(Wadsworth) Longfellow Winter Ale: Porn star or poet?

Next up, Longfellow Winter Ale from Shipyard Brewing:


This beer’s namesake is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Of course, anyone named Wadsworth Longfellow could have only been one of two things in life: A 19th Century porn star or a poet. By most accounts, he chose the latter.

You'll never know.

Maybe. You’ll never know.

In fact, Longfellow (hee hee) is one of the most popular American poets evar. And apparently even when poets gain mainstream popularity, the haters follow. Edgar Allen Poe accused him of plagiarism, and others essentially claimed that he wrote populist garbage and poetry for children.

Granted, I don’t know what the hell 19th Century kids were like. I do know that between shows about ponies, princesses, and Doc McStuffins, I’m not getting many requests for dactylic hexameter about a girl’s search for her betrothed (separated in the expulsion of the Acadians, of course) that ends in a brief, chance meeting in old age at the betrothed’s death bed.

They were lucky. Most people die sad and alone. Night. Night.

“They were lucky, dear. Most people die sad and alone. Night. Night.”

Now, before you get on me for reviewing a “winter ale” in spring, let me clear the air. Screw spring. Screw spring right in the ear. It was like 30 degrees the other night. Also, this thing isn’t even really a winter ale. It’s more like a cross between a porter and a scotch ale…which might make for an interesting winter ale. Wait. Screw spring. Screw spring right in the ear.

It pours a pretty damn dark brown with a nice tan head. It smells like chocolate and toffee, with some roast…almost a little smoke like a scotch ale. The taste follows the nose with some fruitiness, a little bitterness, and some citrusy hop character sneaking in. No heat to speak of, but of course it’s only 5.6%. This is a porter. A tasty porter. But a porter.

The Haybag: Um, you’re suspended from bedtime story telling. And I do think this was the best of the Lightly Distributed Beer of the Month Club (a.ka. The Lightly Distributed for a Reason Club).


Yo-Ho Tokyo Black: A Japanese fridge holdout

Next up, Tokyo Black Porter from Yo-Ho Brewing Company:
tokyo black
I’ve been away. But with a Tokyo Black burning a hole in my fridge waiting to be reviewed and the recent death of one of the last Japanese Holdouts, Hiroo Onoda, how could I not write a review?
And sumo ass.

And there’s sumo ass.

Now when I say Japanese holdout, I’m not talking about the Japanese who signed up with other countries’ armed forces to fight Westerners. They’re just dicks. And I’m not talking about the ones who just decided not to go home. They probably just had really naggy wives. I’m talking about the real hard-asses who, without orders to the contrary, insisted the war was still on.
It’s hard to believe in this age of instant communication, but there used to be so many Japanese holdouts in Southeast Asia, for so long, that the Philippines were like a deadly Asian version of Colonial Williamsburg. Hell, Hiroo Onoda didn’t surrender until 1974. 19 freaking 74. 30 years after the war ended. 30 years without seeing a paycheck. 30 years of dismissing numerous air-dropped “The war is over!” leaflets as dastardly Allied trickeration. For 30 years, Hiroo persistently executed guerrilla “raids” on incredulous Philippine fisherman and farmers until his (former) commanding officer, now a bookstore owner, tracked him down in the Philippine mountains and ordered him to stand down. Only then did Hiroo surrender his sword, still-working rifle, 500 rounds of ammunition, grenades, and knife that his mom gave him to kill himself if he was captured.
Seriously, Mom.  I'm only going to the grocery store!

No, Mom. I don’t need the Seppuku knife. I’m only going to the grocery store!

Tokyo Black Porter pours dark, dark brown with a small khaki head that recedes to ring. It smells like chocolate, molasses, cream, and rich roasty coffee. It tastes like chocolate, cream, and char, and it’s a little drier than the nose indicated. The finish somewhat dry with a bit of lingering roast. It’s got pretty big flavor and fullness for a 5% ABV beer. I liked it.

The Haybag: Ah, so we’re at it again. I guess I’ll have to start paying attention now. I can’t even remember this beer.

Beerbecue Health Confession. I Have Been Living a Big Fat Lie.

