Thursday, April 29, 2010

Good for Young Generation!

I've been pretty bad at updating this past week here. I've got two days worth of beer drinking to describe and part of that I'll finish tomorrow. So let's get the bland stuff out of the way. Tuesday I had three beers, two McSorley's Black Irish Lagers and a Simpler Times Lager (I bought a six pack at Trader Joe's while grocery shopping, couldn't be avoided). I drank them on the couch while doing nothing of interest to any of you.

Last night (Wednesday), however, I actually ventured out of my apartment for some drinking. My wife and I had ourselves a nice little date night in Manhattan. First we went to the Blind Tiger in the West Village. Remember earlier when I said I couldn't think of a Manhattan bar that would make my top ten? Blind Tiger might. I've been there a bunch of times before. They have a really good beer selection (it being a "beer bar" and all) for okay prices. What brings it down, and I mean way down, are the super awful crowds at night. It gets pretty packed, and not with people you'd think would be going to a bar that only serves fancy microbrews. But yesterday Liz and I got there around 4:30 in the afternoon and much to our surprise, it was crowded (but not packed) with beer people AND they were having a Bear Republic Brewing Company event. All 25 of their taps were dedicated to Bear Republic beers which was pretty cool. I haven't had many Bear Republic beers before, so I was pretty stoked. While there I had their Double Rocket, their imperial red ale. Perhaps the beer they are most famous for is their Red Rocket Ale, which is a pretty good red ale. Well their Double Rocket is their Red Rocket turned up to 11. I'd never had an "imperial" red ale before, so that was kind of a trip. After that I had their Olde Scoutter's Barleywine. Liz thought it smelled weird but I couldn't smell anything, which is becoming a common occurrence with our beer drinking. I'm not sure if my sense of smell is shot or if hers is permanently wired to "that smells weird."

After Blind Tiger we went to dinner where I had...water. After dinner we went to the White Horse Tavern. The White Horse Tavern, as you may know, is the place where Dylan Thomas essentially drank himself to death and where all the other Bohemia people hung out in the 50s and 60s. So a bar brimming with history right? It even has a cool a exterior:

So you'd imagine it'd be pretty cool, right? Wrong. It, in fact, kind of sucked. I mean it didn't suck, really. It's just nowhere near what it should be. The bar seemed like the bar at an Applebees. Ok, that's a bit harsh, but it had a super generic vibe to it. I can't imagine, say, Cormac McCarthy or Justin Bieber hanging out there now. And now that my blog has had a million new visitors who found it googling Justin Bieber, I will say that I had an Anchor Steam Ale there. So welcome, throngs of tween girls to my blog about beer drinking. On second thought, get out of here, underaged weirdos. Go and google a worthwhile teen-heartthrob, like G.G. Allen.

After that we went home and took a trip to Africa...That plus numbers tomorrow

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Casually Bringing Up My Other World Travels

Sorry for the radio silence there yesterday. Truth is, not much to report. On Sunday I had one beer, a Kwak. Kwak is a belgian ale from Belgium no less. While it's a pretty good beer, it's most famous for the glass it is typically served in. Here's an awful picture of said glass (well, glasses, I have two) I took with my cell phone on Sunday:

I actually bought both of those glasses on separate trips to Belgium (I've been twice, both times as side trips from Amsterdam with my family. Yes, I've been to Amsterdam twice with my family. My folks are, as they say, pretty cool). The first time I went to Belgium was actually before I was a big ol' beer guy. My dad and I did a day trip to Brugge, toured a dope brewery out there (I'll post the name later, I have it written down at home) and then settled in for lunch at a small cafe. I think the best way to describe Brugge is that it looks like what an old timey European city designed by Disney would look like, except its authentic, which is awesome. Anyway, at this lunch, I ordered a Kwak. It came in a glass like that, you know, except the glass was two feet long! It was crazy. I subsequently bought one of those glasses, brought it home, and on my next trip out there completed the set. The glasses, according to the internet, were originally designed so they could hang off the sides of stage coaches. Pretty cool!

Anyway, no beers yesterday (Monday). So you know what that means? Link Monday/Tuesday! Woo! This week's theme: drinking while traveling.

Mile High Boozing: The Five Best Airlines for In-Flight Beer by Jaunted. I'm not generally a big fan of drinking on planes, but if I did, I'd want something good. The best I've ever had on a flight was a Heineken so it's nice to see some airlines are upping the game.

BarCars This is just a cool website that documents various bar cars on trains. I don't really ride the rails much, but if I did, I think you'd know where to find me.

Total Beers: 335
Where I Should Be: 317.808

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Do They Owe Us a Living? Of course they do! Of course they do!

I don't have a hook for today, so I'll just actually talk about the beers I drank yesterday! You're welcome, people who hate interesting posts. Yesterday I had a Speakeasy Rum Runner Rye, what I can only assume is their take on a rye ale, at the Gate. It was surprisingly drinkable. Other rye ales I've had, Sixpoint's come to mind, while tasty, aren't exactly what I would reach for on hot summer day. While it was drinkable, I will say it seemed to sacrifice some flavor at the expense of a crisp brew. For instance, I didn't really taste that much rye! In a rye ale no less! What a crazy world we live in.

Later that night we went to Mug's Ale House. This was impressive because this was the first time I ever went to my top two favorite bars in the SAME DAY! Anyway, there I had a Left Hand Sawtooth Ale. I've had it in the bottle before but on draft it was crazy! It had that creamy consistency of a Guinness or a Boddingtons but still had the pale ale taste. Crazy! At Mug's I also had a Founders Continental IPA, which was a pretty good IPA. What's notable, at least in terms of my drinking experience, is that Founders is a Michigan brewery. So is Atwaters! Two Michigan beers two days in a row. Michigan, I will say, is secretly a very good craft beer state. Don't believe me? Check this out. I've been to the Library Brewery in Houghton and Fletcher St. Brewery in Alpena, and both are great.

After that, we went to the Charleston where I had an Ommegang Rare Vos, which I'm pretty sure I've discussed before. If not, I'm sure I'll talk about it in the future. The Charleston is pretty awesome because they play exclusively punk rock on the juke box and you get a free pizza, not a slice but a whole pizza!, for every beer order! It's awesome. After that, I had two Strongbow Ciders. Here's my description of Strongbow: If hobos were hummingbirds, Strongbow would be in those feeders people hang from trees. And there's your not quite funny or p.c. joke for the day. See you tomorrow!

Total Beers: 334 (hey, over 1/3 of the way done!)
Where I Should Be: 312.328

Saturday, April 24, 2010

This Is Class War, Yeah This Is Class War

I've been trying to figure out how to write a "punk rock and beer" post for a while. I still have no idea what that would entail. I'm sure punk rock somehow influenced my beer drinking. I bought Propaghandi's "How To Clean Everything" when I was 11 and diligently hid it from my parents (they made me return Green Day's "Dookie" twice. I didn't think they'd be too cool with me owning an album that had "fuck" in just about every song title. Sorry folks!).* That would probably explain my aversion to corporate brew:

I do love that they plug reading and books at the end. I debated putting this video or Black Flag's "Six Pack," but I thought the latter would be a bit too obvious.

