Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Stouter The Better

Most readers of this blog know that I'm an unrepentant beer snob, a lover of the dank, bitter hop. It's not a big secret. Lately, though, I've been stepping out on my best girl (metaphorically, and beer-wise only) with a sweet, sexy, boozy little number. I'm talking about caramel, and chocolate, and vanilla, and ABV to keep you away from heavy machinery. I'm talking about Imperial Stouts.

It started over Christmas, where a friend had Weyerbacher Sunday Mole Stout on offer. I had two, and I couldn't walk straight. The Easton, PA brewery starts with their renowned Sunday Morning Stout, and adds a traditional mole blend, including ancho, pasilla, mulato, and chipotle peppers. It's got a nice late heat, and an almost sweet chocolate/coffee flavor. And, did I mention that it's 11.3% ABV? Dayum.

My interest in the dark arts piqued, I snagged a 22 oz. Stone Imperial Russian Stout at my local Wegmans. Predictably, one of America's best and most creative craft brewers serves up a righteous tipple. Ratebeer gives it a 100 score. At 10.5% ABV, it'll warm your cockles - it's a smooth yet full-bodied mistress. Stone themselves say that the stout is "intensely aromatic (notes of anise, black currants, coffee, roastiness and alcohol) and heavy on the palate...expect this mysterious brew to pour like used motor oil and taste even heavier! Serve at 55 degrees." This is one Russian investigation I'm not going to want to stop.

We've got a little restaurant here in town owned by a FOKQ&MRKQ, called the Leesburg Public House. The food's creative and consistently excellent, and the beer list is long, ever-changing, and diverse as all hell. It's in a location that's been death to restaurants in our town for years, and it's a testament to the quality of their execution that the Public House is thriving where many others have failed. My wife and I frequently head there for a couple of pops and apps when we're trying to escape our kids. About a month ago, I had a Lickinghole Creek Heir Apparent from LPH's taps. The brewery is based in Goochland, VA, home to at least a few FOGTBs, and Heir Apparent is a revelation from the Man above. In the words of the brewers, "Heir Apparent is an imperial stout with a complex caramel soul tempered by a chocolate and roasty undertone. Sweeter in style than Russian Imperial stouts at only 60 IBUs but balanced by the heat of fresh Mexican peppers, vanilla and cacao nibs. The Heir Apparent is ambitiously biding his time until he comes to power. His time will come." This 11.5% monster is fucking amazing. After trying it a the pub, I grabbed a 25.4 oz. bottle at the store. It was the sweetest ass-kicking I ever had.

And just this week, I found Afton, VA's Blue Mountain Dark Hollow. Just like the others described in this post, it's big, and dark, and boozy as all hell. Drinking it on a weeknight is poor decision-making. But if you want to sip something that'll take the pain away and leave a sweet haze covering everything, Dark Hollow will do just fine. It's an Imperial Stout that's aged in bourbon barrels "still dripping with uncut whiskey". I don't know what that last part means, but I do know that you can taste the brown liquor in the 10% ABV beer.

Like a junkie needing more and more, I appear to be ramping up to stratospheric ABV heights in my personal beer-based Vision Quest. The stuff I've gravitated to lately is closer to wine than to your normal American lager. This is the single best thing about the Trump era, as far as I can tell.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Have Fun, Go Nuts

One for all and all for one/We salute our champions/Hail to the Flying Squirrels/Who stand for you and me

So begins 'Hail to the Flying Squirrels', the brand new anthem for Richmond's AA Eastern League franchise, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. As you might imagine, we're predisposed to like all things Flying Squirrel, but minor league baseball ain't exactly renowned for its highbrow cultural institutions. And as a result, we received the news that the Squirrels had released an anthem with appropriate caution.

As it turns out, it's a catchy little ditty. The songwriters from Richmond-based production company Black Iris, obviously listen to their share of the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, to name just a few.

I can't figure out how to embed an mp3 file into this newfangled blogging interface, so you'll have to go here to listen to the song (and download it, 'cause I know you'll dig it and want to have it at your fingertips).

As the chorus exhorts us all, have fun, go nuts.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Laughing with Tears in My Eyes

For a while there, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and the rest of Team Trump rode a wave of hagiography that cast them as paradigm-destroying, swamp-draining geniuses. The left added 'evil' to that description, but in general, a credulous media gave the new administration a great deal of credit for a systematic approach to dismantling the foundations of the modern American state.

