Sunday, January 31, 2010

Drinking Beers on the Reg

Last night I had one beer on the couch. After an 8 beer evening, I just wanted to get one on the board. It was a Railbender Ale by the Eerie Brewing company. Pretty good stuff. Feeling kind of sick today so we'll see if I have any tonight, but that's what these giant buffers are for I guess.

Total Beers: 93
Where I should be: 82.191

Saturday, January 30, 2010

C is For Cookie

That handsome man is Garrett Oliver, brewmaster for Brooklyn Brewery. For everyone on the West Coast, Brooklyn Brewery is one of the top 3 greatest American breweries, and I'm terribly sorry they do not distribute out there yet. Fortunately for me, I live (relatively) right down the street from this great place. I went there last night for the Liz and Larry birthday spectacular. While the party was great, I think today I want to write about something that has been so far short changed in this space: The beer.

When I say that Brooklyn Brewery is one of the top 3 breweries in the nation, I don't mean to short change other breweries. For instance, if you asked me which American brewery made the best Belgian ales, I would say Ommegang. Best IPAs? That's probably Dogfish Head. But the thing about Brooklyn Brewery is that do EVERYTHING well. From their basic lager to their Brewmaster's Reserve series, any type of beer you can think of, they have an excellent take on that beer. I mean they aren't like Saranac, who makes a million styles of beer, each one as mediocre as the next. These guys do a million styles of beer and they do them all right (as in each beer is done right, not in the "How was the movie?" "It was all right," sense of all right).

Each weekend, the brewery opens itself up for customers (it's not really a bar, they just clear out part of the brewery and set up a bunch of card tables). They generally have about eight of their beers on tap on any given weekend, and at 3 bucks a beer, you're not going to find a better bang for your buck. Given the price and the selection, it's the perfect place to make some headway on drinking 1000 beers in a year, you know, if that was a goal of yours. So at the party I decided I was going to do just that. I drank *SPOILER ALERT* six different types of beer for a total of eight beers last night. Here's the list:

1 Cookie Jar Porter: A porter (who would have guessed??!!) that sort of tastes like an oatmeal cookie. I say "sort of" only to temper your expectations, should you ever drink one. Brooklyn Brewery just came out with this beer about two weeks ago, and all the reviews I read said that it tastes like drinking a cookie. Well that's not how it tastes. It tastes like an excellent porter that has some cookie overtones. I also just noticed that it's hard to think you're writing about beer in a serious manner when you use the phrase "cookie overtones." Anyway, at 8.something ABV, it'll get the job done, assuming your job is getting drunk.

2 Backbreakers: An English Strong Ale, whatever those are. I know a lot about beer and this one is new to me. has Fuller's 1845 listed as the most popular beer in that style, describing the style as "bigger than a pale ale yet smaller than a barleywine," which seems about right. And come to think of it, if someone asked me to describe Backbreaker to them, I probably would have said, "It's sort of a strong ale, not super hoppy, but pretty heavy on the alcohol," so I suppose calling the genre English Strong Ale is pretty apropos, though I'm still not sure where the English part comes in. Whatever it was, it was delicious. And at 7.0 ABV, it will also get the job done.

2 Blasts: Blast is Brooklyn's take on one of my favorite styles of beer, the Double IPA. If you like being punched in the face by a beer, then this is the beer for you. It's a hops explosion (that's something people say, right?). It's also about 9.0 ABV, so that's also pretty great. Perhaps watching this video will explain this beer better than I can:

The remaining beers I had are as follows: 1 Lager, 1 Weisse, and 1 Pilsner, all excellent instantiations of those types of beer. If you want reviews on those, I would check out They'll set you straight there.

I guess as one final note on the evening, during the course of the party I ended up hugging some random guy, as will happen when everyone has been drinking for about 6 hours. I only mention this because a game that I like to play that annoys Liz is "Do you think I could..." One time I asked her if she thought I could hug a different stranger a day, everyday, for a year, you know, just to see if I could. She said she didn't think I could. Well I showed her, I showed her good.* But I don't think I'd want to do that. You ever see those dorks wearing signs or shirts saying "Free Hugs"? I hate those people! 1) No one would pay you for a hug, so how is a free one some kind of discount? 2) The people wearing these shirts and signs act like they're doing you a favor by offering a hug, as if everyone out there just needs your gross hairy arms around them to make their day. You're not doing anyone a favor! You just like touching strangers! Don't try to act like this isn't just a ploy to get some girl to think you're "whimsical" and jokingly let you hug her, thereby making YOUR day. I hate you hug-offering skeeves so much.

