Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Trip Without A Violation

Sam Adams Lager is a moderately enjoyable session beer that just squeeks in the locavore radius (I'm in suburban Hartford). IIt's been my beer of choice on the trip. I also sampled an IPA and a Copper Ale at the local John Harvard Brewhouse. Check out their beers here. I quite liked the IPA.

It'll be good to get back to Portland, my lovely beer brewing jewel of a city by the sea.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quick Reviews

1. Chef Et Al. Hard by the USM campus on Forest Ave, this upscale bistro offers casually fine dining and a quality (and cheaper) bar menu of appetizers and lunch-size portions. Nice local beers are on offer. I had the mussels, which were very good, and sampled the drafts. My one quibble: I'd like Chef to be a little more adventurous in the beer offering. How about the Allagash Dubbel or Grand Cru rather than the more pedestrian White?

2. Shame, Shame, Shame. It was the familiar Shipyard paddle. It was bright red, the color they designate for their IPA, my eyes suck, I pointed to it and gestured with my glass, which was empty, the 'tender brought my beer, it was completely flavorless, I asked about it, the 'tender explained it was their summer seasonal. The folks at Shipyard should be ashamed for 1) brewing a horseshit seasonal, and, 2) disguising it as an IPA to the unsuspecting. Be careful out there!

3. Granny's Burritos. A serviceable burrito in the underserved Portland Tex-Mex market. I'm glad they are back. They're in the former Uncle Billy's Rest-O-Bar space on Congress St, by Joe's Smoke Shop. I love the funky space, the juke box, the strange art and artifacts on the walls. I used to love the variety of local beer on tap at the old Granny's. The new Granny's seems to have adopted Uncle Billy's policy of shitty beer selection. It hasn't adopted Billy's overpriced food policy though: ten buck gets you a burrito and a beer. The poor beer selection was salvaged by Seadog IPA being one of the 3 draft beer options (along with Shipyard Export and PBR). The Seadog might be the best of the local IPAs and was just fine to wash down my burrito with.

Code of Conduct

When I established this blog I stated that I would only drink local beer. I went on to define local. I left so little room for wiggle that it would take a clintonian scholar to find a loophole. With the benefit of hindsight, I now feel that rather than a strict rule, beer locavorian principles are more guidelines. At times, it's important to use sound judgement and independent decision-making when applying these guidelines. Here's some examples:

1. It is very important not to be rude in the name of the locavore. For example, my friends Mika and Brett traveled from Tokyo to run the Boston Marathon. They had several stops along the way--visiting the west coast and the great plains of Canada. They lugged 6 beers and a beautiful drinking glass from Tokyo to give me as a wonderful and thoughtful gift. Under normal circumstances I would summon the inner strength and just admire my favorite beer rather than drink it. But in this case, that would've been rude, so I drank it, locavore be damned. It would've rude not to.

2. Don't reward the producers of bad beer. Example: you are in Philadelphia, in a wonderful Belgian Beer bar. Your hosts have made a special trip because they know you like quality beer. There is Bud Light on the menu, and it squeaks in to the hundred mile radius. Why reward A-B for permeating even the best of the local taverns and pushing bad beer? Order the Trappist Tripel and enjoy.

I'm sure I will discover more exceptions to the basic, guidelines as I hit the road again this week. I will amend as necessary.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Not Everyone Has Been Suspended

It wasn't until I had my third cup of coffee this morning before I trusted what my eyes were telling me: while I'm taking a break from drinking, Hillary Clinton has taken to pounding shots of Crown Royal with an Old Style chaser.

My man Obama is taking some heat for telling the truth: bitter American voters frequently leap to the lowest common denominator and vote according to a candidate's stance on guns and God (gays--and the anti-gay vote--form the third G, but fortunately Obama neglected to mention that). Hillary leaped on that, swore ever lasting allegiance to both guns and God, and guzzled whiskey and beer to prove it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Maine's State Beverage

In an effort to get through the barbaric suspension order, I've added Moxie to the mix. It's still brown and bitter and somehow it seems an appropriate beer substitute, given the circumstances.

Moxie was invented in Union, Maine, as patent medicine. It claimed to restore manhood, among other health benefits. In 1906 a law was passed which limited the lies that food and drug manufacturers could tell and Moxie backed off some of its claims.

I tried to buy Moxie at the Hanaford store and instead bought an identically labelled can that contains Moxie energy drink (their Red Bull competitor). It's terrible. One can would've been a bad mistake, I bought four.

During this inhumane suspension, I have de-bunked one myth about beer while confirming another oft-repeated beer story.

