I know you’ve all been aching to get a deeper glimpse into the preferences and predilections of the brotherhood of Aleheads (little do you know how dangerous that might be). There are of course numerous secret rituals, ceremonies and beer drinking techniques that we can’t share with you (OK, that last one’s pretty much just drinking games), but I thought it might be interesting to give you a feel for what’s going on in our beer fridges. Some of us stock them with purpose (see Ripped Van Drinkale’s excellent discussion on seasonal stocking), while others of us just grab whatever catches our eye in our favorite package store or supermarket. So this week’s Conundrum will be not so much a puzzle as an inquiry.
Tell us, loyal Aleheads, what is in your refrigerator?
Beers are mandatory (all beers, no cheating by excluding the crap I know you keep around for non-Alehead friends), other foods/beverages/condiments/dead stuff optional. Cellared beers need not be mentioned, as that’s a totally different question (that we may address in a later Conundrum).*
*Side note: If we aren’t too drunk to remember, we’re going to try to do this once a season, as seasonal beers change the mix in our beer fridges so drastically.
And to start things off, let’s take a look into the McBrewin’ fridge. A quick note: I’m not usually quite this well (or diversely) stocked, but I just found an awesome new beer store.
- 2 cans Maui Coconut Porter
- 1 bomber Stone Ruination
- 4 Full Sail Limited Edition Lagers
- 1 Deschutes Inversion IPA
- 1 Deschutes Cascade Ale
- 1 Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
- 1 Deschutes Black Butte Porter
- 1 can Caldera IPA
- 1 can Caldera Pale Ale
- 2 Henry Winehards Private Reserve (leftovers from guests)
- 1 Flying Dog Double Dog Double Pale Ale (that’s really what they call it)
- 1 Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
- 1 North Coast Pranqster
- 1 North Coast Brother Thelonious
- 1 Cascade Lakes Monkey Faced Porter
- 1 Hair of the Dog Ruth
- 1 Hair of the Dog Adam
- 1 bomber Lucky Hand Black Lager (thanks Brother Barley)
- Yesterday’s leftover tuna salad, half a sweet onion, garlic dills, peanut butter, some sliced english cukes in rice wine vinegar, one bell pepper, some lettuce that I just threw away while taking this inventory (it was desperately past its useful life), half a block of Tillamook medium cheddar.
COMMANDER PINT O. CHUG
Ah, fall….when young men throw romance and procreation to the wind (especially for those of us whose wives are knocked up for the third time), and turn their attention to the Yankees’ postseason, winterizing the grill, and six months of beer-induced weight gain. OK, I’ll speak for myself, except about the six months of beer-induced weight gain, which I think is universal, with the possible exception of Slouch Sixpack who appears to be the exact same weight he was when I met him 13 years ago this fall.
To accelerate the weight gain mentioned above, fall blesses us with several high gravity, high ABV, high calorie beers. Yum. Although the beer selection here in Ohio is a fraction of what it is in the Northwest, there’s still an excellent offering at local retailers.
I am going to take some poetic license with what’s actually in my fridge, since it’s always run down by Thursday. Instead, here’s what will be in my fridge after my next paycheck arrives and after I send the Commandress for a massage. (The resulting release of endorphins – or whatever, I’m not a chemist – will distract her from the 40-beer militia that invades our fridge and lays siege to the soy cheese).*
*In response to Magnus’s future sniping, and for the sake of clarity, I do not eat the soy cheese. If you don’t like what the pregnant Commandress keeps in the fridge, take it up with her. Just do it after all the beer is gone… please.
- Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (6-pack). This is the house beer at my place. At 7.0% ABV it is possible, though inadvisable, to finish the sixer in a sitting. In fact, that’s probably the only reason I keep other beers around.*
- B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Hoppin’ Frog Brewery, Akron, Ohio (two bombers). One of the best cold-weather beers, ever, and quite possibly the best Ohio beer. I commend Brother Barley’s review for your consideration.
- Founders Dirty Bastard (6-pack). An excellent foil to the Two Hearted: sweetly malty, deep brown in color, almost silky to the touch and sufficiently alcoholic (8.5% ABV). “Two Hearted, Dirty Bastard, repeat” keeps the autumn chills away.
