Monday, March 16, 2020

More Beer Pix (Beck’sts) - Nostalgic for Pubs!


Well, this COVID-19 thing has really come home. I’m not talking about my daughter, recently kicked out of the college dorms and made to move home—with all her stuff—and remain until October (though that did happen). I’m talking about California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, announcing that pubs statewide should close. I’m feeling pretty bitter but won’t fault Newsom for it. (I kind of owe him one … I once ate his breakfast. For details see the Appendix.)

I’d already planned a pub night with my pals for this Friday. We had all agreed that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are no longer enough, and we need to be disinfecting from the inside out. A dozen emails later we’d finalized our plan. Now that’s off.

I’m already feeling nostalgic for pubs, and for sharing the beer drinking experience digitally via Beck’sts. (What?! You haven’t heard of Beck’sting? You’re already living under a rock even before the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders come down! Click here to learn all about the fast-growing global phenomenon that is Beck’sting.)

To get my readers through these tough times, I’m posting here some more or less cheerful Beck’sts. As before, I’ve grouped most of these thematically. Since a Beck’st isn’t just a photo, but a photo with a caption and/or commentary, I’ve included that too, and the initials of the Beck’ster. Where you see one letter only (e.g., “T—”) that’s generally somebody’s spouse.

Apocalypse IPA

DA: This is a 10 Barrel Apocalypse IPA.

DA (continued): I rather liked it. It drinks like a beer that has been doubly or triple-y hopped—and dry-hopped, no less, or at least dry-humped—with a very aggressive malting and/or molting. It’s a big, cheeky, voluptuous, dare I say buxom IPA. But it’s brassy without being brazen—not the kind of beer that you’d meet in a bar (where else?) that would dare you to punch it in the stomach as hard as you could; it’s more like the kind of beer that would let you finish whining and then would let out a little derisive snort, maybe a dismissive whuff. It’s got tones of melanin, surely due to the natural oxidation of the amino acid tyrosine endemic to the piney resins of barley ester that find their way, through the very air we breathe, right into the soul of this handcrafted ale. It’s also got arias of woodwind from all the up-and-down hopping like you get in a long line for the bathroom at a mobbed kegger. Subtle hints of sell-out and corporate synergy threaten to spoil the smooth, big-drinking cred of this beer, but it walks the line nicely, giving my drinking experience a ragged little blade of excitement.

Better Dayz Beck’st
JL: Family ski trip to Killington, Vermont. Snow is good. Double IPAs are better.

DA: NOOICE! Were you skiing downhill or cross-country? I think a Double IPA is great for after downhill, but after XC you probably need a really hydrating beer like a lager!

Unorthodox Beck’st

DW: Deschutes Pacific Wonderland Lager in a Hydroflask 22oz. cup:

DW (continued): I wanted to see if the insulating qualities of this cup would enhance or degrade the experience of drinking this nice beer. Verdict: I’ll stick with the regular pint glass with some random logo on it. This bex’t is subsequent to riding the McKenzie Pass earlier in the day ... a top five road ride for me in terms of scenic beauty and experience. They don’t open the road up for cars until mid June, so it is a cycling wonderland right now.

DA: Unorthodox vessels? Insulated beer mugs with a new-age-y logo? I agree, that’s not the best way to enjoy a beer. You don’t mix alcohol paraphernalia with normal stuff, IMHO ... you just don’t. Non-beer-specific vessels for beer drinking is a bit weird, like a teddy bear with nipples or something. Even those standard foam rubber beer can caddies never made sense to me. I mean, why would a beer ever sit around long enough to become warm? My MO has always been fridge-to-belly within 5 minutes, tops.

Post-workout Beck’sts

JL: W— left this morning for another six day trip, and then they canceled school tomorrow because it is currently -4 degrees F and only going to get colder and windier (Polar Vortex rocks!). So there was only one thing to do: ride the trainer in the garage for an hour and then drink a nice stout beer!

JL (continued): Notice the 9 year old reading (and pouting) in the background! (Pouting because I said no to a sleepover tonight.)

DA: I’ve been kind of getting back into weak, pussy lagers, particularly Stella (a beer for which I formerly had no use). Kind of refreshing and “won’t slow me down,” as they say. I split one with Freya this evening after my (outdoor) bike ride.

DA (continued): By “pussy” above I mean the word that rhymes with “wussy” (and means pretty much the same thing). If you thought I meant “pussy” to rhyme with “fussy,” meaning “puss-laden,” I can’t blame you, heteronyms being what they are. Perhaps the context helped here … I’ll concede lagers can be a bit boring, but puss is not the answer.