Yesterday I had an Atwater Block Spring Bock Lager at Washington Commons. While it was pretty good, I believe it holds the distinction as being the longest named beer I've had this year. Then Liz and I went to dinner at The Vanderbilt where I had a Victory Storm King Stout. Also, another solid beer!

Total Beers: 330
Where I Should Be: 309.589

*Still haven't used "fuck" yet on this blog, only mentioned it. Logic to the rescue once again!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just Writing This Post Made My Head Hurt

The trouble with getting pretty knowledgeable on a subject is that you get much more susceptible to getting really annoyed by those not in the know. For instance, if you know how to read and write English, and properly use a comma, this blog probably makes your head explode with frustration. Sorry! This frustration with others' ignorance grows exponentially when what you know a lot about is something that everyday lay people think they know a lot about. For instance, my wife is a teacher. She went to school for it, got a grad degree in education, all the stuff you'd do if you want to actually know something about teaching kids. The problem is, every ol' a-hole in the world (myself included) thinks they know what's the best way to teach kids. So when she hears non-educator types talk about what is and isn't good for children in the classroom, she gets justifiably upset.

Well, I don't know about education (though this doesn't stop me from telling Liz I know better than her on the subject), but I do know about beer. I mean I don't know as much as lot of people, but I'd say I know more than most. So when people talk about beer in an idiotic way, as I am wont to do with education, it gets under my skin. However, I'd like to think I'm not a snob about this stuff. I mean beer is the ultimate egalitarian beverage. I'm sure I said some idiotic things about beer before I knew what was what. I'm sure I say a lot of idiotic things about beer now. That said, not all beer misspeak is created equal. Some is way more frustrating than others. I'll explain my levels of frustration, using actual examples of dumb things I have heard people say about beer.

Three Levels of Frustration.
Level One: Talking Out of Complete Inexperience but with No Pretense Whatsoever

Friend of Mine Drinking A Brooklyn Blast, Brooklyn's Double IPA: Wow, this tastes like Guinness.

This type of beer misspeak I have no problem with. She wasn't trying to impress anyone. Her basis of comparison was just very limited. I'm guessing the only beers she had prior to this beer were Macros and Guinness. If the only two colors you had ever seen in your life were green and blue and someone showed you something orange, you might say "this looks like blue." You'd be wrong, but only because of your limited prior experiences with color. Not your fault.

Level Two: Wrong on the Facts When You Should Know Better

Customer: What beer would you recommend?
Bartender: What kind of beers do you like?
Customer: I'm typically an ale drinker.
Bartender: What beer do you typically get?
Customer: Yuengling

C'mon man! Let's look at the bottle:

Hmmmm. Hmmmmmm. Notice anything in big block letters on the bottle? But, you may say, that's not fair! What if he only ever ordered it on draft. Ok. Let's see how that would look:

"LAGER"!!!! You typically drink ales and when the bartender asks for a beer you typically drink, you name a lager. You should know better. And you told a bartender you drink ales, why? Just to say something? How about if you don't know, just say, I don't know, I normally get Yuenglings. C'mon!

Level Three: I Am Going To Punch You In Your Face

Guy At A Harpoon Beer Tasting Talking Really Loudly and Annoyingly Through Everything the Harpoon Rep Was Saying, Trying Hard to Impress His Friends With His Supposed Beer Snobbery: Ohhhhh. This beer (Harpoon's Belgian White Ale) is really hoppy.

Seriously dood, I'm going to murder you. Harpoon's Belgian White Ale is the exact opposite of hoppy. I get that you're trying to impress all of your friends by showing off how much you know about beer (Hoppy is a word used to describe beer, so clearly it applies here!) but you're talking loudly over the guy who is trying to tell you what the beer actually tastes like! And you literally could not be more wrong! I'm not going to go to a wine tasting and start shouting, in the hopes of everyone around me hearing me and being super impressed, "Oh, this wine is really tanniny!" That would be super douchey and idiotic! Just like this guy! I think I just set a record for sentences ending in an exclamation point in a row!

Look, the moral of the story is that if you don't know, you don't know. No harm in that. Ask questions. Learn. Don't start talking like an a-hole. My friend Paul has a giant pet peeve of people saying they saw movies they never saw. What's the point in lying in a situation like that? Similarly, what's the point in lying about your beer knowledge? It's not a super snobby community. It's not a super judgmental (of people, that is) community. If you don't know about beer, 10 times out of 10 you'll be greeted with an enthusiastic explanation and not a judgmental scoff. C'mon. Don't be that guy.

(Last night I had four Brooklyn Pilsners at City Tavern celebrating Dave's birthday and a McSorley's Brooklyn Black Lager at home)

Total Beers: 328
Where I Should Be: 306.849

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Surprisingly, I Don't Hate Tim Tebow

I hate to do this back to back, but this time of year being what it is....last night I had three beers on the couch (1 Southampton Altbier, 2 McSorleys Black Irish Lagers). I'll treat this post like I treated the beer drinking last night, something that's got to be done. Tomorrow, a real post, I promise, all two or three of you still reading this thing.

Total Beers: 323
Where I Should Be: 304.109

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dr. Drew is a Horrible Human Being

Old school (in the style of two months ago) post: last night I had a Defiant Lager at Franklin Park with dinner and had two McSorley's Black Irish Lagers at home while watching the Suns dominate the Blazers.

Total Beers: 320
Where I Should Be: 301.369

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We Were the Best Team in the League!

Sorry about the delay in posting here. Truth is it's been pretty quiet on this front. Sunday I had four beers (2 McSorley's Black Irish Lagers, 1 Southampton Altbier, 1 Sierra Dorado) during the day and while watching my Suns loses to the Blazers. If the Suns lose this series, I am very likely to end up like this guy (swear words in the video, be warned!) Also, the dood at the end is very likely to be Liz:

Well, in sort of sticking to tradition, I only had one beer on Monday night (McSorley's). So even though I only had one beer, and I already sort of posted, I'm going to go ahead a stick with Link Mondays here (brought to you on Tuesday). Today's theme is alcohol content. The first link I'm posting has to do with wine, but I'll drop the very real beer connection on you afterwards.

Wines That Pack A Little Extra Kick from the Wall Street Journal. As always, wine drinkers are jerks. There used to be a debate in the beer community about alcohol content in beers, thinking a beer couldn't be "balanced" with a high alcohol content, but then everybody probably drank a couple of beers, mellowed out, and then realized that higher alcohol content in beers can actually make some beers taste better! Who knew? Enter this jerk, Rajat Parr, wine director of the San Francisco based Michael Mina restaurant group. He says, "I won't taste wines over 14% alcohol." If I hired a guy to pick out beers for my restaurant and he refused to try beers because of their alcohol content (or any other reason really), you know what he'd be? Fired! Man, wine drinkers are idiot snobs. Ok, maybe not all of them, but those who think that some arbitrary percentage of alcohol in a wine is a cutoff for "balance" are.

