Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

I was dating this girl who we’ll call Heather, because that’s her name. Heather didn’t have a dog but she loved telling me how to take care of mine. Heather didn’t drive but she loved to tell me how to drive. Heather didn’t have a prostate but that didn’t stop her from telling me at my age I needed to get an exam (she was off by at least 10 years). Heather did have a bathroom though. So when I was picking out a new bath mat – “picking out” is probably overstating this shopping trip, I was simply buying a new bath mat – Heather had a lot to say about that too. I bought a nice, plush mat so my feet would be comfy as I brush my teeth, dry off after a shower, etc. I thought it was great. Heather didn’t. Heather thought it was too thick. Heather thought it was too beige. Heather thought it was all wrong. We got back to my place and I proudly, and adamantly, placed the new mat on my bathroom floor and closed the door. Well, I tried to close the door. The mat was too thick and the door wouldn’t pass over it. Fuck! Heather was finally fucking right. We both knew it. She stood there glowing with rightness. She was grinning with the joy of me being wrong. Staring down at the mat stuck under the door then at me, then at the mat….  In her mind now, she was ALWAYS right and I could almost hear her inner gloating thoughts. This suddenly made her right about the dog. Right about the prostate exam. I couldn’t let that happen. If she was right about this she really would think she was right about everything – past and future. So I took the door off the hinges setup my two dining chairs like a carpenter’s horse, and searched for a saw, while she read some woman’s magazine that empowers her to think she’s always right. I didn’t have a power saw but that wasn’t going to stop me. I pulled out a handsaw and began hacking away at the bottom of my bathroom door. I lopped off a thick, wavy hunk of that door with great determination. Determination not to make the mat fit, but to be right! I realize this doesn’t make me right, but I wasn’t about to be wrong. Heather watched as I made the uneven cuts and slapped the door back up on the hinges. The door glided over the bath mat with great ease and I shined with satisfaction (albeit feigned satisfaction because we both knew she was right). I was quite proud of myself, not for being right but for making sure Heather wasn’t. I walked out of the bathroom doorway – light shining brightly through the gap of the closed door and I opened my fridge to grab a beer and revel in my “rightness.”

The first bottle at hand was an ale I never tried before from a brewer I love – Stone Brewing Co Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. It’s not always right but it’s thick head and darkness made it the perfect choice on this particular afternoon. It gets it’s bitterness from more than the just an essence of chocolate and coffee, followed by a lightly sweet taste as it rolls over your tongue and heads towards your throat. This full-bodied beauty leaves a sweet taste on the tongue with a bitter, hoppy hit to the back of your throat – a lot like Heather.

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Ozzy Ale

My buddy Pat was heading to NYC from Maryland to have a Christening for his baby girl. She’s a year and a half and Pat and his wife thought it was time to get some God in her so they made the trip. I offered them my apartment for the weekend, which they shared with their hot “nanny”. Pat’s Irish and his wife Stevie is Scottish. Yes, there was drinking at this Christening. The afternoon Christening turned into late afternoon drinks, then a few drinks at downtown bar, dinner and gallons of mojito, sangria, and beer at a Cuban place in the West Village, and finally ended up at the Galway Hooker (which I always seem to call the Irish Whore). Happily, Pat’s sister hung out with the baby at my place and the nanny joined us for the night out. When I got back to my apartment a couple days later, I saw that Pat left me some authentic Maryland crab cakes and a couple of bottles of Ozzy Ale. I cooked up those crab cakes and popped open the 38 oz cork-top bottle. The sweet scent of a Belgian Ale came wafting out with the bottling gases and I knew I was in for a good night. Much like my time with the “nanny.”

Ozzy Ale is brewed in Maryland by Brewer’s Art in the style of a Belgian Ale – think America’s answer to Duvel. I poured it and watched the creamy foam rise to the top, almost filling the glass. As tempting as it is to dive right in, I suggest letting any corked beer settle for a while and mellow before drinking. The fruity, spicy aroma didn’t let me down and followed through from first sip to last, each one finishing with a malty sweetness. It’s light-medium body complimented the crab cakes nicely and since the cork was off, I finished the bottle.

