Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

Putting the beer away

January 2, 2011

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I’ve had my fun off the diet wagon, and now I’m putting away my remaining beer. And I’m not going to touch it until I reach my next weight benchmark of 196. It’ll be a while, seeing as how my pants are a lot tighter than they were back in October. But I’ll make it.

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The bar where I didn’t get a beer

November 17, 2010
Duck Inn

Duck Inn

During my afternoon walk, I looked through the window of the Duck Inn in Mamaroneck, and was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar tap handle in the shape of a goose’s head and neck. They had Goose Island beer on tap! I’m used to seeing it in Chicago, but not around here.

On the way back, I went in to see what else they had on tap. I was disappointed to find that the goose handle had a “Stella Artois” label. They were just using the Goose Island tap to match the theme of the bar.

Oh well. The bottled beers available from Goose Island aren’t among my favorites anyway; my pleasure stemmed more from seeing a craft brew from Chicago in Mamaroneck than from any actual fondness. But all of this is beside the point: even if they had been pouring Goose Island, I wouldn’t have had any. I’m resolved not to have any beer until I reach my next weight goal, so today I was never going to do anything but window shop.

What’s missing from this picture?

November 5, 2010
Me and Don

Me and Don

Don and I began our evening with a discussion about history and historiography, and now we’re watching Teaching Company DVD lectures on the Peloponnesian Wars. It was lovely. But you know what would have made it perfect? Having glasses of beer in our hands. Shooting the shit is always better with beer.

And now I have another incentive to get down to my target weight. I love the idea of being able to spend a pleasant evening talking to Don over completely guilt-free beers. That’s a reward worth fighting for.

Day One Hundred Fifty-One

September 17, 2010

I got up at 5:30 and walked my regular route while doing 400 reps on each finger with the Gripmaster. I’m pleased to find my fingertips already hurting less as my fingers get stronger. It feels like learning to play the guitar.

When I got back from my walk I got some monumentally great news from the scales: my weight had dipped below 200 pounds. So today would be my beer celebration.

I took it a little easier today, watching a bit more Doctor Who as I knocked a few more things off my TO DO list. I chased Keane about exactly what will happen to my insurance if and when I’m let go at the end of next week, chased the garage about the work they’re doing on my car, and got some housework done.

At around 12:15 I did my third calisthenics workout in three days, and was thrilled with the results. Judging from the way my reps and my overall feeling of strength are increasing each week, I think that the routine of three days on and four days off may be my ideal.

I ate very well during the day, having an egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast, a Zone Bar with tea at 10:00, and steak and lots of vegetables in the afternoon. I had my usual apple and several oranges spaced out over the morning and afternoon.

After my workout, I got cleaned up and started my beer celebration with a bottle of Hennepin. Then, on the 3:29 Metro North to Grand Central, I had a pint of Atlantic Brewing Company “Bar Harbor Real Ale” and a pint of Tröegs “Hopback Amber”. By the time I got to my friend Don’s place I realized that I’d pushed myself physically about as far as I could go this week, because the beer was hitting me very hard.

Well, I launched into helping Don move in order to metabolize the alcohol and burn as many calories as possible. He’s only moving around the corner, but the building he’s moving into has no elevator, and he lives on the fourth floor. We moved a bunch of heavy boxes first, which took much more out of me than it should have. But I kept plugging away, sweating and panting as we finished the boxes and made a few trips for the more ungainly furniture. By the time we stopped, we’d put in three solid hours.

While I got cleaned up, don nipped out to Kashkaval for dips and pita. We hung out on the roof and ate them lustily while I had another bottle of the Hopback Amber and then we shared two bombers (22-oz. bottles): a Braggot from Atlantic Brewing Company and a Double Wailing Wench from Middle Ages. Each of them is a very big gun, so Don and I were doing a lot of giggling by the end.

I made my way back to Grand Central and from there back to Larchmont, where Grace picked me up. It was a late night and I was as exhausted as I could possibly be while still remaining conscious, but I was proud that I’d pushed myself to my physical limits, helped a friend move, and celebrated a major weight goal.

I have enough.

September 17, 2010

Tonight I got lots of extra exercise by helping my friend Don carry his stuff around the corner to his new place in 431 54th Street. I carried boxes up stairs for about three hours, and by the time I was done I’d just about metabolized the beer I’d drunk on the train into Manhattan.

Don got some dips at Kashkaval while I got cleaned up, and we had dinner on the roof with a bottle of Braggot from Atlantic Brewing Company and a bottle of Double Waiing Wench from Middle Ages in Syracuse. We got very silly.

I made a pass by Zaro’s at Grand Central, and boy were those specially-shaped challah loaves enticing. They only make them in that shape for the High Holidays. So of course that voice in me piped up, telling me that I had to buy a loaf of that specially-shaped challah bread and make French toast out of it.

Well, I don’t need to buy a loaf of that speciallly-shaped challah bread and make French toast out of it. It’s a special shape, but it’s the same bread that I can get year-round. I don’t need it any more than I need to pour myself another beer during the train ride home.

I’m grateful for my evening of exercise and drinking with my friend Don. I’m grateful that I’ve already had the luxury of planning an eat-whatever-I-want day full of food and hiking tomorrow. There’s no need to jam in more. I have enough.

Here’s to you again…

September 17, 2010

Here’s me on the train to Grand Central enjoying a pint of Tröegs Hopback Amber. Which I poured after I finished the pint of Atlantic Brewing Company’s “Bar Harbor Real Ale” that I brought back with me from Bar Harbor. I’ll be stocking up on Real Ale when I go back to Mount Desert Island in eight or ten days. Wheeeee!

Here’s to you.

September 17, 2010

Thank you.

The beer that I’m not buying

September 16, 2010
A beer cooler at Beverage Mart of Rye

A beer cooler at Beverage Mart of Rye

I’m such a sucker for Oktoberfests. They’re only around for a short time, and they’re so nutty and crisp and redolent of fall. They sucker-punch me right in the pathology: “I’m seasonal! I’ll be gone before you know it! You’ll never get another one exactly like me! Seize the day!” Sam Adams and Brooklyn and Harpoon call out to me, wanting me to do a tasting to compare them all and see which one I like best.

Sorry, Oktoberfest. I already have way too many of your cousins in my refrigerator. And since I have no plans to drink them outside a weight benchmark celebration, and my hoard (horde?) is already big enough for several such celebrations, I must regretfully decline your entreaties.

Dang it, Lagunitas! You’re not making it any easier! You with your hoppy seasonal offerings, making me want to grab a six-pack just to hedge against missing the opportunity… BAD Lagunitas! BAD!!

Flashback: Blindsided

September 11, 2010
New line of taps at Screamen Eagle

New line of taps at Screamen Eagle

Taps at Screamen Eagle

Taps at Screamen Eagle

Last Sunday, while Grace went to find an Inlet police officer who could sign the piece of paper to verify that we’d gotten the light over the license plate fixed, I went to Screamen Eagle for some curly fries. The sign out front said “20 BEERS ON TAP” and I said to myself “Huh? That’s new… no way they had more than a few before.” I walked in, and… well, take a look at the pictures and you can just begin to imagine my reaction.

The first tap handle that caught my attention was for Rogue Dead Guy Ale. Rogue is a top-tier microbrewery, so if any bar has Rogue on tap it gets an automatic thumbs-up from me. Any bar. A bar in Manhattan would get a thumbs-up. A bar in Inlet with Rogue on tap gets a big cartoon “Ahh-OOOOgah!!!” airhorn sound as my eyeballs pop out of my head, become as large as saucers, and hover there, trembling, for a moment.

Then my eye swept over the rest of that magnificent row of taps. Dogfish Head. Dogfish Head? Dogfish Head!! In Inlet!! CascaZilla, an entirely worthy hoppy ale from Ithaca. Sam Adams Octoberfest, one of the better festbiers out there. Pumking, an “Imperial Pumpkin Ale” from Souther Tier which is great fun, if rather gimmicky.

I continued past this new vision from a dream, wanting to see what was on the old, smaller row of taps at the middle of the bar. I was thrilled to see a Tröegs tap handle, although the Dead Reckoning Porter is not my favorite of their brews. If it had been Tröegs Hopback Amber, that might have done me in right there. As it was, the only handle from that row that seriously tempted me was the Lake Placid Honey Rye. Good stuff. Good stuff that I can’t get outside the Adirondacks.

After ordering my curly fries, I sat down in front of that first big row of taps. Then I saw that the Dogfish Head tap didn’t say 60 Minute IPA, as I expected. It said 90 Minute. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA in Inlet, New York!

Well, it took about all I had not to order a beer. I thought of how great it would feel to be down near my target weight when I go hiking in Acadia in three weeks. I thought of how wonderful it will feel after I reach my target weight, when I’ll be able to have a beer whenever I want — as long as I’m below that line.

I walked out with only my curly fries, feeling very proud of myself. If I’d known going into the situation that those beers would be there, it wouldn’t have been such a close-run thing. But being blindsided like that by Rogue Dead Guy, Lake Placid Honey Rye, and Dogfish Head 90 was nearly enough to make me stop caring that drinking beer outside of my weight benchmark celebrations would have been a major diet breach.

I met Grace just outside, and we walked over and sat down at a park bench. As we were eating the fries, I said to Grace “Do you know what I just walked away from?” and proceeded to tell her about my epic struggle. She said “Well, you can get those anywhere,” which made me feel deflated and irritated. Seeing my reaction, she said “I was trying to make you feel better by pointing out that you can get those beers at other places.”

Well, that brought me up short. My perspective suddenly shifted and I saw what I couldn’t see a moment before: of course she was trying to make me feel better; and of course I can get those same beers elsewhere.

Suddenly my reaction to the bar seemed conspicuous and puzzling. Why had I seen it as a unique opportunity that would be agonizing to pass up? The answer was simple, and revealing of my pathology: it wasn’t just the beer; it was the combination of the beer and the place.

Good times with loved ones make an enormous impression on me. Likewise, my memory suffuses special places with a magical glow. Put the special people in the special places, and I get a particularly potent nostalgia. It’s the one exception to the rule that I have a terrible memory: I can remember conversations with friends at camp from 1993.

The Adirondacks, and my family’s camp in particular, has always been my favorite place. For decades, as I’ve shared it with the people I love, my reservoir of happy experiences there has swollen. Camp is my primary nostalgia capacitor.

So when I walked into Screamen Eagle and saw those taps, two powerful forces intersected: my love of beer, and my nostalgia for camp. Here was a bouquet of excellent craft brews, one of them a paragon of the brewer’s art, popping up like magic in a cherished place where I never expected to see them. My reaction seemed so perfectly natural, so obvious, that in retrospect it seems inexplicable. But here’s me, trying to explain it anyway.

I felt like I wanted to celebrate. I felt like I had to celebrate. This intersection of delights obviously trumped any rules I’d set up. Right?

Well, I’m proud to say that the answer was “No.” I got out of there with my rules unbroken, because the rules are more important to me right now than they’ve ever been. Besides, my rules include allowances for celebrations, so the “imperative” for an impromptu celebration screamed of doublethink. Thankfully I was able to see through my own desperate rationalization enough to refuse it.

Back at camp, I got talking to Grace about my need to turn happy occurrences into celebrations. This led to thoughts about celebrations as revelment. We talked about how, in midwinter celebrations, people would use up a portion of their precious stores: they responded to privation with profligacy! This led me to wonder if celebration is always self-destructive, and finally to the big question: “What is a celebration, anyway?”

Grace pointed out that people often spent exorbitant amounts of money on weddings. She thinks that they do this at least partly in hopes that the expense will come back to them in some way. I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense, and it adds another dimension to the concept of celebration.

Maybe celebration is a constellation of the pagan, the selfish, and the giving: we receive privation and death, and we chortle in the face of the reaper; we receive prosperity, and we show it off and hope for reciprocation; we receive joy, and we want to share, amplify and extend the moment.

The purpose of all this musing was to examine my tendency to turn any unusual confluence of gustatory factors into a celebration. I am glad that it is in my nature to be joyous. But in the face of a universe which holds so much to be joyous about, I slip into revelment the way an iron filing in a magnetic field quivers toward a pole. This is a perversion of my joyous nature, and one that bears monitoring.

Acadia map!

September 8, 2010
Me with my new waterproof, tear-resistant National Geographic map of Acadia National Park

Me with my new waterproof, tear-resistant National Geographic map of Acadia National Park

Woo hoo! Grace just got home, and she brought with her a package from Amazon containing two things: a CD of Charlie Parker’s “Jazz at the Philharmonic 1949” album, and the map of Acadia that you see me holding with great delight.

This couldn’t have come at a better time. I have two days left at work, and in order to make sure that I don’t explode during those last two days, I need to focus on my post-Goldman-Sachs Maine getaway more than ever. Holding that map in my hot little hands helps me do just that.

Oooooh, I’m so excited. Looking back at my climb up Giant on Monday, remembering how easily I hefted that pack, and feeling my pride in all the conditioning I’ve done, I’m more thrilled than ever at the thought of two solid weeks of exploring all the trails of Acadia. I will climb enough mountains to burn off the beer and barbecue I plan to eat every day. You watch me!