prevents me from bottling tasty delicious beer is the day I stop drinking.

el diablo

Damn siphon was taunting me.

So I put on some Marvin Gaye, lit some candles and made sweet love to that machine.

Unable to resist my charms, the siphon worked this time. I was able to fill the remaining 34 bottles with the nectar of life (possible beer name?) before only a gooey residue remained in the Ale Pail.

gooey residue

Gooey residue.

P1000127

All the empty bottles.

mad capping skills

I've got mad capping skills.

bottled and capped

Bottled and capped.

So now all 52 bottles of beer are fermenting in my apartment. They’ll be ready in 10 days, but my beer still needs a name, and that’s where you come in. Put on your beer naming caps, leave suggestions in a comment, next week I will set up a poll. The person who suggests the winning name gets a free six pack.

So as any Athenian would know, last weekend was Halloween weekend. What might be so special about Halloween weekend, you ask? Well, it’s only the best excuse to wear things that would freak out your mother, wear practically nothing (I’m talking about you, Mr. Elmo-mask-in-a-thong) and drink till petting a police horse sounds like a good idea. Ohio University’s Halloween block party sees the city’s population nearly double, and is a great excuse to try new beer.

In the grand tradition of OU Halloween, I had my friend Jordan (affectionately known as Jord) come down to visit. He would have last year, but he was too busy campaigning for some dude. But little did I know, Tyler (Tyty), who had been hitch hiking around the country, had also come to visit for the weekend.

trinity

I swear that isn't my Rolling Rock.

Jord went as a “Clint Eastwood inspired cowboy,” Tyty was…well, Tyty (a bum. JK Tyty) and I went as Dexter Morgan, from the hit Showtime TV series, Dexter. I had to shave for my costume, and my chin has never felt so cold…

But from the nether reaches of our state’s capital, Jord and Tyty brought me Columbus Brewing Co.’s 90 Shilling Ale, on the condition I reviewed it for my blog. Not being one to turn down free beer (unless it’s Coor’s. Fuck that), I gladly accepted.

P1000132

Comrade Beer.

Now, though I have a brother at Ohio State, because everyone who DOESN’T GO TO THAT SCHOOL shits their pants over the football team, I have an unnatural aversion to anything out of Columbus. That being said, I promised to give the beer a fair taste.

We had the beer with a Little Caesar’s Hot ‘N Ready, which wasn’t a bad pairing. Scottish Ales are known for being less hoppy and having a malty, sweet finish. It poured a very nice amber color with an off-white head. Jord, having seen my video on how to pour a beer, made fun of my inability to get “two fingers of head,” but nonetheless, the beer poured a nice head, and smelled of roasted malt, and faintly of coffee and caramel. It tasted malty, but the dominant flavors were toffee and caramel. It was sweet, but not off-putting; not nearly as sweet as a chocolate stout. It’s a good beer with food, especially pork dishes, but there are better one’s out there for sipping on.

Overall Grade: a solid B.

What did you go as for Halloween? And did you get to try any new beers?

If you’ve ever siphoned gas from a car, you know what a miserable experience that is. Trying to get the flow started without letting that nasty stuff touch your lips is bad enough. The whole process is painstaking. Trying to siphon beer into bottles is even worse, and you don’t even get the payoff of joyriding afterwards.

The whole miserable process began with santizing my beer bottles. I’m too lazy to remove the labels from all of them, so I just left them on.

Half of my bottles.

Half of the bottles.

You can see a light frosting along the mouths of the bottles. That’s priming sugar, which is supposed to support the carbonation of the beer while it sits in those bottles for the next ten days. I had to spoon a half teaspoon of the sugar into each of the 53 bottles I will be filling.

pail

You can see how I'd be aprehensive about putting my mouth on anything looking like that.

Dante said that there is a special ring of hell for betrayers, but I’m going to go as far as to say that it is above the one reserved for whoever invented the siphoning rig. As Eric at the Athens Do It Yourself Shop explained it, I should have been able to get it started and then it would run by itself, siphoning and filling as long as I kept a little button on the end pushed down. That is definitely not what happened.

first bottle

My first bottle. I named him Beery Larkin. Foolishly, I thought it would get easier.

rig with bottle

The good old days.

It all went down hill from there. The siphon needed to be primed before every bottle, which involved sucking down flat proto-beer, and then it just up and stopped working. So I plan on stopping by the DIY shop tomorrow to find out why the hell the siphon doesn’t work. I’ll be damned if a machine gets the best of Andy Brownfield.

Help me name my beer! Leave your suggestions in a comment and in a future post I will put up a poll with all of the names. The winner gets a free six pack of this beer.

Mmmm... Six pack...

Mmmm... Six pack...