There’s this pile of bullshit being spread around the Internet today courtesy of a presumed charlatan called the Food Babe. It involves ingredients in beer. Please don’t read her demented ramblings. Instead, read this and this.
That is all.
Okay, so evidently St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just a day this year; it’s a whole friggin’ weekend. Which means that the madness and mayhem will commence tomorrow.
While I’ll personally be laying low this year, as I do around March 17 every year, many others will be running riot over the next four days, drinking beer and whiskey that they seldom if ever otherwise drink, calling anything that’s green “Irish,” including bog-standard lager dyed with food colouring, and generally using the feast day of an Irish saint as an excuse to get plastered. Which is fine.
But if you’re going to “do” St. Patrick’s Day, at least do it right! Which means paying at least a bit of attention to the following:
1) If you must shorten the name, repeat after me, St. Paddy’s Day. Not St. Patty’s Day or plain Patty’s Day. “St. Paddy’s Day.”
2) There are many more Irish whiskeys out there than just Jameson. Try one or two. You might just find yourself drinking Irish whiskey more than just once a year.
3) What I said above about whiskey? It applies equally to Irish stout.
4) If you must do shots — and on a day that is sure to be filled with drinking, I would counsel strongly against them — limit yourself to just one or two. Five or six or more whiskey shots is a sure-fire route to drunkenness and eventual spewing.
5) Wear green, wear funny badges, wear silly hats if you wish, but accept that you are not, in fact, Irish. Not for a day or for a minute. (Unless, of course, you really are Irish.)
6) A cocktail made with crème de menthe is not by definition Irish. Neither is one made with Midori.
7) Imperial stout is not a beer built for all-day drinking.
8) The green-dye-in-lager thing? It shouldn’t need saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Just. Don’t.
9) Lining up to get into a bar is stupid. If there is a line-up, go somewhere else for a drink or two and return later to see if the line-up has dissipated. If it has not, just accept that it was never meant to be.. (The sole exception to this rule is when the line-up is covered, heated and licensed.)
10) That “Kiss me, I’m Irish” shirt? Leave it at home.
If you’re read my previous post, the one about not stealing beer glasses, then likely you’ll also know that Sam Calagione and Ken Grossman and a few others have come up with a new glass designed, they say, for the drinking of IPA. And certain people, including my good friend Mr. Lew Bryson, have reacted rather badly to it.
“Jesus H. Christ,” Lew railed on his Facebook page, “More prescriptive bullshit about how we’re supposed to drink our beer.” That little post garnered, at last count, 76 “likes” and 83 comments in two days, the majority of which were in agreement. One commenter even went so far as to maintain that “(s)tuff like this is ruining the experience of enjoying the beer itself, I believe.”
Me, I’m of two minds. As anyone who regularly or even occasionally reads these missives will know, I’m a great proponent of glassware, but more on the side of aesthetics than function. I hate the “shaker” pint glass because I think it’s ugly and presents the beer poorly – any beer, from IPA to Trappist ale to mass-produced lager. I like the glasses I keep sequestered in a dedicated cabinet because they look good and thus enhance my beer-drinking – or cocktail sipping or wine supping or spirits enjoying – experience. In my occasional role as hospitality industry consultant, I advise against the shaker because I feel its use is a false economy and ultimately detrimental to beer sales.
Whether the shaker makes the beer inside taste inferior to, say, a chalice or a nonic pint or Lew’s favourite Willi Becher, I do not know. I should probably do some research into it, but how does one objectively analyze flavour out of glassware without at least laying one’s hand upon the glass and so influencing one’s perception in some small fashion?
(For the record, while I have not yet held the glass in question in my hand, my initial impression from the photos I have seen – like this one – is that it does not rate terribly high on the aesthetic scale. Better than the Boston Beer glass, for sure, but way below many other glasses, including pretty much every one currently residing in my cabinet.