Total Beers: 92 Where I should be: 79.452

*No I didn't. You astute mathematicians out there probably figured out that one hug does not equal 365 hugs. You think you're so clever.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Just A Couple of Rubes

Yesterday was Liz's 400th birthday so we had ourselves a fancy Manhattan "stay-cation," or "broke-oliday,"* if you will. While it was a perfectly pleasant evening, complete with taking in a show staring a certain High School Musical cast member pictured below, I would like to focus one thing (which is in fact two, as you'll see later!).


Well, later is now. That one thing is the fact that I only drank one beer last night. This is two things because I want to talk about the fact that 1) I am not halting my consumption of other types of alcohol during this 1000 beer year, and 2) that one beer was ridiculous.

As to 1), many have asked me if I plan to curtail drinking other alcoholic beverages besides beer during this year. The answer to that is a definitive "no." While naturally my consumption of liquor and wine will go down, as I'm not liable to have three beers on a Tuesday and then toss back a whiskey on the rocks after that, I am in no way going to refuse something else on the rare occasion where I'd rather have something else, just for the sake of having a beer. Case in point, last night's dinner. I wanted a bottle of wine with dinner (to split, I mean I'm not made of money), so I ordered a bottle of wine. I'll consume the beers in time. No need to force things.

As to 2), after the show, Liz and I went to one of those super touristy/awful "Irish" pubs off of Times Square to grab a beer. We ordered a beer each (I got a Harp, for those keeping track). When the beers came out, something seemed odd that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Luckily, Liz figured out the problem. Let's see if you readers can figure it out:

You figure it out? No? Well here's a hint. The person that is holding that glass is Liz. Figure it out yet? No? Ok, hint number two: Liz does not have monstrously gigantic hands. Now? No? Well fine, I'll just tell you. The glasses the beer came in were super-tiny!!!! I mean, it looked like they took a regular pint glass and shrunk it down by about 2/3. The glasses maybe held 12 oz, and that's a big maybe. I wish I would have specifically ordered a pint of Harp instead of just saying, "I'll have a Harp," because then I would have had cause to complain. When the waitress came by to ask if we wanted another beer, I wanted to say, "No, but I'll have the other half of my first one now," but Liz hates it when I make jokes to servers. But don't worry, they still charged me seven bucks a beer. On the whole, I thought the whole thing was hilarious/infuriating. But on the plus side, tonight I am off to the Brooklyn Brewery, which should be the exact opposite of that place.

Total Beers: 84 Where I should be: 76.712

*See this joke is doubly funny because 1)We wanted to go somewhere out of town but were too broke. So instead we 2) Spent a whole ton of money in Manhattan on dinner/drinks/show/hotel and now are in fact broke. Topical humor!
**Get it?? Get it??!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

That's Just How Budgeting Works

You might think that last night would have been a perfect opportunity to get my "political drinking" on, what with the State of the Union being on and the myriad of drinking games to go along with it. Well, you'd be wrong, as always. At least half wrong, anyways. I did do the ol' three beers on the couch thing (2 Red Oval Lagers, 1 Simpler Times Lager, both types of beer are now gone from my fridge and I will be doing my drinking outside of the apartment for the foreseeable future), but I did not watch the SOTU, as the insiders call it. Why? Who knows? I was half-assedly reading trademark and the super long applause breaks really bore me. And what with the time-shifting and the 24 news cycle and the internet and the death of print media and all the other things, I got the salient points this morning.

Now that everyone knows that I am a Bad American, I can get to what to what I wanted to briefly talk about. It's snowing!!!!!! WEEEEEE!!!!!!!! I woke up this morning to go to the gym (I'll talk about this an upcoming 'Debunking the Myth of the Beer Gut' post), looked outside and saw that it was snowing. Then I remembered that the gym is closed today. Then I remembered that I have a bottle of Bethlehem Brew Works Rude Elf Special Reserve (also known as the perfect winter beer) stashed away. Then I remembered it was 8:30 in the morning. While I am all for turning beer into a breakfast/brunch cocktail in the same vein as the mimosa or bloody marry, it should probably accompany an actual breakfast or brunch. So while Snow + Rude Elf seems like a no brainer, Snow + Rude Elf + 8:30 in the morning unfortunately gives me some pause. However, if it was Snow + Snow + Rude Elf + Whatever Time Day or Night, well that would definitely be a green light for drinking.

