Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nurse the Hate: Hate Micro Brew Guy

I went to the "Winter Warmer" beer festival last Sunday at the Rock Bottom Brewery. There were 13 regional breweries/brew pubs pouring winter style ales/stouts/porters, and overall the quality was really good. A few things I observed... 1) Craft brew enthusiasts are almost exclusively male, bearded, and not very stylish. As I looked around, I felt like I was at some sort of hippie lumberjack mixer. Then I thought about it, and decided I would probably fit right in if I grew that beard. I might need to step up my wardrobe, and keep shaving. 2) When a bunch of guys get together to show off their beer, you know too much is never enough. Who needs 6% alcohol when you can have 11.3%? Why make a beer called "extra hop" when you can make "Ultra Hop Fucker Grande Deluxe"? 3) If you were a single woman that is not too picky (or completely open to some questionable men), this would be a great opportunity to get your next bad boyfriend. There were a lot of socially awkward guys that were probably about as extroverted as they ever get at this thing. 4) If you spend the afternoon sampling 40 beers with alcohol contents averaging around 8.5, you are going to take a nice nap when you get home.

A few of my favorites include "Boris the Crusher" from Hoppin' Frog Brewing Company. As you can imagine, this isn't a light beer. This is a syrupy thick stout that you cannot possibly drink two of in one sitting. Hoppin' Frog also makes a really nice Double IPA called the "Mean Manalishi". Boris the Crusher has a 9.4% alcohol content, and Mean Manalishi 8.2%, so these are Big Boy beers. Thirsty Dog's Siberian Nights Russian Imperial Stout is another one that might not be best for your next neighborhood bar-b-que, but on a cold winter day was great. Not as much mouthfeel as the Hoppin' Frog offering, but a classic chocolate/coffee flavor profile. Main Street Brewing Company from Garretsville had another classic stout called 35 Extra that is well worth seeking out. I had never heard of them, and the guy pouring wasn't much fun, but the beer was pretty good. Buckeye Brewing Company has a super hopped up IPA called 76' IPA that clips in at 7.5% alcohol that I really liked. They weren't pouring their more popular Hippie IPA, so I don't know how it contrasts. They also poured an ale called Zatek Ale that's an asskicker at 9.3% alcohol that might be best left alone. That seems like a headache in a big bottle. Cornerstone Brewing in Berea had a South of the Border porter that was infused with spices that left me wanting more kick. The Hickory Oak Aged Ale also could have used more wood. Despite the specialty beers just missing the mark, I think I need to investigate this operation more closely. I was much more impressed by the balance of these beers than on my initial visit there years ago. Ohio Brewing Company had the worst position possible, having to pour by an opening in the tent that allowed the 18 degree wind to blast onto the staff. The Ol' Hoppy IPA was my favorite, but it was so friggin cold I didn't stay in their area for long. Great Lakes poured their Blackout Stout and Commodore Perry IPA, both of which are outstanding. They also poured a Barleywine that I really didn't need to have on top of all these other samples.

The upside about this event is that you can try a large selection of hard to find beers in one place. The downside is that around 4:30pm, you have a few big guys with beards sleeping (passed out) slumped over at tables. Look for a more extensive tasting in the first annual Cleveland Beer Fiasco coming up in March. I am going to get a large vehicle, throw a bunch of characters into it, and drive around to as many of these places as possible to see exactly what is doing. Full report pending...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nurse the Hate: The Closet Incident

Everyone seems to have a comment on the "Couch Incident" from last weekend. How could that guy just have abandoned the scene of the crime, leaving the damp aftermath? Well, let he who is without sin cast the first stone...

In my freshman year of college I made the unfortunate discovery of Little Kings 7 oz bottles. It became a game amongst a friend of mine and I about drinking the very stylish "Loose Caboose" on campus bar at Kent State out of their stock of tiny green bottles. As a sidebar, how great was it that I could use my food coupon book to buy beers for $1.25 on Wednesday night at this bleak little on campus bar? What could be a better way to spend a Wednesday night than drinking a sea of Little Kings Cream Ale? It was all atmosphere in the windowless bar area as you watched other equally dopey freshman eat fried chicken strip baskets while seated at charmless industrial tables. I came from Pennsylvania. I was overcome with the cornucopia of delights in Ohio. Who could imagine little bottles of beer sold in little cases? What a land of wonder this Ohio was! (OK, this wore off pretty quickly, but I was 19 and easily impressed.)