- Gordon, Oskar Blues Brewing Company, Longmont, Colorado (two 4-packs). If anyone knows where to get this beer in Ohio, I’ll give you half of what I save on gas once I no longer have to drive to Pennsylvania to get it. No question it’s worth the 4-hour round trip, but I don’t condone the apparent drug reference on the can (“can ‘o bliss, satisfy ya”). I don’t have a problem with drug references per se; it’s just that the last person I knew who used the Latin name for weed is over 60.
- In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit to having one can of Shiner Bock in the fridge. Someone brought a six pack last spring and left four of them. I’ve used the last three to make a delicious chili con carne (three separate times–it’s a slow bleed on the Shiner Bock). The last one may have to be saved up for my next DIY beer can project.
*Last fall, Lord Copperpot, the Director of Bands and I took down a bottle of Maker’s Mark and a mini-keg of Two Hearted. I then posted the worst score in the history of Tiger Woods Golf (other than that waitress from Perkins).
P.S. Never stock wheat beer after Labor Day… I guess I don’t do it before, either, though.
SIR MAGNUS SKULLSPLITTER
There’s not much that beats New York in the fall. Crisp wind blowing through the tall buildings, the leaves turning in Central Park, wails of sad Yankee fans as their season finally ends with an embarrassing loss. Spend a Sunday morning grabbing dim sum in Chinatown, then stroll over to your favorite beery establishment for some NFL Sunday Ticket and a day spent sitting by an open window, drinking beer, watching football, and enjoying a lazy day. You’ll feel the heart of the city. Unlike the summer where it’s a sweltering parking lot or the winter where it’s a frozen wind tunnel, there is no place I’d rather spend an October afternoon than New York.
For all the advantages of NYC though — the restaurants, the culture, the ease at which you can get around — New York is at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the beer fridge. There simply aren’t many awesome bottle shops on the island of Manhattan. I generally get most of my bottled beer from the local supermarket. However, New York does excel at beer bars. Therefore, I’m a big fan of picking up a growler and enjoying it over the course of an evening or two. While this allows you to sample many different kinds of beer (including the myriad beers around New York that do not distribute by the bottle, such as Six Point or the experimental Brooklyn brews), it means the fridge is woefully understocked on a random weeknight. So, you want to know what’s in my fridge right at this very moment? I can assure you that unlike the Commander, there is no “soy cheese” to invade. Let’s go to the tale of the tape:
- 3 bottles of Brooklyn East India Pale Ale — not my favorite Brooklyn beer, but it was on sale. Much like the Commander’s Two Hearted, Brooklyn is the house beer at the Skullsplitter croft. I just ran out of a sixer of Post Road Pumpkin a night or two ago, and it’s rare that I don’t have a bomber or two of a Brooklyn beer, generally the Local #2. I’m particularly looking forward to the fact that it’s almost Black Chocolate Stout time.
- Half of a growler of Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter from Rattle ‘n Hum on 33rd Street. Eventually I’m going to do a series of tasting notes on the Captain Lawrence brews, as they certainly deserve their own write ups. Suffice it to say that if you see anything from this small brewery in Westchester, get two. They don’t distribute by the bottle, so growlers are the way to go.
- A six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale — This is just a standard six pack that I always keep around. There will generally come a time where I drink it on a random Saturday watching college football or something and replace it, but it’s my “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” beer.
- Leftover pizza. What? I had pizza last night.
- A tupperware container of leftover chicken sausage, black beans, peppers and onions. My go-to cook at home dinner. Make sure to cook the sausage, remove it from the pan, then saute the peppers and onions in the sausage grease. Mmmmmm. Also, don’t wimp out and use just bell peppers. Jalapenos or habaneros are required here.
- A Brita water filter.
- Condiments. The essential ones (Cholula, soy sauce, brown mustard, Sriracha) and some more random ones (A1, some Ukrainian mustard that will clear your sinuses right out, fancy BBQ sauce).
That’s quite literally everything in my fridge right now. I know what you’re wondering. You’re thinking I don’t have anything green in my fridge. Well, why do you think I keep the six-pack of Sierra around? Ah, the life of a bachelor. Soy cheese. Pfft.
