Thunder Volcano

Boundless enthusiasm for something stupid

Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category


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I recently came across a case of Dogfish Head beer carrying this quote (sans context) from a review by Playboy: “Over the top smoothness.”

Is it just me, or does that sort of completely contradict itself?  Isn’t it a bit like saying “overwhelming subtlety?”  I expect this kind of stupid crap from Dogfish, but what the hell Playboy.  I used to hold you up to a higher standard of journalism.

Written by Baron Volcano

01/20/2013 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Beer, I got opinions

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Pub Review: Milly’s Tavern

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Almost nothing about Millie’s Tavern says “this place is going to brew good beer.”  It advertises itself as a nightclub/brewery or something like that, and that usually means the brewery is little more than a novelty add-on and they give at most half a shit about the beer quality.  But I’ve been wrong before, and since there ain’t a lot else along these lines in south-central New Hampshire, I decided to give it a go.  Stepping into the basement bar, which had a feel that spoke much more closely to “dingy honky-tonk” than “restaurant and/or nightclub”, I became ever-more convinced that this place would suck.  Or, at least, that the beer would be mediocre and the food would make my drive home really uncomfortable.

I was right.  The End.

No seriously, I’m really glad I went there.  Their porter, one of the two beers I use as my litmus test at unproven breweries, managed to disappear from the glass quickly enough that it almost escaped my notice.  The second pint was, as it always is, a minor dilemma.  If I’m to be scientific about it, I go with IPA since that’s my other Litmus Test Beer.  But my gut always tells me to try something different and/or weird, since that’s where brewers get to go outside the limits of the Everyday Beers (which are often Set in Stone by The Suits) and do as they please.  They had a couple lambics on the menu, which is kind of a double-whammy, since I tend to be really skeptical of American beers bearing the label “lambic.”  In other words, I had to know.  And it was good.  Not really within the confines of “lambic,” but it was a decent sour wheat ale, except for the noticeable-but-not-overpowering taste of the fake blueberry flavoring they used (I hate fake blueberry, and I still liked this beer).

I got the chance to talk with the brewer for a little while, so I lingered over an IPA or an APA (some hoppy pale beer, I can’t remember.  It was also good).  He seemed pretty stoked on the place, and gung-ho on beer in general, which is really all you can ask for in a brewer.  Though he wasn’t nearly as sold on the lambic as I was.  I think I lost a little respect from him for thinking it was good.

All in all, I would recommend a stop by if you for some reason happen to be near Manchester, New Hampshire.

Oh, and I wasn’t really hungry when I showed up, but their chili was some of the best I’ve had in a brewpub for a while now (it’s sort of a secondary mission of mine to find a brewpub that has decent chili).

Written by Baron Volcano

09/28/2011 at 10:44 pm

How I’m Going to Make Millions

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I’ve heard that the hallmark of a successful invention is to find a new or clever solution to a common problem.  It is with this in mind that I present to you an idea that I’m sure will make me a lot of money.  But first, the problem:

When I drink beer at home, I generally drink whatever homebrew I have on tap.  Barring that, it’s usually some fancypants bottled beer.  The question is, how do I drink beer in the shower?*  Too much water gets into any cup I bring in there, bottles are too slippery in the shower (not to mention very breakable), and there just aren’t that many good beers packaged in cans.

Some friends of mine suggested that I just put a tap line in my shower, but that really creates more problems than it solves.  For one, I rent.  I’ll admit that it would take a pretty unreasonable landlord to frown upon an addition as awesome as that, but you can’t be too careful.  Plus a shower tap would have a much longer beer line, which would mean a lot more head pressure for the keg, which would pose problems for the existing tap I have.  Or it would mean I’d have a keg that I could only pour in the bathroom, which would be kind of weird.

When I finally came up with the solution to this, I was kind of amazed nobody** had thought of it before: an plastic lidded stein.  It’d be unbreakable and easy to hold, it wouldn’t let water in, and it wouldn’t be nearly as much of a pain in the ass as drinking beer out of one of those sippy cups.

*I’ve brought this up in mixed company a few times, and have always gotten the same response: guys enthusiastically agree and/or sympathize, girls give me weird looks.  This has, on several occasions, caused girls to look at their boyfriends and ask with a mixture of confusion and disgust “you drink in the shower?”
**I say “nobody” in the sense of “me”, based on the fact that I haven’t done any checking to see if this exists already.

Written by Baron Volcano

03/09/2011 at 4:40 pm

Posted in Beer, right?

All Kinds of Beer

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As an inveterate beer geek, the first thing I say to pretty much any waiter/bartender (after “hello”, of course) is “what kind of beer do you have?”  There have been a number of occasions when the response is along the lines of “we’ve got all types” or “we have everything you can think of”.  These are not beer bars, mind you.  More like… about as far from a beer bar as you can get.  I never know what to do.  The waiter is usually somebody who’s well meaning (though possibly also too lazy to memorize all six beers on the list), so I don’t want to be a spaz or an asshole about it.  I’m obviously not going to take it as a challenge and order something weird just to show off (“I’ll have the Drie Fonteinen Faro, please”), and there’s no way I can think of to say “trust me, I know about all kinds of beer you’ve never heard of” without sounding like a condescending prick.  Worse yet, my mind usually freezes and the only “common” beer I can think of is Chimay, which is still probably way further out there than I can hope to get (the first time this happened to me I was at a restaurant on the outskirts of Nowheresville, Florida).  After some nervous stuttering, I usually go with Guinness.  It seems like the only reasonable thing to do.

