Tag Archive: bitter


Have beer, will ride

 

At times, a fortuitous confluence of events will lead you to crack some hare-brained scheme that seems like a good idea at the time, when in the fact…

 

Since picking up a road bike in the late winter, I’ve been plotting different ways get more saddle time, either through frequency or distance.  Or both.  Right around the same time, I became friends with a neighbor down the street who’d been into home-brewing his beer, which alerted to me to the fact that these days, in the New York City area, there are more craft beer breweries than ever.

Now I, for one, have long held a particular disdain for this whole microbrew or craft beer movement.  Mostly because it seemed in the ‘90s that every other shitty microbrewery was bottling any manner of brown effervescent swill that seemed to taste like anything but beer.  You had beers that tasted like peaches, bubble gum, chocolate, you name it.  Fuck you, that’s not beer.  Beer shouldn’t taste like cherries.  Or bacon.  Or whatever the fuck they were putting in these beers and selling them to shitheads around the country who had an appetite for candy in a bottle that could also get them fucked up.

Fuck you, beer should taste like beer.  End of argument.

What’s turned it around recently for me is how these craft beer breweries seem to have abandoned the stupid fruity flavors, and have gone back to making beers that taste like fucking beer.

So, one day, I hatched a plan in which I’d ride my bicycle up 15 miles to Elmsford, NY to visit the Captain Lawrence Brewery to taste their wares, then shoot 10 miles eastward to the Craftsman Ale House – where they not only carry over hundred types of killer beers but they also brew their own – followed by a 10 mile ride home with a slight detour to the famous Walter’s Hot Dogs joint in Mamaroneck, NY.

I also knew the inherent risks of trying to do a 35-mile bike ride with two pitstops for beers.  I needed wingmen, so I recruited two buddies with equal senses of depravity to do this ride with me.

We chose a Saturday, and set off at 11am.  I figured it would take us about an hour to ride the 15 miles to the Captain Lawrence Brewery.  We kept a decent pace, around 15mph for the first 12 miles of the ride.  As we got towards Elmsford, the massive criss-crossing array of highways and winding country roads caused me to veer off the planned route, and we were suddenly – and painfully – faced with a hot and slogging climb up a mile-long hill.  It looked like an asphalt wall.  20mph speeds ground down to about 8mph.  Gears shifted to the smallest ratios, legs churned so slowly, and halfway up, all three of us were ready to puke.  And we hadn’t even had a drop of beer yet.

When I fuck up, we all suffer.

Hillside Avenue

When we reached the peak, we welcomed the downhill rush down to the brewery, which was set in some industrial park.  It didn’t look like a brewery in the traditional sense at all.  More like a warehouse with a picnic tables in the back next to a bocce ball run.

“Hey, are you guys here for the beer?” a portly fella greeted us behind a table at the entrance.  Was this the stupidest question ever asked?  Possibly.  We told him we intended to have a quick pint or two before setting off again.

“Sorry, today’s a pig roast event, and it’s $40 to get in.  You can’t get beer today without paying for the pig roast.”

Are you fucking kidding me.  If it wasn’t for that ludicrous hill we just climbed, I might’ve had enough energy in me to dish out a cockpunch or two.  We still had 20 miles to ride, the last thing I need is to stuff my fat face with pig and beer – we weren’t even halfway through our ride, for fuck’s sake.

After a lot of negotiations, they let us in to “discuss the matter with the manager.”  We walked into the tasting room, and were made to stand around for about 15 minutes before the manager graced us with his presence.  The whole while, pints are being poured liberally for pig roast patrons in front of us.  Not one drop came our way.  Not even a sympathy pour.  Fuckers.

After 15 minutes, some bespectacled hipster with a metal bar through his septum came to speak with us.  “Sorry, we’re only doing the pig roast event today.  Each of you have got to pay the $40 if you want any of the beer.  It’s all you can drink.”  Which would’ve been a stellar deal if we were going to park our asses at the bar and didn’t have another 20 miles to ride, fucker.  After going back and forth with the beer overlord, he relents – “Your only choices are to pay the $40.  Or if you want, we can sell you bottles to go.”

WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT IN FIRST PLACE, DICK?!?!!  Why the fuck are you guys making it so hard for us to buy your fucking beer?!!

3 Captain Lawrence beers

After I calmed the fuck down, we grabbed three large bottles, some cups, and settled into one of the picnic tables outside to quench our thirst.  It didn’t take long for one of their staff to come harass us about sitting at the picnic table without paying for the pig roast.  What the motherfuck.  After a brief negotiation, they left us alone to finish our beers, then off we went to the next beer stop.

While this leg of the ride was along considerably flatter terrain, it wasn’t an easy ride by any means.  The humid, midday sun was beating down hard.  The three large bottles of hoppy nectar – on empty stomachs! – weighed us down.  We coasted slowly through the next 10 miles.

At the end of the 10 miles, I promised the lads a second oasis of craft beers.  Craftsman Ale House in Harrison, NY boasted their own collection of brews in addition to hundred of other primo beers.  When we got there around 2:30pm, the place was empty, and we were more famished than buzzed.

As a stark contrast to the Captain Lawrence joint, this manager couldn’t possibly be more welcoming.  We pushed our collection of carbon fiber and titanium rides into the bar, and pulled up to three adjacent stools.

