i’ve never committed adultery
the closest i’ve ever come
is flirting across town with two cats
in animal crossing.
i’ve never dabbled in that purple music.
that violin-laden chorus
punctuated with muted, arrogant trumpets and
spoiled with perverted
maybe I’ve slid a finger or two
into the opening of a can
but not before
its contents into an unfortunate willi becher
reminiscing to the days of
listening to “me and mrs. jones,”
in a market basket,
eating english muffins in the bread aisle
and drinking johnnie walker double black from
your mother got you
the cute grocery clerk asks you if you’re alright
passed out on the polyurethane covered tiles.
she doesn’t notice the crumbs
you don’t notice
she’s the night crew manager, Stan.
winters are magical.
the aperture captures
more than what is simply put
directly in its line of fire.
the work of art conveys
the true spirit of the artist
despite his silence.
got that danky lanky
take your pants off and pray
citrus pledge wipes
like the junction of lips on a cold night,
before copious apologies.
as I imagined that
with billy mays
to be oxy cleaned
by my oxy queen
peel the paint right off the wall.
the beer is good.
*9.8 out of 10*
Alright, ALRIGHT; here’s long-time reader and Malt Fiction subscriber “Shawn’s” top 5 beers of the year. Don’t go crazy, everybody; just calm the fuck down. We all know how important this is. We’re going to get through it:
5. Hermit Thrush Brewery | Jolly Abbot (Sour Belgian Barleywine, 2015 vintage)
Sure, Bolio, pick something no one has ever heard of. You piece of shit. Oh, right, I was there when you tried that. You still suck.
4. Maine Beer Company | Lunch IPA (American IPA)
3. Hill Farmstead Brewery | Arthur (Farmhouse Ale, 2015 vintage)
SHIT SON, YOU CAN PUT THIS BEER IN YOUR TOP 5, BUT NOT “I LOVE YOU, HONEYBEAR” BY FATHER JOHN MISTY IN YOUR TOP 10 ALBUMS? FUCK YOU.
2. Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. | The Substance Ale (American IPA)
Okey dokey, Sam Blow, I’ll give you a pass on this one.
1. Brouwerij Rodenbach | Rodenbach Caractère Rouge (Flanders Red Ale)
THIS IS THE GODEL, ESCHER, BACH OF BEERS. FIGURES, BOLIO.
…fuck, where was I?
These are, uh, Shane Bowery’s favorite beers.
Shap hates music, I guess–
And he lives in Canada
You might as well call him Ted Cruz.
At least Ted Cruz probably likes “I Love You, Honeybear,” by Father John Misty.
Fuck you, Jane Blooey.
Now give me my money.
PLEASE free Shamu.
This is what I think of your top 5, Jim-
Do you owe 500 dollars in back taxes to the Swedish government?
Does your mother know that you know that the cat smokes crack underneath the porch?
Have you, or a loved one, watched 27 Geico commercials in a single sitting?
Do you know what a ham sandwich is?
What is the Internet?
How many ARE you?
Did you ever want to learn a language in 4 days?
How about 73 days?
Are you not telling yourself that you didn’t know that you were aware that everyone knows that you said that you’re nothing but a fat, melting, piece of horseshit?
Why didn’t you?
What more dock off the total panel most episodic sent with folk queen pacifier under the fountain register did that?
You went and ate all the mmmmminimum
FOLLOW THE RULES
OUR OPERATORS ARE INSIDE THEMSELVES
Have you, or your mortgage poured black, with a nice khaki-colored head?
Do you pay attention to the color?
Do you watch it staring back at you?
…If you pay attention to the color, however, you notice it is actually a very, very deep garnet color. Like a black, with hints of rust. Auburn highlights on the edges of the glass when exposed to a lamp.
DONALD TRUMP IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
It smells like burnt sugar, sour cherries, and it even has a red wine character—tannic, vanilla, almond, light tobacco. Chocolate,
Like the the best dryer sheet ever
ARE YOU, OR A 2011 KIA SORENTO, SUFFERING FROM
…Cherry, tart, lactic bite, dark chocolate, cocoa, bitter, tart raspberry, slight vanilla, very drying, tannic bitterness towards the back end, astringent. Coconut, acetone, classic acidity of a fine red wine. Very oaky on the back end, adding some additional vanillin. Vinous complexity…
CARL TO DAY
THIS RATE I BETTER START WALKING
…very quaffable, thinner than expected. Drinks like a slightly carbonated wine.
*9.2 out of 10*
I could compare your big chocolate ass to a succulent piece of ass, made out of chocolate.
