Well folks, 2010 has come to a close, and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. There have been some things to celebrate, and some events to mourn. However, New Year’s being a time to look to the future with optimism, our newest Alehead, Herr Humulus Hordeum, has suggested that we take a look at our drinking habits and think about what we can do to improve our beer consumption over the next twelve months. So Aleheads, what will your New Beer’s Resolution(s) be?
No rules to this one, ramble away gents.
SLOUCH SIXPACK – 2011 WILL BE THE YEAR OF THE CELLAR DWELLER
Aside from that- I’d like to start a beer collection. Not the one I keep in my stomach, but an honest-to-goodness compilation of classic beers that I can show off at parties, like when Bruce Wayne grants access to his room full of esoteric medieval battle gear to some debutante who has wandered away from the main ballroom during a charity gala at stately Wayne Manor. I lack the hoarding gene of Rip Van Drinkale, the syllogomaniac, whom I view with the wide-eyed curiosity of an intrepid jungle explorer stumbling upon a new species. The thought of his basement stockpiled with hundreds of bottles of exotic aging ales is a wondrous thing bordering upon the unbelievable. I mean, how do you sleep at night? With all that beer down there? Just a few steps away… But what if it’s going bad? It could be going bad right now! What if there’s an atomic blast and it’s all destroyed, and for naught? The blood of that beer will be on your head, Rip! You hear me?!? YOUR HEAD!!!
Oh, fuck it. This will never work. Maybe I could just do babysteps… a bottle a month, perhaps a safe with a combo or key to which I don’t have access, a beer that improves with age… I couldn’t even tell you what beer that would be, so outside my realm of thinking this question lies. Luckily I’ve got the Aleheads, the Internet’s most insufferable, if not most knowledgeable group of beer experts. They can point me in the right direction.
Happy New Year, Aleheads:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
DR. RIPPED VAN DRINKALE, III – 2011 WILL BE THE YEAR OF CONSUMPTION
Thanks for the intro Slouch. I too need to drink more, but as you’ve so eloquently stated, I’ve got stores of beer at the ready just waiting to be drunk. I wrote about my hoarding problem back in April and while I haven’t added to the problem, I’ve done very little to deplete my stash. I’m guessing I only drank at most 5 bottles in the collection, not exactly what I was hoping for some 8 months later. Add to this the fact that I’ll hopefully be moving within the next few months and I’ve got a serious problem – I need to get very drunk, very often, on very good beer. I’m simply not moving crates of dusty beer again. Sure, I’ll take with me a few bottles that are more collectible than drinkable, but I need to get my ass in gear and get to some good ole’ fashion boozin’. So, here’s my “Note to self” that needs to be posted on my regular fridge, my beer fridge, my beer cellar, my corner where beer is waiting to be put in the fridge or cellared, the top of the fridge where 22’s sit in waiting, and basically any other place where beer may sit in my house. On second thought, maybe I need AA. Wait, that’s stupid, how will that help me drink more beer? I suppose I’ll find new drinking buddies at AA, but I don’t really like smokers so I don’t think I’ll fit in. Anyway, as I was saying, here’s my “Note to self” for 2011.
- Stop buying tons of beer. Yes, still by lots of beer, but no need for tons.
- Drink the beer when you buy/receive it. When you buy beer, why not drink it and finish your entire purchase before you buy more? When Brother Barley ships you some delicious 22’s that you’ve never tasted, don’t just stare at them for 2 months. Drink them – Immediately.
- If you’ve got some English Ales stashed in the cellar that you know are past their prime, just fucking open them. Worst case scenario, they’re past their prime and you either drink them and puke or pour them out after the first sip. Best case scenario, you just drank some good beer
- If you don’t want the beer, put it on eBay and see what you can get for it. Anyone want to buy the first two vintages of Sam Adams Utopias?