BROTHER BARLEY MCHOPS
Finally, some of my fellow Aleheads jumped into the fray before I did. I suppose it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the first Conundrum I didn’t have to bat lead-off on was the only one that has required absolutely zero thought. Aleheads are nothing if not lazy, so I should have expected quick responses to a Conundrum that could be answered by walking to the kitchen, opening the fridge door, and staring for awhile. For some Aleheads, that’s their daily exercise.
My fall is slightly different than the rest of the Aleheads in that I have the misfortune of dwelling in the deep-fried South. It’s mid-October and I spent yesterday afternoon at an outdoor concert in shorts and a T-shirt in 84-degree heat. While that may sound lovely, the truth is that I greatly miss the New England autumns of my youth. The crunch of leaves. The nip in the air. The ever-looming specter of five months of snow made every day seem more precious and important. Although, by mid-February when Gramps McHops is shoveling his walk for the 15th day in a row and has to leave his car running for 30 minutes before driving to work, that envy tends to dissipate. Mostly I’m just bummed that it’s still summer beer weather down here while my cohorts are wearing long sleeves and downing hearty fall seasonals. Obviously I’m doing the same, but it just feels “wrong”. Ah well…enough venting…on to the matter at hand.
Two sad admissions before I jump in:
- I don’t own a beer fridge. There is only one refrigerator in the McHops Monastery. This is particularly unfortunate considering that I had a full-size beer fridge in High School. Apparently I’m devolving. There are a few caveats to this pathetic admission, however.
- The single fridge in question is a remarkably large Sub-Zero. Despite being a dank, gloomy, Romanesque monastery, the McHops domicile is equipped with very nice appliances. So there is always ample room for a wide selection of fermented beverages.
- I do have a dedicated homebrewing closet that also serves as a beer cellar of sorts for any high-gravity brews I wish to age. The McHops Monastery stays a fairly consistent temperature year-round so beers do pretty well within its walls. Granted, my beers don’t age quite as long as I’d like them to (they have a nasty habit of being consumed), but I thought it was important to point out that there is generally quite a bit of beer in the Monastery…just not in the fridge.
- While the lack of a beer fridge is weak, I think I do deserve some brownie points for the fact that my fridge has NEVER had a product made by Bud, Miller, or Coors in its chamber. Also, no Corona, PBR, Dos Equis…hell, we’ve never even had a Yuengling in the house. We have standards dammit…and we don’t stray from them.
- Like the Commander, my abode also houses a wife and baby (both purchased at a garage sale) which means my fridge has a number of indefensible food items. These include Keffir drinkable goat yogurt, vast fields of arugula, a whole drawer of root vegetables, and weird hybrid fruits that I can’t even name. I apologize for none of this…I don’t do the grocery shopping…just the beer shopping.
With those two strikes out of the way, let me take a swing…
- The go-to, everyday brew at the Monastery is the North Coast Brother Thelonius. We drink it year-round, for any occasion, morning, noon and night. There is always at least a four-pack in the fridge and generally more. The fact that a nearly 10% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale is the standard brew for both Wifey McHops and myself should tell you everything you need to know about our household.
- Still…a man needs variety. If I want something hoppier, I’ve got a 4-pack (well 3-pack…umm…2-pack?) of Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster to satsify. Something more decadent? A sixer of Williamsburg Alewerks Coffeehouse Porter. As Wifey McHops says of the latter, “It tastes like I should pour it over ice.” She means that in a good way…Wifey likes lattes.
- I always like to have a basic lighter and a darker beer around to satisfy the tastes of different guests. For whatever reason, today those two beers are the Avery Karma and Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout. Both are decent, inoffensive beers, that I’ll happily grab myself when the mood strikes.
- Like every Alehead, I have a few leftover bottles of beer from six-packs I didn’t particularly love. I currently have two bottles each of the Bell’s Cherry Stout and Java Stout. I’ll either drink them in a few months when I forget how much I dislike them or I’ll bring them to a party and leave them there. Whatever…they’re OK, I guess…but they’re definitely a last resort.
