Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ruination and Redemption


As the muses would have it, after I composed my ode to Wits in the prior blog, my buddy posted on FB that he had two cigars and two IPA’s for any comer. It was Sunday night. I had no work on Monday. I posted back if there were no taker for his listed time at 8:30, I could come over at 9:15 PM for the smoke and drink. I got the invite. I was attending the Dawes concert down at Long’s Park (a local outside amphitheater) and wanted to see it through to the end. Great show. A band better than most these days. Laurel Canyon Rock it is called as a genre. Californian.

I hated the idea of him smoking and drinking alone. The finer things must be shared.

As anticipated, the Dawes show concluded at 9 or so, so I made a fast walk to the car to beat the crowd and arrived at my buddy’s place around aforementioned time. My buddy Dain has great taste in beers. Nothing bad ever in his fridge. I would take anything from his fridge and drink it carte blanche and blind-folded. Apparently, he had to hunt the bottle down in Central Pennsylvania like the Holy Grail. We are brothers in beer.

We also share a crazy parallel love for the same type of music. In fact, we got in a discussion about Pink Floyd’s Meddle. As it happened to be, the album was on his turntable. I brought the album up totally on my own. He didn’t initiate this draft of the conversation in the least. I did, and then we talked about how Pink Floyd was just such an important band, who crafted complex music without all the digital props available today in the recording studio. Analogue to the core, it had to be hands-on. No band today can hold a candle to bands like Pink Floyd.

Perhaps there is a positive relationship between liking craft beers and classic rock; the b.s. and machinery of cranking out musical drivel, the corporatization of craft to crap. Like Big Beer was in its ascendancy in the 1960’s and 1970’s, soon big music conglomerates followed suit and started a similar consolidation of sound into homogeneous garbage. Very few bands escaped the grinding up…you know when Gangsta Rap became mainstream with white boys in the burbs, that the scam was on.  BTW, if you have the opportunity to watch the documentary of how Dark Side of the Moon was made, watch it. It is available on Netflix as an Instant Download. Jaw-dropping.


Dain went down to his basement and brought the Stone Brewery Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA from the bowels of the subterranean beer fridge.  Higher in abv and twice the hops of an already hoppy brew, this concoction is the Jolt Cola equivalent of brews, just much tastier. And won’t rot your teeth. Hops can act as a shroud for poorly made craft beer…where it hides a multitude of sins. In fact, it almost seems like a trade secret to add a lot of hops to mediocre brew and then posit that somehow it has been transformed like Midas into gold. Heineken anyone? No, it is still lead. The alchemy failed.

This Ruination, rather than being rank, exceeded all expectations. Well-done San Diego/Oceanside maestros at Stone. Very Dark Side of the Moonish (hops being darkness). This brew is bitter but it delivers taste redemption. Rather than spiral into a death cycle of taste buds, the flavors rises to astounding heights. Deliverance from the everyday rot. When the Jewish guy at the bar (see last Summer of Wit post) decided against a hoppy beer because “life was bitter enough” I think he is missing that bitterness addressed and consumed can sometimes be redemptive if it is done well and with well, craft. No one would accuse Pink Floyd of being soft on its take on life. In fact, its music was typically pretty sad and bitter, but performed extraordinarily and unusually proficiently.  But, it stands. Desperation may be the English way, but we are all desperate. Where to we go with it? Confirmation that we are not alone is comforting.

There is a transcendental transaction when a person seeks to embrace quality bitterness. Bitterness is a fact of life, all that we have are choices to make the bitterness beautiful or horrible. I am all in favor of avoiding pain for pains sake, yet pain is going to rain down regardless sometimes. Do you open your mouth and take it in or refuse to drink and die of thirst?

As it was, Dain and I got in a pretty serious conversation about life events. We even prayed. It was a holy moment, with the cigars being incense and the beer being elixir. Bitter & beautiful beer for a barren land.


New Living Translation (©2007)
A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.  


Summer of Wit


This summer I have been drinking mostly Wit beer. The best Wit thus far has been Lancaster’s own Diabolical Dr. Wit from the Tap Room/Springhouse Brewery. I might just be favoring the home team but I really like the balance of the brew. It has some citrusy elements without being too acidic, sweet, or bitter. It is balanced and delightful. 

By the title you might think that I have been particularly funny and urbane this season. Actually, the summer has been bittersweet–a combination of emotional malt and hops–trending more towards the bitter. So, my wit has suffered. I am starting to bounced back.

Speaking of bitter,  I was in Chicago last night at a Holiday Inn bar/restaurant/hotel where American Airlines graciously lodged me (I got bumped from last night’s flight and am now in possession of a $ 500 voucher to fly AA sometime in the next year), and some Jewish dude from New York City area decided against drinking more than just a sample of a hoppy beer by saying, “Life is already bitter enough.”

True enough…now that was witty. 



Sam Adams Boston Lager


I took the bait like a fish to the worm. Fourth of July around the corner. Needed beer. Something not too heavy but not seltzerish with alcohol. Re: Coors, Bud, Miller, etc. The Distributor had piled the cases of Sam Adams Boston Lager like chum in the waters. The decision was quick, no mulling about like a lost child for close to an hour weighing my options. Perhaps the fastest turn-around time in purchasing a case ever. Minuteman…the revolutionary theme and all.

Sam Adams is a craft brewer that has gone big like the proverbial fish that started as a small fry. Now, it is a formidable opponent to the King George’s out there who will keep churning out mediocrity as long as some poor suckers are going to buy it. Shall be interesting to see how the Bigs either swallow smaller craft brewers and rule these brands like fiefdoms from the throne or who go out and create their own like AB’s Shock Top. I had their Belgian White the other day. Pretty good. I see that Bud is seriously pulling  a Walmart predatory move like a shark in cutting its pricing for such cases far below the competitors. About 12 dollars less per 24. I am all for Free Enterprise but when one has big monopolistic players in the game, it is no longer free enterprise. Anyone who thinks otherwise has some moron in them that needs to get exorcised out of them as a demon. The SA Boston Lager did not disappoint. It is not a light lager. It has some umph. The hoppy-ness is also a bit unusual for a lager. It pours a deep amber brown like that super attractive girl’s long hair in high school. Boy, I am mixing metaphors right and left here. Fishing, fiefdoms, hot girls.

My brother and I commenced our consumption soon after a mountain bike ride.  He took a rather nasty spill and was quite winded trying to keep up with me. I work-out and don’t smoke. Decided advantages despite me being older by almost a decade. It was a very hot afternoon and the beers went down smoother than ice cream. After eating bacon-wrapped sirloin steaks from the grill, a huge piece of carrot cake (doesn’t that count as a vegetable?), watching that Steve Carrel “Crazy Stupid Love” flick in the man cave (truly bunkerish, bro), and a homegrown fireworks festival, I did finish the night off approaching midnight with a cool bowl of freshly made ice cream. Perfect ending.

I took my chances a drove home from the Philly region back to Lancaster, hearing on the radio on the way home that more people die in driving accidents on the 4th of July more than any other day in the calendar. That kind of spooked me…what was I thinking? The two other days were really odd, random. Not tied to a holiday or anything. Weird. Got home safe and sound.  And so it went…from the 4th to the 5th.