My second link here is Super-High-Alcohol Beer Heads to the U.S. from Time. My reaction here is that I'm troubled by the fact that not once do the brewers or the article mention the taste of the beer. I get trying to pump up alcohol content in a beer as an academic exercise, but you're going to sell this? Lest we forget that above all, beer is supposed to taste good. Unlike Mr. Parr, I'm not going to discount this beer out of hand, but again, it's curious as to why they wouldn't talk about taste. I read somewhere that a good way to think about alcohol in beer is that it's like fat in foods, and that finding the appropriate balance in the appropriate beers is the key to a tasty beer. I think this beer, however, would almost be like eating a spoonful of lard. But if someone wants to drop the $60 on a bottle for me, I most certainly wouldn't say no.

Total Beers: 317
Where I Should Be: 298.630

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More Brooklyning

I thought about postponing posting (I wish I ran a soul food blog so I could say I thought about postponing posting pones), but I didn't want to run into link Mondays, which are actually posted on Tuesdays, and aren't actually a real thing yet. That sentence made my head hurt but I have an aversion to pressing the delete button, which is probably why this blog reads like something something something. I'll complete that analogy later.

So yesterday, in all my freedom, I walked around this entire borough. Along the way I stopped at at the Gate, because you know, how could I not?, and had a Brooklyn Dark Matter and oh was it awesome. Afterwards I went to Bierkraft to buy a sandwich for dinner and had a Southampton Biere De Mars, Southampton's take on a traditional Martian ale. It was light and fruity and tasty, but sadly a month out of season (Biere De Mars is actually "March Beer" and I drank it in April. I should be ashamed, I know).

After walking for a million more miles (seriously, neighborhoods I walked through yesterday include Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, South Slope, Gowanus, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bed-Stuy) I went home and drank a 25 oz bottle of Lagunita's Gnarley Wine. In case you're bad at understanding puns, Gnarley Wine is a barley wine and a pretty tasty one at that. It was actually the sweetest, fruitiest barley wine I think I've ever had. I would recommend it! That's it for the beers I had. I know three sounds like weak sauce, but that giant bottle of Lagunitas would generally pour out three glasses, but I have to count that as one because of the integrity and all. In conclusion, this is the best post I've ever written.

Total Beers: 312
Where I Should Be: 293.150

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fear the Deer

In the grand tradition of having NYC all to myself (as the wife is out of town this weekend), I spent last night on the couch drinking beers, ordering Mexican food, and watching ESPN's documentary on Allen Iverson. Suffice it to say, last night was pretty awesome. I had five beers (two Sierra Dorado's and three McSorley's Black Irish Lagers) over the course of about seven hours. I mean not really much more to say about yesterday. Also, in another grand tradition, I'll give you some previews of some awesome posts I'm putting together. In addition to the African beers post, I'm currently compiling a list of all the different types of beers I've drank and all the bars I've been to so far. I don't know what I'm going to do with that but I thought it'd be interesting to put together. Project number two is a ranking, as it were, of my favorite bars in NYC. I might do this neighborhood by neighborhood, I might do it city wide. What I certainly won't do is borough by borough, because I can't think of any bar actually in Manhattan that would crack my top 10. Well, look forward to those. A third project I might do is compile a list of all thing things I said I would do here and didn't actually get around to doing. The first item on that list: compiling that list. How meta!

Total Beers: 309
Where I Should Be: 290.410

Friday, April 16, 2010

Coming to America

See that? That's going to blow the lid right off this blog. I won't say much about it now, as there will be a lengthy post (some of it is already written!) but a few weeks ago My 1000 Beer Year went to Korea. Today, Africa came to My 1000 Beer Year. One of those beers isn't even on, a rarity, I can assure you. My only dilemma is whether to wait till the wife gets back in town on Sunday to drink these or drink to them tomorrow. Ok, I'll shut up about this now, as you'll be getting an earful (eyeful?) later, but for now I will thank my benevolent Uncle Chris for hooking me up.

Yesterday Liz and I went to Washington Commons, a pretty sweet beer bar by our apartment. The place gets a weird (read young, faux-rich, and douchey, sort of like midtown bars) vibe at night, but they have a phenomenal happy hour and tap selection. At Washington Commons I had a Goose Island Night Stalker Imperial Stout (not to be confused with their Bourbon County Stout) and a Dogfish Head Red and White Ale. The Goose Island was a pretty standard imperial stout. It's weird to call an imperial stout "standard," like they're available everywhere and everyone drinks them. For those of you not familiar with the term "imperial stout," there's a rich history behind the term, which you are free to google. I'll just say that don't be thrown by the term "stout" in there. Think more high alcohol content, full flavor and body, and less Guinness-y creamy, low alcohol/flavor content.

The Dogfish Head Red and White all was pretty crazy. Liz said it smelled really funky-in-a-bad-way, but I couldn't smell it. What I did experience was an awesome, kind of sour, kind of fruity, full-bodied ale. I wasn't exactly sure what the beer's deal was. It was kind of fruity, but in an indiscriminate way, like I wouldn't say it was a cherry or raspberry ale or anything like that. I could say that it was pretty high in the alcohol content, but it masked it well. This isn't to say that alcohol content needs to be masked, but the alcohol wasn't as overwhelming as it was in, say, the Goose Island. I went home and looked this beer up, to see what it was. Turns out it's a Belgian Wit ale (the White) brewed with Pinot Noir juice (the Red). Weird! And delicious!

Liz is a little obsessed with cheap non-macro brew. Not necessarily because money is a giant concern (I mean it is always in the background, and we are pretty thrifty), but because there's something inherently fascinating about a cheap beer not made by a giant, evil macrobrewery. So I had told her that when I went to buy my case of McSorleys, I saw a case of some beer for 10 bucks, three bucks for a six pack. Well, Liz being Liz, had to go get it. So after Washington Commons, we head to the beer distributor and pick up a six pack of Sierra Dorada Lager made by Black Mount Brewing Company in Cave Creek, Arizona. The only thing I can find out about that brewery is that it makes that gross chili beer you'll sometimes in grocery stores. Here's my review of Sierra Dorada Lager (of which I had one last night on the couch). It tastes like a slightly better, not really gross version of Red Oval, my review of which can be found here. So the moral of that beer is that given that it's the same price, slightly better, from my home state, and can be found closer to my apartment, if I need to drink a bunch of non-macro brew on the cheap, well move over Red Lager, Sierra Dorada Lager is taking your place.

The last beer I drank last night was a Bokrijks Kruikenbier, a belgian golden ale. Liz bought this because it comes in a cool stone bottle with one of those Grolsch-style swing tops. She knows what's important in a beer: cool packaging. Anyways, it was ok. I hate to go to this trope again, but it was essentially your average, generic belgian golden ale. Go to any grocery store that sells non-macro beer. They'll probably have a couple of these types of beers. They tend to be in short, squat bottles with pictures of gnomes or castles or farm houses on them. And they all taste essentially the same. Good, but the same. At best they're a slightly inferior version of Golden Draak. At worst, all you taste is alcohol. This one was closer to the Golden Draak end of the scale, so it was quite drinkable and actually pretty tasty. Plus we have a cool bottle to put....something?!