Hipster Ale

Polite banter, perusal of the massive beer list, three even more massive cheeseburgers (including one unceremoniously and viciously halved), and quick brew samples ensued.  Here’s when our next installment of downers took place: turns out that while the Craftsman Ale House brew their own beers, they do not sell their brew.  What the fuck.  So we were left with their confounding list of beers brewed by other folks… and this fucking thing on the right.

Time flies when you’re having fun and before you knew it, all three of us were getting buzzed on our phones.  Text messages galore, each with similar queries from our old ladies – “where the hell are you guys?”

Over an hour after we settled into that bar, we grabbed our bikes and started the final leg of our ride – the 10-mile slog home.  10 miles is nothing.  Correction: ordinarily, 10 miles is nothing.  It’s a ride that most cyclists can do on autopilot and barely break a sweat.  But 10 miles on belly full of hearty craft beers, cheeseburger and fries – that’s a different story.

Fuck, was that a sloooow slog home.  In our opening leg to the first brewery, we averaged just under 15mph.  On the final leg home, we average 8mph.  That is some pathetic decline in pace.

So, 6 hours later, we all finally returned back to the spot from where we started our ride.  6 hours later, we had made 2 lengthy stops for beer.  6 hours later, we had no interest in that final detour for hot dogs.  6 hours later, nothing had worked out as planned.  6 hours later, we were 3 hours late because I’m such a fuck up.  6 hours later, each one of us was in the fucking doghouse.

6 hours later, we decided we’re gonna do it again.

 

 

I like beer

I was in a bar at Harvard Square recently – the well-known, well-loved Grendel’s Den.  I hadn’t been to this place in about 15 years, since the missus was going to school in the area.

On two chalkboards – one behind and one above the bar – they have a list all the beers have they.  And a brief of beers that they don’t – Coors Light, Miller Light, Bud, you get the idea.  And the list ended with the phrase, “BASTA”.  Not knowing what it meant, I enquired of our skinny, bearded, saggy-jeaned super-hipster barkeep.  “BASTA, it’s a Spanish-Mediterranean acronym meaning, “Enough!”  Whatever, jerkoff.  “Enough”, as in, enough with the piss-poor brews for the unwashed masses.  Of course that’s what it’d mean.  For fuck’s sake.

While I agree with the general sentiment of striking the Buds and Coors and Millers off this earth, I shudder to think of what I’m left with as an alternative.

And that’s because 99% of the beers out there are complete and utter shite.  Thoroughly undrinkable.

It’s just that the age of good and simple seems long gone.  Make it good, and make it simple.  I like a proper lager.  Just something simple, something not terribly foamy, something with a nice crisp bite to it, and something that’s yellow.  Not amber, not brown, not pale, not clear, not muddy, not red, not magenta, not mauve, not caramel, not black and fucking tan.

And I want it taste like beer.  Not chocolate, not oatmeal, not gooseberries, not apples, not lime, not honey, not bubblegum, not bread, not muffins, not cheese, not walnuts, not bacon, not clams, not anise, not mint, nothing but fucking beer.  I mean, what is it with putting extra shit into beer that makes it taste anything other than beer?  That’s like going into a store to buy a pair of sneakers and the sneakers come with a pashmina sown to it because they think you’d probably like that, too.  Fuck off.

Which means that if I order a beer that’s not fruit flavored, please don’t fucking put a slice of orange or lemon in it.  If I wanted a beer with fruit in it, I’d have ordered a fruit-flavored beer.  In which case, I wouldn’t have ordered it at all because fruit-flavored beers are for wankers who don’t like beer, and I fucking love beer.  Beer with no fruit.  So please stop forcing your rancid orange slices which your disgusting fingers have been fondling all night into my beer – just because it’s summer – asshole barkeep.

I don’t need my beer extra hoppy, whatever the hell that means.  Extra hops – what am I, the Easter Bunny?

And stop with the stupid fancy glass you insist on pouring my beer into.  Beer into a proper pint glass, thank you.  The sort with the slight bulge around near the top would be nice.  No fucking stemware for beer, you hear me.  Fuck you, Stella, Sam Adams, and whatever other fucking beer company that insists that their beer gets poured into these fucking ridiculous glasses on the pretense that they boost the flavor their beers or something.  Fuck you, if your beer needs a stupid-looking glass to be palatable, you’ve failed at brewing it right the first time.  What a crock of shit.  Pint glasses.  Full stop.

And about that pint glass, here’s another irritating trait amongst Stateside barkeeps – the consistent inability to fill that pint glass right to the brim.  These fuckers will fill the glass and leave about half an inch of space from the top.  What is that space for, assholes?  It’s a pint glass, you’re supposed to be serving me a pint of beer, if you don’t fill it to the top, you’re not serving a full pint of beer.  If I wanted 9/10ths of a pint, I’d have asked for 9/10ths of a pint.  Or they’d make smaller glasses.  But they didn’t.  They made pint glasses.  Fill it to the top, assholes!

Case in point, look at this fucking beer:

I know it’s a Leffe, and yes, Leffe is usually delicious.  But holy crap, everything about that beer right now screams asshole.