Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Columbia MO SantaCon 2009 After Action Review

OK all you drunks out there in InterNets land, if you haven’t yet please go out to a SantaCon before you die. If you enjoy drinking, carousing, and dressing like Santa then it should be right up your alley. If you hate those things, then I suppose you are up poo poo creek.

Before we get started, you can see a lot of pics from the two photographers who followed us here:
Great photos from Notley Hawkins here on his Flickr site (Notley Hawkins is my new favorite person)
Weak Sauce pictures here on the Columbia Tribune.

On Friday 12/18/2009 in Columbia MO we kicked off the evening at McNalley’s. We walked in at 9 pm expecting a large crowd of Santas… But alas we were the only ones! At that point the five of us started wondering if we were stood up by flaky Santas. It would not have been that surprising. But luck be on our side, by 9:15 more Santa’s started pouring in. At 10 pm after many beers and a nip of scotch from my new girly birthday present/pink leopard skin flask (thanks Kara! That was some mighty fine scotch!), we moved onto our next stop.

Flatbranch! Now Flatbranch is one of my favorite places to eat in Columbia. It is a microbrewery that serves its own version of Americana Pub Food. It for sure one of the treasures of Columbia. Is it a place for drunk Santas to make fools of themselves? Not really. I felt out of place there and was itching to move on. (And a creepy Columbia Tribune photographer took my picture while I was peeing. Seriously, what's up with that peervy creep?)

Next up was Addison’s. Addison’s is also one of my favorite eateries in town (see a trend here? I love the dining options in downtown Columbia) I cannot say enough good things about their American fusion menu other than that you have to have a New Belgium beer there while you try their Nachos Bianca. Go ahead, go now. I’ll wait. Back now? Good, wasn't it? Back to the story: At that point in the night your boozey blogger had to switch to club soda, even though we were just 1 ½ hours in. I know, I’m a weak Santa.

At 11 pm we made out way to Back Alley Bar. That made Santa feel old. I do not do particularly care for poorly lit dance clubs with loud music. I like comfy chairs with a glass of nice booze and conversation with friends. So I was pleased when we moved on. 11:30 we attacked Tellers. They seemed happy to see us there, and someone tagged the bathroom with graffiti. That was not cool. Santa does not condone such hooliganism. Is there no help for a widows son?

Midnight found us wandering to our next drinking hole. On the way I ran into the bassist for Common Era (The coolest Joy Division cover band ever). I was ready to stay and drink with them, but an attractive reindeer pushed me towards our next stop instead. Rag Tag Cinecafe’ has a new location nearish to Eastsides Tavern and they put a big bar in front of it. I know, makes sense right? Huge bar in a movie theater? But it was perhaps the most fun of all the locations so far. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact I had been drinking for three hours…

Finally at 12:30 I got to meet up with my non-Santa (read slightly lame) friends at Eastsides. Sadly, they had stopped serving beer when we arrived. Happily they were stills serving shots! Whiskey and Jaeger for this Santa! Sal Nuccio, the owner of the bar, also slipped BOGO drink coupons into our pockets at one point in the night! Go Sal! He has my vote in the 2010 vote for the mayor of Columbia. Seriously go to his facebook event page and check it out!
(**Editor's note: The reporter of this peice was apparently in no condition to tell time. He apparently got to Eastsides after 1 am! He has been written up for sloppy reporting. OOOPS***)

At 1 AM the night finally ended and we tried to get in line at El Ranchos. Only some of our party got in. Oh well. We retired to my new Columbia residence with El Ranchos and quickly fell asleep with dreams of sugar plums dancing in our heads. The first SantaCon in Columbia was a rousing success! Thanks Liz for organizing.

This man will be our next president one day.

Postscript: What do hung over Santas do the next day? Champagne and Red Bull. It’s the mimosas of the future.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My apologies to Boulevard

As various members of the Bluth Family have uttered, "I've made a huge mistake."

A few days one of the staff writers over here at "Days of Booze" mistakenly attributed the Sixth Glass Quadruple to the wrong Missouri brewery. Boulevard Brewing Company out of Kansas City makes this fine selection and I owe them as well as the entire metropolis of Kansas City an apology.

I am sorry Boulevard. We have a writer who apparently can't read the bottle in front of him. I suppose that is the hazard of writing about booze while you are drinking the same booze. That is no adequate excuse for lazy writing and we promise to never misrepresent your brews again.