Total Beers: 304
Where I Should Be: 287.671

Thursday, April 15, 2010

300 Beers!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

It seems like every other day is a milestone around here. Today's cause of celebration de jure (redundant, I know): 300 beers. Last night, I hit 300 beers on the year. The funny thing is, I wasn't exactly intending on it. As you should know, I'm on a slightly less than 3 beers a day pace. Well, last night I thought I would do the minimum 3 beers. But then I realized that that would be put me at 299. Then I realized that the Suns were in the process of securing up the 3 spot in the playoffs. Then I cracked open beer number 300. It all seemed too karmic.* Unfortunately, outside of the amazing Suns victory, there's not too much to say about historic night of drinking. I had three McSorley's Black Irish Lagers and one Southampton Altbier on the couch (who can guess what I bought a case of???????!!!!!!!!). I've determined that I will have some type of event for the 500th beer. What that is, I'm not sure, but it will be something. I drank some interesting beers today, which you'll hear all about tomorrow. All I want to say right now is that this upcoming month is going to be a struggle with a million obligations. I have to drink beer. I have to study for finals. I have to take finals. I have to watch the Suns playoff games. If you're curious as to how this all pans out, I'd suggest you direct your curiosity toward more productive ends like curing cancer or something. But reading this blog would be an acceptable alternative as well, I guess. 300!

Total Beers: 300
Where I Should Be: 284.931

*Just so you know that I know, karma isn't an actual thing. Sorry, Hindus and Buddhists. Not sorry, jerkwads that say they are "spiritual but not religious." You're the worst.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Truth in Advertising

This is an actual "short" post. Last night I had Southampton Altbier and three McSorley's Black Irish Lagers on the couch. I'll talk more about those beers later. Not now. Now is the time for this:

Total Beers: 296
Where I Should Be: 282.191

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

KFC's Double Down and Beer

Ok fine, one more Monday link. (Also, hey, what if that was a thing? Link Mondays? Maybe!)

Link and more links!

No beers yesterday. Mondays appear to be my no-beer-days, which is weird because Mondays are my longest days which would seemingly prompt me to want to drink. But I think this says something important, that being that I don't need to drink. So there you go, American Bar Association and potential future employers who will never actually find this blog.

In lieu of discussing the beers I drank, I think I will use the opportunity to direct you guys to some beer related articles and briefly share my thoughts about it. So here we go:

First Link: It's Better to Drink A Beer After Exercise than Water, from the Cleveland Leader. My only comment here is that it lists "moderate beer consumption for men" as 500 ml per day. A pint of beer has 473 of beer in it. A standard bottle of beer has 3/4 of a pint in it, which would be about 355 ml. So already, according to this post, drinking a "moderate" amount of beer entails drinking more than one beer a day. Considering my pace has me drinking less than three beers a day, it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility that my beer consumption is more on the side of "moderate" than "excessive."

Second Link: Beer: A Celebration of Craft Brewing, from the Washington Post. This is a nice little article about the 2010 Craft Brewers Conference. I think what I found most interesting about it was how many politicians are themselves home brewers. Check it out!

I have more links, but I think I'll save those for later. As I mentioned earlier, there will be a few beer free days coming up soon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sometimes I Wish the Titles of My Posts Accurately Reflected their Content

Hey chumps! Yesterday I did some quality Brooklyn-ing, involving exploring abandoned subway tunnels and walking about this great borough, but since that didn't involve beer, and I really need a short(er) entry, I will skip the details there! I will say my Brooklyn-ing ended up at Chip Shop, an English fish and chip restaurant world famous (this is true, I had heard of it even before moving to NY) for frying anything and everything. We at lunch there and I had a slice of deep fried pizza. It was awesome. At this restaurant (it was really more like a pub, in that the focus on eating and drinking was quite literally evenly split, the bar might have even been bigger than the restaurant seating area) I had a Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale, an English Strong Ale. I've spoken previously about "English Strong Ales" (see here). This one was a pretty good one. A bit darker and a bit thicker than the Brooklyn Backbreaker, but pretty good! Although, it does fail Liz's "drinkability" test. This isn't really Bud's claim to drinkability. She essentially likes beers that she doesn't have to work at drinking. As such, she's not a big barley wine fan. So for instance, she loves Sam Adams Winter Lager because it's delicious, full flavored, AND it's pretty easy to drink. Me, I don't mind working at my beers. While this beer wasn't the most "work" to drink, much easier than say Victory's Old Horizontal, it was a trek!

I'll say one final thing about Chip Shop. They're an English themed pub (in case you have short term amnesia) and as such they specialize in English beers. However, their remaining taps are dedicated to a rotating specific brewery. When I was there, it was Laguntias. I think Troeggs is up next. I just wanted to say that I like this concept. If I wanted a bigger drinking afternoon, I would have run the table on the Lagunitas (Liz got their Cappuccino Stout, which was also pretty good). Alas I stopped it at one, but I do like to try beers from one brewery back to back, so there is a good chance I head back to Chip Shop. But I'll probably avoid the fried pizza on account of not wanting to die.

Then we went back home and I had my last Monk's Blood. Here's to you, awesome beer. I eagerly await the day when I stumble upon you in some bodega in East Flatbush and my head explodes.

Total Beers: 292
Where I Should Be: 276.712

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A 100th Day of Beer Drinking Spectacular

Well gang, I know it's been a few days since I've seen you, but I wanted to keep the Korea posts near the top. Also, those things took kind of a long time to write and I felt I would give my ol' bloggin' skills a few days rest. All right, so Friday night, which is where I believe we left off, I had three PBRs at the apartment while watching the Land of the Lost movie with friends. That movie is awesome. Some might say it's last year's Avatar, both in relation to its plot coherence and visual splendor.

Saturday (my 100th day of beer drinking!) Liz and I had a nice little BoCoCa bar crawl. BoCoCa is called that because it's a mash up of about seven different neighborhoods (Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, some other ones I'm forgetting) and no one (me) can really tell where one ends and the other begins. It's sort of like Brooklyn's version of the Phoenix-metro area in that regard. We first went to Bar Great Harry, which I'd been to before and is an all around awesome beer bar. The only thing it lacks, really, is outdoor seating, but you can't be all things to all people I guess. While there I had a Speakeasy Black IPA. Bar Great Harry listed it just as Speakeasy Black IPA, but looking the beer up online, it's actually called Midnight Run India Black Ale (IBA, clever!). It was pretty interesting in a good way. It was, true to its name, super dark colored. What was weird about it was that it was both super hoppy, like an IPA, and also super malty like a porter. I know you're thinking, hey, you just described a Strong Ale, but I guess what I should add is that it is most certainly an IPA, just a pretty malty one. Here's an analogy that no one will get. You know how Sierra Nevada makes a pretty hoppy everything, including a more-hoppy-than-it-should be barley wine? Well imagine a Bizarro World-Sierra Nevada brewery made an IPA. That's what you'd get with this beer.

