The Brooklyn Growler

"Life is all skittles and beer." — Tom Lehrer

Sunday Foto Dump: State of the Universe

Apparently, I’m not very good at updating these Brooklyn Growler branded Friday Photo Dump™ posts. I miss writing a new one on Friday and then think I’ll plug in a post to auto-pop on the next Friday. When that doesn’t happen, I promise to hit it next time.

Which made me re-evaluate my approach.

Friday Photo Dump. Yeah. I only decided to give this style of blog post a name back when I was thinking that I’d update it regularly throughout the week. Here was the idea for this blog from my Kickstarter proposal:

Malty Maudlin Mondays – Kind of a morning-after thing about news missed over the weekend as well as a round-up of drinks that should not have been consumed over the weekend but were.

Trappist Tuesdays – A weekly review of a Trappist beer that has already been effectively reviewed over at Beer Advocate.

Wet-Hop Wednesdays – This was going to be difficult because, offhand, I know of one wet-hopped beer. It’s about the challenge, I guess.

Trappist Thursdays – Because the chances of me remembering to hit Trappist Tuesdays are pretty slim.

Friday Photo Dump – See above.

Storm King Saturdays and Sundays – Which isn’t the title but rather a rule. I don’t work on weekends. Although it is Sunday night and I’m writing this. I cannot be trusted.

This blog is beginning to take proper shape in my head. It’s about a life as it encounters beer. “Here then is a map of my life,” as Auden said in his common reader. Hey, that would be a great lede!

So tying things down to a particular weekday gets it wrong.

Preamble sorted. Here are some pictures of beers whut have been drunk over the last few weeks by me. (P.S. These are just the ones I remembered to photograph.)

Stone Brewing Co., Arrogant Bastard Ale, Escondido, Calif.

Groupo Modelo, Modelo Especial, Mexico City, Mexico

Unibroue, Maudite, Chambly, Quebec, Canada

21st Amendment Brewery, Brew Free or Die IPA, San Francisco, Calif.

Thank you for reading this far. There will be more to come.

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Why Limes Don’t Chase Away Flies

This was the scene on my kitchen island after a trip to Trader Joe’s and an Associated. I’m back from Montana, though I’ve been playing catch-up with what’s left of the week and feel satisfyingly tired, which is the sign of a nice vacation, I think. There will be another post on some Montana beers in the next few days and then back to whatever it is we do here.

Anyway, so I dropped $3.99 on a two-four of Cerveza La Playa, est. 1968, at ye olde Trader Joe’s. Then for fun, I put it in a fancy Sam Adams pint glass with a slice of lime. Why the lime? Common wisdom (i.e., the crypto-racist ramblings of lazy Americans), says it’s because when you’re drinking a beer in Mexico, the lime wedged in the mouth of the bottle chases away flies.

I’d believe it if I heard the same said about a slice of orange in a hefeweizen.

The reason is just style. Perhaps also to mask the not-so-greatness of the beer. Also, a lime is most commonly seen in a bottle of the Mexican pilsner-style Corona. Y’know, the imported beer that is sold in a clear, glass bottle. There’s a reason why most beers are bottled in dark brown or green bottles – it keeps the sun and other ambient light out while it sits on the shelf.

I’m a big fan of Mexican beers, in general. Never been much for Corona, although the Grupo Modelo Brewery (which brews Corona) makes some of my favorites – Pacifico, Negra Modelo, and Modelo. Cans of Modelo are frequent visitors to my fridge. Dos Equis is also a welcomed guest to my tummy.

However!

One of the greatest beers I ever drank was a Tecate. I was on a bus in Mexico heading back from a day spent touring the ruins of Chichen Itza, a Mayan pyramid. It was a very humid, sunny day in early March. After a day spent in such a hot environment with very little shade – I was all tuckered out. So then about forty minutes into the ride back, the tour bus driver opened up a cooler and started passing out cans of Tecate. No limes. “This is the best beer in Mexico,” he said. I cracked mine open and took a long pull. He was right. He was so right. He was also the greatest tour guide ever. What’s even better, is that I could crack open a Tecate right now and feel the same. I just love that beer.

Right, so, La Playa.