A few weeks later I hitched a ride with a friend of mine to visit a hometown buddy at Robert Morris College. Why my friend had chosen, of his own free will, to attend this school I cannot even begin to guess. Even now, I shake my head in confusion. It seemed to me to have all the negative aspects of High School rolled into the bad points of PA. A small campus population guaranteed if you did something stupid on TH night, everyone else would know about it by Friday at Noon. I think the school buildings themselves had been designed by some expat Soviet architect that used a wet shoebox as a model for the drab classrooms. If someone had escaped from East Germany, and been accepted into this school, they would have said "I am sure this is a good school, but maybe we should return home. This depresses me.".

I come rolling into town with a couple King cases, anxious to share my exciting new discovery. I hadn't seen my high school pal in 6 months or so, and I figured he had become integrated into stereotypical college life like I had. I went to class, but I also unsuccessfully chased girls, drank lots of cheap beer, ordered pizza at 2:15 am, and was a general fuck off. That's what everybody did, right? We crack into the tiny beers, and I'm ready to p-a-r-t-y. I am assuming that we'll go to some kegger, and later wind up at the cool local bar. I am pretty sure that my mind also had created the scenario fueled by bad teen movies that I would hook up with some really hot girl since I was this "exotic guy" all the way from Ohio. She would probably be a cheerleader too. This would be an epic night.

Well, it turned out that my friend was essentially the same guy I played poker with in his Dad's basement when I was 15. He was (and I assume still is) like a 47 year old man that just hadn't received his dead end job, mortgage, 2.3 kids, and Irish Setter yet. His interests had remained unchanged since 6th grade. My friend and his one remaining roommate for the weekend nursed their tiny little beers as I ripped through them like Charles Bukowski. It became evident pretty quickly that drinking this beer in their room was the extent of their plan. There was no party. There was no bar. There would be no cheerleader.

As I continued to work my way almost singlehandedly through the beer, I wondered what I was doing trapped in an all guys dorm on a Friday night. I had no car, and no escape. These guys couldn't even point me in the direction of anything remotely interesting. They just sort of sipped at a beer or two, and talked about maybe getting up a game of Jenga or something. I was in the wrong place. At some point I passed out on one of the vacant beds in the quad bedroom.

I can't even guess what time it was when I woke up with the urgent need to take a leak. It was totally dark in the room. I was as drunk as an English sailor on a one day leave in Bangkok. How drunk is that? Pretty drunk. What do you expect? Those guys hardly put a dent into the beer, and that left it all on me. I was very confused as to where I was and where the bathroom might be located. I have a shred of a memory of being unable to find the door out of the room, and continuing to walk into one of the closets as a potential exit strategy. I just went again and again into the same closet like I was a wind up toy. I just couldn't seem to get out of the room. It was at that point that I decided I was as close to the bathroom as I would ever get, and I would have to let it rip. I don't know what was in that closet, but I am assuming I pissed all over every shred of clothing the out of town roommate owned. And this was no "light showers". This was "heavy downpour".

I woke up the next morning with that incident nowhere on my mind. I was laying in bed with a massive headache trying to remember what time my ride back to Kent was coming to get me. It was then I had the horrible flash of memory hit me. Holy shit! Did I dream that, or did it actually happen? The other guys from the room were down the hall in the john, so I slid out of bed and walked over to the closet. Sure enough, I had left my mark. I had about an hour to kill until I would be able to hop in the getaway car, and there appeared to be no cleaning supplies (like a firehose or team of Mexican hotel maids) available. I went over several scenarios in my mind on how I could ask my buddy for supplies to rectify the situation. I would like to point out, that I had become "lost" in a room about the size of a 15 passenger van. Imagine trying to run this by someone..."Hey, I was in the backseat of the van last night and had to take a leak. Well, the problem was, I couldn't figure out how to get out, so I pissed all over that second row of seats. You know where I can get a mop?". That really didn't seem like something I wanted any part of that morning. As the departure time approached, I still had nothing. I grabbed my bag, hit the door, and got out of there.