That's a pretty long description for a beer that wasn't even the main event of Bar Great Harry: Brooklyn's Dark Matter. As you know, I've had this before poured out of a growler when I was sick. Not the best tasting conditions. This was out of a tap and man, let me tell you, it was awesome. Here's how Brooklyn's Brewmaster, Garret Oliver, describes Dark Matter:

"Brooklyn Dark Matter is a robust brown ale aged for four months in bourbon and rye whiskey barrels. Some barrels previously held Black Ops, some hosted The Manhattan Project, others came straight from the distilleries as soon as the whiskey was decanted. We’ve blended these barrels to create a beer full of caramel and chocolate flavors heightened by vanilla-like oak notes and hints of the barrels’ previous tenants. The result is a smooth, rich beer that really loves food, from fried or roasted chicken to char-grilled steak, barbecue, pork chops and even monkfish. "

I'm not sure I could describe it better. All I would do is add "very" and "really" before all of the adjectives Garret uses.* But here's the twist ending, I don't even get to count this beer in my 1000!!!!! Why? Because it was Liz's!!!!!!! I only had a couple of sips. I ordered the Speakeasy because I'm always prone (I at first typed prawn, but I am never prawn) to order something I haven't had. Little did I know that the Brooklyn Dark Matter would essentially be a whole new experience for me. I would call myself a born-again Brooklyn Dark Matter drinker, but that makes about as much sense as this kid at 0:40 calling himself a born-again Christian:

So after Bar Great Harry, we went to Ceol, an "Irish" bar down the street from Bar Great Harry. We went there (and actually Bar Great Harry too) because we had coupons for free beer at both of those bars. Well, Ceols is an ok enough bar, but I think something is fishy with their taps. I asked them what this Winter Bourbon Cask Ale was they had on tap, the bartender gave me a taste and it was super watery. He also couldn't tell me who made the beer. Then I remembered, because I've had it in the past: Michelob. Man I hate Michelob. For being a brewery, you would think they'd at least know what the word "cask" means. Apparently they don't! So after remembering what that beer was, I decided to go with a good ol' Kelso Nut Brown Ale. What makes me think something was wrong with their taps is that this beer was ALSO SUPER WATERY. Sorry to shout there, but lest anyone get the wrong impression, that beer is not generally (ever) watery. I've had it a few times before and it's a solid, robust brown ale. So sorry, Ceols, your tap problems will probably prevent me from heading back to you again. But don't worry Kelso, their tap problems won't keep me away from your sweet, sweet beer, so don't go losing any sleep over it.

Then we went home and I had a 21st Amendment Monk's Blood while watching SNL. When I got to the point where I had one sip left I had a genius idea: add bourbon. Let me tell you, Monk's Blood + Bourbon = wicked delicious. I'd recommend giving that a whirl the first chance you get. Like, with breakfast, if that's the first chance you get.

Also, I should add that I've put up a post on the Facebook fan page. It's going to be exclusively there, at least until I get to the point of running out of things to write here, which could be later this week for all I know. I did this as a means of getting any of you reading this blog that are not already facebook fans to go ahead add yourself there. Just search for My 1000 Beer Year. Come on, you know you want to!

Total Beers: 290 (at 100 days I wanted to be at 300, but I'll take it!)
Where I Should Be: 273.972

*In retrospect, this was an extremely dumb sentence to post. Or at least dumber than my sentences normally are. First, go through and look at all of the adjectives he uses. Go on. I'll give you a second. Now, actually put "very" or "really" before them. Makes no sense. Also, Garret does use "really" once and redundancy is not something I can tolerate. Nor is it something I can put up with.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Annyong Gyeseyo!

Much like the Friday of my actual Korea trip, I can’t believe this drinking recap is almost over. Although unlike my Korea trip, I’m sort of glad this recap is coming to end. While I’m having fun reliving all of my Tongyeong adventures, I’ve done some serious beer drinking this week that would have been fun to talk about. However, due to my general laziness and my not wanting to complete bog down my precious readers, I’ll have to skip it. At the end of this post I’ll put up my numbers for the week and you’ll think, “My God, that’s an absurd number of beers. I’ve been supportive of your adventure up to this point but you have to slow down.” To which I respond: 1) Most of these days have been while I was still on vacation. 2) One of the days my good friend Joe was in town. A couple points to know about Joe. Joe lived with Greg and I our senior year of college and was by far the biggest drinker out of the three of us. Also, he’s in the Navy and is currently on leave having just served the last year in Afghanistan. He’s moving to California literally today, after which he deploys back to the Middle East. So suffice it to say, his one day stop in NYC, which coincided with me being on vacation, prompted the perfect storm of drinking. 3) My law school’s annual giant, fancy party was this Thursday. This giant, fancy party had an open bar.

All of this is to say that I really didn’t mean to drink so much this week. It just sort of happened. I mean a Joe visit and an open bar would generally each take up a week on their own. It just so happened they happened within days of each other. And you should know that my drinking is going to slow down considerably, and I mean considerably, in the upcoming month. I have the build of up to finals and the actual finals weeks themselves. There’s a period of time where I have three 8:30 in the morning finals three days in a row. Do you think I’m having any beer then? I don’t think so my friends. I know these numbers are too high, even for a man who’s on a mission to drink 1000 beers in a year. But they will come back down to earth, and quite soon.

Well sorry for the divergence there. Back to Korea! Ok, so Thursday it was still raining, but Liz and I had to get to an island so we braved the storm and went out anyway. I believe the island was called Hasando, but I could be wrong about that. We walked around as much as possible in the rain, but then ended up just hanging out under a gazebo splitting a Hite and watching the fog roll off the mountains. Thursday night, however, was when the real drinking adventure.

I'm not sure how many beers to count for Thursday night. The number could be as low as 2 and as high as 8,000. It all depends on how you want to want to count Somek. Somek, you see, is a drink Koreans enjoy. It involves dumping a bottle of soju into a pitcher of beer. I'm not talking about a sake bomb or anything like that. A whole bottle into a whole pitcher. It's crazy. I intentionally avoided trying it till the last possible moment, which would be Thursday night. We went bowling with a big group of westerners and brought in some beer and some soju (bringing your own alcohol to a bowling alley is pretty awesome). Making the soju involves getting a "pitcher" of beer, pictured here:

drinking about a third of it, pouring in the bottle of soju, and then carefully mixing it. Due to both Hite's and soju's lack of any real flavor, mixing the two isn't as gross as it might sound. As a result, somek tastes like a slightly grosser version of Hite. Think Natty Ice. While bowling, Greg, Britney, and I split a bottle of somek. You know what? For the sake of brutal authenticity in the final numbers, I am not going to count any somek in my totals. I wouldn't count a sake bomb as a beer, so I think it follows that I shouldn't count somek. Let no one say I half-assed this thing.