- Don’t be afraid to invite your friends over to drink your precious brews. Call your friend Sudsy and tell him you’re setting up a vertical of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale from 1997 through 2005. Granted, you’ll have to wait until Sudsy completes his requisite 15 hour workday, but maybe you’ll get lucky and catch him on a Sunday when he’s usually off by suppertime
- Stop brewing beer! Wait, pay no attention to that. Brew beer, but make sure you give away at least half of it in some form of beer for delicious food barter program. Who wouldn’t want that?
- Last note, you jackass. Why are you holding onto so much beer? It’s beer! It wants to be drunk! Stop being you, stop hoarding, and just drink it!
HERR HUMULUS HORDEUM – 2011 WILL BE THE YEAR OF…WARM BEER? WAIT, NO SERIOUSLY!!!
Thus far we have had two perspectives on the merits of planning ahead. Slouch, in typical New Year’s tradition, has selected multiple New Year’s resolutions. One is unobtainable and sure to fail, and the other is a guaranteed success, just to make him feel better about himself. His first objective, drinking more, is something that he has accomplished every year since he got drunk enough at a cross-country party to eat a dog biscuit. True story. Amateur stuff I know, but look how he has blossomed! The second objective, starting a beer cellar, won’t be his first failed attempt at converting his bleak cellar into a glorious cornucopia of mind-altering substances (and I’m not counting the black mold, that was unintentional). I give it two weeks.
And Dr. Ripped, “The Year of Consumption” has me looking forward to our new “Teabagger” congress repealing health care reform in these United States. Bring on the multiple resistant strain TB!
As a newly anointed Alehead, I need to hone my skills as a beer drinker, picking up on all of the subtleties and nuances of whatever brews I can lay my hands on. But you know what? As refreshing as it is, cold beer just doesn’t taste like anything! Sure, this can be a blessing at times, if, for example, you find yourself stuck at a BBQ and the “local color” only has swill from the big three in the cooler, or if you find yourself in a canyon with your hand pinned under a boulder with and are presented with a stark choice between drinking Dogfish Head’s more experimental offerings or your own urine. But forget all that, top quality brews come alive as they warm.
So my New Year’s resolution is also to plan ahead in my beer drinking, but only by about half an hour. I will select my next beverage of the evening from either the fridge or my seasonal beer cave (garage), and let it warm towards room temperature to increase the animation of the aroma, the marvelousness of the malts, and the heftiness of the hops.
Second, and completely unrelated, I need to quit being such a cheapass about beer. One of the great benefits of beer, when compared to some other alcoholic beverages, is that world class beer is affordable. Sure there are some brews that will set you back a bit, but a lot of times these limited release beers aren’t really any better than their more economical cousins, just less common and more seasonal. Oh yeah, and marketing may have something to do with it. The point is, next time I see limited release Bourbon-Barrel Quad for $12, I just need to buy it rather then getting a ho-hum mixed-six.
BROTHER BARLEY MCHOPS – 2011 WILL BE THE YEAR OF GERMAN BEER
2010 was a year of challenges. The economy continued to sputter. Our political process seemed to have devolved completely into 5th grade name-calling. Gulf of Mexico water started selling for $2.99 a gallon. And Glenn Beck somehow still went on.
It was also a year of inspiration. Synthetic genomes were created. H1N1 was cured. The South African World Cup brought the world together (kind of). And a bunch of miners survived for 69 days under a mountain without murdering each other.
There were personal highlights for me. My wife somehow continued to tolerate me. The Patriots once again looked like the best team in the NFL. And I got to watch Baby McHops transform from a fragile infant to a rough-and-tumble toddler.
There were also some lowlights. The Red Sox failed to sniff the post-season. My home state of Alabama neglected to pass any meaningful legislation to change the draconian beer laws in the state. The brewery I’ve been planning in my head for nearly two decades remained unopened for yet another year.
As for the Aleheads, 2010 was the best of times…the founding and unexpected popularity of our site…and it was the worst of times…the departure of Magnus, our fellow Alehead and cherished friend. With such an up and down year, we eagerly look forward to a less tumultuous 2011.