The writer of that review has been fired and murdered and his body dumped in the Missouri River. By Eunice Moorehead, cuz nothing pisses her off more than screw ups.

she WILL cut you

Once again guys, Sorry. I hope we can still be friends. Boulevard rocks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Red Menace Approaches (Aka SantaCon is coming to Town!)

Tonight (Friday 12/18) there will be a Santa-themed pub crawl through down town Columbia MO. These are fairly common in larger cities, but to my knowledge this is a first for Columbia. I am a big fan of costumes, pub crawls, Santa, and drinking. We will see how it works out when you combine them all into one shindig. And its my 29th birthday today. What can possibly go wrong?

(Edit 12/23/09 After action review can be found here: )

Schedule is below.

McNally's 9-10pm
Flat Branch 10-1030pm
Addison's 1030-11pm
Back Alley Bar 11-1130
Sycamore, Broadway Brewery and Tellers (Combo 1130-12midnight)
Rag Tag 12midnight-1230
Eastside 1230-1am

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Drinks of Desperation

I am certain that most of you have been in my position at one time or another. You open the door to your fridge, and notice that there is no beer in there. You confidently look on the door to see if there is a bottle hiding next to the soy sauce. Nothing. So you walk over to your wine rack, and that’s empty too!

Hmmm… This could be bad.

Angry baby needs his booze.

You go to your booze shelf looking to make a highball, and you are out of rum and whiskey. All you have is gin, cachaça, and sweet vermouth.

This my friends, is a unfortunate but hardly a disaster. Cachaça is made with sugar cane juice, and is similar to a raw white rum. Generally its from Brazil, and is used to make caipirinhas; a drink made with muddled limes and simple syrup-served over rocks in a lowball glass. It makes a great sipping drink. But tonight I am not looking for something fancy, this is an exercise in boozey desperation. So mix I the cachaça with diet coke and viola! Problem solved. But there was just enough for one drink, and as we all know one is never enough.

So then I am left reviewing my options. I have a friend who shall remain nameless, but she has been known to mix vermouth and coke in her desperate scrabble for a fix. That’s just not right, I do have some standards. I focus on the gin but alas there is no more tonic, so G&Ts are out. But I do have sprite and Roses lime juice. Gin, Sprite, and lime juice. I don’t know if it’s a proper drink with a proper name but it works. The lime juice helps take some of the gross edge off the gin and the drink works passably. Sobriety averted!

What is your desperation drink? What is the grossest thing that you have turned to for a fix? Don’t worry; I won’t judge you.

(But he might)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Sixth Glass Quadruple Ale (Schlafly)

***Note from the editor: Sixth Glass is a Boulevard Product, not Schlafly. The writer of this blog is a drunkard and a fool. Boulevard is a mighty fine brewery, and we apologize profusely for screwing this review up.****

Before I get started I just want to admit one thing: I Love Saint Louis. Why? Well for starters St Louis is the home to the world headquarters of the American Mustache Institute. I bet you didn't know that? Further, St Louis has White Castles. If you have never had a slyder, I feel very, very sorry for you. If you are a fan of those little grease balls, I dare you to close your eyes and think of one right now. DO IT! DO IT NOW! Can't you just taste the steamed bun, those little dessicated onion, the hearty flavor that can best be described as the essence of umami. St Louis also has several Trader Joes locations. If you love moldy bread and tons of inexpensive wine then you will love TJs. St Louis also has a world class botanical garden, FREE ZOO, Forest Park, a kick-butt City Museum, the Rams, and the Anheuser-Busch headquarters. But most importantly St Louis is home of Schlafly's.

Schlafly's is one of my favorite regional breweries. They have a solid line of beers, two great resteraunt locations (The Taproom and The Bottleworks) and host a slew of beer tastings and festivals throughout the year. HOP in the City is their early fall festival where they pull out all the stops and serve 40+ beer varieties, pretty much their entire line plus seasonal brews. Did I mention that the price of admission also gets you a cute little beer tasting cup?

Today I am reviewing the The Sixth Glass Quadruple Ale. It comes in the Belgian style, packaged in a champagne bottle. At $8 a bottle, this is not a cheap beer. And at 10% ABV it sure as heck ain't for the weak of heart. Is it worth price tag and brain cells? It surely is. Would I drink it every day? If I could afford to I would!

I pulled out a couple of my 6 oz tasting glasses and poured a few drinks for myself and my lovely wife. I immediately noticed that the beer was a gorgeous red color with a solid white head. (It looks black in the photo, but thats the flash screwing the color up.) Upon tasting, you are distracted a little bit by citrusy-piney flavor of the hops. But not in a bad way, not at all. And while the hop character is heavy, its not oppressively in your face like an ESB or IPA. Once the surprise of the hops wear off you notice that the malt level is just rigggght. Its not heavy and burnt tasting, nor is it too light and wimpy like the aforementioned ESBs and IPAs.

With the 10% ABV the hop and malt character have to be perfect, otherwise you are stuck with a boozy disgusting mess. Think malt liquor. Think high gravity grossness like Steel Reserve, or Colt 45. Now, there are times when I feel like embracing my inner white trash. So those HGLs have a time and a place. This quadruple from Schlafly holds up so well that it can be enjoyed any time.

In short: Good job Schlafly. Once again a sucessful and tasty brew from an outstanding regional brewey. Keep it flowing and I will keep it puring!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baltika #9 (Commie Beer)

The Baltika logo- Rough translation: we shall bury the capitalist swine with superior beer, and socialist brew of the people shall triumph

In 1998 I had the opportunity to do some spy work, I mean a student exchange trip to Moscow. Boris Yeltsin was still president, and the entire country had a strange wild west feel to it. Being a 17 year old, what really appealed to me was the fact that they let anyone drink and smoke, as long as they had enough rubles in their pockets. Russian smokes were 3 rubles a pack ($0.50 USD) and made your lung just pack up and quit. A pint of Russian beer was 6 rubles a pop ($1.00 USD) at the corner kiosks. I learned quite a bit in those three weeks, namely that I love to drink and to smoke and that drunk Americans can get away with peeing anywhere in Moscow. As my Russian host said “Who cares! Its Russia. The entire place is a shit-hole.” And eleven years ago it was! It was awesome! There were still hammer and sickles on all the buildings, the TV stations played bootlegged american movies (taped on a camcorder in a theater... and shown on their national stations!), the ruble was so worthless that they just took off 3 zeros and started over again (some of the bills said 5 rubles and some said 5,000 but they were worth the exact same). After 9 years of Putin the economy is back on track, Moscow is an expensive place to live, and I bet that I would have gotten beaten up for peeing in public. Although looking back, all the cops in Moscow did carry mini AKs and a corruption you could almost taste in the air. I suppose I got off lucky.

But back to the beer: I developed a love for Baltika #6, their porter offering. You see, Baltika is THE beer in Russia. Established in 1990, they are based in Saint Petersburg and according to Wikipedia they are the second largest brewery in Europe. Mind you, this is their only major brewery and it has been open for just 19 years! Russians have a long history of drinking vodka, and drinking that to excess. The idea of cracking open a few cold ones and still being able to walk home without a wheel barrow was a new concept to them. Russians were shocked that they could drink beer all night, and not wake up with unexplained stab wounds. So along with capitalism, they decided to give another American institution the ol' college-try: BEER! Now they don’t follow the American tradition of giving fancy names to each of their beer offerings. Nope, they follow an orderly socialist method of just slapping a number on each type. Baltika #1 is their Bud Light version, Baltika #2 is their Budweiser, Baltika #3 is a pale lager, etc etc etc. So you see, all you have to do to order is just be upright enough to reach a bar and lift up enough fingers to indicate your desired variety.

Finding this beer in the states has been next to impossible until just a couple of years ago. I remember back in 2005 I visited my drunkard-in-arms Marty when he was stationed in Virginia, and he managed to order some bottles at a huge markup off the webernets. The last time that we tried it we were both 17 and young and stupid. We were then 25 and still young and stupid, but we had quite a bit more beer drinking under our belts. And I am happy to report that the beer were still pretty freaking tasty. Not bad Russia, not bad at all! Then about a year or two ago I started seeing Baltika being offered in specialty liquor stores and even grocery stores in the suburban western reaches of St Louis County. It made sense though because there is a rather large Russian and eastern European community in St Louis. And they are bringing their new found taste for communist beer with them!