Dark days Beck’sts

DA: I wasn’t drinking much this week (last night’s Stella doesn’t count—Freya drank most of it) because I was going to race on Sunday. But I broke my derailleur hanger last Sunday, and though I got right on it and ordered a replacement on Monday, it didn’t arrive in time. I’m kind of bummed because I actually have pretty decent form right now, which I’ve worked hard for, blah blah blah.

The silver lining is that there’s really nothing more for me to do now but drink! I never need to be fit again! E— is even talking about walking over to Fieldwork (despite the fact it’s raining). Anyway, dark times like these call for strong beer, so notwithstanding all the chatter about IPAs being so January, I’m enjoying (actually, it’s all gone now in the span of this typing) the Lagunitas Maximus IPA featured above.

PCS: Dana! These truly are the dark days of biking AND beer drinking. Although, of all the people I know, you are the one person who I knew could rebound from such adversity. The rest of us would be considering buying a new bike and a case of the Banquet. But, you are fixing the bike problem AND supporting the local brewpub. Good on you! Tonight, I was so damn lazy that I drank wine instead of beer because all my beer in the house is about dark days. I think it’s over Boyz. It was nice knowing you all.

BA: Dana, how on earth did you break your derailleur hanger? I think you’re riding too aggressively. You might get hurt. On the plus side, at least you can replace it. Back in the old days you’d just be hosed. I’m glad you enjoyed your beverage. By the way, I thought you said you ride better when you’re drunk? Or maybe that was driving. Hmm...

Expat Beck’st

PCS: We came to Spain for spring break because S— has some business here next week. We got here at 7:30 am today and have been wandering around, snoozing on the beach, and doing some day-drinking! I don’t even know what kind of beer this is … it’s great and I’ve decided this is my kind of lifestyle.

DA: Dang, Spain really takes the stemware to new heights! Was H— content during this lazy afternoon?

PCS: Sure, he was enjoying the coke next to my beer. We invented a new game called “Does this person smoke?” Which, for a pulmonologist, is not a hard game but was entertaining nonetheless!

JL: Oh yes, European café culture! It’s pretty great. If there was one thing I could import from Lisbon to the United States it would be the fact that they put a café/bar in every public park. So parents take their kids to the park to play and then they just sit in the café drinking coffee and/or beer and/or wine. But the prevalence of smoking was pretty crazy. So many smokers and so many discarded cigarette packs on the sidewalks.

DW: Love this picture...not much to say because everything is answered in the image. Your expression tells most of the story. The only word that comes to mind is GLORIOUS! Feliz vacacions, bebe y disfruta!

Palliative Beck’st

So, this isn’t a very good beer (not even worth pouring into a bottle) but I really needed a beer. (Full disclosure: so dire was my situation, I also had half of E—’s beer.)

Kind of a rough day. First, during the team mountain bike ride I decided to pop a wheelie and went over backwards. Normally this isn’t a problem because you just drop your feet and end up running behind your bike. But due to mud in my cleat or something, I couldn’t get my foot out. So I went all the way over backwards and landed on my back, my butt, and my phone. The phone and my lower back damaged each other. In testing the scuffed edge of my phone I actually cut my finger slightly. Man, I really landed hard. Obviously it was pretty embarrassing too, but mainly I’m just sore. My back, my butt, and my elbow. Even my neck. I might have whiplash. Serious need for beer in light of these facts (right Dr. S?).

Then we got home and Alexa got some bad news via email. Vassar, after admitting Alexa for the class of 2023, sent us their financial aid letter, in which they announced that they’re prepared to give us (drum roll please) … [scroll down for the amount].


That’s right, no aid whatsoever. The government, however, under the dutiful guidance of The Donald, is prepared to provide $3,500 per year in low-interest student loans. That will really help with the cost of this school, which is (drum roll please) … [scroll down for amount].

$73,000 a year!

So, needless to say, A— won’t be attending Vassar. I recommended she file a financial aid appeal which should contain the phrase “obviously whacked out on coke and smack.” Poor thing … she’s really mourning. I’m trying to buck her up, but it’s not easy when I’m feeling all lugubrious myself over having only this Pacifico to drink.

JL: Ouch! Ouch squared!! And one more ouch if your daughter refuses to do the math! The wheelie accident I can definitely relate to. I popped a wheelie on my cross bike a couple years ago in our cul de sac to impress my kid (and to imitate Peter Sagan) and forgot that I was clipped in… went right over and landed on my hip and back so quickly that I didn’t have time to break my fall (which is probably for the best — could have broken a wrist!). Took weeks for the bruise (and the pain) to go away. Ego is still bruised. Needless to say, kid was not impressed… So that sucks. Adding to your pain is the busted phone, which is just salt in the wound. Sorry dude. I’m not a doctor (wait! Yes I am! [a Ph.D.]), but I would recommend lots of Advil during the day and as much beer as you can get away with without worrying the family at night.