Total Beers: 83 Where I should be: 73.972

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pure Power!

Three beers at home last night: 2 Red Oval Lagers, 1 Simpler Times Lager.

Total: 80
Where I should be: 71.232

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crisis Averted

As the old adage goes, Satan doesn't open a door without causing you a considerable amount of mental anguish. Well believe you me, what ever wise old Frenchman first uttered that phrase knew what he was talking about. Allow me to explain. In my case, Satan is my wife. The door she opened was my fridge's door. After reading what she called my "whiny post" about lacking beer and "being afraid to go out in the rain," she took it upon herself to trek to Trader Joe's for groceries and beer. She returned home with one six pack of Simpler Times Lager, priced at 5 dollars a six pack, and one six pack of Red Oval Lager, priced at a ridiculous 3 dollars a six pack! Here seems like an appropriate place for the sweet joke I thought of last night: My anticipated beer-free evening turned out to be a surprising evening of free beer!* (Note: I did not take that picture. I found that on the internet. The internet has pictures of everything on it!)

Simpler Times Lager, as I've said before, is actually pretty decent. It's 6.2 ABV and is quite tasty. For 5 bucks a six, you'd be hard pressed to find a better bang for you buck (Equally good is the Simpler Times Pilsner, a little lighter on the ABV side but no less tasty). Now, here comes the mental anguish part of my extended metaphor, which by now we should all agree is very apt. Red Oval Lager, while made by the same people as Simpler Times, is kind of gross. Not flavorless in a Bud Lite kind of way, but gross in a Strohs or Schlitz kind of way. I wouldn't say it's undrinkable, but on the whole, if price wasn't an issue, I choose Simpler Times 10 out of 10 times if given the choice between the two.

But therein lies the problem. Price is an issue for me. Simpler Times comes in at about 83 cents a can, while Red Oval Lager comes in at about 50 cents a can. That's a difference of 33 cents per can. Go ahead, check my math if you don't believe me. While that difference may seem negligible at first glance, I anticipate Trader Joe's beers to constitute upwards of 200 of my 1000 beers. If I only drank Simpler Times for those 200 beers, I would spend $66 dollars more over the course of the year. Again, while that may not seem like much, to think of that another way, that's 6,600 pennies, which put side-by-side would stretch more than the length of a football field (this is true! I did the math!). Or to think of it another, more helpful way, that's money for 22 extra six packs of Red Oval Lager. So what's a man on a mission to do? Drink more or drink better?

When it comes down to it, I think the question boils down to, "Would I pay $66 a year to ensure that every beer I drink over that year tastes better than Red Oval Lager?" The answer to that question, I'm pretty sure, is yes. But we'll see. Sometimes I might get super cheap. Sometimes I might only have 3 dollars on me. But as far as I can tell, Red Oval Lager's time in my fridge will be short lived.

So on to the beer drinking. Last night I drank 4 beers in my apartment (I was only going to drink 3, but then Liz decided she wanted one, and what am I going to do? Let my wife drink alone? I'm not a monster.) 2 Simpler Times Lagers and 2 Red Oval Lagers.

Total Beers: 77 Where I should be: 68.493


Monday, January 25, 2010

Scheduled Interruption

I just read about a guy who went to 1000 bars in one year. This guy ( makes my journey look like amateur hour. However, it just strengthens my resolve to actually complete this thing.

And while I wanted to build suspense about this, I have beer in my apartment! So do not fret, my loyal hypothetical readers, there will be an update (possibly extensive?) tomorrow!