Beerford asked for our New Beer’s Resolution for 2011. Like the other Aleheads, I certainly vow to drink more in general. There are a lot of beers out there to be consumed, and time’s a-wastin’. But the question was asked with a more specific response in mind, so here goes…
Every Alehead has gaps in their individual beer journey. Maybe you haven’t really explored the world of lagers because the ale universe is so overwhelming. Or maybe you’re so focused on hop-bombs that you haven’t spent much time delving into the beauty of malty Scotch Ales.
Like everyone, I have holes in my tasting experiences that you could drive a tank through. But as the years have flown by, those holes have started closing up a bit and I like to believe that my personal experience with beer has become fairly varied and somewhat comprehensive.
Except…it isn’t. Because, ever since I was just a wee Alehead-in-training, I’ve mostly avoided offerings from one of the finest beer-brewing nations in the world…Germany.
Germany is a beer-swilling, beer-brewing country. Second only to the US in terms of number of ale factories, Deutschland absolutely dwarfs us in per capita consumption of brew. Lagers were invented there. The Bavarian Purity Laws signed in 1516 practically defined how beer was made on the continent for half a millennium. Think of the styles toting German names: Rauchbiers, Weizens, Kolsch, Alts, Shwarzbier, Bocks, Dunkles, Roggenbier, Pilsner.*
*Fine…that last one was invented in Bohemia, but what am I? A fucking geographer?
The truth is, you would be hard-pressed to name a country that has promoted beer culture as consistently and completely as Germany. And if you question that, I’ve got one word for you: Oktoberfest.
So why do I continue to avoid beers from Deutschland? Well, to be fair, it’s not like I’ve COMPLETELY ignored German brews. Weihenstephaner, Spaten, Paulener, Radeberger, Warsteiner, Bitburger…these aren’t unknown names to Brother Barley. I’ve sampled them all and enjoyed many of them. But my experience with the beers of Germany are, sadly, quite limited.
There are two main issues at play. One is simply a matter of taste. I don’t particularly like lagers. I don’t particularly like wheat beers. I don’t particularly like delicate Kolschs and Pilsners. I find Alts kind of boring. I find most Rauchbiers taste like pureed bacon. The standard brews of Germany have never “hit” me like Belgian Trappists, British Porters and Stouts, and about 100 different American styles. While there are plenty of German beers I appreciate, overall the styles that are championed in that nation just aren’t my cup of ale. It’s no big deal…everyone has their preferences, and mine simply don’t mesh all that well with what the big German ale factories are cranking out.
The second issue is historical…I hold grudges. Always have. And as a history buff, it’s hard to look back at the 20th century (and beyond) and not bristle a bit at those “spots of bother” in Germany’s past…the aggressor in two World Wars, the Stasi, the Berlin Wall…that whole Holocaust thing. Every country has their colossal fuck-ups…just look at America over the past decade (plus, you know, slavery…that was a bit of a misstep), but Germany takes it to another level.
Because of that history, I tend to avoid German products. I know…it’s insane. Globalization has led to such an interwoven network of corporations and industries that anything I buy probably has some direct or indirect connection to a German company. Nevertheless, I generally avoid the biggies…I don’t buy Mercedes or BMWs (granted, there are some other reasons for that), I don’t wear Adidas shoes…and I usually steer clear of German brews.
That will change this year. I fully recognize how ridiculous my logic is. Just because Hitler might have drank Weihenstephaner beer does not make it an evil product. Maybe Goebbels chugged steins of Spaten. Is that really the fault of the beer? Holding a country’s checkered past against its present exports is both asinine and a little odd. I need to move past my biases and accept the fact that Germany makes world-class beer and that my obstinance is only getting in the way of my enjoyment of said beers.
So in 2011, Brother Barley vows to start sampling beers with umlauts in their names and noble hops in their nose. I vow to accept the fact that Germany’s horrific past has no real bearing on their rich and glorious brewing traditions. I vow to open my heart, nose, and tongue to all that the German beer world has to offer. But more than that, I vow to open my mind. And that’s what New Beer’s Resolutions are all about.