It's now time to break the silence. I must come clean. Paul, if your roommate came home and wondered what happened to his closet that Sunday in 1985, it was me. Sorry man. See you at practice.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Nurse the Hate: The Couch Incident

This weekend the Whiskey Daredevils played a show at the Southgate House in Newport KY. Our usual deal is that when we play a show in the Cincinnati area with Rumble Club, one of the bands on the bill, we stay over at the lead guy Jack’s house. He’s got this great old place with a finished attic that is a perfect band flophouse. It’s also a great after party house due to location, and the two floor buffer between sleeping quarters and party room. Inevitably, when the after hours party slips into a new gear downstairs, I slink upstairs to go to sleep. I’m kind of a pussy like that.

I have never been a big fan of the 2a-6a drinking binge. I figure that whatever good is going to happen in a night has already happened by around 1 a.m. As many people wiser than me have put it, “Nothing good ever happens after 2 in the morning.” Things that happen after 2 in the morning: DUIs, greasy spoon breakfasts that include gravy, fights with girlfriends, robbery attempts, and tattoos on necks.

It comes as no surprise that Leo is always the last one to leave a party. If there is anyone to “party” with him, he’s up for it. (When people talk about “partying”, why does it usually mean three really fucked people talking shit on a couch at about 4:47 a.m.? This is not like the parties I have seen on the E! Network. Those parties have really cute and interesting girls dancing, and fabulous drinks. Most times I "party", I wind up on a scary couch where a guy tells me the same thing over and over. "Man...you don't understand. I really like your band." Then I say "Thanks. I really appreciate it." Wait three minutes. Repeat this process.)

This “partying” thing is really top of mind for me because Saturday night at about 5:30 a.m. I heard Leo animatedly screaming so loudly it was like he was right in the room with me. “Ohhhh!!!!! That’s really fucking funny!” (I think that he was using what elementary school teachers commonly refer to as his “outside voice”). I could hear a few guys in Rumble Club, some of their friends, and Gary really whooping it up. Considering how drunk a couple of those guys were when they got there, it’s amazing they kept it up that long. I think I heard the last of the people leave the house around 6:45 with the sun peaking through the drapes.

I woke up at 8:30 in the morning and couldn’t fall back asleep. I slunk downstairs into Jack’s kitchen with the intention of breaking into a box of Kroger mini donuts like some kind of raccoon. I was surprised when I ran into the new Rumble Club drummer entering from the opposite doorway. He didn’t look real good. I have seen that look before, and I knew what kind of day he was going to have ahead of him. Words like “couch” and “gatorade” came to mind. The key for him would be to not get a DUI at 8:30 in the morning in his ill advised attempt to go home. I would think that you would have plenty of explaining to do if you were caught weaving around town at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. I said, “Looks like you’re going to have a big day of sleeping ahead of you.”. He scratched his face, and muttered “yeah…see ya…” and abruptly went out the back door. It was at that moment that I thought I saw some discoloration on the back of his jeans from the belt line down to the kneecaps. Did what I think happen actually happen?

I walked into the first floor living room and saw the only couch. It still had blankets and a pillow on it like it had just been abandoned. I reached down and touched the middle of the couch. Yep. It was wet. The new Rumble Club drummer had wet Jack’s couch. There had been no attempt at a clean up. It was an “abandon ship” all the way. The dude didn’t even flip the cushions over in any attempt whatsoever to hide the evil deed. He must have woken up in the chilly urine soaked pants and blanket and thought, “This isn’t good. This is not good at all. I better get out of here.”

Now, I am not an expert in the manners and general rule of conduct of houseguests in Kentucky. Perhaps this is not considered unusual. I just don’t know. However, there were two things I did know.

1) That’s not how I would have handled it.

2) I was not going to clean it up.

Instead, I looked for a piece of paper to write down a note like it had come from their drummer. My plan was to scrawl “Sorry man. See you at practice” and leave it on the wet couch. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a pen. There was plenty of warm Miller High Life in bottles, but no pen. I then spotted Jack’s laptop sitting nearby. I decided the best thing to do was type out an email to him explaining how I happened upon the drummer while he was beating it out of there, investigated, and discovered his one couch was now drenched in a man’s urine. I figured we could get out of there around 10. Jack would wake up around 11, grab some coffee, and leisurely check his email. “Hmm…what’s this? An email from Greg? That’s strange…”

The plan worked perfectly. We hit the road, and got home around 2:30. I checked my email, and saw I got a response back from him at about 11:20 am along the lines of “What the fuck?”. I like to imagine him reading the email, looking directly at the couch/blankets, and saying to himself “Nah. There’s no way that someone would have pissed his pants/couch and just left, is there?”