Wherein My First Beer Crisis Occurs

Yesterday's haul: 2 Sierra Nevadas, 1 21st Amendment Monk's Blood. All three drank while sitting on my couch. The are only two things to note here, both of a similar nature: 1) I am out of Monk's Blood and am unsure if I can acquire more. That's a shame because that beer has wormed its way into one of my all time favorites. 2) I am now out of beer in general at my apartment. This normally would be a rectifiable situation, but it is pouring out. I wanted to go to Trader Joe's today to pick up a couple of their 5 dollar six packs (Simpler Times Pilsner is actually pretty good), but due to the rain I may not make it. I know what you're saying, just go to a corner bodega and pick up a six pack there. The problem there is if I make that a habit, that's going to be way more expensive in the long run than buying a case at the beer distributor or buying cheap six packs at Trader Joes. I don't want to get into that rut early, and I'm still a few days ahead in my drinking. So tonight maybe a beer-free evening. Stay tuned.

Total beers: 73. Where I should be: 65.753

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Like Keenan, Virginica, not so much

Not much to report. Only two beers at home last night. Both Sierra Nevadas. Good times.

Total Beers: 70. Where I should be: 63.013.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Fist Pump Like A Champ

Ah Turtle Bay Tavern. You are objectively the worst bar on earth. Strikes against you: 1) You are in Midtown, and not even a remotely fun part of Midtown, 2) It takes for ever to get a beer at your establishment because of 3) You are packed with people that have douchey jobs. 4) Your shot girls are humorless. 5) You send me about 15 texts and 82 e-mails a day. 6) You made me take my hat off (after my 6th beer!) like you think you're some kind of classy establishment. You have shot girls for crissake! Like my hat is somehow going to ruin the carefully put together swanky aesthetic of the place...Also 7) A bunch of other reasons. That place is the worst.

About three days ago, they had Ronnie from the Jersey Shore show up. Not that there is anything wrong with that, except that I know for a fact, being that I read about it on Gawker, that bars have to pay these Jersey Shore folk an exorbitant amount of money for appearances. I'm also pretty sure that Ronnie wasn't their first choice. If you want a Jersey Shore cast member at your bar, you're going to want, in following order: Snooki, The Situation, Pauly D, JWoww, and then Ronnie. The market reflects this as well. A Snooki appearance goes for $7,500, while a COMBO Ronnie and Sammie Sweetheart goes for a lowly $3,000. So what does this mean? Turtle Bay had a SOLO Ronnie appearance, which I can only surmise cost them about $1,500. Meaning they thought they had to keep up with Jones by having a Jersey Shore cast member appearance, but only shelled out for Ronnie! The cheapest one! You're the worst Turtle Bay! No one wants to party with that guy. If you're going to be an awful Midtown bar, at least go all out.

But I was there man, I was there. You may recall my super specific rule about not turning down free open bars. Well that was directed at Turtle Bay. They do this thing where every Thursday and Friday, they give a couple people a free open bar during their happy hour. The hook is they give all those people's friends half-off drinks during that time as well. So what happens is, at the cost of giving one person a couple free drinks, they get about 10 people in the bar that wouldn't have been there in the first place. Then these friends sign up to try and win an open bar. And the thing is, everyone wins one eventually. Liz has won two, my friend Greg has managed to win about four despite the fact that he lives in Korea. And when you win one, of course you're going to go, it's free drinks after all! And because you're not a sad, sad person, of course you're going to bring friends. And then of course they're going to win one eventually and on and on and on. It's essentially a snake eating itself.

So that's how I arrived at this place last night, and more than likely, not for the last time. I am a broke man. I can't say no to three hours of free beer any more so than Cathy can say no to her mom's cooking.

Any way, here's the beer list. Nothing too special to comment on, but I did manage to put up a decent number for the night.

7 at Turtle Bay: 3 Blue Point Lagers? (Maybe some wheat beer, liz not sure), 2 Guinness, 1 Sam Adams, 1 Sam Adams Winter

1 Sierra Nevada Kellerweis at home.

Total Beers for the evening: 8

Cumulative Beers Drank: 68. Where I should be: 60.273

Also, I wrote this note down when I got home: "those McDonalds "Not until I've had my coffee commercials" write about those." I'm not sure what I had to say about them, but I bet it was hillarious.

Friday, January 22, 2010

In the Beginning, there was a lot Drinking at my Apartment

As I mentioned, this whole project began in a sort of ramshackle fashion. I thought about going back through this list, cleaning it up, typing up stories where applicable, clarifying what specific beers I had and where, but that's a lot of work. So instead, I just decided to copy and past my word document of beers I've drank up until now. Just know that this list is, if anything, under-reporting how many beers I have actually had, as I only wrote down the ones I could say with certainty I drank. Without further ado, here's the list:

January 1: 4 (all Stoudts) after midnight during the New Years Party, 3 (2 Magic Hat 1 Sam Adams) at Kim’s and the Larsons: 7

January 2: 3 at lunch at Brew Works, 2 at the Lariers, 1 at the Larsons: 6

January 3: Between the 3rd and 4th: 4 Weyerbachers at my apartment: 4

January 5: 2 at Brooklyn Bowl (Brooklyn Black Chocolate and Lager), 1 at Mugs (Brooklyn Backbreaker), 1 at home (Merry Monk): 4

January 6: 1 at Abigail’s (Hennepin), 2 at home (Rude Elf, Old Heathen): 3

January 7: 4 at Larry’s (HeBrew and Blue Moon) during the BCS: 4

January 8: 1 (Weyerbacher) at home, 1 at Los Suez? (Bohemia), 2 back at home (Weyerbacher): 4

January 9: 1 (Weyerbacher) at home, 2 (Arcadia CocoLoco, Longtail? Double IPA) at Washington Commons: 3

January 10: 1 at home (Weyerbacher): 1

January 11: 3 at home (Weyerbachers): 3

January 12: 3 at home (Weyerbachers): 3

January 15: 1 at Soda (Ommegang), 2 at home (Speakeasy), 1 at doods (Bud), 1 at Union Pool (PBR), 2 at Larry Lawrence (Brooklyn): 7

January 16: 1 at Bierkraft (Victory), 2 at home (Speakeasy), 1 at Franklin Park (Ommegang), 3 at home (Blue Point, Speakeasy): 7

January 18: 2 at home (Rude Elf, Monks Blood): 2

January 19: 1 at home (Monks Blood): 1

January 21: 1 at home (Monks Blood): 1

Total: 60 beers. How many I should have drank by now: 57.534

Things to note. I was way ahead of schedule to start, but as things happen, my numbers have come back to earth. Even so, I am still a full days worth of drinking ahead of schedule and plan to put some distance between me and the 2.7 beer pace tonight at, you guessed it, an open bar. See you all tomorrow!

The Rules of the Game

I want to have some fun with this New Years resolution. Ideally, a man who drinks 1000 beers in one year should have some stories tell. Stories that I will hopefully record here, and then later in the book based on this widely successful blog. However, I am a man of pretty limited means. I don't have a sponsor, at least not yet (I'm looking at you, Brooklyn Brewery). The astute reader will probably surmise that the most efficient way for me to complete this challenge is to just buy cases of the lightest, cheapest beer I can find and drink on my couch. Well that's boring (to read about anyway). And I hate light/mass-produced/corporate/macro-beer (think Bud, Coors, Miller, etc.) with a passion. Macro-beer is to me what swimsuits are to Cathy, Mondays are to Garfield, and box-office success is to David Mamet. I also want to do this thing honestly. I don't want my future editors stating, "On June 26, Ryan only drank half his IPA before he left the bar. He only drank 999 beers! We demand our advance money back!"

With these concerns in mind, I thought it would be best to lay down some rules. We'll divide these rules into two separate, existential categories.

Category 1: What is a beer?
1. Beer, for our purposes, will be anything that calls itself a beer and doesn't contain the word "non-alcoholic." I'm not going to get cute here.
2. I will not set a quantitative limit on what counts as a beer toward my 1000 beer goal. If I have a beer that comes in a 12 oz can, that's one beer. If I have a beer that comes in a 25.4 oz bottle, that's one beer. A giant German biergarten stein's worth of beer? You guessed it, that's one beer. Conversely, if I attend a beer tasting festival and get served 4 oz glasses of beer, well, those each count as one beer a piece as well. I figure that cosmically, the beers will average out to being about 12 oz's a piece.
3. Some people don't think that beer made with adjuncts (such as rice or corn) counts as beer. I am sort of one of those people. Fortunately, most beers made with adjuncts just happen to be macro-beers, such as Bud, Coors, and Miller, which I won't want to be drinking anyway. But as it happens, sometimes you have to roll with the punches when it comes to beer drinking. You attend a party and all they have is macro-beer, etc. So, to accommodate for this, I am only going to allow macro-beers to count towards my 1000 beers when someone else buys them for me. This is to ensure you readers, and myself, that this resolution won't end with me buying five cases of Bud Lite on December 15, 2010 and just pounding them on my couch.

