Tag Archives: Crom

Bar Games Olympiad VI

Well, only a year late on this post, but with the Seventh Annual Bar Games Olympiad approaching, I figured it was time.

The Sixth Annual Bar Games Olympics was off to a poor start when day-of bailers once again reared their heads. However, we are professionals – and lucky. Jabe came through once again bringing along his dad, Ed, and Ed’s buddy, Ron. These gents may have been Olympiad newbs, but they were crafty veterans, and first rate trash-talkers. Everyone was instantly intimidated.

And the day can begin

The random draw paired them off together, as well, so they had the chemistry of years of friendship on their side as well. Jabe, meanwhile, got paired off with Tommy. I did not have Bee around to help defend our Two-Time Champions title, and I was nervous until I was put together with Rade. Rado and I were college roommates, teammates, and have even been each other’s date to a wedding, so we also had the advantage of tacit chemistry.

The Ceremonial Eating of the Cheesesteak was as beautiful an opening as any year. In fact, it seems the organizers get better and better at it each year. All it really needs now is a laser light show.

As we trekked over to Bowlmor for the first event, the gentleman outside the establishment told us that their obscenely overpriced pitchers of Bud Light would not be made available to us due to an event that was happening. Mind you, it was around 1pm on a Friday, but I imagine it was an office party. Or maybe a cocaine deal. Maybe both.

Rado dons his glass slippers

We headed over to 300 at Chelsea Piers and commenced. Ed and Ron seemed to be the favorites as Ed mentioned something about a bowling league. Not to mention, his stature matches his son’s, and we all imagined they’d be bowling overhand. Ed had a strong game, though his partner did not match him, unfortunately. Tommy and Jabe rode Jabe’s high score and Tommy’s steady pace to best an even Rade and Charlie.

Scores (followed by event points, then total points):
Jabe & Tom: 144 + 110 = 254 (3,3)
Rade & Charlie: 113 + 110 = 223 (2,2)
Ed & Ron: 139 + 70 = 209 (1,1)

Our small squad headed back east for shufflepuck and pool at the welcoming Plug Uglies. Without Mike this year, shufflepuck was nobody’s strength, though Tommy is known for a finesse game, and Rade had a confident look in his eye.

Cornstarch Lane has claimed many a victim

Rade and I faced off against Ed and Ron first in a game that took its time. Following that game, Ed and Ron stayed on to face Jabe and Tommy. Jabe, no stranger to pucks thanks to his days as an Eph defenseman, bested his old man and faced an increasingly sure-handed Rade. Thanks to some huge numbers from Rade, and two kill-strokes from yours truly, Rade and I claimed the day on the cornstarch.

Ed gets serious.

Jabe & Tom: (2,5)
Rade & Charlie (3,5)
Ed & Ron (1,2)

The billiards table was the next up, and the felt is one of my favorite arenas. It turned out that Ed and Ron were no newcomers to the cue either. However, in both their matches, they went for some aggressive shots, scratching and losing twice. The rest was up to Rade and me, and we came through on top.

Tommy considers his next shot

Jabe & Tom: (2,7)
Rade & Charlie (3,8)
Ed & Ron (1,3)

A disheartened Ed and Ron led the way up to Heidelberg, dreading the Boot after what was, apparently, a bigger night than any of their younger compatriots had attempted. We were served in fine fashion once again, our bartender grinning as she filled the mighty vessels with Radeberger.

The Boot rears its frothy head

The only true drinking event of the day, the Boot Race provides more than just bragging rights to the winners, but can be a serious swing event, providing momentum (and liquid courage) to the victors. As we begin, it is clear that Rade and I, despite our long and storied history of drinking lager for sport, were outmatched. Ed and Ron had their Boot on the table in 1:26, while we were a mere nine seconds behind. Jabe and Tommy, seeing the futility in rushing across the line for third place, sat back and sipped until the clock hit 5:10.

Jaber finishes up. Finally.

The Boot record is still held by the Follansbee/Davidson repeat team of 2010 (1:24), but with Will, the two-time Yard Race champion and record holder showing up in 2011 to take on the Boot for the first time since its addition to the schedule, the ink in the record books may be subject to change.

Jabe & Tom: 5:10 (1,8)
Rade & Charlie: 1:35 (2,10)
Ed & Ron: 1:26 (3,6)

It's easy to laugh after three liters of lager

After the Boot , naturally, are the two most precision-oriented events: Darts and Buck Hunter. Darts were fairly uneventful, with Ed and Ron showing their prowess at the more low-tech shooting event. With some outstanding pointing by Rade, we managed to go undefeated in Darts, besting the elder statesmen. Ed was not about to let his progeny surpass him on the cork, and the two of them claimed two points, ahead of Jabe and Tommy in the event.