So I went to the Tinderbox in Columbia MO yesterday to peruse their bourbon offerings, and the beer cooler caught my eye. It was stocked with BALTIKA! And they had several of the varieties, all retailing for $2.75 for a pint. So I grabbed a few of the 6’s, and I decided to live on the edge and grab a #9. The #9 is their “strong lager” which packs a hefty 8% ABV. That stuff will knock you on your butt. How does it taste? Heavy, gross, and disgusting. Ever drink a high gravity lager or malt liquor? Like Cammo, or Steel Reserve? Yeah, its like that. Gross. Honestly if you want piss yourself with a strong beer, I would recommend that you try the Trippel by New Belgium brewery. That’s also crazy amounts of strong at 7.8% ABV but it tastes umpteen times better. To further its street cred it is made by American’s, not nasty foreign commu-nazis. But expect to see a full range of the Baltika line reviewed here later!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Isopropyl Alcohol

Clocking in at 194 proof, this really packs a whollup. And at $0.79/bottle at Walgreens this is perhaps the best deal out there to drink on the cheap. Sure, its considered “poisonous” and leads to "rapid organ failure" but what doesn't these days? California slaps the ol’ cancer label on everything, so much indeed that it’s a case of Chicken Little and the Falling Sky. Know what I am saying? No risk no fun?

Aged about 45 minutes prior to bottling, the ripeness of this offering is painfully evident. In Portugal, any painfully young wine is referred to Vino Verde. I call this Gino Verde in an effort to bestow it with a sense of class. It has an off-flavor that one can describe as having banana-like qualities. This is due to the acetone content most likely. The burny fruity overtones can be off-putting at first, but once you learn to love the electric banana, you will never want to drink anything else. Gin is for the weak.

Author’s note: Drinking rubbing alcohol is awesome. Do it now, or I will call you a *****.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

90 Shilling Ale (Odell Brewing Company)

There is a magical place full of Subarus and fleece jackets and yuppies and breweries. This place is Colorado. I am covinced that even the homeless people in that outdoorsy square of a state are making an award-winning IPA in their filthy napsacks.

Pictured: Colorado, to the best of my knowledge

The Odell Brewing Co is based out of Fort Colloins, CO and I honestly do not know much about them. I did a quick peek at their website and they have been around since 1989 when they introduced their flagship beer 90 Shilling Ale. When I bought a sixer at the store, I had no idea it was the flagship. Makes sense since it was the only offering from Odell in Gerbes in JC-MO. Mind you, Gerbes has a very weak selection, so whenever a new-to-me brew pops up there I feel compelled to try it out.

So according to the bottle this is a traditional Scottish ale that has been lightened. Tasting it I can see what they were shooting for. Its an amber ale with a nice amount of body and hops without being overpowering. It even packs a middling punch at 5.3%. As odd as it sounds, just about everything about this ale is middling. Now, my favorite word is mediocre but this does not apply here. I think I can rather fairly call this ale well balanced. While I would not call it light, a certain boozy blogger is ready for his next beer as soon as the first one is done. Maybe it is because 30 is knocking, but beer has been filling me up and making me feel bloated. 90 Shilling Ale has not left me feeling that way. I certainly enjoyed drinking it. No single aspect of it makes you stand up and say wow, but it's the flagship of the Odell brand. I mean, consider New Belgium's Fat Tire. Schlafly's Pale Ale. Boulevard's... Pale Ale? Good for Odell for chosing an amber ale to be the flagship rather than something staid and played out like a pale ale or wheat. Bottom line, I will probably buy this beer again and I will most surely be trying more of Odell's offerings if I can find them.
If I were to try to pair this beer with a food, I can honestly say with firsthand knowledge that it goes great with a homemade white chili. Or smurfberries. Or smurfs. Those blue bastards' days are numbered. Honestly, if I hadn't have driven through Colorado on my way to Burning Man last year, I would have sworn that it was a made-up imaginary place. I mean, a land of beer and white water rafting only two states away? A boozey mecca on the other side of hell (Kansas)? Yeah, I seriously thought someone was screwing with me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fighting Cock, Bulleit, and Dan Akroyd