Written by Baron Volcano

10/26/2010 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Beer

Is Beer the New Wine? (No.)

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Jesus Christ people, you really need to stop writing articles whose sole premise is “is beer the new wine?”.  It’s understandable if it’s some dopey feature in a local newspaper (“new restaurant features beer menu and suggested food pairings – just like wine!”), though now that I think about it that seems pretty condescending (“Crappy Beverage tries to imitate the Grown Ups”).  But when I see an article like this in a publication that actually takes beer seriously it falls somewhere between annoying and sad.  There are generally two variations:

a) beer (specifically American craft beer, usually) is gaining respect and (more importantly) people should take it Much More Seriously
2) snobs are turning off potential newbies and really need to Cool Out because It’s Just Beer

I’ve read these two articles a hundred times.  Neither was especially interesting the first time.  I tend to take them as a tacit admission of “my deadline is approaching and I don’t have anything new to say” which I can sort of empathize with because there isn’t always that much to say about beer.  Even so, you gotta find a better use for your 500 words per month.  Constantly harping on this question just makes it seem even moreso like a little kid trying to compare himself to his older brother.

On a related note, those Sam Adams commercials where Jim Koch talks about how “hops are to beer what grapes are to wine” make me want to kill myself.  As a direct result of that ad campaign, somebody once suggested to me that maybe I didn’t like Boston Lager because it’s “too hoppy”.  I managed to navigate that conversation without punching him, but it was a close one.

Written by Baron Volcano

10/26/2010 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Beer, I got opinions, right?

Select Malts

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I’ve noticed a fair number of beer labels will say something to the effect of “made with four select malts”.  What exactly does the phrase “select malts” mean?  That the malts were selected?  I’d assume that the selection process here is also known as “writing a recipe”, so are they trying to imply that other brewers just say “fuck it, let’s just take whatever barley we’ve got lying around and throw it in the mash tun, it’ll probably turn into beer eventually”?  The phrase is also usually accompanied by “choice hops”, which is similarly meaningless.

On a similar note, it would be nice if beer labels would stop saying things like “made with eight different malts” like that’s something to brag about.  You don’t see many chefs bragging about how they used every spice on the rack, do you?  Maybe you shouldn’t be so proud about the fact that you aren’t very good at writing recipes.

Written by Baron Volcano

10/15/2010 at 2:10 am

Posted in Beer, I got opinions

Keg Registration

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I spend a nontrivial portion of my time filling kegs at work, so I get to spend a whole bunch of time dealing with kegs that we get back from bars and liquor stores and distributors and whathaveyou.  They often come back to us in some sort of… unpleasant condition, usually embodied by some ungodly shit covering the keg: lettuce (AKA keg salad), chicken bones, silverware, this weird brown crap that may have been gravy at one point, broken glass, mold (usually in the mouth, caused by somebody putting the keg cap back on), and – this is a distressingly common one – what appears to be an entire bottle’s worth of ketchup.
Gross and/or dangerous though it may be, that stuff doesn’t really bother me too much.  It’s annoying, but I can usually just hose it off.  What does bother me, however, are stickers.  Bars and liquor stores (and sometimes distributors) seem to like to put stickers on kegs, despite not actually owning said kegs.  Would you put bumper stickers on a rental car?  (If you mentally answered “yes” to that question, then not only are you probably an asshole, but you might want to do some learnin’ on the concept of “rhetorical questions”)  Maybe these places think that breweries have a machine that will remove stickers and such from the outside of kegs.  We don’t, unless your definition of “machine” somehow manages to include “some schmuck with a scraper” (i.e. me).
Even so, there is a greater evil in the land of keg-getting-back: keg registration.  If anything, keg registration stickers are more of a pain in the ass to remove than stickers from bars (they’re bigger, for one thing), but that’s not the problem.  The problem is that they tend to contain a lot of personal information about the purchaser – name, address, driver’s license #, signature, birthday, etc.  People tend to be really guarded about personal information being shared these days, and yet they unwittingly put their trust in some hairy guy who may or may not be too hungover to see and/or fully scrape off the sticker.  Sometimes people will cross out personal information with markers, but that actually doesn’t fix the problem – marker washes off pretty easily, pen is pretty resilient.  By far the worst offender on this (in my experience, anyway) is Connecticut.  Their stickers just can’t be removed.  I realize that if the adhesive is too weak then it will come off when the keg sweats, but there has got to be a better solution here.
I realize that this is a pretty trivial (and selfishly motivated) reason to rally against keg registration, but it really kind of sucks.  If we need to have keg registration (which is arguable, but not something I want to get into), can we at least have something that doesn’t become a permanent part of the keg?  What if there was a tag with a serial number (and maybe the name of the issuing store) ziptied to the keg?  That couldn’t be much more expensive to implement than those detailed forms with the insane mutant glue, and zipties can be cut relatively easily.  More importantly, it would allow/require the liquor store to keep the purchaser’s personal info in-store, instead of affixing it to the keg.

Written by Baron Volcano

09/18/2010 at 2:24 pm