After bowling, the group of us partook in the finest and most traditional of Korean past-times: karaoke-ing at a norebang! A norebang is a small room with a couch and a karaoke set up where you go and essentially just sing with and to your friends. While I guess some could do this sober, I just can't understand the circumstances under which that would be enjoyable. So while norebanging it up, we order some more somek ingredients. Here's what they bring into our room:

Those aren't water bottles. Those are bottles filled with soju. More somek abounded. I know I wanted to keep my identity a secret, but here's a picture of me singing a Meatloaf song after a couple of rounds of somek:

I should also mention that the norebangs supply a litany of costumes and props (this beaver mask included) to accompany your singing. So we leave the norebang at about three in the morning (there are several other rooms filled with people still going strong when we leave) and head to a 24 hour gimbop nara, what is essentially a Korean fast food restaurant, and I have the best ramyen I've had in my life. In Tongyeong it's essentially impossible to get any food that isn't Korean food. While this generally would be a bad thing, it's pretty awesome being able to get food at 4 in the morning that isn't diner food. But what I want to emphasize here, my total beer count for the evening (excluding the one I had during the day): Zero.

On Friday we sadly say goodbye to Greg and Britney and boarded a bus for Seoul. We're pretty exhausted at this point, so we just spend the afternoon/evening wandering around Seoul and seeing the sites. We were tempted to go into one of the many Hofs in the city, but our exhaustion won out. Instead, after our wandering around, we split a bottle of Cass (The Sound of Vitality!) in our hotel room and passed out by 10.

Saturday we woke up, went to this giant palace in Seoul, walked around a bit more, had our last Korean lunch, and then went to the airport. At the airport we have a legitimate soju emergency. So we've got about 20,000 won left (about 18 U.S. dollars). It costs seven bucks to exchange the money so we figure we'll just spend it all in the airport. We pick up four bottles of soju to bring back to the states for friends. I put them in my backpack and we start to board the plane. Problem. There is a second security check right before you enter the door of plane. Turns out, you can't bring ANY liquids on board with you. The Korean security agent takes my four bottles of soju out of backpack and gives me this sort of sad-dog look. She's about to chuck the bottles, but then asks if I want to check my bag. After thinking about it for a second, I take out my ipod and book and say sure. She then escorts me out of the line into a special elevator, all while I'm holding these bottles of soju with the whole line of passengers looking at me, and back up to the gate to check the bag. I get back on the plane and then we start to take off. It's at this point and time that I realize that my keys and phone are in my backpack and if I the bag doesn't get on the plane, there is no way for me to get into my apartment. I subsequently spend the next thirteen hours freaking out about this. Although it was all for not. My bag was the first off the conveyor and the soju bottles (and my keys) made it safely back to the states.

Final Korea thoughts: It was a lot of fun. I'm unsure if I'll ever get back but I really enjoyed my time there. It was great seeing Greg and Britney and diving into a completely unknown-to-me culture was a great experience. I know I only talked about the drinking here, but we really did have a lot of great non-alcohol related experiences out there.

And now the moment of truth. The numbers. Did I make it? Well let's recap. Sunday: 1 beer. Monday: 6 beers. Tuesday: 8 beers. Wednesday: 3 beers. Thursday: 1 beer. Friday: 1 Beer. Saturday: 0 beers. Total beers in Korea: 20

Total Beers After Korea: 266

Where I Should Be After Korea: 254.794


Ok, briefly what I've drank since I've been home. Sunday: 2 beers (Ommegang Wite at Dutchboy Burgers, Ithica Ground Break Saison at Bierkraft). Monday (the "Joe Day"): 8 beers (spread out over 9 hours, fyi, Heartland Belgian Lager at Heartland Brewery, Coney Island Lager, Old Speckled Hen, Defiant Lager, Pork Slap Pale Ale at Franklin Park, 1 PBR at Prospect Pond, 2 PBRs at home). Tuesday: Zero beers. Wednesday: 5 beers (2 Sixpoint Bark Red Ales at Bark, 3 Nebraska Infinite Wits at home). Thursday: 3 beers (3 Heinekens at Crimson, the law school party). Total Beers: 18

So the final numbers:

Total Beers: 284

Where I Should Be: 268.493

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Actually, Buenos Aires is the Safest City On Earth

Tuesday. This is the third post about Korea and we're only at Tuesday. Concision is not my strong suit, apparently. Well, less talk more rock! Ok, but before we get to Tuesday, we have to check back in on Monday. I know, I know, but just bear (bare?) with me here. I made a mistake in reporting my drinking on Monday night. We went to the rice wine place (I'm too lazy to look up how it's spelled) and then we went to a bar called Western Village. It was at this bar where we had the bulk of the beer. Western Village was an American style bar, and as such it was completely empty except for our group of Americans and Greg's Korean friends. Still, pretty fun and pretty cheap! It was there that I first encountered those awesome Korean pitchers filled with the not-so-awesome Korean beers. The only funny story I can remember from this night that is worth telling is in Tongyeong, you can smoke in bars and they put wet napkins in their ashtrays. One of Greg's co-teachers who had literally arrived in Korea a week before us started dipping the bar snacks in this wet napkin, thinking they had just brought out some dipping sauce. What a n00b! And what a story! Concision! As you can tell based on my glaring omission of this bar, my notes were, uh, not so good. Liz kept a pretty good journal of what we did during the day. My journalistic diligence was not on par with hers. On to Tuesday!

On Tuesday we did some Korea stuff during the day. It was very fun and very Korean. Ok. So Tuesday night we went to our first Hof, Base Camp. I'm still not entirely sure what a Hof is. All I know is that they are sort of like bars, but they have a theme and the theme is pretty much restricted to the outside of the bar. For instance, in Tongyeong there is a Beatles Hof and an ABBA Hof, pictured here:

While the outside is decorated with the theme, the insides are pretty much all the same. And Base Camp didn't exactly have an elaborate outside decor. The only other thing I know about Hofs is that you're supposed to order food at them. So we did. We ordered some Korean salad and attempted (and eventually succeeded in) ordering fries. Side note: The one thing that I think annoyed me about Korea was that people seemed to go out of their way to not understand what we were saying to them. I noticed this first in cabs when we'd try to get back to Greg and Britney's place, which is in Miso-dong and the building ends in Tower. We'd tell the cab driver Miso-dong (Something) Tower, and pronounce "tower" "tow-wah" like they are wont to do in Korea. The cab drivers would perfectly understand the first three words we would say, but get really hung up on the "tower" part. We'd really emphasize "tow-wah" and they'd be super confused and finally understand only when I would shout, really slowly, "TOW----WAH." This wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't for the fact that that "tower" is by far the least important part of their address. To make an inexact comparison, it would be like if I gave a cab driver in the states the correct address to an apartment building, but they wouldn't start driving until they perfectly understood the apartment number. It was weird. So back to the Hof and the fries. We knew they had fries there, because someone in our group had had them there before. None of us knew the Korean word for fries, but Britney is pretty proficient in Korean. She was doing everything in her power to describe fries in Korean, going so far as to, quite deftly, pantomime fries. Still, it took about ten minutes for the person taking our order to understand what we wanted. I want to emphasize that we didn't just go into this Korean Hof and starting shouting "FRIES!!!" Britney described them, pretty well from what she was telling me, in Korean. She pantomimed them so well that if no words were spoken, the person should have picked it up. Frustrating to say the least. Well, we got our fries, and got our pitcher of beer.

