It stuck me earlier this week when I was updating the Beer Yard Calendar of Events that a committed beer geek or two, armed with stamina, a non-drinking driver and an urge to make his mark, could possibly march into Philadelphia beer history this Friday with a four-pronged attack (although I admit up front, steps three and four are problematical if both are to be achieved).
Our eager hero(es) could start at the Grey Lodge Pub Groundhog Day Hawaiian Shirt Breakfast by dawn's early light and then, after pacing themselves through morning, travel the long hard road to Sly Fox Phoenixville for lunch and goblets of Incubus Tripel on "Incubus Friday" (a historic one at that, the beer will be poured from the last bottles of the 2006 vintage rather a cask on the bar because the 2007 batch isn't ready yet).
Okay, that's two uniquely Philadelphia events down. Now here's where it gets tricky. Come 5pm, the Beer Yard its ownself will be featuring the fine folks from Troegs and the official*z area release of Nugget Nectar during its regular Friday night tasting (*the enterprising folks at Capone's Restaurant in East Norriton drove up to Harrisburg and bought themselves a keg or two last week for the unofficial debut). An hour later, at 6pm, DiBruno Bros. has a Beer & Cheese Tasting with Rogue Ales happening downtown.
Making both would be a helluva task--you'd have to count on Troegs being right on time and ready to pour right at 5 and then hustle to the car by 5:20 at the latest and hope your driver can find a unimpeded route into town at the height of rush hour--but wouldn't it be fun to try?
Either way, ending up the trip back at the Grey Lodge for Lucky Cat Beer Prognostication Night would make for perfect symmetry.
A "Before & After" autographed photo of a famous beer writer will be awarded to anyone who pulls it off. Come on, where's your sense of adventure? Why, in my day, we'd not have hesitated a minute to give it a shot in our trusty old horse 'n' buggy.
[Posted 7:30 am edt]
29 January 2007
Together again. Ain't love grand?
After a rough patch or two, as detailed in this space with no joy but excruciating detail, it appears the Big One and the Other One are back on the same (low) wavelength.
No sooner had I posted yesterday's lament about missing the Belgian beer blowout at Iron Hill West Chester Saturday night, than Dan checked in with a gleeful report (as well as a defense of his dancing skills, another topic of yesterday's posting):
I was at THE hot spot last night, Iron Hill In West Chester with all the crazy folks, brewers, writers, beer advocates, and of course, professional drunks. (Though in hindsight, aren't they all the same?) Some lovely beers such as Stewart's; Triumph's Apple Jack Triple; Iron Hills lineup of FE 10, Larry's lambic, etc; Brian's Ichor, and much, much more.I think Mr. Parkerford got hold of the beer menu which gives all of the dirty details.
Not long after, the Other One used my plaintive "Have I said 'damn' yet?" comment to make the point more concisely in his own email (slightly corrected here to reflect his preferred patois):
And yes, I can cut a rug with the best of them, as long as I have some sharp knives.
"Youse should say double damn."
Their concern for my rather obvious depression is, um, somewhat muted, innit?
With friends like these...
[Posted 7:25 am edt]
28 January 2007
Whenever it happened, original Dock Street Amber is coming back.
From Scoats, posting on BeerAdvocate, via a Dock Street sales rep, comes some news you already got in my report on the new contract brewing location last November.
I note this because it says the first new batch of "original" Dock Street Amber has just been brewed, which conflicts with my writing in Novmeber that the first batch was brewed on October 19, which is what I was told then. Either way, one of the purposes of the move was to bring back the "real" Amber and those who remember that beer fondly might want to keep an eye out for new cases and check out if it worked.
Wither our wandering lad?
Whatever has become of Big Dan--I am constantly asked by thousands, or maybe just by the occasional mid-afternoon drunk at a bar--now that he's banned himself from most of this region's watering holes in a noble effort to protest smoking in bars?