However, the point is that its existence is harmless. No one is forcing anyone to drink out of it, and I seriously doubt that either Sam or Ken would refuse you a 60 Minute or Torpedo should you not have one handy. They are part of a trend I’ve been noting for some time, namely the fetishizing of beer drinking, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Does anyone need a fancy, flip-knife-style bottle opener when an ordinary church key or, in a pinch, a lighter or rolled up magazine will do the job? No. Do I need a cabinet filled with glassware, roughly two-thirds of which is devoted to beer? Definitely not. Should you feel bad because you want to serve IPA but only own pilsner and weissbier glasses? In heaven’s name, no!
Wine has been fetishized for years now – hands up everyone who owns a rabbit or rabbit-style corkscrew! – and the cocktail geeks are doing their best with that segment of drinks. And if you’re a whisky drinker, someone is trying to sell you rocks to put in your drink, for crying out loud!
Beer is no different, so enjoy it or not, as you wish. Buy the new IPA glass or ignore it, but don’t get bent so out of shape about it. It’s just a glass, not a massive conspiracy to take the joy out of beer drinking.
Some want to define “session beer” as 4.5% alcohol or less. Others say that’s too high and it should be 4% alcohol or less. Yet others suggest that 5.5% is okay.
Me, I say that everything is relative.
I’ve written before that a “session beer” is, or at least should be, a beer you can drink over the course of a “session,’ that being a specific amount of time enjoyed with friends or family or strangers at a bar or pub or cafe. I’ve written about drinking strong beers and never getting drunk in Belgium, because I’ve been sipping at leisure, often with food, and also about “sessions” with low alcohol best bitters in the United Kingdom. Both, I think, are relevant.
But this post at Boak & Bailey reminded me of another occasion when “session” had a very different meaning, which led me to subsequently recall a separate and also very different instance with a most dissimilar result. These are the stories.
I flew into New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001. Yes, THAT September 11. Mine was one of the last planes to land at LaGuardia. I watched from the Long Island Expressway as the second tower fell. I eventually made my way to my hotel near Times Square, deposited my things and went out to drink. Heavily.
Although beer and whiskey were like water to me that night, my sobriety persisted no matter what I drank. It was the shock, you see, and like pretty much everyone I met that night, no matter how much we tried, drinking would not let us forget. A 12% Imperial stout would have been a “session beer” that night.
Forward to March, 2009, in Seattle. I was in town with my wife, Maggie, to judge at Brouwer’s Cafe’s 7th annual Hard Liver Barley Wine Festival. My wife who, a couple of month earlier, had nearly been killed (and was left injured) in an accident, and who subsequently had undergone unrelated surgery. I had filled many roles during the early weeks of that year – caregiver, provider, counsel – and I was stressed out to the max.
We sipped a bunch of barley wines, not an intemperate amount, and declared winners, adjourning after to socialize over a couple of beers. And I got drunk. Not just because of the alcohol, which really wasn’t that much, but because I was wound up tight as the proverbial drum.
Those are extreme instances, I admit, but ones nonetheless that I see as representative of the extremes of daily life. Sometimes we will be free and easy and the 6.1% alcohol IPA will flow down our throats to little effect, and at other times two pints of 4% bitter will have us feeling uncomfortably buzzed thanks to the stress of the week.
Session Beer: It’s not so easily defined.
As reported in The Guardian:
Parenting style is one of the strongest influences on how much alcohol a child will drink as a teenager and young adult, new research has revealed.
For this they needed a study?
Take a look at this picture. Two delightful looking ladies, yes? Hardly the types to engage in drunken rowdiness, I would think.
So why do you suppose they were refused a drink when they recently visited a London pub called The Britannia?
Greater idiocy I have not encountered for some time. The full story is over here.
From the website of the British publication, Off Licence News (emphasis my own):
A contributor to the HotUKDeals website said he had managed to buy 15 cases for £55. The error affected a number of brands, including Stella Artois and Strongbow, which saw prices crash to as little as £7 a case.
Still too expensive for Stella, if you ask me. Alan?