Beer and Calories

Contrary to popular opinion, beer does not contain calories. I have proof: I haven't had a beer in five plus days and I haven't lost any weight. The logical conclusion from this is that concern about weight gain is no reason to avoid or limit beer intake. Drink up!

Beer and Money

Beer does cost money, as it turns out, and it's possible to reduce personal expenses by avoiding beer and other boozes. The actual source of the savings is a little counter-intuitive: it's a result of the savings on food. Specifically, because all meals without beer or wine are crap, crap food is back in play. I had a Whopper today, for example. Crap food tends to be cheap. The result is expense savings.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Locavore Suspended, Possible Further Sanctions Loom

Beer Locavore, also known as "Pete", has been suspended from all alcohol consumption related activities for ten days, according to the governing body. The suspension is the result of violations alleged to have been committed by Locavore during his recent trip to Florida. The ban includes all beer, wine, whiskey, tequila, and any other liquor, sake, and beer-like substances which are commonly sold under brand names such as Miller Lite or Coors Light.

Locavore has accepted the ruling while not admitting guilt.

"I apologize for any embarrassment caused by this unfortunate situation. The circumstances were beyond my control. While the beer was free, and at the appropriate temperature, in the case of the Heineken, rather than being tempted I was merely deceived by the coozie which hid the label from viewing. In addition, I mistakenly thought that Yuengling was a local beer of Native American origin. Finally, I was told that Pabst Blue Ribbon was actually liquid vitamin B-12. I took it to help deal with a headache."

The ten day suspension will be followed by a one week probationary period. Following the probationary period, a weigh in will determine if further sanctions are in order.

Reaction to the ban was mixed, with many indicating they felt the ruling was harsh.

"He was on vacation, and the beer was free, ten days is too long." said one loyal reader, who requested anonymity.

Another reader felt quite strongly that the ruling was too lenient:

"He got off easy. He violated our trust."

Locavore vows to continue beer studies through vicarious research during the ban. He'll report here on his findings.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Locavore Stumbles and Falls

I left for DC, and for Florida, with good intentions: sample the local fare, and report back. From a locavore perspective, I found the DC trip challenging and the Florida trip impossible. I faltered and rationalized but eventually stumbled again. Before I could get up, I fell. I hope to rise again.

The Best of the Travel Beers

In no particular order, I enjoyed:

1. Brooklyn Lager, consumed in the JFK airport. Very good.
2. Kelso of Brooklyn's Nut Brown Lager. Same location. Also very good.
3. Shipyard IPA. Portland International Jetport. A fine brew.
4. Sam Adams Boston Lager. Various locations. More on this later.
5. Capital City Brewing, the District Chophouse and Brewery, and the Big River Grille and Brewing Works. Various beers brewed on the premises. Competently brewed, tasty.
6. Dogfish Head: the 60, 90, and the Raison D'Etre. All fabulous. Brewed in Delaware, consumed in RFD by thye Verizon Center in DC.
7. Dubliner's Amber Ale, brewed in Virginia by Dominion.


At both locations the primary intent of my visit was for purposes other than drinking local beer. Beyond that, I was with others: normal sorts who aren't obsessed with staying local with respect to beer drinking. This presented some minor conflicts. An example, free Sam Adams (out of local) versus a 10 minute walk ands a reach for the wallet for a Big River Pale. I struggled then faltered. I compromised. I gave in.

At first my infractions were minor. I accepted and drank a Kirin from Dan's wife Midori in DC. It would've been rude of me not to drink it. It was a thoughtful gift and Dan had been gracious enough to slow down and run with me. As a work responsibility I "hosted" a group for lunch in Epcot's Germany. I drank a German beer. I would've been derelict in my duty had I not quaffed the beer, and besides, I was in Germany, according to the folks at Disney.

But this was a slippery slope.

Help! I've fallen and I can't get up

On my second night in Florida, I attended a large group function. It was great fun. The night before, I had front-end loaded at the brewpub, then experimented with whiskey and tequila before settling on red wine as my drink of choice for the evening. I woke up with a headache and some bowel distress. Seeking medication, and with local beer unavailable, I drank Heineken. Cans. But I took my time and drank only 7 or 8--strictly medicinal--then took a bus back to the brewpub. I felt marginally better the next day. On my last night in Florida I was once again faced with the non-local or no beer decision. I again opted for the non-local. I drank PBR. I drank Yuengling. We changed locations. The party was raging. At the new location, my choices were limited to Bub Light and a strange, clear substance called water. I reached for the Bud Light and drank. The immediate and quite violent physical reaction was minor compared to the emotional and psychic damage. I had sold my soul. I was a wide-stance republican level hypocrite. I put the beer down and ran into the night. I have confessed. I await my punishment.