We are wrapping up Barf Week at beerbecue HQ. Everyone in the family should now immunized against whatever heinous daycare plague was lurking in the crevices of some Lego Duplo brick, the disease trapping fur of Big Hugs Elmo, or the dirty babbling beak of some Furby Boom. Patient zero was 2.0. Then, one-by-one, the rest of the house fell.

So now, I am finally getting around to a post I have been avoiding. Folks, I have been living a lie. I feel like the Paula Deen of the beer and BBQ blogging world. No, I have never longed for a “Plantation-style Wedding”. My wedding was pretty tame: A build-your-own taco bar, Tecate cans, and kilts. And as I’m assuming is customary at all weddings, when Smells Like Teen Spirit came on this happened:Wedding 1

Then this...

Then this…

Umm, then this...

Umm, then this…

A little less hetero than I had imagined my wedding.

A little less hetero than I had imagined my wedding.

No. No. I have promoted beer swilling and BBQ eating, while walking around as a ticking time bomb of rotundity and high cholesterol. And all the while, there was no way you could have known that following my lead was potentially harmful to your health. Reckless.

My doctor has her stethoscope in a twist about the amount of grains and gluten in my diet (which admittedly hasn’t changed much since I was swimming 5,000-10,000 yards a day in college). Apparently, along with genetics and a lack of exercise, this is suppressing my HDL and boosting my LDL. In fact, she did the equivalent of a medical facepalm when I told her I write a beer and bbq blog.

I suppose in light of my family history, the responsible thing to do is to make some lifestyle changes. Thus, my fat ass is back in the pool. And I have to make some changes regarding beer consumption. This could affect the blog. I know this may be disappointing to many of my readers, but I have given this much thought. I’m going to have to drink more bourbon. Sorry, but I have to do what’s best for my family.

Interestingly enough, I see a move to liquor as happening more broadly. Over the past several years, I have seen restaurants and bars upping their liquor game with better booze selection and carefully crafted cocktails. And with websites like Bread&Gin (check out this video) and friends with snazzily stocked liquor cabinets and freezer trays that make huge ice cubes, I can’t help but think that liquor could cut into craft beer’s game at least a little bit. (And, of course, don’t forget It’s Just the Booze Dancing…G-Lo has been distracted by Whiskey for years.)

And I can’t say I’m disappointed. First, I don’t think it will detract much from craft beer, if at all. In many ways, they occupy different realms. If anything, liquor may just impede or slow craft beer’s foray into fancy pants drinking. Second, I love bourbon. Who wouldn’t want more selection and availability. And I love me a good Manhattan, which is what I got the other day complements of my friend’s snazzy liquor cabinet…complete with home-soaked cherries, Bulleitt Bourbon, and Carpano Antica Formula. Without a doubt, the best Manhattan evar.

manhattanWhat say you about snazzy liquor vs. craft beer?

Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin Christmas: Naughty Elf on the Shelf returns

Next up, Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas:mikkeller

Thanksgiving is over. You are now free to deck your halls without fear of snickering and dirty looks. Perhaps more importantly, Elf on the Shelf is back on the…er…shelf.

If you remember last year, Elf (or “Flappy” as he is named in our house) was working through some pretty serious substance abuse issues. Here are a couple reminders of Elf hitting rock bottom:

photo (93)

Veterinary prescription bottles are NOT elf-proof.

When he said he missed snow, I thought...wow.

When he said he missed snow, I thought…wow.

I have since found out that my naughty Elf posts were so popular that the Big Guy himself ran across them on Pinterest. Now, as a condition of his continued employment, Elf must undergo regular drug testing, and in the offseason he has been demoted to cleaning the stalls of the North Pole Reindeer Husbandry Unit.

Obviously, with Elf still drying out and me maybe being an eensy-weensy bit responsible for his downfall, there was some awkward tension the first couple days. However, Elf and I were chatting one night, and we’ve apparently found common ground. We both hate Sophie the Giraffe. I really can’t figure out for sure why Elf hates Sophie. I just figured it was a harmless manifestation of Elf’s crippling sociopathic narcissism…until I came downstairs late one night to inspect some racket and caught Elf doing this:

photo 1 (1)

I think I preferred the substance abuse.

Apparently, his anger isn’t quite as harmless as I suspected! Elf and I had a talk, and I hoped it sunk in, until the next day…

This is going to be a problem.

This is going to be a problem.

Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas is an IPA brewed with ginger and pine needles. It pours a slightly hazy orange-gold, with a dense and creamy off-white head that leaves decent lace. A first huff gives you a big rush of ripe, juicy, citrusy hops, which eventually fade a little to reveal some biscuity malt. At first the taste is mainly pine with some orange and grapefruit, then as it warms you get some ginger. While I don’t think I would immediately identify it as such without a mention on the label, there is definitely a certain gingery zippiness to it. It’s on the sweet end of the sweet-dry spectrum, but I certainly wouldn’t call it sweet. And while there is a piney aftertaste to it that lingers lightly, it is pretty darn drinkable.

I like. Even though I still find hops and Christmas to be strange bedfellows, there are a couple beers (this one, Sierra Nevada Celebration, and Lagunitas Sucks) that are bringing me around.

The Haybag: This is some damn fine hoppy lovin’. Oh, and FYI, I’m not a fan of waking up from a nap to find you doing creepy photo shoots with dolls.

Goose Island Sofie: You say Sofie, I say Sophie

Next up, Goose Island Sofie:

Sophie Sofie

Around beerbecue HQ, and at other households across the land with kids in the throes of gum vs. tooth warfare, the name Sofie isn’t usually associated with Goose Island’s Farmhouse-style ale. Here, thoughts turn to the much-hyped, $25 teething toy: Sophie the Giraffe. Yes, $25. Most likely, as babies, you and I were handed a spatula to chew on (or some other such household item) but only as a backup to having rum rubbed on our gums.

But apparently the little monsters love Sophie’s velvety texture, handily-chewable appendages, and squeezable squeakability. Unfortunately, as your child bludgeons your head with Sophie while you carry them to the car, the rhythmic squeaking sounds distinctly like well-deserved giraffe laughter for shelling out $25 for a glorified doggy chew toy.

We got our Sophie second-hand. Good thing. While 2.0 periodically enjoys the squeak as she pummels Sophie against the ground, her preferred comfort item is a 99 cent unopened tube of grape ChapStick. She carries it everywhere. She beats the hell out of Lego men with it for 15 minutes at a time. She chews on it. She even holds it while playing with other toys. Hell, she’s taking a nap with it as I type.

Seen here clutching the chapstick while beating the fridge with a basting brush.

Seen here clutching the chapstick while beating the fridge with a basting brush.

Sofie is a Belgian Style Farmhouse ale fermented with wild yeasts and aged in wine barrels with orange peel. It pours a slightly hazy straw with some orange highlights. It’s got a nice, whipped-looking, white head that eventually recedes to leave a ring and a Pangean supercontinent patch of head in the middle. It smells great…like a flower arrangement that’s one day away from starting to look and smell janky, along with some candied orange peel and a pineapple so ripe that the Haybag would ask me if it’s OK to still eat (of course it is, dammit). The taste follows the fruit in the nose, with the addition of some peppery spice, more orange, and a little vinous quality. The finish, while I wouldn’t call it sweet and flabby, is definitely not as dry and snappy as I’d like from a saison. By the end of the glass, it’s a little heavy-handed. But maybe that’s to be expected with lower carbonation and the wine barrel aging.

The Haybag: Great, now all I can taste is rotten flowers. Thanks. Why’d you give me a rotting flower beer?

Hardywood Park The Great Return IPA: Like a Sturgeon

Next up, Hardywood Park’s The Great Return – West Coast Style IPA:

hardywoodHardywood Park is a brewery out of Richmond and a recent arrival to the area. I’ve been looking forward to them getting up to Northern Virginia. So let’s get to it.

The Great Return is a reference to the return of the Atlantic Sturgeon to the James River. The Atlantic Sturgeon has actually been around since Utah had oceanfront property, but it’s numbers have dwindled recently. So, it’s resurgence is certainly a testament to James River conservation efforts. But I never understand why animals that survive millions of years of evolution aren’t more badass.

Except for you, crocodile. You still scary 'n whatnot.

Except for you, crocodile. You still scary ‘n whatnot.

The Atlantic Sturgeon can reach 15 feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds, but it wouldn’t even rustle one jimmy of Jeremy Wade (of River Monster fame). They aren’t dangerous. With their beaky nose, slack jaw, no teeth, and beady eyes, if they attacked you it’d be like being gummed to death by Steve Buscemi…except maybe less creepy.

There is one exception. You have to go all the way to a country so stoic and hardened that it has the world’s lowest number of fucks given per capita: Russia. There, even the otherwise docile and bottom-feeding sturgeon is a calloused and hardened murder fish. The Kaluga Sturgeon can grow to 20 feet long and weigh up to 2200 pounds, it’s got teeth, it likes to hunt salmon, and it’s apparently fond of capsizing fishing boats and dragging fishermen to their death.

Caviar? Come and take it.

Caviar? Come and take it.

The Great Return pours a hazy deep amber with a nice, off-white head that loiters and leaves some lace. From its color, it appears the malt backbone is going to be a noisy passenger. But the first huff reveals substantial resin, pine, and grapefruit with some caramel in the backseat, content to quietly come along for the ride. The malt chimes in a little bit more in the taste, but it’s more like friendly banter than a bunch of annoying requests to change the radio station or to tell you hops is touching it or asking “Are we there yet?”. It has a nice clean bitterness in the finish, and despite the substantial malt character, it doesn’t get all sweet and thick up in here. It strikes a nice balance on the sweet-dry spectrum. And it’s actually a little thin…but not in a bad way. More like, imma go get me another damn can of this from the fridge kinda way.

Get you some. Apparently part of your purchase goes to James River conservation, which helps Atlantic Sturgeon…the non-murderous ones.

The Haybag: This is tasty. How about you be a dear and go fetch me another?

The Session #81: Why Women Shouldn’t Drink (my) Beer

sessionThis month’s installment of the Session is hosted by Nichole of the Tasting Nitch. The topic is Women and Beer: Scary Beer Feminists or a Healthy Growing Demographic? So, this Session, Nitch has us examining the cultural shift that gender is taking in the beer world. I have some opinions on the matter.

It’s an outrage. Their ranks are growing. They’re drinking more beer and becoming more vocal.  It’s a scourge. Why is the explosion of women drinking beer a bad thing?

They have opinions
This is the worst, amiright? Whatever happened to seen and not heard? Or was that kids? It should have been women, I’ll tell you that much. And why should I have to take someone else’s feelings into account? When the Haybag was pregnant I had free-reign over the beer supply. Not one complaint about day-in-and-day-out of oppressive sours or bone-dry saisons. It was beautiful. Which leads me to my next point:

We have to share
I don’t want to share my beer. It’s my beer dammit. Now, I’m not a total jerk. You ladies can have a sip, but stop being so damn greedy. And with the hyper competition for the great beers, do you guys really want to throw the other half of the human race into the melee? No.

They have economic power
Listen, I’m fine with the ladies entering the workforce and all. It’s not like I’m a sexist or anything. But seriously, just because you make some money suddenly entitles you to a say in purchasing decisions or having your preferences heard? That’s preposterous. You hear that beeping? Yeah, that’s the entitlement bus, and it needs to back the fuck up.

Women apparently have better tastebuds
Oh, so now you’re bringing the ad hominem. Real mature, ladies. Kick us while we’re down. Take our stuff, then ridicule us based on innate physiological capacity. Listen, just because we’re sensory-challenged, doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings. Jerks.

I mean, is there some sort of Cosmo shortage? Is that why you’re swooping on one of our last remaining domains? Did widespread frost decimate this year’s appletini crop? Listen, it’s cool if this is temporary; but if this turns into a long-term thing, it’s gonna be a problem.

Ahhh, the good ole days.

Ahhh, the good ole days.

The Haybag: I’m going to assume this is satire and let you live. Now, why don’t you be a dear and go fetch us a beer.