Official Website: Brewer’s Art

As for the “nanny,” she turned out to be Pat’s sister-in-law.

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Southampton IPA

It’s Tim’s fault. I was working at the not drinking during the week approach. Tim’s a good friend – he’s also someone I work with. We had some business to discuss so he suggested a dive bar on B’Way. I told him I’m trying not to drink during the week. Placating me he said, ‘ok stop by here to meet my friend – then we’ll get a bite to eat’. His friend Beth is the bartender. He had a full beer when I arrived so I figured I’d order one and we’d leave. He gave me a weak, “But you’re not…” as I ordered. When you’re friends with the bartender you pay for one – you don’t just drink one. Beth kept me happy all night. And so did the beer. I went for the Shouthampton IPA. I’ve had it before and I like it. Thanks to Beth, I’ve had it A LOT more and I still like it.

A bright orangey glow fills the glass topped by a thin white, large-bubbled head that quickly reduces. There’s an immediate citrusy scent followed by a hint of hops. At first taste, the sweet citrus and malt comes through with a slight bitter and bready grapefruit hit at the end. Nothing is overpowering and the flavors are present but not complex. It’s an easy drinking, light-bodied IPA that you can enjoy all night without being too weighed down. It’s best served by a snarky, crass, super-sexy, smart, softball playing bartender with a far better body than any IPA I’ve ever had.

Official website: Southampton Publick House

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Double Daddy

After last weekend, I thought it might be a good time to ease up on my drinking. I decided to stay sober during the week and refrain from booze until the weekend. So I went out for a few drinks on Monday to ponder this decision. Not one to tempt fate, I went to a wine bar with my dog’s hot vet. At our communal table were two guys who were aggressively swirling their wine glasses before every sip. Between each swirl and sip I made sure they caught a severe look from me. The table shaking and glass swirling only got worse. During my first glass of wine with the vet, my buddy Mike walked by. It was odd for him to be in the neighborhood – he told me he was playing darts at MY beer bar, George Keeley’s. So after a few glasses of wine at the bouncing table, and lots of talk about not drinking so much, I headed over to Keeley’s. As I glanced over the taps, I asked Justin (the bartender) what looked good. I quickly noticed that I was getting the same nasty look from an ominous beer tap that I was giving the swirling wine boys. I asked about it and Justin liked it so I had a Double Daddy. {Insert jokes about swirling wine boys and me having a Double Daddy}

This Imperial IPA was born in San Francisco in 2003 and boasts a 9.5% alcohol content but it tasted stronger. Poured in a tulip-shaped glass, Double Daddy has a beautiful caramel color, a thick, foamy head, and that unmistakable hoppy aroma. This is what beer gets when it wants a hoppy IPA. It’s strong hop taste finishes perfectly – the way a beer should with that great beer flavor tastefully lingering between sips. Although it mellowed as it warmed in the glass, it’s definitely a big beer for big beer fans. The Speakesy brewers will tell you they “…set out to make legit beers for people that appreciated better beers built for a more discerning palate.” They got it right with Double Daddy and I’m looking forward to trying another next time I get that dirty look from a Speakeasy tap at Keeley’s.

Official site: Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

By the way, the vet got a Dogfish Head 90 – she’s predictable – I’m OK with that. My buddy Mike, his team lost.

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Fire Island Lighthouse Ale

Memorial Day weekend at Fire Island! It’s the kick off to the Summer. BBQs are cleaned off and heated up after a long winter’s hibernation. Houses are opened. Everyone is cleaning, kids are painting shells and getting their stock ready to sell, and Ben and Adam are towing wagons all over Ocean Beach filled high with Costco runs of enough paper towels and toilet paper to get through the summer. That’s how I spent the weekend – dirty, dusty, and sweaty from house and yard work with a light coating of salt from the ocean. After a day of “hard work” at Ocean Beach there’s only one way to chill out and watch the sun set with friends. So I took a quick outdoor shower and headed out to the Island Mermaid for an ice cold Fire Island Lighthouse Ale on tap.

Fire Island Lighthouse Ale is crisper and cleaner than most craft beers (a big feat for a craft brewery) but has all the taste and satisfaction of a fine Belgian brew without weighing you down. Easy to drink and great with a burger or a simple grilled fish (I like it with the sesame coated halibut). It presents a firey-caramel color and due to a lighter carbonation than one might expect, it’s crowned with a soft, minimal head that quickly reduces to a ring. It’s flavor is not overly complex but this tasty beer has hints of caramel and a bit of a sweet smell to start, which balances off the light hoppy taste. It’s clean finish makes it hard to put down the glass. Greg and his brother (brewmasters) say it’s “the kind of beer you want to have a beer with.” Just make sure that beer you’re drinking with it is a Lighthouse Ale. So kick off the flip-flops and enjoy one of the great American craft beers right where it was created – on Fire Island – or anywhere else you happen to be enjoying the summer.

Official Website:

Their website is almost as quirky as the Fire Island locals, and if you’re wondering yes there’s deer all over the Island.

Posted in Ale, American Amber / Red Ale | Leave a comment

Big Boss Bad Penny

My friend Christine is a comedic musical theatre actress. In other words, she sings and dances on stage and people laugh at her. I’ll tell you how we met in another post – that’s a story in itself. She’s doing a great show this summer in Charlotte NC called Girls Only. It’s like a kinder, gentler, much funnier Vagina Monologues. I was shooting something in Dallas and had a layover in Charlotte so I made a weekend of it and hung out with Christine. We went to a place called the Dandelion Market where they have a couple of dozen craft brews on tap. I had a pint of every beer that I hadn’t tried before. It was a long fun night. Our hot waitress suggested Big Boss Bad Penny for my first beer. I never argue with a hot woman who brings me beer and food so that’s where I started my boozey trip through NC beers.

Bad Penny is a brown ale with a great, full flavor. It’s pretty sweet as far as brown ales go and has a definitive caramel kick, a subtle chocolatey tinge and a dark fruit finish. The flavors are interesting and very present but not overpowering. They consider this brew, “..A show case of fine English malts, floor malted the old way. We use pale, chocolate, and crystal malts to produce a complex, but easy drinking dark ale.” Whatever they’re doing down there in Raleigh, it results in some fine craft beer.

The Big Boss brews are definitely worth a trip to NC (you’ll hear more about them from in future posts). Try them all at the Dandelion Market then head on over to see Girls Only for a good time with some very sexy ladies.

Official Website: Big Boss Brewing Co

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Delirium Tremens

It’s the beer that kicked it all off so I’ll start here…

My girlfriend of nearly 7 years dumped me. We were in Italy when she decided she wanted to bang the hotel tennis instructor. It gets much more cliche’ than that but I’ll spare you the details. When she returned after a date on his Vespa (yeah, he was doing well for himself), I decided I should leave so I took off for Paris. I called my neighbor from NYC, who was dating a Parisian girl. She suggested I meet up with her friend Adele for a coffee. We had a great time… and a few wild nights in Paris that I’ll never forget. Her family owns the oldest active brewery in Ghent, Belgium and brews the famous pink elephant beer – Delirium Tremens.

Delirium Tremens is a perfect Belgian brew with a long tradition and high accolades including being voted Worlds Best Beer in 1998 at the World Beer Championship in Chicago. It’s a strong Belgian Pale Ale, served in a signature tulip-shaped glass – freshly rinsed to chill. Also sold in a ceramic-style, corked bottle but look for the pink elephant tap at your favorite beer pub to taste it the way it was intended. A creamy, frothy head leaves a lacy glass as it retreats to give way to a beautiful caramel color yielding a distinctive spicy and aromatic flavor that is both sweet and hoppy at the same time. The perfect finish leaves you wanting more. As did my time in Paris with Addie.

Delirium’s Official Website

The family of brewers is a wonderful, lively, amazing group and I’m happy to have met them. If you’re in Brussels, be sure to check out the Delirium Cafe.

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