It’s a little sweet. Very drinkable. The head up there in the picture is what was left after thirty seconds of snapping bad pictures, thirty seconds more of bad photography, and the head was gone entirely. Definitely some corn or corn-syrup flavors. Aftertaste can be a little soapy. It’s much improved by a wedge of freshly cut lime.

Unlike other Trader Joe’s beers (Red Oval; Simpler Times), La Playa doesn’t create as much tummy rumbling. Granted, I stopped after two, which isn’t really getting in the spirit of pounding cheap beers and such. But still. This beer is similar to a Corona Light in that it also has a certain staleness of flavor that some watery light beers can acquire – sitting around absorbing too much sunlight.

Cerveza La Playa tastes better in the can, honestly. It’s not one you’ll crave later. So – go fast; go hard.

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Fine Sam Adams Glassware for Non-Sam Adams Beers

A few years back, the Boston Beer Co., which owns Samuel Adams beer, released the Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pint Glass, which as you can see in the Pulitzer Prize-winning picture I took, it’s a unique take on the classic beer glass.

There are some familiar ideas going on – the bell is reminiscent of a snifter; the bow in the glass on the way up from the base of the glass to the bell reminds me of a classic pint glass; the lip is bent outward like a tulip glass. You could also argue that the glass itself resembles some hybrid of a pilsner flute glass and a hefeweizen glass. Actually, it looks a lot like a weizen glass to my eyes, but it’s not as high and thin. In the end, however, the Sam Adams glass is distinctively that – a glass specifically designed to drink Samuel Adams beer.

So what do you do if you don’t drink a lot of Sam Adams?

I’ve nothing against Sam Adams. It’s a fine beer and one I’ve enjoyed many times. But for whatever reason it’s just never been a beer of choice for me. If I’m scanning the shelves of beer at my local deli, I’m unlikely to linger very long on Sam Adams. Lately, because it’s summer, I tend to go for a Mexican pilsner-style beer – Tecate, Modelo, Pacifico, et al – and even in winter, I lean towards a Brooklyn Lager or a Sierra Nevada or a Bass Ale. Even so, once I saw these glasses, I had to have a set.

From top to bottom, the lip of the glass is designed to hold more of a head, while the outward turn of the lip is meant to deliver the beer more smoothly to your mouth. There’s a narrow bit near the top that allows the head to sit on top of the bell. The rounded bell is designed to collect the beer’s flavor and aromas – which are then delivered to the head, making each drink more aromatic – while the thin walls toward the base of the glass are made to hold the beer’s temperature longer because your hand will naturally hold the glass by the base of the bell. Meanwhile, there are laser etchings on the very bottom of the glass that create a constant flow of bubbles that travel the length of the glass to the head.

It’s true that the glass does help the beer release more flavor. It’s helped some not-very-successful homebrews taste a bit cleaner. Overall, I’ve always found the glass to make any beer taste fresher than drinking straight from the bottle.

I did a taste test the other night between a Bass Ale and a Brooklyn Lager in the Sam Adams pint glass. The above pictures are of a Brooklyn Lager in the glass. The Bass, being a lager from the U.K., tasted a bit fresher to me than the Brooklyn Lager, which is brewed across town from me. The glass brought out a nice head in both beers – though stronger in the Brooklyn Lager. I let each rest for a few minutes after pouring, while also giving the glass an easy twirl to help release some of the flavors, and found that the Sam Adams glass delivers what it promises – an aromatic glass of fresh-tasting beer.

Over the last few years that I’ve had these glasses, I’ve found them to be my go-to choice for beer. I’m a fan of your watery domestic in cans as well, and I’ve often found that the Sam Adams pint glasses will give a Bud Light a bit more life as it warms up. The only beer that’s ever truly failed in the glasses is a Miller High Life, but when one of those warms up, it’s pretty much over anyway.

Are they an essential purchase? No, of course not, but you will be happy to have ’em. Are you chained to being a Sam Adams man after owning the glasses? Definitely not. I prefer not to use branded items unless I’m 100 percent comfortable with showing off the logo, and though I think I’ve had a total of one Sam Adams in the brewery’s pint glass, I’d still show off these glasses with pride.

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