The big man aims small

Ed lets Rade know a thing or two about a thing or two

Jabe & Tom: (1,9)
Rade & Charlie: (3,13)
Ed & Ron: (2,8)

Rade and I were surging as we entered perhaps my strongest event, while Ed and Ron were making a real push to make up for their slow start. Jabe and Tommy were not floundering, but had lost the sure-footing of their first three events. I had confidence in my partner and knew that we had a serious chance at putting the title out of reach before heading into the Photohunt. We went first to put the pressure on the competition. My goalie and I put up strong numbers. Jabe and Tommy went next, with Tommy edging out Rade by a few points and getting within spitting distance of my score, but our gold for the event seemed intact. Next up, Ed and Ron, despite their Libertarian citizenship, proved themselves somewhat of Luddites, failing to put up significant numbers with the orange gun.

Jabe & Tom: 3377 + 4233 = 7610 (2,11)
Rade & Charlie: 4428 + 4168 = 8596 (3,16)
Ed & Ron: 873 + 1947 = 2820 (1,9)

With the titled sewn up, we headed down the block for Photohunt. Again, the numbers were not close enough to be significant and the podium was set. There would be no need for a tie-break Beirut match.

Jabe and Tommy try to make up ground with Erotic Photohunt.

Jabe & Tom: 105,000 + 80,017 = 185,017 (3,14)
Rade & Charlie: 129,432 + 51, 867 = 187,299 (2,18)
Ed & Ron: 61,359 + 12,705 = 74,064 (1,10)

Rado and Tommy keep it collegial

As always, the BGO is the best day of the year, and the best part is always the year’s newcomers. Ed and Ron, fierce competitors, were disappointed by their final results but plan to return to the field of play in 2011. Congrats to all the slackletes. Finally, the podium:

Gold: Rade and Charlie
Silver: Jabe and Tommy
Bronze: Ed and Ron


Madison River Pale Ale

Madison River Brewing Co.
Belgrade, MT
Hopper Pale Ale

We don’t get a lot of Montana brews out here (aside from the occasional Big Sky offering) on the East Coast, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to try something new. I hope it leans toward Pac NW hoppiness (as indicated by MT’s location, and the beer’s name), but without the ‘India’ in front of the ‘Pale Ale’, this may come across as more of an English-style bitter pale than a true American hopheader. There’s only one way to find out… And I’m just the man for the job.

The pour is smooth though active, releasing a fine, creamy head that looks like crème fraiche, tinged with orange; really quite entertaining at about a sustained half-inch.

Beneath that elegant froth is golden treasure, shining like bullion. The faintest hint of ruddy orange accents the pale auric brew. The effervescence is very fine and lively, spinning its way off the etched bottom of the glass.

The aroma is, in a word, lovely. Wet hops rise up through the malt character like a post-rain mist in a pine forest. The malted attributes are subtle and smooth, but evident. Husky grains form a latticework foundation for the resinous – but not dank – hops to climb.

The mouthfeel is sublime; the creaminess of the head persists through the sip commingling with the citrusy hops to give a Creamsicle-like experience. The malt body is noticeable only in that you barely notice it – it serves as a vehicle to bring the tangy orangey hops to the forefront. The finish is grassy but not too sere, there is actually a faint sweetness that takes the balance of this beer to the very middle of the fulcrum.

No doubt, this beer has not forgotten the secret of steel.

Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfenweisse

Kelheim, GER/Brooklyn, NY

This is the collaboration between Hans-Peter Dresler of Schneider Brewery, and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. They have made a weissebock but have added American hops, namely Amarillo, Cascade, Palisades, and Willamette. This brew was one of Draft’s Best Beers of the Year.

Hopfenwiesse pours a burnished yet hazy gold, darker than straw and maybe with a hint of orange like a setting sun. The clarity is actually pretty good, but without the bottom of the glass and the yeast flocculation.

A high white head sits atop the beer, collapsing to a fine layer, but leaving behind some dense lacing.

The nose has the expected banana aroma, but it is fainter than you might think. There are richer, earthier smells in there, too. There is vanilla, and even a bit of stone fruit like over-ripe peaches. This is probably the citrus and pine hops mingling with the bubblegum and coriander of the wheat beer.

The mouthfeel is excellent, full but not overly creamy; clean, but not thin. Initially, you get some hops, rising very quickly as wintergreen, but giving way even faster to a coriander vapor, and a slightly sweet, very rich twang that hints at those stone fruits. The finish is less hoppy than you might expect, though it nicely tempers the fruity chewiness that hits the sides of your tongue.

Overall, you know this beer packs a punch – you can taste it in the trippel-like quality of the swallow. This is one to sample if you can get your hands on it – it can appeal to the beer snob, the wheat beer fan, and fans of Belgian beers (even though it’s a “Bavarian” brew). It won’t satisfy hopheads looking for a dose of Brooklyn’s medicine, but they should appreciate it’s bold mastery of the secret of steel.

Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA

Widmer’s Brother Brewing Co.
Portland Oregon
Pitch Black IPA

This is the Brewmaster’s Release: 2010 “Cascadian Dark.” The Widmer Bros have been in the business of brewing for over 25 years and this beer caught my eye: a dark IPA. Most of time, IPAs are golden-amber, but this includes a bit of roasted barley and black malt to darken it up.

When held to the light, the beer is just shy of opaque, with a rich, chocolate brown translucency. The head is very lively and tan. Even after several minutes, there is over a quarter-inch of foam which clings to the glass like it was falling down a well.