Category 2: What motivates a man to act?
1. If someone offers to buy me a beer, I have to accept (caveat, if the bartender/myself/a friend or loved one thinks I might die of alcohol poisoning, I will be allowed to decline).
2. If I win some type of free open bar thing, I have to go. (This is a really specific rule which will be elaborated on later)
3. If someone poses the question, "Hey, you want to go grab a beer?" I have to say yes (another caveat, being a law student/someone desperately looking for a job right now, if I have class or an interview, I can postpone said beer grabbing).

These last three rules are really meant to make sure that I get out more often than not, and hopefully have some stories to tell as well. To be sure, a good deal of these beers will be drank on my couch while I watch TV. That's just the nature of the beast. However, I want this to be as social an ordeal as possible. If I find that I'm not getting out enough, I'll add more rules. Also, while I expect this resolution to somewhat ruin my life, if I find that it is completely ruining my life, I may add more caveats. Are we all clear?

With that said, I will be updating after every day in which I drink a beer, which will hopefully be everyday. I'll write down at the very least what I drank, where I drank it, how many beers total I have consumed, and how many beers I should be at to maintain the 1000 beer pace.

Now, onto the drinking!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A New Years Resolution

Writing down my New Years resolutions has a remarkable way of making way of making them come true. In 2005, I resolved to get fired from a job and move to Washington D.C. I posted these resolutions somewhere in the annals of the internet, and sure enough, within the next four months, both of those resolutions came to pass. In 2006, I resolved to become the world's strongest man and the world's best battle-rapper, writing down these resolution in a similar forum. While I have yet to really test either of those claims, they haven't been demonstrably proven false, so I can only assume that those resolutions have also come to pass. Having become the world's strongest man and the best battle-rapper on the planet (any and all challenges to these claims are welcome*), I decided to give resolving to do things a rest, and instead took up drinking.

I like drinking a wide variety of alcoholic beverages. In fact, I'll drink just about anything that has a modicum of flavor (we'll address this later), but first and foremost I fancy myself a beer guy. Beer is to me what chocolate is to Cathy, lasagna is to Garfield, and swear words are to David Mamet. It isn't about just getting loaded (except when it is), it's about the taste, experience, and all around culture of drinking a beer.**

Fast-forward to New Years Eve, 2010 (December 31, 2009, just so we're all clear). I am sitting on my in-laws couch having a few beers. Somewhere along the lines, someone starts talking about New Years resolutions. Having no flaws to fix, and being the model of cunning wit, I jokingly resolve to drink 1000 beers in 2010. To the best of my recollection, hearty laughs were had by all, and we continue our merry, drinking ways. The next several days were spent at various at family parties, dinners with friends, and just in general enjoying the holidays. Naturally, drinking accompanied all of these activities. Around January 4th or so, I was talking with my wife, Liz, wondering if how much I had drank in the last several days would put me on pace to finish my mock-resolution. In my rough calculations, I had to drink about 37 beers a day, over the course of the year, to drink 1000 beers in 2010. Liz, who is not an idiot (which also explains her refusal to join me in my quest), actually crunched the numbers. Apparently, to drink 1000 beers over the course of 365 days, one would have to drink 2.739 beers per day.

I thought to myself, "A little under three beers a day. That's do-able. Heck, I might even drink 1000 beers in a year without even meaning to do so! I could actually do this! This will be the worst year of Liz's life!"

I then wrote down every beer I could remember drinking since 12:00 A.M. January 1, 2010. It turns out I was way ahead of schedule. I kept track of all the beer drinking I had done since then (I'll post this later), just to make sure that I could actually keep this up. Apparently I can.

So, even though this may be a few weeks late, I still think writing this down will aid me in my awesome goal.

Be it resolved: I will drink 1000 beers in 2010.

*No they're not.
**If you think that sounded pretentious, you should read Beer & Philosophy, edited by Steven Hales. Now that book has some serious pretense. However, if you didn't think that sounded pretentious, you should read Beer & Philosophy, edited by Steven Hales, as it contains some accessible discussions about all three of those beer-related characteristics.