I have a love of the brown. A complete, unabashed, poop-your-pants in excitement love. And by “the brown” I mean whiskey. Scotch, Bourbon, Irish Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, even CANADIAN whiskey- It matters not. I just love it all. And while I can enjoy the complex flavors of scotch, from the peatiness of an Islay to the saltiness of a Speyside and the finely nuanced balance of a Highland; I must admit that my favorite whiskey is indeed the Kentucky Bourbon. Oh, I am not denigrating the other browns. It would be like asking a Sheik who his favorite gal in the harem is. They all have a beauty that is their own, but he has a special fondness for that redhead…

Now I would not call my love of whiskey an unrequited love. Whiskey loves me much in the way that Ike loved Tina. Fun in the beginning, but without a doubt morning finds me curled up in a fetal position pooping blood. There is something that is bracing about the first glass, calming about the second, and addictively self abusing about the third. But this blog is not about lamenting of the evils of whiskey, but about exalting its glories.

(good when mixed)

So a bit ago I was in the need of a bourbon. I decided to hit the store, unsure as to whether I would splurge on a $30 bottle (Think Woodford or Bulleit), buy the old $15 standby (Jim Beam is my go to man. A dependable man not unlike George Clooney), or buy something cheaper that is palatable when mixed (Think Evan Williams. He is the Dan Akroyd of whiskey. You can’t beat it or him as an ensemble, but you would never give either a solo leading role.) I decided to be a middling cheap bastard and grabbed the white bottle of Jim Beam. Yup, ol’ dependable. I started to leave the whiskey aisle, when a flashy bottle caught my eye. Fighting Cock Bourbon! It was moderately priced ($20) and packed a whollup (at 103 proof, it is even more potent than Wild Turkey). Now how in the world can I pass up a bourbon named after deplorable abuse masquerading as sport! If there was a bourbon named “Seal Clubbing” or “Cat Juggling” I suppose would be all over those too. Sometimes I think I am not a very nice person. But I gave a dollar to the Salvation army guy, so its all ok in the end.

How was it? Potent. Drinking it straight burned a bit. Mixing it with diet coke created a sickly sweet and strong drink. I suppose I am just too weak for the Fighting Cock. I would probably buy this again for a party to make my guests drunk and pliable, and the bottle for sure makes a great conversation piece. But sipping it straight on ice? Meh. I did it. I drank a good portion of the bottle that way. I wouldn’t recommend it though. This is a mixing bourbon. But at $20 a bottle, it makes for an expensive mixing bourbon. One of the ironies of life, eh?

My second whiskey I want to give a shout out to is Bulleit Bourbon. It is your typical $30 small batch bourbon. It calls itself a “frontier whiskey” because it comes in a rustic looking bottle and at 90 proof it packs a stronger whollup than your typical liquor without being stupidly overpowering. If I am to buy a sipping bourbon and want to spend $30, 3 out of 4 times this is what I grab. If you even think about mixing this bourbon, I will step on your face. Neat or with ice please.

Its flavor is slightly spicy with the barest hint of vanilla overtones. Neither is overpowering though and the flavors seem both natural and real. Its 90 proof punch can be compared to a good natured tousle with an Australian. You maybe get a few bruises, but nothing is permanently damaged and the fight was all in good fun. Drinking Fighting Cock is more like fighting with an angry closeted redneck. He thinks that you embody all that is evil in the Big City, and you are the cause of both his recent layoff at the plant and his unexplainable feelings for men. The only way he can avenge either it to beat the first guy with hair gel and an IQ over 80.

Over the holidays I picked up a bottle of Bulleit and drank the entire thing with a good college buddy and my brother in law. We blew through it over a period of perhaps 3 hours. Sure, we weren’t moving too quickly in the morning but we were in good enough shape for a big lunch of Churrasco. All you can eat steak, served on swords by Brazilian cowboys? YES PLEASE. And the caipirinhas helped take the edge of nicely. But that’s another blog entry.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Abrazo del Toro-Syrah (Spain)

One of my great passions is drinking sub-$10 wine from Trader Joes. I picked up this Syrah from Spain (Abrazo Del Toro) for around $7 and I will tell you that this is one of my favorite wines. When you pour it out, it’s a deep red color- almost purple. It smells almost berry like, but when you taste it you are surprised by how mellow and balanced it is. It’s not too sweet nor is it filled with tannins. I would say that it is so well balanced that you set it on a tightrope and it would stand upright. Normally, I am a big fan of the South American Malbecs; but I would have to give this wine high marks. This will certainly make it into my regular wine rotation.