Far be it from me to report rumors, unless I need to fill some space as I do now, but there have been stories leaking out about strange goings-on among the swing dancers at Faryl Codispoti's Swing Kat Entertainment in Pottstown. Word is that a large, ungainly man has been showing up on Saturday nights to rather awkwardly "cut a rug" with anyone who won't demand cuddling and a post-dancoital (© Liquid Diet Online, 2007) cigarette afterwards.
Until I see dancers spilling out onto High Street screaming in terror, I'm gonna withhold judgement on the validity of all this.
Bad times for the ill and half-blind.
Not a good beer week for our staff (i.e., me) as we were unable to attend two of what will probably be among the top ten local beer events of the year.
The Russian River dinner at Monk's on Tuesday got knocked out by a bout with the flu or a bad cold, don't know which, but I blame closed airplane cabins and proximity to a coughing Dr. Daughter-in-Law the previous week. Or maybe it's just "going around," as they say. Tom Peters sounded worse than I did when I called to regretfully decline on Tuesday morning. Loyal reader Ted Johnston made the scene and send me a copy of the menu and beer list along with his comments (which only added to my angst):
It was excellent. The beer list and menu are in the attachments.
Blind Pig. Damn. That's the Vinnie beer I've never had. Damn.
The beer lineup was just right. Vinnie said that two or three of the beers that we were having were unavailable at the brewery, Tom had the last of the batches. Started with two that I have in the cellar, Damnation and Temptation, then moved on to two that I have only tasted before (Sanctification & Supplication), and ended with two I have never had (Blind Pig & Salvation). Each beer worked off of the previous one and the food. The brett in the Temp and Sanc built up to the "sweeter" Supplication, then a change to the well hopped but balanced IPA with the pork, pineapple & blue cheese. The Salvation was most interesting and seemed to keep changing. Similar to a quad but lighter, fruity, rummy, dark malts. Didn't finish the desert but finished the beer.
George and Nancy thought that it worked much better doing only Russian River, rather than combined with Tomme like last year. I wasn't there last year, but I think they were probably right because it was a great showcase for Vinnie's beer and nothing else was needed.
Not to mention that it's a painfully appropriate lead-in to...
Last night's Belgians come to West Chester at Iron Hill fell victim to this damned "night sight" problem that I've already talked about too much here, so I'll not explain yet again but note that the cataract operation on the first eye is scheduled for two weeks from this Wednesday. After that, I may take to sleeping all day and only going out after dark, just to show I can.
Anyway, the West Chester gathering sounded like it was going to be a great event (virtually all the local breweries represented with one or more of their biggest Belgian-style beers) and early reports are that it lived up to the hype.
Have I said "damn" yet?
[Posted 11:00 am edt]
24 January 2007
Naked women and good beer props. Perfect together.
Thanks to Tom Dalldorf, editor of Celebrator Beer News, whose perspicacity in allowing me write for him is matched only by his beer enthusiasm, I was able to break some news about two local beers (three, if you count "honorable mentions," and I do) getting some props.
My dream, I must confess, is to someday be part of an august panel such as the one which made all this possible.
Or, you know, maybe not. There's that whole "the company you keep" thing...
How come the Post Office is open?
This is, it turns out, National Beer Can Appreciation Day. O'Reilly, all a-twitter, tried to tell me that last week and I blew him off after an internet search didn't turn up anything on the topic. When will I ever learn?
[Posted 7:20 pm edt]
22 January 2007
Lots of people of all sorts link to this site, for which I am ever grateful, but my favorite link of all time is the one below, from
Song of Myself, the webpage of Matt Dunn, a PhD candidate in Indiana, listed under the category Places where I waste my time:
Jack Curtin's Liquid DietMy second favorite appears here in a reference to a posting I made last February (bold emphasis added and you'll have to scroll down a tad when you go look):
(beer writer from SE PA)
Lew Bryson's Site of Malt Beverage Delight
(another beer writer from SE PA, more famouser than Jack Curtin)
Union Jackís Inn on the Manatawny (Pennsylvania) has been open three years, and suddenly seems to be getting lots of attention. Jack Curtin just posted a terrific review (which over time may get hard to find because his blog isnít exactly a blog)...