That edifice crumbled pretty quickly, no? From a disastrous ban on foreign travel from Muslim-heavy countries, to a nearly-as-disastrous attempt to resuscitate it, to support of a widely panned healthcare bill, to a budget proposal that would be crippling in its breadth  if it weren't literally illegal to pass, the Trump brain trust seems to resemble nothing so much as the Really Rottens of Laff-a-Lympics fame. Their cruelty and bad intent is routinely scuttled by their incompetence.

It would be laughable, if it weren't so consequential.

It's still laughable, actually. Case in point, last week, the White House either completely failed to understand obvious satire and mockery, or never read past the headline of an article by Washington Post writer Alexandria Petri. That headline, "Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why", was followed by an obvious and over the top (so, really, quite Trumpy) sendup of the folks that are running our country at the moment, including such gems as:

The piece continued on to describe in ridiculous detail some of the specific cuts President* Trump's budget proposal (which, as I may have mentioned, is cruel and incompetent) suggests:

 Petri closes with a flourish, and a literal LOL line to boot:

The article was amusing, an obvious (to most) cathartic salve to the liberal soul. To at least one person who works in the White House (it's Trump, isn't it?), it was something different entirely.

Here's a screenshot of the White House Daily Newsletter from March 16, which includes the President's daily schedule, as well as links to a couple of articles the White House thinks are important for the public to read. One's a Politico piece about Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny's visit to Washington. The other, Petri's budget-praising snarkfest.

As Petri herself put it in a follow-up article/facepalm explaining how it feels to become part of the story, "This is 2017 in a nutshell: You start with what you think is obviously a joke, and then a few days later it is being sent out from the White House."

The stock market's just started to figure out that maybe Trump is full of shit and genuinely incapable of understanding or keeping his campaign promises. FBI Director Jim Comey (Go Tribe! If we're claiming him. Given the fact that there's a strong argument all of this is his fault, maybe we shouldn't.) confirmed D.C.'s worst-kept secret, telling Congress that the Bureau is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to the Russian government. We're basically all fucked.

At least we'll die laughing.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Madness, Day Four

You've almost made it, boys and girls. One more day to go in the first weekend of the tournament, and I know we're all feeling a little bit melancholy. Except for Danimal, who's been wearing the green in Savannah for the past few days, and might not remember his own name. It's Danimal.

But we're here for you. A little pick me up to get you ready.

Chuck Berry passed away yesterday, and while his personal legacy is a bit justifiably tarnished, his musical influence is undeniable. In a terrific 2016 New York Times Magazine piece, Chuck Klosterman argues that, "Chuck Berry may very well become the artist society selects when rock music is retroactively reconsidered by the grandchildren of your grandchildren."

I think Przemek Karnowski is my favorite player in the tournament, with Deonte Burton a close second. In the big Pole's honor, here's cut by Riverside, the Krakow Post's selection as the Best Polish Rock Band of 2015.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Musical Madness, Day 3

The on-court action hasn't been all that mad yet, so we fully expect today to be bonkers. And if it's not, all the better for the pool I filled out solely based on KenPom ratings. Go Zags! We're in the business of slapping together barely related musings this week, so here's a little more.

Both this fine blog and Sentence of Dave have posted about the legendary Tuareg band Tinariwen in the past few weeks. I'll be damned if you can't hear their influence in the first part of this excellent, multi-faceted (and wicked chill) new single from English indie group Alt-J.

Run the Jewels rolled into DC last month for a couple of shows at Echostage. While they were in our little town, they played one of the cooler NPR Tiny Desk Concert sets I've seen (and there have been some amazing Tiny Desk shows - you could do worse than spend an evening sipping a beverage of your choice and binge-watching on YouTube). The chemistry between Killer Mike and El-P is amazing in such a small space - their ad-libbing is effortless. Make sure you watch to the very end for a message from Mike.

As always, this is but a vehicle for your commenting genius. Go get 'em, champ.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Madness Open Thread, Day 2

Hey you. Don't watch that. Watch this.

Your commenting paradise awaits.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Madness Open Thread

On the best sports day of the year, our traditional* filler post, complete with my earliest/best childhood NCAA Tournament memory. I even remember the Bryant Gumbel cut-in:

*It's not, but I'm ticked I didn't think about it earlier. Go Seahawks.