The Bachelor Awakens From Its Vapid Sleep For Ten Minutes of Actual Reality TV

Last night I was doing manly activities: lifting heavy weights, drinking (craft) beer, looking at nudy magazines, scratching myself, et cetera, et cetera.  In the midst of said manly activities, I heard, from the living room, a sound I ne’er catch on Monday nights while my wife is watching The Bachelor: a female contestant explaining in clear, pithy language that she’s leaving because the bachelor is a self-centered douche.

bachelor copyThe Bachelor is your typical ‘reality tv’ show.  By that, I mean, it contains very little reality.  Though these shows don’t have writers, they are carefully scripted and directed.  Watch three episodes, and you’ll get the formula.  The real people in control of these shows are the editors who splice just the right facial expression with just the right comment to create ‘reality.’

Anna has been watching this show for years now, and I’ve caught my fair share of it.  (There’s no easier way to shut down your mind before bed than watching The Bachelor.)

I’ve come to think of the show as a silent solar system where everything is static.  There are no signs of actual human life.  Year after year, the solar system functions according to its own laws without much new excitement.  But last night, after years observing a dormant solar system, I saw a flash of something unique.  Like I was a scientist staring into the Hubble Telescope for years, waiting for some semblance of life from a distant galaxy.  And then, something finally does happen.

Juan Pablo copyRecap of the honest moment on last night’s Bachelor: Andi, a lawyer from Atlanta, explains to Juan Pablo, the douchy bachelor, that she’s leaving the show after they shared a night together in the fantasy suite.  Why?  Because he spent all night talking about himself, name dropping, and not giving a shit about who she was.

My favorite moment was when Jaun Pablo tried to catch Andi by asking her what religion he practiced.  To which Andi quickly responded, “Catholic.”  Juan Pablo’s only response was that vacuous blank stare.  Like a true narcissist, he seemed unaffected.

Andi telling off Juan Pablo wasn’t even the real supernova of activity from the vacuous universe that is the Bachelor.  No.  The real seismic event in the this universe was that the editors at ABC actually portrayed something that looked like real life.  Usually the bachelor/bachelorette comes off looking like the good guy/gal in all Bachelor scuffles.  The editing last night completely worked against Juan Pablo.  Something happened inside the producers room to allow this to happen.

Maybe they’d had it with Juan Pablo.  Dumb, and at times bigoted, statements flow from his mouth with astounding frequency.  In response, he tries to tell us that he doesn’t know our language.  The most famous example of his I-don’t-speak-a-the-language missteps was his statement off the show that there should never be a gay bachelor, because all the gay people he knows are ‘perverts.’  Nice one, buddy.

Last night, I saw a quiet universe snap into life for the briefest moment.  I’m sure the activity will subside, and we’ll get another eighteen seasons of dormancy.  However, like that scientist staring into the mighty Hubble, I was just glad I witnessed signs of life in an otherwise lifeless universe.

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Lawson’s Double Sunshine IPA Completes the Holy Trinity of Vermont Beers

No world class beer comes without a storied journey.  Whether it’s a Pliny the Elder being smuggled to the east coast in a suitcase, a trip to the heart of Vermont’s North East Kingdom for a taste of Hill Farmstead Abner, or a well-packaged six-pack of Zombie Dust arriving in the mail, getting your mitts on top-shelf beer is no small feat.

Lawson LabelLawson’s Finest Liquids Double Sunshine IPA is no exception.  I’ve heard stories of people standing in line for hours at a Vermont farmer’s market just to get denied when the beer is sold out.

My Vermont friends have been swearing that when I finally try the Double Sunshine IPA, it will become my new favorite beer.  Bold statement, knowing my deep affinity for Heady Topper.

It’s the nature of human desire to want what we can’t easily have, thus, I began my onslaught of begging my brother to bring a bottle to Maine so I could toss it down my beer hole.  And being the good brother he is, he came through with two bottles.

But before I get to the beer, I’ll give you the story of those two bottles.

Andy’s Lawson’s dealer is the beverage warehouse in Winooski.  (I should add that this is the same beverage warehouse where I used to buy 30 packs of Busch Lite in college.  Thank the good Lord those times are over!)  Like any good world class beer drinker, Andy has a plan.  He knows the exact time Lawson’s are delivered to said beer store.  He calls to verify the goods have been delivered.  Upon receiving confirmation, Andy convinces a co-worker to drive to the beer store with him during their lunch break because each customer can only buy one twenty-two ounce bomber.  They drive.  They buy.  Andy packs the beers along with his family in the car, and four and a half hours later, the beer is in my refrigerator in Maine.

Sometimes I think I like the stories surrounding these beers almost as much as I like the beers themselves.  Almost.

Lawson's BottleAfter ripping through the classy gold foil covering the top of the bottle, I pop the top, and put my nose to the bottle.  Holy shit.  This beer smells fresh and clean with citra hop aroma.  I believe the difference between a world class beer and a really good beer is that every part of the drinking experience in a world class beer comes through cleanly.  The Double Sunshine IPA pours a golden color, releasing more of that beautiful citrusy bouquet.  Given the choice to drink an ok beer or just smell a Double Sunshine IPA, I might be tempted to smell away.

Now to the taste.  Holy shit again.  The grapefruit, mango, and pineapple tropical fruit salad glides over the tongue.  There’s an earthy pine taste at the end of the taste wave that is perfect.  That’s the best word for every moment of this beer: perfect.  The brewers at Lawson’s Finest Liquids have absolute control over this beer from aroma to appearance to taste to finish.