- Hot weather or no, I’m not going into mid-October without a fall seasonal in my fridge. I’ve got most of a sixer of Terrapin Pumpkinfest right now. It’s a remarkably good Oktoberfest/Pumpkin Ale hybrid. Subtle spicing and a crisp, easy-drinking Oktoberfest base. Not particularly complex, but much better than a lot of the Pumpkin beers out there (which are generally crap).
- There are always a few bottles of homebrew in the fridge to serve to guests or to drink ourselves. Right now, I’ve got the last few bottles of an English Brown Ale, two bottles of a Belgian Pale Ale, and two brand-new bottles of Oatmeal Stout (plus a shit-ton more of the latter in the aforementioned beer closet).
- Finally, I try to have a handful of “special occasion” brews in the fridge. I might share these with family or close friends…but usually they’re just an excuse for Wifey and I to split a bomber and write a tasting note. Since bombers are illegal in Alabama (seriously…it’s the only state that limits beer bottle sizes), these brews are usually purchased on vacations, during trips to Atlanta, or are sent in various shipments from other Aleheads. Currently, I’ve got three cool bottles waiting to be cracked open: an Allagash Black, a Hoppin’ Frog Outta Kilter Wee Heavy, and a Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial. Looking forward to all three.
Oh, I’ve got a ridiculous assortment of condiments too, but most are for Wifey and Baby McHops. All I really need is hoisin sauce. I could live off that shit.
LORD MASHTUN COPPERPOT
The contents of my fridge are a function of how much money I think I have (ever have those days where you feel like you actually have enough money to splurge on expensive beers? Doesn’t happen often enough). And also a function of how many people we have over for dinner, because our acquaintances are always good for bringing a 6-pack (yes, I have trained them well).
Here’s what I found last time I looked:
- Avery 17 – the darkest, tastiest lager I’ve ever had in my life. Brother Barley gave it 3 hops. He’s the teacher who was always a “tough grader,” because this thing is brilliant. Perfect for any occasion on a fall day. Old Granddad Copperpot declared that it may have been the best beer he’s ever tasted. Poor man’s been drinking too much Spaten and other imports of similar ilk. I must give him props, though, for bringing my college beer fridge up to Copperpot Hollow. I can just see the proud smile on Dr. Drinkale’s glowing visage.
- Southern Tier Unearthly IPA – There’s enough malt in the backbone of this thing to make it drinkable in colder weather. It’s a perfect autumn IPA (autumn IPA…it’s only a matter of time until brewing companies coin that phrase and market the shit out of it).
- Port Brewing Old Viscosity – do I even need to say anything here? I didn’t think so.
- Sierra Nevada Tumbler – was pleasantly surprised by this one. It’s a really nice brown ale; perfect for a fall session.
- Magic Hat H.I.P.A. – Ah. The HIPA, brought to you by the sellout Vermont brewery who’s latest lame marketing ploy is “IPAs on tour,” which will showcase a different IPA each season. While I’m a huge fan of Columbus hops, this beer is pretty one-dimensional. Just so there’s no misunderstanding, I did not buy this beer, but I will drink it happily.
- Post Road Pumpkin Ale – This one was also brought over to Copperpot Hollow. I appreciate the gesture and will gladly drink the beer, but pumpkin beer (read: spicy, clovey, carbonated water) just isn’t my thing unless it’s really well done. This offering is, well, meh.
- Rogue Dead Guy Ale – What can I say? It’s pretty good, and I hadn’t had one in so long that I decided to grab one. Didn’t blow me away, but warmed my cockles on a chilly night.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my cockles need to cool off.