BARON SUDSY VON BRUE – 2011 WILL BE THE YEAR OF HOMEBREWING
Recently, your Baron and his impressively tolerant Baroness tried their hand at a craft thousands of years in the making… the heart (nay, soul) of our industrious movement: home brewing. With a nifty one-gallon kit from the Brooklyn Brew Shop – the urban hipster’s solution to the five-gallon carboy – we boiled our malted barley, dusted our hops, activated our yeast, and struggled with the perils of a siphon hose, the patience of a nine-year old, and a resulting mouth full of Sani-Brite. We partook, in short, of the indelicate science. We bottled. We waited. And then all hell broke loose.
According to Doc, carbonation is one of the most difficult characteristics to achieve as a home brewer. Not so here. After waiting the requisite weeks to sample our hand-crafted libation, I elected to pop open a bottle that I had only half-filled. I had boiled off far too much wort…
Resolution #1: I will buy a cheap brewing kettle. I will set burners to low. All-Clad kettles and 15,000+ BTU burners create overkill heat efficiency during the boil…
… so I decided to save one of our precious full bombers for an impending gathering with Barley and Doc…
Resolution #2: I will work (slightly) less (if possible). See above. I missed the party…
As I released the stopper, a report echoed through Beacon Hill, Boston SWAT was dispatched to the State House, and the laws of physics temporarily ceased to exist in the manor kitchen. The beer did not “spray” everywhere. It did not merely overflow. It did not simply explode.
Imagine, if you will, a perfect cylinder of beer, sides smooth as glass, stretching like a laser beam from the neck of my bottle to my ceiling. Creamy brown like whitecaps upon distressed leather it expanded across our humble baldachin, suspended in a moment of pure, perfect stasis. And then it collapsed: A tempest of suds enrobed us in sticky, malty goodness, and a silence hung heavy in the air. Your Baron lifted the bottle. It was empty. Completely bone dry. We had defied Newton, discovered Wells’ Cavorite, and drenched our kitchen in malt. We siphoned a few mouthfuls of the ale from a countertop and sipped. It was terrible. Epic. Miserably bad. We laughed until we cried.
Resolution #3: I will learn to brew beer.
Happy New Year – Dream of Big Beers,
LORD MASHTUN COPPERPOT – 2011 WILL BE THE YEAR OF SPREADING THE WORD
It still saddens me when I’m out with friends and relatives, people who enjoy drinking a beer or two while watching a game, and they order a Molson Golden or Bud Light. It’s just wrong. Friends shouldn’t let friends pay money for such schlock. What’s worse, when we start talking about beer, and I mention the term “craft beer,” they look at me like I’ve just started speaking Mandarin.
This madness needs to stop. So, while I cannot promise that I’ll have the spare time to learn how to brew beer, nor the willpower to keep beers in my cellar rather than my gullet, I firmly resolve to spread the good word of Alehead Nation to friends and relatives.
This will require forward planning: remembering to show up at events with a few bombers, engaging beer drinkers in conversations about the new tastes they’re experiencing, and not seeming like I’m a big-shot, know-it-all beer snob.
Now, if only I had friends…
BEERFORD MCBREWIN’ – 2011 WILL BE THE YEAR OF THE BREW FESTIVAL
I attended the Portland Holiday Ale Festival this December, and it reminded me how many incredible small batch beers some of my favorite breweries put out that I never see because they don’t make it to my local package store (e.g. Block 15 Figgy Pudding Olde Stock, Deschutes Streaking the Quad, Bridgeport Old Knucklehead Barleywine, Lagunitas Brown Mashuggana). I am looking forward to getting my ass out to more festivals in 2011 to enjoy all the wonderful (and horrific) seasonal and specialty beers that I’ve been missing by waiting for bottles to appear on shelves.
And there you have it…the Aleheads’ New Beer’s Resolutions. Other than the universally proposed “drink more beer” resolution, I don’t expect any of my cohorts to actually achieve their goals. But it’s nice to have aspirations and mine is, as always, to…