I’m placing Lawson’s Finest Liquids in the holy trinity of Vermont beers: Heady, Hill Farmstead, and Lawson’s.  Get to the 802 area code, do your research so you can find these beers, and indulge in the trinity!

Cheers!

Lagunitas Sucks! Lagunitas Sucks!

I spot it in the cooler next to the other Lagunitas beers.  I’ve heard of this seasonal brew from the California beer company, but I’ve never tossed one down my grocery hole.  I place a six pack on the counter, pay, and race home to try the legendary Lagunitas Sucks.

Lagunitas SucksI pry open the lid, raise the bottle to my face, and announce, “I’m going back to the store to buy the rest of their six packs.”

My wife: “What, you haven’t even tried it yet.”

Me: “I don’t need to, just smell this.”

Anna leans in and breathes in the piney hop assault wafting from the bottle.  “Let’s go,” she says.  (God, I love this woman.)

Back at the store, I see there’s one more six pack in the cooler.  Frantically, I muckle onto the beers and place them on the counter.

The cashier gives me a curious look, “Weren’t you just here?”

Me: “Yes.”

Cashier: “One six pack wasn’t enough?”

Me: “Hell no.”

Lagunitas Sucks 2Back at the homestead with our two six packs of Lagunitas Sucks, Anna and I giggle over how good this beer is.  Giggle?  Absolutely.  I’m unabashedly giddy over this beer.

Placing the Lagunitas Sucks up to your face, you know this is going to be a brilliant beer.  As stated earlier, there’s an atomic hop explosion pulsating from the bottle.  If you’ve ever homebrewed and placed a freshly opened package of hop pellets to your nose, then you understand the refreshing bouquet of citrus and pine I’m talking about.  This beer has it.  Naturally, the next step is to take a healthy swig.  The taste experience does not fall short of the aroma.  Though this beer is heavily hopped, it’s not obnoxiously bitter.  However, it does deliver the pleasant IPA experience of lingering piney bitter on the back of the tongue.  The beer pours surprisingly clear, and for a brew high in alcohol, the boozy taste doesn’t overwhelm the clean hops and malt.

Bold statement: Lagunitas Sucks is the best nationally available IPA.  In addition to the six packs, I was also able to get a few pints at a local watering hole.  If I’m able to buy six packs and drafts of this beer 3,200 miles from the brewery, anyone should be able to acquire Lagunitas Sucks.  I can think of no other beer this good that is so readily available while it’s in production.

I say this with a deep sense of urgency, Go out and find Lagunitas Sucks while you can!  It’s a limited release, and I don’t know when it will be off the shelves.   Stock up, friends.  And don’t mind the queer looks from cashiers when you find yourself back at the store after your first taste.

Cheers!

Drink Bissell Brothers The Substance (Now!)

Tim told me it was happening.  I was hesitant to believe him.  How could it be possible?  How could another 18 beer companies be opening up in Maine in 2014?  You all know I’m a believer in these lush times of beer opulence, but 18?  18!

Tim said, “I had one.  It’s great.”

“Great?  Like great great?” I asked.

“Yes.  Great great.  Bissell Brother’s American Ale.  Great.  If this is what their first few batches taste like, the future looks good.”

PeterBissellPhotoBissell Brothers Brewing Company was one of the first new breweries on my radar.  Partly because they were opening up in the Industrial Way area of Portland where so much great beer is already being brewed, but also, because I’ve had some contact with Peter Bissell through the music community.  Here’s a photo Peter took of my wife and me at the launch of Dispatch Magazine a couple of years ago.  Peter does great work.  My Facebook page is oft filled with photos he’s taken of the local music scene or around town.  When I heard he was opening a brewing company with his brother, I was voraciously intrigued.

BissellBrothersGlassLet’s get down to the beer.  I had my first Bissell Brothers’ American Ale at LFK in Longfellow Square.  (BeerAdvocate has the ale named as The Substance though the BBB co’s ‘About The Beer’ page is currently empty.)  First, I’m going to note the glass it came in.  Yeah, give me a second to ruminate on the glass.  The shape is unique to all the other pint glasses in the bar.  It’s fat at the bottom.  Their logo is clean and symmetrical, like the simplified shape of a bee.  Some beer aficionados might poo-poo my nod to the glassware this company’s picked out, but it adds to the entire experience of their beer.

I lift the fat-bottomed glass to my face, and before the brew hits my lips, my nose is already awash in the citrusy floral notes of this ale.  Not one to linger too long on the nose of a beer, I take a gulp.  This beer is a great American Ale.  The first taste notes are the pineapple and orange flavors.  But this isn’t an IPA, so the tropical fruit taste wave is nuanced and refreshing.  Think Maine Beer Company’s Peeper, but a little dryer.  I mean that as a compliment.  Since it’s an American Ale, the hoppy bitter finish is present, but not overwhelming.  I imagine they brew this with hops high in alpha acids, but they don’t use a lot of them.  This is the kind of beer you can have two or three of and not feel like you were chewing on hop pellets.  The best way I can describe this beer is that all the flavors come through clear and clean, and the overall taste is refreshing.

Tim was right about this one.  I implore you all to go out in Portland and find this American Ale on tap, which is the only way it can currently be consumed.  What you’re going to taste is the future of Maine beer.

Cheers!