The nose is truly amazing – there is a wonderful mix of strong pine and grapefruit from the Cascades, but with a subtle maltiness in the back that turns quickly from sweet to roasty.

The mouthfeel is excellent. In fact, this is a truly rare beer. The initial onslaught of tangy, citrusy hops is undeniable – it’s any hopheads dream – but just as your mouth is being dried out by those sere hops, the roasted barley kicks in ever so slightly to provide a mild dark chocolate breadiness that possesses a tang of its own to join the rush of bitters.

This is one of the most interesting – and best – beers I’ve tried in a while. If you’re a hophead, try it. If you like porter, try it. If you like beer, try it. If you don’t like beer, try it, maybe it will make you a convert. I’d say this beer knows the riddle of steel.

Sierra Nevada Celebration 2009

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico, CA
2009 Celebration Ale

As usual, from Sierra, the signature golden color, like the rind of a perfectly ripe navel orange, and an angelic white halo of head form from the pour. Not that I’m biased or anything. The beer also has a slight haze, slightly more than the pale ale which also has sediment floating in the bottom. The carbonation is slow and fine.

It's a celebration, bitches. A Celebration, indeed.

The nose is certainly another Sierra trademark – rich citrus notes and cannabis. This brew has a sweeter texture, perhaps indicative of a maltier offering. There are sugary qualities to the aroma that remind me of pixi-stix or Sweet Tarts, but there is a breadiness of malt that comes across as sweet rolls.

The mouthfeel is very full, and starts off sweet and subtle with an orange-candy softness that rolls like a gathering wave into a full on smack of slightly floral hops that cascade into a slightly vinous aftertaste. There are fewer warming notes than I was expecting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This beer is drinkable, and at nearly 7% ABV, maybe dangerously so.

The beer continues to open up as you drink, yielding slightly more resinous qualities that bring out touches of pine and ginger spice that indicate the more alcoholic nature of this brew. Elegant and heavy lacing hangs onto the chalice sides. Hops abound, as only Sierra can make them, and they are reasonably subtle here in that they don’t dry out your mouth as you sip. The florals do a lot to temper what might be an aggressive glassful for those not hooked on the hop. There’s a reason that this brewery made me love beer. And just when I think I couldn’t possibly love Sierra Nevada any more than I already do, I drink one of their beers and become giddy as a schoolgirl. Of course, that could be the 6.8% talking.

Because this beer is a Sierra stalwart, and doesn’t feel like you’re drinking Christmas dinner in a bottle, it is clear that this brew has not forgotten the secret of steel.

Nova Paka Lager

Nova Paka Brewery

Nova Paka, Czech Republic


I saw this half-liter bottle of BrouCzech in the supermarket and couldn’t resist. The supermarket is often a questionable place to get “authentic” imports since I have no idea how long this stuff sits on a distributor’s shelf before coming to the brightly-lit aisles of Gristedes’, but they haven’t let me down yet. And I suppose a distributor could hold onto a shipment for a while, but I trust a beer dealer more than one of New York’s crappier chains.

This lager pours with a rocky head that billows and sticks to the glass impressively. The nose is evident immediately. The brew is active with lively carbonation rising up all around the glass. The clarity is impeccable and the color is a beautiful honey hue with a faint hint of red. The nose is slightly sour and grassy. Faint notes of bread yeast hide a touch of nutmeg or cinnamon spiciness that I hope will come across as real Czech hops.

Ah, the first sip is splendid and the mouthfeel is full and complex. It starts as a standard lager or cooling pilsner but opens up nicely with more of the cinnamon than I would have thought, following with a slightly metallic grassiness that might be expected in a more golden lager. A fibrous biscuit quality finishes down the back of the tongue. The hops sizzle throughout the swallow in the shape of clean, carrot-like flavor.

I could enjoy this beer on a hot summer day or next to a fire in a dark beer hall. The lightness would pair well with heartier meals, but it can stand alone or with finer cuisine as well. I dub this a Crom beer. This beer has thoughts on the riddle of steel.

Brooklyn Black Ops

Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn, NY
Black Ops

This Russian-style Imperial Stout was aged in bourbon barrels and is a limited release from our local brewery. I’ve always loved Brooklyn’s offerings–as well as respect their 100% wind energy-run brewery–and have a great deal of respect for Brewmaster Garrett Oliver. I split a 750mL bottle of this three ways at George Keeley, which was perfect, but this review was written on the back of my beer list at the end of the night and transcribed by Rade.

Brooklyn Black Ops

Brooklyn Black Ops

The beer pours like syrup–absolutely opaque black and slightly viscous. THe head is a remarkably deep vermillion and tan. The nose has a lot of alcohol, you can tell right of the bat that this is a big beer. There is a lot of chocolate and molasses and a touch of caramel and a faint raspberry note, very rich and sharp like a cognac. The sip is surprising to begin, there is no alcohol bite but lots of deep dark chocolate and hops without much smoke and no real burn. the molasses is more evident, coming across as a full malt attack that coats the mouth. The finish is initially smooth with a faint biscuity hop kick followed by an almost severe shot of hibiscus or juniper alcohol. Awesome all round.