The deep brown highlights of your essence shimmer in the fluorescence as if were clay, baking in the sunlight.
–Like, sparkly, and all that nice shit.
You got legs—up to your ass.
I get a whiff—OOOH — what do you wear?
Cherry blossom perfume?
Is that almond oil on your skin? So soft to the touch.
You’re like sour cream. You know the brand.
You look like coffee; you smell like coffee; you even taste like coffee.
Let me drink you in.
Like a fine red wine…
Like a Mounds bar…
You got mounds.
…and a big ass.
OOOH, child, there’s that cherry again…
Bring me back to square one.
You make me like a newborn baby.
Cut my umbilical cord, hang me upside down, and spank me— like they do in the movies.
Gah gah goo goo.
I could spend all night in your arms talking all polite like British S&M,
But… I think this sums up my feelings for you:
*9.6 out of 10*
Want to know what’s so 2015?
Not fucking standing in a six-person line for an hour-and-a-half in a liquor store with a bunch of gross, chauvinistic, rotund beer Nazis who literally shit on every person who asks if we’re waiting in the goddamned Heady Topper line (Ok, they don’t shit on them physically—but they give the sad saps such a look that might as well be a telepathic fecal injection to the face).
You know what else is soooooo 2015?
Not waiting in this line for this beer to hit the shelves just to buy one beer. No, no, this isn’t a line to buy a case or two of some rare beer or something. No, you get one beer. No, you don’t get to have one of each beer available in this line, you get to choose one beer.
YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE IS SOOOOOOO FUCKING 2015?
Consciously not going out of your way to spend an ungodly $30—THIRTY DOLLARS—on this one beer just so you can bring it to the New Year’s Eve party and drink it all by yourself.
Nah, nah, that’s cool, you can just put it on the radiator in the bathroom next to the q-tips and Instagram that shit while you yourself are taking a shit!
HEY, LOOK WORLD! HERE’S HOW I’M RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR! HERE’S A THIRTY DOLLAR BOTTLE OF SOME SOUR-ASS BEER THAT MOST OF YOU WON’T EVEN LIKE! NAH, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT, LET ME JUST FLAUNT MY BOURGEOIS LIFESTYLE WHILE I DRINK THIS CRAP IN THE BATHROOM WITH MY PANTS DOWN AROUND MY ANKLES! IT’S LIKE YOU’RE ENJOYING IT WITH ME! ISN’T THIS GREAT? OH, HEY, WOULD YOU MIND CHANGING THE TOILET PAPER ROLL FOR ME?
It’s what the humble brewers at Brasserie Cantillon would have wanted.
Oh, I’m sure that the little old brewery in Belgium would just love to see that on the internet.
I’m sure they’d just love to see me rant about this junk, which took two years to make.
I’m sure they’d rather just have me talk about how refreshingly tart it is
–yeah, like a squirt of lemon in the eye
Or, perhaps discuss the complexity of the yeast character
–it’s like eating a piece of brie cheese after throwing it in a bale of hay and rolling around in it like a complete moron. Oh, throw some grapes in that mess, for good measure.
And then have a puke
But I’m sure they’d at least prefer that I comment on how easy-drinking the beer is
–you ever gargle vinegar before?
Look, even the word ‘gueuze’ (the style of this god-forsaken beer) just sounds like the byproduct of something disturbingly, deviantly sexual.
—Oh, my new year’s resolution?
To stop being an idiot, and just start drinking Coors Light for the rest of my life.
Just gimme a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese and let me watch hockey. Happy Fucking New Year.
What else in hell did you think it was?
*9.2 out of 10*
“That’s the funny thing—it’s the fact that she’s an art student that makes her attractive to me. If she were an artist, hell no.”
Natalie contrived to be agreeable.
“Well… Yeah, an art student is so idealistic, so full of life… and driven. An artist is jaded, cold, and struggling to get by.”
“I don’t know, I think she just fits my type. Then again, any girl whose favorite band is Belle & Sebastian is my type. “
“Well, have you thought of asking her to get coffee at some other establishment?”
I set my cup down on the café table, which wobbled uncontrollably. I eyed the blue-eyed, straight-banged, quirkful barista bouncing from left to right, behind the bar.
She tugged upon the portafilter
like she tugged upon my heartstrings
“Oh, no. No, I’m not like that, I think it’s more of a passive thing. God, I can’t imagine dating. Really, I don’t want to sound anti-social at all, but I can’t stand to think of spending that much time with one person. It’d drive me insane.”