That do keep it all in perspective, do it not?
[Posted 4:45 pm edt]
21 January 2007
Live and don't learn, that's me.
You think I'd be smart enough by now not to get involved in homebrewer stories. Still, ain't it funny what will turn into a controversy? Well, maybe not a real controversy in this case, but, hey, when a passing comment elicits two explanatory emails and offers another peak into the evil machinations of one of our favorite semi-fictional characters, that do count for something.
After I wrote about a "mystery" beer which was poured at Big Dan's New Year's Eve bash at Cruella's house, Tom Foley checked in with an explanation, which you can read down here. Now comes another of the homebrewers involved, John Rambo, with further details, beginning with setting the record straight (message slightly edited for clarity):
Hi Jack, John here...To make sure poor Mr. Foley doesn't come off as trying to take undeserved credit, let me point out that he wrote that JDP is Big Dan's abbreviation for "Jack Daniel's Parkerford" (my bold emphasis added).
Just wanted to set the record straight. JDP stands for Jack Daniels Project, not Parkerford. The brew was the brainstorm of myself & Luke, when Luke ask me if he picked up a barrel, from the factory, WHAT can we do w/ it?? My response was you get it & we'll do it...
So, he bought a Rare Single Malt barrel, JD's top shelf stuff. We, Tom, Dave, Luke & myself hashed it out & chatting w/ one of the master brewers from Weyerbachers, Easton, decided to make Thomas Hardy's Barley Wine, clone. The rest was in my hands. I figured out how much ingredients was required & ordered it from Universal Carbonics, Reading, PA. My good friend Fred Gaul, ordered all the stuff ( 186 lbs of light malt syrup=30 gal drum) plus a host of other stuff.
So, Nov. 19th 2005 at the site of JR's Down To Earth Brewing Co. Boyertown, PA, this crazy idea was started. We brewed double batches, each, 10 gals. & poured them into a stn/stl 55 gal drum, for the primary, then PARTIED the rest of the night, Home Brew of course.
After approx. 2 weeks, it was transferred to the JD barrel & dry hopped. We only planned to leave it in there 6-8 weeks, however w/ everyone's schedule, not meeting, it remained in there 9 mths +. We then had another PARTY, to bottle this Wonderful Brew, Dec. 16th 2006, the rest will be in the history books.
I only hope that this is a better understanding, as to how this was born...
Bottoms Up, Peace Out,
In other words, like much of the pain and sorrow in this battered old LDO world of ours, the fault lies with the Big One. And, you know what? Somehow or other, he'll find a way to turn all this into more free beer from either or both of those guys. Or somebody else. One thing you gotta say about the Other One's smoke-avoiding mentor, he's a full-service, non-discriminatory beer cadger.
[Posted 10:44 am edt]
19 January 2007
Home again, right back where I started from.
I returned from my Idaho sojourn Wednesday evening, none the worse for wear. It was a great trip, made even better by one of the easier flight experiences of my recent past. The round trip cost me under $100 on Delta, using up some credits I had built up and adding to, not depleting, my stash of SkyMiles. Stopovers in Salt Lake City each way were under 40 minutes both times and I spent a total of just slightly over four hours in the air on the way home (40 minutes between Boise and Salt Lake City, then three hours and thirty-two minutes to Philadelphia), arriving about 35 minutes early.
Boy and Dr. Mrs. Boy live in a McCall, 100 miles and two hours on twisty mountain roads north of Boise, 35 minutes beyond Tamarack Resort, where he is an IT guy. I got to see both places pretty thoroughly, drank many beers and hardly noticed the temperature, which started at -7 when I landed in Salt Lake the first time and never got above the 20s. I may or may not get to more details in a later posting, but I'm hustling now because I have to make up for the four-plus days of not doing anything this week.
Besides, I know what you guys care about...
Things got off to an auspicious start right here in Philadelphia, where I'd rented a room at Four Points by Sheraton down by the airport for Saturday night so I could watch the Eagles game until midnight and get a few hours sleep before catching a 7am flight out. I brought a couple of bottles of Sly Fox Odyssey along to drink during the game and then realized I didn't have an opener. so off I went to the bar on the lobby to cadge one. And that's when I saw the shelf of available bottles and learned about their "Best Brews" program, described as "a collection of local and imported beers [which] has something to make everybody happy." Indeed. The selection included local Flying Fish (2), Yards and Stoudt, plus Anchor Steam, along with imports Chimay, Duvel, Leffe and Pilsner Urquell. Had me a Chimay, I did, borrowed an opener and went upstairs, where the evening went south when our coach decided that the proper way to deal with a third and one on the opponent's goal line late in the fourth quarter while trailing by three points was to toss a two-yards-behind-the-line-of-scrimmage pass to a fullback you never heard of named Thomas Tepah.
My son had an IPA from the local brewpub, McCall Brewing Co., on tap at home and it wasn't. An IPA, I mean. IPA's require hops. We drank that Sunday evening and I wasn't therefore too eager to visit the establishment when we set out to see the town on Monday. Not to worry. There were several fine brews there, including Loud Boy Porter, Brundage Brown (an Alt), Secesh Scotch Ale and Tanglefoot (8.5% Winter Warmer). We ended up there twice during the day so I got to sample them all and do a full pint each of the first and the last.
My favorite place in town was a wine bar and cafe called Bistro 45, which had great food, better ambiance and a fine selection of draught and bottled beers along with a by-the-glass wine pouring system. With an impressive cheese menu and lots of interesting other small serving food offerings, it was, in a way, a lot like a rural version of Tria, with the added feature of also functioning as a wine store (two or three cases went out the door during our short stay there for lunch, accompanied by pints of Lagunitas Censored Ale.
Lagunitas was to become the de facto default beer of the trip as it turned out. The next day at the two bars currently operating at Tamarack (one in what is essentially the ski lodge, the other a nearby pub named Seven Devils, both Lagunitas IPA and Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout were on tap. Why? The reason is perhaps an object lesson for craft brewers how and why a good publican can be an incredible asset. Jay Brewer, the guy who manages the Tamarack bars (and, not surprisingly, my son's bestest buddy), loves the Lagunitas IPA, but when he moved to the resort to take the job, found it wasn't available in Idaho. So he called the three largest distributors in the area and told them he wanted it and, as an incentive, promised two additional taps at each bar for whichever one got it first. The brewery called him shortly thereafter to say that they now found themselves in the unique position of being a small craft brewery with distributors fighting over the rights the brand.
My final beer of the trip came at the Salt Lake City Airport. My layover was short, as noted, but the gate where I landed and the gate where I departed were pretty close together and right between them was a branch of the Wasatch Brew Pub, into which I hustled at 9am to grab a pint of the famous Polygamy Porter ("Why Have Just One!"), which I'd never tried before. Good stuff. I'd been tempted to pop into the airport version of Squatters Pub Brewery when I'd arrived in Salt Lake on the way to Idaho, but just didn't have the time, so getting to Wasatch felt like a triumph of sorts. Simple strokes for simple folks, I guess.
Strange brewer in a strange land.
I got back to find an email from LDO's resident wandering brewer, Mike Murphy, checking in from his current digs in Denmark:
Hey Jack, long time no hear. I still like to read your blog here and there....I just wanted to give you a heads up. The brewery I brew at, Gourmet Bryggeriet, is contract brewing the Mikkeller beers (top rated stout on RB) we just palletized 180 cases to the Shelton bros, so look out for it. If you like intense coffee breakfast stouts. I hope a few make to Philly or even the Beer Yard.I'll put Matt on the case.
A quick personal note.
I've finally gotten cataract surgery scheduled, one eye in mid-February, the other around five weeks later. That means I'll soon stop complaining about being unable to see at night when headlights are coming at me and all my good pals around here will be deprived of sneering at my unwillingness to go ahead and drive anyway. Something lost, something gained...
The driving thing is a real issue given what I do for a living, which is part of the argument I used to convince the doctors that this operation is necessary. It's not totally screwing me up, but it leaves me to pick and choose what I can do. For example, I won't be at the Robbie Burns Birthday Bash at Sly Fox Phoenixville tonight because that would mean driving at the hours of highest traffic Friday evenings (6pm to around 10pm), but I can, and will, attend the Russian River Dinner at Monk's this coming Tuesday because I can drive down and catch a train in before 5:30pm and won't be getting back to the train station until between 11pm and Midnight. Late at night when there are very few cars out and I'm on familiar roads, it's just a matter of driving with extra care. One or two headlights coming at me, I can deal with that.
I'm scheduled to go to the General Lafayette Winterfest three days after the first surgery and likely won't be able to drive yet. If that's the only issue, I'll see about getting one from one of the local reprobates (assuming any are attending) because I've agree to participate in the fun in some fashion that Chris Leonard has not yet explained to me.
Other than that, I suspect I'll be out of sight, out of mind a lot for several weeks to come as I juggle my schedule to keep up with what I needs must do. Did I mention a colonoscopy is going to be happening during the same period, and that there are all kinds of physicals and tests to be scheduled as well? Yikes. Might not be a bad time to just go on the wagon too, knock off a few pounds and get ready for...
Well, whatever comes next.
[Posted 1:15 pm edt]
12 January 2007
Mr. Curtin is off to play in the snow.
I'm flying to Idaho this weekend to spend some time with my son, Boy, and his wife, Dr. Mrs. Boy, where they live and work, she doing something good and useful as a practitioner in a local medical center; he doing something, um, else by helping manage the IT needs of the community at Tamarack, a haven for the well-to-do which is the first four-season resort to have been built in the Western U.S. in the last two decades.
Since I don't plan to be sick, I guess I'll have to spend my time hanging with him and the wealthy folks. Actually, I've had extensive experience with that sort of thing...but that was another life, another time.
Anyway, with me not here I've given the staff (two girl dogs) time off as well. We won't be back online until Thursday at the earliest.
Big Lew is off to Germany at the same time (where he'll be hangin' for a bit with Tom Baker, of all people) and so I guess that leaves Russell in charge of the room.
Being the good guy I am, I wouldn't leave you emptyhanded, of course. So...
Go here to read The Philadelphia Story, which appeared in Beers of the World, the London beer magazine, late last year. The idea is to tell a beer-centric tourist who has but one day to spend in the city, what he should do. I may have linked this before from one of these postings because it was already onsite when I went to upload it today, but it wasn't in the site index so here it is again...or not. Again, I mean.
And here's my latest, and last for a while it seems, piece for BOTW, in the current issue, titled (by them, not me, I stress), Anchors Away!. It is a brief profile/history of Fritz Maytag and how he saved Anchor Brewing and kick-offed the Craft Beer Revival. Which he did, don't give me any guff.
Finally, for you poor culturally deprived sorts who are wondering about the legend that is Don Younger and why he was the cover boy for the current (but soon not to be) Celebrator Beer News, hie your asses over the CBN website and click on the link in the upper lefthand corner to watch a video interview with the man and gain insight. It's long, around 14 minutes. If that's just too much for your modern day attention span, at least hang in (or fast forward to) the six minute mark or so when he explains how he came to own the Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Oregon. Trust me.
And, hey, Mr. Dalldorf and me, we be talking about that CBN site and making it a living, breathing thing in 2007. You keep watchin', hear?
Play nice while I'm gone. And no blowin' smoke in the Big One's face or punchin' the Other One on the shoulder, or there's gonna be trouble.
[Posted 5:30 pm edt]
8 January 2007
Tom Foley, up bright and early this morning (well, early anyway), checks in with a description of the homebrew I was unfamiliar with in yesterday's listing by the Other One's sidekick of some of the beers which were poured, and poured and poured, at his New Year's Eve Day gathering:
JDP is Big Dan's abbreviation for "Jack Daniel's Parkerford." Back in late 2005, I got together with two other homebrewers, John and Dave, and we brewed 40 gallons of Barleywine. After primary fermentation it was pumped into a Jack Daniel's barrel that John's neighbor Luke had acquired from said distillery. We bottled it a month and a half ago. Big Dan has a case of it.
Well of course he does.
[Posted 8:18 am edt]
7 January 2007
When he's right, he's right.
That fine human being and excellent judge of beer, character and online content, Mr. Lewis Bryson, has already posted his Best of 2006 selections, getting ahead of the crowd one more once.
It's a work in progress, with some categories still to be filled, an obvious, and clever, ploy to keep visitors coming back. I'm in a mood to forgive him for that, however.
Why? Because I am proud, touched and just this side of verklempt to be included among this year's recipients.
I might argue that I posted more "scoops" at the Beer Yard site than I did on this site in 2006 (I make a conscious effort to do that, 'cause I'm being paid over there and all, while the most I get here is your overwhelming approbation and admiration) but my Daddy tol' me long ago, "when they're saying nice things about you, shut up and sit down."
Good advice. Then again, he had much more experience with that sort of thing than have I.
[Posted 5:22 pm edt]
Dude, that is some beer.
Last night I opened and enjoyed--really enjoyed--a fliptop liter bottle of Ugly American from Pittsburgh's East End Brewing, a beer brewer Scott Smith calls a "Double IPA - Trippel Ale" and describes this way on the label:
Marking the 100th batch at East End Brewing is this classic Belgian Tripel corrupted almost beyond recognition with a completely inappropriate amount of US hops. Only in America can such excessive excesses be fully appreciated, celebrated and enjoyed...
I admit approaching this with some trepidation, as I do any and all hand-bottled releases, which made the experience of the first taste and subsequent two hours of slow enjoyment even more rewarding. This is an 8% abv hybrid in which the spicy sweetness of a tripel is evident, first in the nose and then on the palate, eventually overwhelmed by the mouth-smacking hop impact of a Double IPA, reasserting itself in a lingering finish.
It is one of those beers which is so striking and memorable that you immediately wish you were sharing it with others, if you know what I mean. Half the fun of a new and, who knows, perhaps never to be seen again, beer is being able to talk about it as you discover it.
On the basis of this brew alone, I have added East End to our links list. It was the least I could do.
My bottle of Ugly American was a gift from a friend (who will, I hope, email me when he reads this 'cause I need to ask a question), who dropped it off at The Beer Yard when I was there Tuesday. He also left one for Matt; if it's still there this week when I go back, I just might be tempted to steal it. All in the interest of research, of course...
Other good beers of late.
I drank that bottle of Stoudt's Barrel Aged Fat Dog Oatmeal Stout, not on New Year's Eve as planned, but on New Year's Day instead. I opted instead for a bottle of Kerst Pater Special Christmas Beer to send the old year on its way the night before. I slipped a bottle of Avec Les Bons Voeux (you know, Dupont Noel) in there somewhere over the last fortnight as well, so the drinking has been real good around these parts. Of course, you all realize that this is Work, not Play, right? I mean, it's my job. Really.
Today, while updating the website all round, transcribing an interview and catching up on paperwork, all while waiting for the Eagles-Giants playoff game to start, I'm sipping a glass of Iron Hill Weizen Bock from a growler I bought at their Phoenixville location yesterday, the idea being to convince myself that this is my Sunday "day of rest" and I'm not really working. I also grabbed one of their big bottle brews, the Barleywine, while I was there and will get to that when the weather gets back into synch.
Do this strike a familiar note?
Reverie Magazine's "Cool News of the Day", a daily email service I highly recommend, lead last Wednesday with a story that ought to ring true with craft beer types:
Everybody's getting into the act.
"What we want to do is apply the techniques used by the wine world to argue that not all Vermont maple syrups are the same," says Amy Trubek in a New York Times article by Jane Black (12/20/06). Amy, who is an anthropologist and an assistant professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont, hopes "to show that syrups vary by region, with nuances that could help small-scale producers use their locations like a brand." As Amy notes: "Small syrup makers are still competing with Aunt Jemima ... Like Burgundy wines or Savoie cheeses, the terrior of maple syrup matters."
Specifically, Amy and "a merry band of professors from Vermont colleges ... hope to determine whether a syrup made from trees sitting on limestone bedrock has, say, more spice and fruit notes than one made from trees growing on a foundation of schist." They also hope to ascertain whether the way the syrup tastes is affected by "the size of the farm, the production methods and other factors." Part of the research involves public syrup tastings, where tasters swirl, sniff and sip. They don't spit, though, presumably because that would be too messy. This does limit the research, because as Amy explains: "We can only taste so much before we start bouncing off the walls."
The tasters provide sensory scores on a scale of one to seven for attributes such as vanilla, nutmeg, black licorice, smoke, kiwi and banana. Jeff Munroe, a geology professor, also has tested different syrups using an "inductively coupled plasma argon emission spectrometer," or ICP-MS. The analysis found that syrup "produced from trees on limestone bedrock had the highest quantities of copper, magnesium, calcium and silica" all of which could affect taste. John Elder, an English professor, imagines that if their research pans out, Vermont might one day offer syrup tours like Napa Valley's wine tours. In the meantime, Amy Trubeck is writing a book about the project, "The Taste of Place," to be published in the fall.
A penny saved is, well, hardly worth the effort.
Old adages just don't cut it these days and the man who, um, coined the one bastardized in the heading here, maybe never even uttered one of the craft beer community's favorites. Bob Skilnick has the skinny, although, to be fair, Alexander D. Mitchell IV (whose name really suggests he ought to be writing about wine) did so first in the pages of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News a few months back.
I envision thousands of XXX Large tee-shirts in a bonfire. Or maybe a Bush-ian approach: doesn't matter if it ever happened 'cause I want it to have happened, so there.
Big Dan's big day.
Mr. Bengel's New Year's Eve Day Brunch-And-Then-Some was its usual all-day manifestation of wretched excess, a packed house of those who could afford to consume vast quantities of brew all day long because they were invited to none of the fancy parties scheduled for that evening.
I stopped in for a few hours in mid-afternoon before hustling home to watch, with great pleasure, the Eagles kick the Cowboys' asses all over Texas Stadium. The majority of other visitors did the same, partied for a stretch and then repaired to their domiciles. The usual hard cases, of course, were in for the duration. I don't want to mention any names, but one of them is featured prominently in the final posting of the day below and the others are, well, homebrewers.
When Big Dan awakened a couple of days later, I asked him for a record of what was opened and consumed. This is the best he could do and has been slightly edited and translated into something close to English:
Parkerford took home a very large selection of empty bottles. Some highlights: Southampton 2 year old Cuvee, Double White, Saison (corked bottles), one year old and four year old Sly Fox Saison Vos and four year old Incubus from Jesus of Royersford. Stone Double Bastard, vertical tasting of the last three years. Five years old Triple Karmeliet and a bottle DeuS or however it is spelled. Heavyweight Dark Saison, Heavyweight Boris. Troegs Mad Elf vertical tasting, Lost Abbey, a couple of Allagash--10th Anniversary and Odyssey. Iron Hill Triple and Dubbel. And of course some evil brew from those local brewers, Dell's Quad, and JDP from Parkerford. Plus some evil swill from the Ted collection. 40 people showed up and I almost had to turn the a.c. on! Oh yeah, Jesus also brought small bottles of Southampton Old Ale in small bottles from way back when. Only my liver know for sure what else, but I know it was almost too much!
Translations: "Parkerford" is Tom Foley and Lori Limper, either singly or together, also short for "Parkerford Brewery," Dan's imaginary brewpub which they run. "Jesus of Royersford" is Brian O'Reilly. because of his shoulder-length hair, not his miraculous brewing skills. "Dell" is home brewer and Monday tasting regular Wardell Massey, "Ted" is Ted Johnston, homebrewer and etc. I have no freakin' idea what "JDP" is.
In short, everyone who is anyone was there, along with some people who are no one. Many beers of impressive strength and character were poured, much food eagerly consumed, good fellowship abounded. It was all good.
It was never easy. People didn't understand that, but Steve Rubeo's cheerful demeanor hid a heart filled with sadness. He was, now and forever, The Other One.
Imagine that. His identity not even his own, but a reflection of another.
There was The Big One. And he was just...the other one.
Still, he soldiered on. There was beer, and good times more often than not, and he filled the role of loyal sidekick and was content. If it was his destiny to toil in the shadow of the near primal force that was Big Dan, then so be it.
Nonetheless, slowly, almost painfully, he forged new relationships to establish his independence, most notably a strangely intimate one with the man known as Beneficent Bob (for his unabashed love of all mankind) and the pair of them, along with Jake the Wonder Dog, wandered the hills and dales of the local countryside many a day and even ventured to terrains far, far away. The sidekick had found a sidekick of his own, The Other One and Yet Another One.
Still, there was always something. On a recent group trip to New England to climb rather more impressive inclines, an activity in which Big Dan would not even dream of undertaking, Rubeo was seriously injured when the aforementioned Jesus of Royersford, no saintly person he, callously kicked or otherwise hurled a huge boulder in his direction, striking him in the shoulder. Surgery followed (if he was drinking more than usual at the New Year's Eve bash, assuming that is possible, it was to dull the pain) and several weeks of work have been missed, thus leaving him with up to 20 or more newly free hours each week.
(This issue has been resolved by the way; in negotiations between a surprisingly unrepentant O'Reilly and Loophole Larry, Rubeo's lawyer whom he found, conveniently enough, married to his sister-in-law, the injured Other One was offered a choice between a large financial settlement or "some free beer" and opted for the second choice. He has since called off family members from South Philadelphia, bound for Royersford to "discuss" matters in their own style.)
And then, suddenly, Everything Changed.
The brand new Beer Advocate Magazine (a quite attractive and readable publication, by the way, about which more some day soon, should I remember) began arriving in mailboxes across the nation. And there, there on page 70, squirreled away among 13 photographs designed to capture the beer experience in all its variety, whose photograph should appear?
Not the legendary Wanderin' Joe.
Not the persistent Richard the Shill.
Certainly not He Whose Name Dare Not Be Mentioned.
And, most assuredly, not Big Dan.
It was Steve, "Other" no more, at least for an instant.
He is pictured at the bar at Sly Fox Phoenixville during the very first IPA Project (and 10th Anniversary) celebration in 2004. Yeah, okay, he appears to have perhaps be on at least his second or third IPA sampler, but no matter. He, and no other Other, was the symbol of the moment.
(I believe I took that photograph by the way, so I'll soon have Larry Loophole in contact with BA Magazine management, seeking a large payment for hours of excruciating...oh, never mind.)
No word has been heard from Big Dan about this clear violation of sidekick etiquette. We can only hope that he is man enough to forgive his li'l buddy and that the universe will right. We need them. They are the giants in our ranks.
Okay, a giant and an...Other.
[Posted 3:15 pm edt]
The complete December 2006 postings have been archived here.
Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.
--A. E. Houseman
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