DW: What a complete bummer to go off the back of the bike. I’m so glad you did not smack the back of your head on the ground. Even if you had a helmet on, that is no bueno for what lies in between. I gave up doing wheelies just for that reason a long time ago. Alas, now I always hold the railing when going downstairs. Why are ultra-white New Balance sneakers with velcro suddenly appealing?! I digress...

Beck’st + Dairy

BA: Last night, after dinner, I learned that this was a thing:

BA (continued): Who knew? I’ve got to say, I was a little skeptical at first but discovered that it was really good! (That’s just vanilla ice cream under that Milk Stout Nitro, in case it wasn’t obvious.) Also, while enjoying this treat in Estes Park, at altitude, I noticed that they fill the ice cream containers until they’re overflowing before they put the lid on! Actually, I was told (and I have no reason to disbelieve) that the air bubbles in the ice cream expand in the relative vacuum of altitude here causing the ice cream to expand, lifting the lid right off the carton. Amazing. (I have also witnessed chip bags exploding on Trail Ridge Road as they get tauter and tauter the higher you go, due to the reduction of air pressure protecting them from the vacuum of space. If you wish to experience this mini science lesson for yourself, it helps to have the bags on the dashboard of the car, in the hot sun, to increase the pressure.)

JL: Funny you should post that photo after my lamenting about no longer eating ice-cream, because that very stout (from Left Hand) has been one of my go-to beers of late. I’ve been moving away from IPAs and trying more stouts lately, and that Left Hand nitro is really, really good. Maybe if I lose a few pounds I’ll reward myself with one of those stout beer floats!

PCS: Ice cream and beer! Epic, truly epic. though I’ve never had it personally. The thought of a milkshake with some whiskey in it also sounds interesting to me...

Airport Beck’st

JL: Traveling to Denver via Newark. They have iPads everywhere in the waiting area. I ordered this beer more out of curiosity than anything else while my kids play video games. Like 30 seconds after swiping my CC, this bartender showed up with the beer. Weird. But this beer is welcome anytime! I won’t tell you how much I paid for it...

DA: I use that airport from time to time when I travel on bidness. The iPads are pretty silly, especially when the restaurant app suggests a 15%, 18%, or 20% tip. Even when I’m spending my employer’s money, I bristle at tipping an iPad app. Sure, somebody comes over and plops a plate down in front of me, but that’s hardly service. Nobody even checks on me (thus depriving me of the chance to say, “The games are boring, the user interface insipid, the color palette uninspiring, and the screen grubby”).

I know what you paid for that beer. I bought one last time, even though I shudder to waste money, even my employer’s, but I was emboldened because my boss was next to me, his boss next to him, and they both bought expensive drinks (my boss’s the size of a ten-gallon hat and his boss’s some froufrou cocktail). My beer was small and disappointing. (I know, I know … “that’s what she said.”)

How’d you like the Lagunitas IPA? I wish I had one right now…

Appendix: how I ate Gavin Newsom’s $1,000 breakfast

I was at a fundraiser back in 2004 in San Francisco. For $1,000, I didn’t even get a table in the same room as the guest of honor. I was pretty pissed. On top of that, the breakfast was pretty bad: rubbery pancakes, MSG-y sausage, OJ from concentrate, etc. Right after I finished eating, but before the event began, a friend happened by and said, “Hey, come to the main ballroom, there’s room at a better table!” He himself wasn’t at said table, but there was indeed an empty seat. It was like ten feet from the stage. Right after I sat down I was served breakfast again, bringing my unit cost down to $500. NOOICE!

As the table filled in I realized I was with some pretty high-caliber people … impeccable suits, beautiful attachés, etc. Someone said, “Is Gavin coming or not?” Newsom was the San Francisco mayor at that time, and I suddenly realized to my horror I was sitting in his seat. How do you explain that to the Mayor? “Uh, sorry dude. Hey, I didn’t touch the fruit salad…”

Suddenly Newsom appeared at the edge of the room with his entourage, briskly walking along waving to everyone. To my utter relief, he couldn’t stay, and literally just made an appearance on his way to departing through the other exit. Nobody ever questioned my spot at the table. I finished “my” breakfast and (somewhat) enjoyed the event.

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