This stupid crap up here.
These ridiculously decadent, yet pedestrian opinions, courtesy of yours truly (and no, I can’t believe they came out of my mouth, either), call to mind the rancidly twee sentiments of Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter. Wolaver’s Organic Brewing, based out of Middlebury, Vermont, is Otter Creek Brewing’s eco-conscious division. While organic craft beer should be twee enough, Wolaver’s goes a step further to include not only organic vanilla in this beer, but also single origin, organic, fair trade coffee beans in this limited, seasonal release. I mean, seriously, this beer deserves a place in Portlandia sketch.
God, I need a shower.
The snow is falling, and it’s the season for rich, dark beers. Indeed, this one is a very appropriate selection for this time of year. Nevertheless, if the beer you’re drinking takes longer than 10 syllables to order at the bar, then you must also accept the culpability of pretention that comes with it. These pretentiousnesses, these pendantic, posturing, maudlin, Napoleonic nonesuchessnesses come part and parcel with the pop of the cap.
You might as well spend the time talking about critical theory and white privilege while imbibing this concoction.
Next time you’re in the company of complete tightwads, why not crank up the NPR and open a few bottles of Alta Gracia? They’ll appreciate its deep black hue, and its subtle, ruby-red tinges when exposed to the light. They’ll swoon when they see its coffee-colored head. They’ll compare it to the likeness of a fine macchiato. They will also make keen remarks about its creamy, pleasant lacing on the glass. That one who looks a lot like a Wes Anderson character might declare how the khaki-colored head recedes quickly, leaving a thin, but decent collar. Passing the glass around, they may say it smells like a creamy, maple latte.
Personally, it reminds me something called a Five Dollar Shake, which—while tipping a hat to Mr. Quentin Tarentino— you can order at a local watering hole around here, in my hometown, called the Radio Bean. It’s a simple cocktail: some stout, a shot of espresso, and a squeeze of maple syrup on top. It’s straight-up perverted. You know, I get some cola nut in the aroma—
Yeah, that’s right,
You can also detect some rich coffee, a hint of blueberry and other dark fruits—plums… well, mostly plums, and some roasty notes.
Instantly, there’s cherry and coffee on the tongue. Then come the rich, sweet, roasted malts. I’m personally struck—struck, I tell you— by some pleasant caramel and toffee notes. It’s much more balanced than I remembered. As with the aroma, the taste of the porter has those nice berry qualities from the coffee beans. As the flavor begins to fade, I detect slight coconut and vanilla. It ends, finally, with a lingering quasi-nectarine flavor on the back end. There’s definitely a nice stone fruit flavor there. I noticed there’s more chocolate on the nose than actually in the taste, but it does develop a little bit as the flavor subsides (paired with that strangely complimentary nectarine flavor). It’s smooth, sticky, and milky in the mouth.
I’m sure that just sounds so fucking appealing.
It’s what folks may call a chewy beer. All being said, it is hard to drink more than two at a time. It’s a bit viscous. Otherwise, it’s pretty easy drinking.
Anyway, that’s it. I’m done with this crap
I’m gonna join
*8.5 out of 10*
It was 7:20 am, Black Friday.
I woke up and took a five-minute shower. I brewed some coffee in a rush.
I muttered to myself as I scrambled with a fistful of paper towels to clean up the 100% pure Arabica mess that sprawled along the particleboard counter top.
I exchanged my soiled sweater for a few swear words, a coat, and I was off (like a prom dress, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA).
I hurried along to the liquor store on the odd end of town. It was a little crapper in a strip mall, but as far as I was aware, they had the Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout with the carbine-action, two hundred shot range—you’ll shoot your eye—
Just shut the hell up.
“Oh, are you here for the Bourbon thing?” The little old lady asked me.
“You bet your sweet, sweet fanny.”
“Excuse me, young man?”
“Geez, I’m sorry—I just got a little excited there—but if you’ve got it, flaunt it.”
“What was that?” She gave me such a look.
“Oh, nothing—no—yes—are you selling?”
“We are, but just one bottle per person, and it’s $8 a bottle.”
“That’s just fine,” I said (what’s wrong with me).
“What’s the big deal with this beer anyway? Is it beer?”
“Yeah, actually. It’s a very rare beer that’s released right around this time every year, and we don’t get very much up here, so, it sells very fast.” I had a cultish glint in my eyes that shut her right up. I was on my way.
I craved more.
I craved so much more.
I drove two towns over to the next liquor store. I walked in, got two words in and the lumpy man stopped me immediately.