So, if you are the guy that pissed the bed, where do you go from here? Phone call apology? Send a gift in the mail? Pretend it never happened? Admit yourself into Rehab and refer to the incident later as “some bad shit I went through”? Or do you pull a Nixon and deny, deny, deny? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you this. Nothing good happens after 2:00 in the morning.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Morning After

I don’t know anything. All those other Rubes were right on target. Arizona and the points. Damn. This is a tough morning. Goddamn Kathy from accounting is sitting in her little cubicle counting her $10 from her big win, and I’m left searching for answers. Damn, I hate it when this happens.

The only bright spot was I hit big on “Jennifer Hudson National Anthem Over 2 minutes 2 seconds”. It’s a grim day when you miss on the biggest game of the year, but win on that. I also hit on the over in the second half, and was spouting off on Santonio Holmes as MVP at 10-1, but didn’t place it.

I need to get centered. Last year, I hit a winner on the Miss Universe pageant, so maybe pop culture is my niche. Does anybody have a line on Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars? I wonder where Kathy from Accounting is leaning on that…

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Super Bowl Party

After an impressive 6-2 run in college hoops yesterday, it is now time to get down to the business of The Big One. The Super Bowl is a game that even Kathy from accounting likes to have a little action on. In fact, she (and you) may be headed to a grim little Super Bowl fiesta like the one pictured above. At this gathering you will witness all kinds of poorly considered opinions become conventional thinking. Casual football fans will lean against the nacho bowl/cold veggie platter and confidently talk about the suddenly unstoppable Arizona offense. As they snap into a baby carrot, they will sound very convincing when they say "I like Arizona's chances, but Pittsburgh is pretty tough.". Don't listen to this guy. He is there to confuse you. I want to help you cut through the clutter of the never ending pre-game hype and give you everything you need to know about the game today.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to tear the scrotums off of the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona is a 9-7 football team that beat the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers (with the help of 6 Jake Delomme turnovers), and the 9-6-1 Philadelphia Eagles. They lost games 48-20, 35-14, and 47-7 to Playoff teams in the last month of the season. Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Steelers beat everybody in the toughest schedule in the NFL. The key is not even that they won, but how they won. The Steelers beat the crap out of teams. They have guys on both sides of the line that hit hard from the first play until the last play. Does the offensive line look suspect? Yes. Is their offense lackluster? Yes. Does it matter? No.

The Steelers hit you, hit you, and hit you. They hang around in games 17-13, 13-6, 10-7. Suddenly, at the end of the game, the opposing team has to gamble to try and get a score. They will then turn the ball over in some horribly designed play where one of their guys ends up on a stretcher, and Troy Palamalu is dancing around in the end zone with the ball in his hands. 24-13. Ball game and cover.

The Public knows nothing. It is proven again and again. Things "The Public" likes: American Idol, Paul Blair: Mall Cop, giant sport utility vehicles, and foot long subs from Subway. Things I like: Bob Dylan, Cormac McCarthy, the BMW 6 series, and The French Laundry. I ask you, who do you trust with sound judgement on this game? Listen, I was on the 4-17 University of Toledo Rockets at +14.5 yesterday and had a winner. You think I'm going to mess this up?

Don't be one of those a-holes that gets talked into taking Arizona with the points. That's all I hear about every time I listen to any handicapping honk talk about this game. The dreaded Public Opinion has become: "Pittsburgh will win this game, but Arizona is going to keep it close." No, they're not. They will be soundly defeated on both sides of the ball today. Let me take you to 10:00pm tonight. There will be screen shots of Kurt Warner staring forlornly at the field while the clock ticks down, dejected Cardinal fans in ugly get ups, and Edgerrin James looking surprisingly uninvolved. This isn't last year. The Giants winning in an upset last year has nothing to do with the underdog winning this year. Don't get suckered in. The better team will win and cover 6.5. Take the chalk.

Random Note: I went to a Super Bowl party once where the hostess changed the channel from the game on the big screen to watch "Sex and the City". I was exiled to a small room off the kitchen with a 24 inch screen with five other guys sitting on wooden desk chairs. It was a huge mistake to go to a Super Bowl party hosted by a single woman. Never again. I have vowed never to leave my Bunker for a Super Bowl game again. I will not risk missing my prop bet on number of carries by Willie Parker due to Puppy Bowl 5.