While we're drinking our pitcher, a group of Korean men beckon one of Greg's American friends over to their table, apparently wanting to talk about the won/dollar exchange rate. Anyway, he's gone maybe about five minutes, returns, and we all finish the pitcher and get ready to leave. Not so fast. These Korean doods buy our table a giant pitcher of beer. Apparently, trying to get Americans drunk is a favorite past time of Korean men. I described the public soju consumption earlier. Greg told me that he is quite often offered some soju by random Korean guys when he is out and about. While I didn't experience that, I did get to reap the benefits here. Most people in our group went home, so Greg, Liz, Britney, and I, had to split the pitcher amongst ourselves. I know that doesn't sound so bad, but it was a giant pitcher, and we had tiny glasses. I'll put my total number of beers at Base Camp at 6, and again I want to emphasize that this is both under inclusive (as I'm sure I had more than 6 glasses poured) and over inclusive (as the glasses were super tiny). Bad for a law in the face of an Equal Protection Clause challenge, but good for keeping track of beers! And that, my friends, is the last law school joke I make here.

After the Hof we went back to the apartment where Liz went to sleep and Greg and I had a Paulaner Salvator and a Weihenstephaner Hefe Dunkel (2 beers) and then passed out.

Ok, Wednesday. I know this is long already, but unless you want Korea extended into five posts, we gotta do this. Wednesday was pretty low key. We had planned on going to an island, but it rained that day. So during the day, Liz and I hung around the apartment and drank a giant OB Blue beer we had purchased for our island trip (this was essentially splitting a 40, which I am counting as 1 beer). The OB Blue was super gross. By far my least favorite Korean beer. Later I will describe a gross dunkel I had but 1) it wasn't my beer and 2) at least it tried to be something. At night, we met up with Greg and Britney at another westernized bar, No Smoking, which oddly enough allowed smoking. And again, the place was deserted except for us. At No Smoking, I had a Black Stout Beer. I'm not entirely sure this was actually a stout, but it was perfectly serviceable and by far my favorite Korean beer. In Korea, menus that listed beers in English seemed to divide the beers into two categories, Beer and Black Beer. From what I could tell, black beer was any beer that wasn't urine-colored. So while Black Stout Beer was not urine-colored, I cannot swear to its stout-ness. But I can swear to the fact that if you're in Korea and facing a choice between your 10,000th Hite or a Black Stout Beer, you won't regret going with the Black Stout Beer.

After No Smoking we were all pretty tired, but I needed to check out Wa Bar. Wa Bar is a western bar. It's also a chain, meaning there are a bunch of identical Wa Bars all across Korea. The concept of a chain bar I thought was pretty interesting. The only chain bar I could think of in the U.S. is Coyote Ugly. Yeah, there are a lot of chain restaurant/bars and chain brewpub/restaurants, but Coyote Ugly is the only chain bar I can think of. If you can think of any others, please, let me know.

Anyway, at Wa Bar, Greg, Britney, and Liz order a Wa Dunkel, the house dark beer, while I order the Wa Bar, the urine colored house beer. Another side note: I'm pretty sure all food in Korea that isn't Korean food is based on someone looking at a picture of that food and not actually tasting that food. For instance, pizza. The pizza in Korea is disgusting. I'm pretty sure a Korean chef saw a picture of a pizza onetime and thought to herself, "Yeah, I can make that." Well, I'm pretty sure the good people of Wa Bar saw a picture of a Dunkel and, having never tasted one, thought to themselves, "Yeah, we could make that." Spoiler alert: They can't! It was gross. Super gross. Really syrupy, really sweet, but neither of those things in a good way. It's like they thought a dunkel was supposed to taste like a spoiled bottle of maple syrup. My Wa Beer, on the other hand, just tasted like any ol' macrobeer. While it wasn't "interesting," at least it wasn't super gross, so I think that's a win for me.

Well, that's Tuesday and Wednesday. Tune in tomorrow for Thursday/Friday/Saturday (plus a list of the beers I've drank since coming home. They'll get short changed, but whatcha gonna do?) and most importantly, the numbers!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chopping Makgeolli

Now we get down to the nitty gritty of Korea. Our flight hit the ground in Seoul at 4:00 am Korean time, which was something like 6:00 pm New York time. We had about a four hour bus ride ahead of us, during which I most certainly wanted to sleep. Greg, in his quick-thinking way, decided the best way to accomplish this goal was for us to split a bottle (a tiny bottle, but a bottle nonetheless) of soju at five in the morning in the Seoul airport. Remember when I said this stuff was cheap and everywhere? Well, that's the truth. The convenience store at the airport had soju for less than a dollar. Remember when I said that South Korea has no public drinking laws and everyone is constantly drunk? Well, that's also the truth. No one gave us a second look passing around a bottle of soju at five in the morning in an airport. And thus began my Korea trip.

Korea wasn't all drinking. I just want to say that now, lest anyone think I travelled across the globe just to drink. In fact, drinking generally was confined to the hours of 10 to 12 pm, the bulk of the day being spent site seeing and doing Korean stuff. But, as it so happens, this is a beer drinking blog and that's what we talk about here. So while I do have a bunch of fun anecdotes about Korea generally, the ones you'll get here should be exclusively alcohol related. Anyway, back to my first day in Korea.

We arrive at Tongyeong at about noon, all of us pretty beat. We went out and got some food and walked around a bit, but the bulk of the day was spent just trying to stay away till 8. Back at Greg and Britney's apartment, while playing some Scrabble, I had my first Korean beer. Well, it wasn't a Korean beer, rather it was the first beer I drank in Korea. You know what it was? A Budweiser.

I'll give you some time to wipe the brains off your computer screen, because I'm guessing that just blew your mind. Surely I didn't travel all the way to Korea just to drink some U.S. macrobrew? Surely Greg and Britney wouldn't be such poor hosts to both stock and serve that swill? Well, let me tell you a quick, completely true, story. Budweiser, the name, didn't originate with the Anheuser-Busch company. As a matter of fact, the original Budweiser brewery opened in 1785 in Bohemia. They begin exporting to the United States. In 1876, the evil A-B in America says to itself, "Hey, that's a pretty sweet name. Let's use it for our awful beer that we're inappropriately calling a pilsner!" Meanwhile, a Czech brewery Budvar, starts making an actual pilsner and names that beer "Budweiser" as a means of indicating where it's from. This is all a little complicated, I know, but as things stand in 1911, there are two "Budweisers," the awful, fake pilsner, A-B one and the real pilsner, Budvar one. As you can imagine, the good people at A-B didn't want someone mistaking a good beer for one of theirs, so they reached an agreement with Budvar that Budvar could use the name Budweiser in countries outside of North America and A-B would be able to use in in North America. Well, long story short (too late!), the beer I had was a Budvar Budweiser, and it was pretty good.