BARON SUDSY VON BRUE
There may be a chill in the air, but the temperature on our precision-controlled Germanic ‘fridge remains a constant: beer degrees Kelvin. The beneficiaries of this noble receptacle of sudsy goodness enjoy rare attention from your Baron as of late as he labors in the vineyards of jurisprudential bliss. Still, they remain. Tall, strong, mocking. Among them:
- Otter Creek Oktoberfest – Always an autumn staple – balanced, delicious, and nostalgic;
- Otter Creek Solstice – A solid new American Pale Ale that the Baroness picked out on a recent trip to the Green Mountain State;
- Widmer Brothers Prickly Pear Braggot – A limited spring offering (and an impulse purchase) that I’ve never had opportunity (or any special desire) to open;
- McNeill’s Imperial IPA – A powerful, weekend-worthy foe… with a mean looking knight on the label;
- Uinta – Labyrinth Black Ale (Crooked Line Series)… because it looks like the beer version of the film “Inception.” And “Inception” was great;
- Yards Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale – A gift from the Doc that I’m saving for a special occasion (namely, a workday that ends before 10);
- Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre – For the worst reason of all: I bought it last fall, didn’t especially like it, and have no idea what to do with it.
And Pickapeppa… you can never have too much Pickapeppa.
DR. RIPPED VAN DRINKALE III
I figured it would be best if I anchored this post since you already know most of what’s in my fridge. Hell, I wrote that shit the other day, didn’t you read it? Well, turns out one of the good Doctor’s offspring celebrated his first birthday this past weekend so the beer fridge got changed over once again. While I love the Fall Beer Fridge Transformation Project, I also love drinking, so the transformation isn’t so much of a one time event as it is a weekly occurrence. As I open the fridge door I see some of the old regime still kicking around from last week, but also plenty of newbies that showed up to party.
- Still There – 5 bottles of Tuckerman’s Alt, 2 Brooklyn Oktoberfest, 2 Troegs Dead Reckoning Porter, 2 Dogfish 90 Minute. Everything else from my last post is gone, either having been drunk by me (most likely) or consumed by the hordes of birthday revelers
- Troegs Nugget Nectar – You’d think this was still sitting in the fridge from last week, but nope, it’s a new 6-pack. Note to self, next time just buy a case
- Victory Festbier – Just 1 left from the 6 pack of this perfect-to-style Oktoberfest. Big hit with all the takers.
- Victory Hop Wallop – 4 bottles left, meaning I drank one and one of my unsuspecting friends drank one. Nothing like seeing a beer neophyte get his face sucked in from a Hoppy monster. Classic.
- Guinness Draught Cans – Bought a 4 pack, left with a 4 pack. No one wants to pour a Guinness into a paper cup with zoo animals on it. I might go with proper glassware when the little one turns two.
- Sierra Nevada Tumbler – 2 bottles left. Kind of a boring beer, exactly what you’d expect from something labeled “Autumn Brown Ale”
- Allagash Black – The only beer that I have in common with Brother Barley’s fridge. Hard to ignore a Belgian Stout – not exactly something you come across every day
- Port Brewing – Bombers of their IPA lineup – Wipeout, Hop 15, and High Tide
- Narragansett – 4 cans left from a sixer of pounder cans. It’s not good, but it’s wet.
- Homebrew – I only throw a couple bottles into the fridge at a time. This morning I saw 2 bombers of my Double IPA and 1 pint bottle of my Imperial Pumpkin.
- Amstel Light – The Nurse likes her light beers and I felt better about buying a 12 pack of this than I would a 12 of Bud Light. Surprisingly enough, this beer actually went the slowest at the party compared to all the other “craft” brews I had on hand. Looks like my friends and family have better taste than I thought
Since I’m staring into the depths of a pure beer fridge, there’s not much else going on in there. 4 Gatorades, 4 organic chocolate milk boxes, and a Lunchable. That’s it my friends.
It looks like we certainly got some honesty on this one. It’s interesting to see that nearly everyone had at least a few beers that they felt like they had to qualify in some way as being either brought over by someone else, or purchased for someone else’s consumption. We may talk the purist’s talk, but our refrigerators may not entirely walk the purist’s walk. I must say, I salute you all for keeping some marginal brews around so that the good beer isn’t wasted on those poor heathen souls who wouldn’t appreciate a well crafted micro if you fed it to them a silver spoon at a time.
I hope you gained something out of this week’s Conundrum beyond just feeling like you were sitting through a littany of random beers. One way or another, whether you’ve made it this far or gave up long ago, this Conundrum has come to an end. Either way, faithful readers, keep on keepin’ on, and while you’re at it don’t forget to…