“That $30 four-pack beer? No, that’s gone already!” He ejaculated, furiously. “I don’t know, come back later.” Fine, your establishment smelled like perverts and Slim Jims, anyway.
Crestfallen, I was that much more bloodthirsty.
I left my house Ishmael, came back as Ishmael, but now—now, at this very moment, I became Ahab.
I made my way back into Burlington. I went to pay Liam a visit at the local record store. They themselves were having their very own Black Friday sale. Then I saw the man with the white box.
“Oh, yeah,” Liam mused, “he bought out all the Bourbon County at City Market.”
“What? Is there any more?” I began to froth at the mouth.
A small hirsute man with a strangely attractive girlfriend then looked over at me. “You could try the store up the street; I think they still had a few four-packs when I was there last.”
Blood vessels were now bursting in my eyes. Liam cringed, like a baby.
I slipped across the snow and ice along the sidewalk as I dashed up toward Pearl Street. Stumbling in, I saw my treasure, sitting on the counter.
“You… have… Bourbon County?”
The woman at the register, weathered by Pall Malls and overexposure to Donna Summer shot a seductive glance. “$8 a bottle, baby…
Or, you could buy a pack,
and be the
I stammered. Blood dripped from my lips.
“I want to be the envy of
30 dollars later, I rushed back to my car so I could head directed to the local tap house to get, you guessed it, more of this god-forsaken beer.
I was the only one in the bar, at 11 o’clock in the morning, but I got it.
I savored every
LET THIS BE A CAUTIONARY TALE TO YE
Why the hell do we go out of our way to torture ourselves to track down these white whales?
That was a rhetorical question.
Don’t bother answering.
There is litany of reasons out of which we can posit. The better question that emerges, however, is what’s the kind of person that tracks these beers down? These types of people expand far beyond just beer culture, but the more fascinating aspect surrounding the culture itself is the true rarity of these beers. Perhaps you can find a digital copy of that rare LP, and stream it online. You can see a picture of a rare piece of art. You may own a cheaper copy of an otherwise rare novel. While these are lesser experiences of the “real” thing—until we finally invent Smell-o-Vision— there is no such replication for things olfactory or pertaining to taste. Whale hunting stokes a strangely competitive nature amongst beer drinkers. How competitive? Visit a craft beer forum and just search for “whales.” You may not notice it at first, but eventually, that raw stench of pathetic elitism will make you thankful that we, in fact, do not have Smell-o-Vision.
The concern, however, extends beyond the occasional aggressive one-ups-man-ship associated with the cult of Ahab; it also lies within our own psyche. There is a radio program out of WNYC called Radiolab—not to draw conclusions, but if you’re into craft beer, you’re likely into NPR, so you’ve probably heard of it. Anyway, there was a recent rebroadcast (as a matter of fact, I just heard it again not 10 minutes ago; you can check it out here: http://www.radiolab.org/story/91684-stochasticity) about stochasticity, or, in less fancy-pants terms, randomness. In one segment of this episode, they discuss the tragic tale of one Ann Klinestiver, who was diagnosed years back with Parkinson’s disease. She began drug treatment that mitigated the effects of the disease, but stoked a voracious gambling addiction. They drew parallels to a study by Wolfram Schultz around the turn of the millennium, in which he and colleague Roland Suri measured dopamine levels in a monkey’s brain when they brought him some yummy juice to drink (yummy juice, yummy beer, see where I’m going with this?). In the ongoing study, they found that consistently, the dopamine levels in the brain spiked earlier and earlier by certain triggers pending the arrival of juice. The anticipation of a reward is, in fact, a gamble.
Naturally, I derived my own meaning from this. Consider the beer geek; dopamine free-flowing standing in line, forking over literal gobs of slimy, stanky money for a bottle of beer, having traveled to AND fro (and I mean fro) for this nonsense, the geek finally takes a sip and realizes it
just tastes like beer.
Sure, there are some exceptional beers to seek out, and sometimes some of the fun comes from the chase, but we should cherish our local breweries and businesses as well. Greatness is sometimes down the next block. If you’re stressing over beer, you’re doing something wrong.
Most importantly, if you are going to go out of your way to get a beer like this, why not do it with some close friends in mind? Some of the best experiences are served by helping hands.
Honestly, some people take the culture too seriously, and I will be first to tell you it’s easy to become a little overzealous. I guess what I am really trying to say here is that I would rather be an Ishmael than dive too deep like an Ahab and get eviscerated by a manic cetacean—but that’s just me.
Drop the mike