Monday I faired a bit better. I slept for about 14 hours Sunday night and woke up around 11 on Monday refreshed and ready for what Tongyeong had to offer. After lunch with Greg and Britney, Liz and I went to hit up the cable cars, which take you to the top of this mountain where you get sweet views of the surrounding islands and can even see Japan! Anyways, two quick stories from this adventure. 1) When we got to the top, some Korean woman took Liz's glasses off her face, put them on her own face, and then started having people take her picture while wearing Liz's glasses. That was kind of weird. 2) We went to the mountain at about 3 in the afternoon. After you get off the cable car, it's still quite a hike to get to the top. As a sign correctly pointed out "Hiking to Top Not Recommended for Out of Shape People." Well when we get to the top of the mountain, what do we see? Middle aged Korean men in business suits sitting around drinking soju of course! Why wouldn't you climb to the top of a mountain during the middle of work day in your business suit just to drink soju? It makes so much sense, as does everything in Korea.

After we get back from that, we nap and then meet up with Greg and Britney at 9 when they get off of work. The whole lot of us heads to this restaurant to get some makgeolli (rhymes with broccoli). Makgeolli is a traditional, unfiltered Korean rice wine. It's pretty good, except for the actual grains of rice that can be found in it. Throughout dinner/makgeolli drinking, a few of Greg and Britney's friends and coworkers show up and we order a pitcher of beer. When I first started this 1000 beer year, I was thinking of ways that I could game the system without cheating. I figured I would go to a bunch of different beer tastings where I'd get smaller amounts of beer, go to McSorley's a lot where their mugs are demonstrably tiny. Turns out, the best thing I could do to game the system would be move to Korea. The glasses they bring out with their pitchers were super tiny. I mean like, 8 oz, 10 oz at most. Also, the pitchers are pretty cool. Check out this pitcher picture (homonyms! sort of!) that I did not take:

They are insulated to stay cold! America, get on this! Anyway, throughout the evening I have roughly 6 glasses of beer, which seems like a lot, but due to the tiny size of the glasses, it turns out to be about three pints worth of beer, but I get to count six! Korea is great! Liz, in a rare turn of events, had way more beer than me that night because she decided to get into a drinking contest with a 45 year-old Korean woman. A losing proposition but Liz, being a trooper, certainly held her own.

Man, I wanted to get through Tuesday, but I think I'm posted out for now. Looks like Korea will be a four-parter! Lucky you! See you tomorrow! Or later today! Or whenever I feel like updating more!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Annyong Haseyo!

Sorry America, Korea is officially the best beer country in the world! When in Korea, it beer time!

Wait. That doesn't sound right. I ran my original first sentence, "Korea makes some awful beers," through a North Korean translator and that's what came out. Although I will say this. While not a great beer country, South Korea is a phenomenal drinking country. In addition to the copious amount of old drunk guys roaming the streets at all hours of the day, South Korea happens to be home to the best drinking partner on the face of the earth, my college/grad school roommate and all around life-partner Greg. Greg and his girlfriend Britney (who is a pretty solid drinker herself) hosted Liz and I this week in their pretty sweet Tongyeong, SK apartment. They're out there teaching for a year, prompting Liz and I to pack our bags and head out to Korea for our spring break.

New Haven, CT got a full two days worth of posts. I figure the country of South Korea deserves at least three. Today (because I'm still a little lagging, having just got back to the states last night) I'll write up a brief little introduction to what, in my limited observations, I found South Korean drinking culture to be like. Then tomorrow and the day after I will do my day by day drinking break-downs, culminating in the long awaited numbers total.

So, from what I could tell, Korean doods love to drink, although not beer specifically. So, why doesn't Korea have a lot of beer to speak of? Well, according to Greg, and backed up by none of my own independent research, it's awfully hard to get a license to produce beer in Korea. Essentially, in order to get a permit to make beer in South Korea, you have to meet certain production volume requirements, meaning you have to make and distribute a ton of beer. All this is to say that in order for the Korean government to grant you a license to make beer, you have to be a macrobrewery. Greg likened it to requirements for raising and selling beef in America, but I don't know anything about that so I'll let that statement stand unchallenged! So due to these regulations, microbreweries are more or less edged out of the Korean market. There are some in Seoul, I hear, but their distribution does not make it out to Tongyeong, a smaller (though still quite large) coastal town. At the bars and hofs we went to, there was generally a supply of imported beers like Guiness, New Castle, and Heineken, but if you think I'm paying the Korean equivalent of 8 dollars for any of those beers in a Korean bar when a perfectly cheap Korean beer is available, you're out of your gourd.

The Korean beers available essentially everywhere are Hite, Cass, Max, OB, and this beer called S that advertises itself as a beer containing fiber, making it "Good for the Young Generation." All of these beers are Korean takes on U.S. macrobrews, making them, to put it politely and avoid ruining diplomatic relations with South Korea, not so good. I'll review them as we get to them in the day by day break-downs. I just wanted to give this little precursor so you know why the Korean beer selection is so limited and don't start to think I'm drinking Hite so much because it's the Korean equivalent of Brooklyn Lager. It's not. There is no Korean equivalent of Brooklyn Lager.

So what do Koreans drink? Soju! Soju is a Korean sweet potato liquor that has half of the alcohol content and half the taste of vodka. It's about 40 proof (where most vodkas are around 80 proof) and when I say it's a liquor made out of sweet potatoes, I don't mean to suggest it tastes like sweet potatoes. It doesn't. I don't want to say it tastes like a watered-down, drinkable version of rubbing alcohol, but I don't really know how else to describe it. In the words of Jodie Foster in Contact, they should have sent a poet. The kicker though, as Greg stated, it's irresponsibly cheap. You can pick up a bottle of soju, yes a whole bottle, in any convenience store in Korea for about 1000 won, which is less than one U.S. dollar! Four U.S. dollars will get you about two full liters of this stuff! I don't know why or how this became the Korean drink of choice, but it is what it is!

My final two notes about Korean drinking culture: 1) There are no public drinking laws. This is pretty sweet for a variety of reasons. One, it allows you to see to middle aged men in business suits pounding soju in a bunch of places and at a bunch of times you wouldn't think you'd see that. Second, Korea is a beautiful place and being able to drink outside allows you to really enjoy this. Having a beer on top of a mountain overlooking a bunch of islands and the ocean is pretty awesome.

2) In Korea, you don't generally drink without eating. As such, there aren't too many bars that are bars in the American sense of the word, that is places where the sole purpose is just to get drinks. Most drinking occurs with meals and at Hofs (which we will get to later), bars that sort of make you get food with your alcohol. This isn't to say there aren't bars and that drinking doesn't take place outside of eating, but this appeared to be the exception rather than the rule. This needing to eat while drinking didn't appear to curb Korean drinking, rather it seemed to up Korean eating. Either way, this "eating while drinking/drinking at places that aren't really bars" informed a lot of our drinking out there and I wanted to just put up a little note about it first.

Again, I'm not trying to present myself as an authority on the matter or saying that this is really how it is out there. These are just my observations, as informed by Greg's longer experience in drinking on Korea. So that's your introduction to Korean drinking. I'll get back to you tomorrow with the start of the day by day break down, along with other drinking observations I remember. For now I will leave you with this, perhaps what will stick with me the longest from my trip to Korea, as this song will never, ever leave my head: