Tag Archives: food

The Weekly Banjo: Drinking Heavy Metal Style

I’ll disclose to those of you too retarded to have figured this from my extended absences and lack of posting:  I don’t get out too much, and when I do, I have three beers where I live that I enjoy, leaving several hundred that I absolutely do not.  I could be wrong–no, wait.  I’m not.  The leftovers suck.

This is going to change next summer.  TWB will be moving back to beer heaven: Seattle.

Before that happens, Montana should probably be referenced at least, say, twice.  Here’s the first:

Butte, Montana is a hard-assed city.  Most extant buildings are from around 1900 or earlier, and each of its nearly 35,000 residents can fight on cage and curb.  Butte is renowned for its St. Patrick’s Day parade, nearly doubling in size for the occasion.  If you do choose to attend this event, it pays to know a local.  Such a person can help you from being buried upside down in a shallow grave.

Butte is the only location in the United States where you can see a half-mile wide open pit that will kill you if you touch it.  Apparently, George Hearst’s ghost wanted the place to close.

Butte people live with it all, though: the pit, the loss of prosperity, limbs, decent cars, the prolific shanty-towns, and a fair reputation for being one of the drunkest cities in a heavily drunken state.  Being that I was there, it was time to drink.

I went to lunch at Fred’s Mesquite and ordered a mushroom burger and a pint of Open Cab Copper Ale from the Quarry Brewery.  What I got was a pint of Open Cab, and the next Mastodon album cover:

Blood And Thunder, anyone?

While the sheer nuclear volume of the burger colored the flavor of the beer, the local ale was not to be denied: deep, red, and likely poisonous in sufficient doses, much like the pit to the east.

I ate and drank it all.  It was an ass-kicking.


The Weekly Banjo #22: On Food

In case you hadn’t seen the videos or are completely blind, you can see that I also eat while I drink.  The pairing is obvious: alcohol (in general) makes you hungry, and beer especially so.  I’ve never subscribed to the notion that beer is too filling to have with food–I think it’s a cruel, nonsensical (read: bullshit) conspiracy against real beer makers by the light macro factories and wine industries–and learning how (and especially when) to pair beer with meals can make you a culinary genius.

This isn’t to say that beer can be paired with EVERYTHING.  This goes for any clash of flavors: lemon vs. chocolate, mint vs. orange, or the especially vexing philistine choice of red wine vs. nachos (or nearly any Mexican cuisine, for that matter).

You thought this was a good idea? How about I re-arrange your face, shithead?

Great chefs have adhered to wine pairings due to two distinct factors: tradition and ease (due mostly to tradition).  It is up to you, therefore, to make a conscious decision to first drink beer with your finer foods, and develop your palate to the point where you can order intelligently without being a snob.

The (loose) rules are fairly simple:

1. Just about any beer goes with (real) breakfast.  Test me.  Have eggs benedict with Guinness if you want to test this idea.  Fake breakfasts include shit like this:

Fake breakfast. Awesome in its own right, but FAKE.

Look, if you like this kind of sugar-laden garbage, I’ll suggest that real beer isn’t really for you.  The only cereal that lends itself to beer-drinking is Grape Nuts, and you don’t want Grape-Nut-Beer-Shits; while you may think your little book of matches can knock down the disgusting aroma, you’re wrong.  Real breakfasts usually hold something fried, salty, meaty–ALL beer friendly traits.

2.  Keep it light at lunch unless you *want* to have an ass the size of a ferry boat.

The animal on the left has stout with lunch.

Most unsuccessful drinkers knock themselves completely out of the game by ordering some belgian, opaque, wake-granddad-from-the-dead stout which not only makes their turkey sandwich meaningless, it also plows straight through their face before drinking time actually starts.  Have some dignity, man up and have a pilsener, you over-enthusiastic moron.

3.  Dinner is a warm-up, dessert is *supposed* to be bite-sized.

You need to have some room to enjoy your beer instead of pissing your face off.  Nobody likes to see you close the bar and leave a steamy trail of vomit on your way out the door and into the middle of the street, so do everybody a favor: drink like you are trying to close the bar, leave two hours early, and finish your debauch at your house.  Barfing on your stupid Bob Marley poster isn’t going to piss me off.  Cutting loose on my table brings out my inner Sam Elliott.

You better start showing a little class, you pussy.

Drink Successfully.


The Weekly Banjo #11: The Holiday Míse

The holidays can be perplexing for aspiring drinkers; mixed drinks abound, from the jolly (hot buttered rum) to the preposterous yet palatable (egg nog–seriously, who was the genius who invented such a… well… whatever that is).

Poor, poor rum.

The truly successful drinker already knows that the holidays, populated with salts and roasted meats, are perfect for beer.  Do note that I used the word, “perfect,” for there is nothing greater than ANY beer with your holiday ham, turkey, tamales, cakes, pies, stuffing, potatoes, cakes, pies, or tamales.

Now We're Talking.

So, what is the “Míse”?  Simply put, it’s your setting.  Think of míse as a 38% component of successful drinking–unless you are at a McMenamins establishment, where míse accounts for 80% of your SD component.  Indeed, a frosty beer at the Edgefield can taste better than it actually does simply because the setting is so incontrovertibly awesome.  Creating a great míse in your own home may be the simplest task you undertake.  Here’s a quick primer:

  1. Choose the surroundings that make you most comfortable and make them even more comfortable.  Drinking takes time, and you’re going to need a place to sit that won’t hurt your sitter.
  2. Choose your soundtrack and insist that it play while you drink, and make certain it fits your surroundings.  For example, if you are in a cabin in the woods, songs that remind you of home may be the right way to go.  If you are ice fishing, the droning fan of your space heater is likely the best soundtrack, etc.
  3. Get some food.  Beer makes you hungry, and you should be ready to indulge this hunger while you have the chance.  Salt makes the palate happy when the beer comes to wash it away, so have cheese, bread, and other salty etcetera to eat while you enjoy.
  4. Make it the right place to drink.  This isn’t a snobby thing to do, but often, people avoid the effort due to a level of embarrassment with creating ideal situations for themselves.  If you have this kind of embarrassment taking root in your conscience, ignore it or throttle it to death.  There is no such thing as an embarrassed successful drinker.

Creating a míse takes time and work, but it makes your drinking exponentially more successful.  Think of it: a frat party without a keg of macro-lager is simply ludicrous.  If I saw one so sorely lacking, I would leave immediately.  Conversely, if I attended such a party with nothing but local high-gravity micros, I’d feel very (very) out of place, and I’d likely leave due to discomfort with my surroundings.

Everything has its rightful place and time.  Successful drinking includes knowing what these places and times are.

The Weekly Banjo #10: “I Don’t Like Dark Beer.”

Boy, do I hear this one often.  “I don’t like dark beers.  They’re too _____”, with the blank most often filled with the words, “bitter”, “smoky”, or, “overwhelming”.

This is not an intimidation tactic, nor is this intimidating.

Besides the tradtional Czech lager and its descendants in America and Germany, there is no greater or more palatable beer than a delicious stout or porter–especially during the cold seasons.  Most people attribute the strength of taste in a stout-style beer to its name: “It’s stout, right, it’s strong because it says so!”

Wrong.  And you are suffering as a drinker for it.  Most stouts are an ace more sophisticated than an average American Lager, that is true. Dark malts and specialty grains do that to a beer.  Sophistication, however, is not the same as effusiveness, which admittedly does turn a lot of drinkers off.  Here’s a rule of thumb for you when you are looking to branch out from your tested favorite:  avoid the word, “Imperial”.  Imperial stouts have a regal name, and are brewed to be a royal challenge to a drinker.  Seasoned beer athletes will regularly challenge themselves to face down these mighty beasts, and successful drinkers will often prove their mettle by facing down these gargantuans.

Although it is one of the most ubiquitous beers in the world, Guinness Dry Irish Stout may be your best bet for cracking into a new style.  It is light (sic), cheerful, and delicious with a small snack–say, buttered bread.  Pairings and your setting help quite a bit in making your beer drinking escapades more enjoyable and successful, so consider it your daily gift, and let us re-convene after this weekend to talk more about the Mise and how it can help you enjoy beer even more.

Unapologetically awesome.

Drink successfully.

Thursday Banjo #5: What Every New Drinker Should Remember

New drinkers generally fall into two categories:

1. 19-year-olds who enjoy Macro-lagers

2. 21-year-olds who have enjoyed macro-lagers since they were 19.

The female variety can be observed in warmer climates thusly:

The Octo-Bong At Sea

While the male variant can usually be found thusly:

Major: Archaeology.

When you begin to blaze your trail away from the macros, keep in mind that beer is at its essence food.  The macros exist as cocktails (which is perfectly fine), but the beers you enjoy as you leave your bong-addressing years will help you toward drinking success by giving you the nourishment you need to grow.

In the meantime, stop trying to be an expert on beer, and stop trying to be cute by liking PBR.

Remember this (as next week’s Banjo will focus on it fully):  There IS such a thing as a free lunch, but you need to make the switch to REAL beer to know how (and where) to find it.

Drink Successfully.

Recently Added To The Blogroll

1. Bruce Aidells the sausage god and world champion beer enthusiast.

2. A [mostly true] story if you want a snapshot of happiness through intellect.

3. Clack Like Me is a blog dedicated to food and the intellect.  That’s never a bad thing.

4. Don’t mess with the free lunch.  We’re bringing it back, fair reader.  You and I.