Tag Archives: Festivals & Events

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


Gingerman Beer and Chocolate Pairing

The Gingerman Dallas held a Valentine’s Day Beer and Chocolate Pairing on Saturday and I somehow managed to convince my significant other to attend with me. Not only that, but she got into it, ordering a Spaten and brats with mustard. It’s a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Supplying sheets with the beer and brewery information, as well as which chocolate to pair with each, the Gingerman did a great job of encouraging the participants to pay attention to what they were drinking and to take tasting notes.

The turnout was pretty good and the place was just about full, upstairs and down. With a seat by the window, we had good natural light to look at each brew. There were a couple of reps on hand, though a few got waylaid by the weather, and a roof collapse at the Rahr brewery kept their reps understandably occupied (apparently, everyone at Rahr is OK).

First Pair
Spaten Dunkel Lager
Spaten-Franziskaner Brau
Munich, GER

Riesen Chocolate Caramels

Spaten’s Dunkel is a deeper-than-cola brown with nice red tones. A slow, fine effervescence and an off-white head create a nice looking beer in the short glasses. The nose is mellow with soft notes of caramel and corn and a touch of brown sugar. The mouthfeel is semi-full and not too sweet. This pairs well with the Riesen which brings out some of the more subtle toffee flavors and the beer’s clean finish washes out the slightly cloying sweetness of the candy. Both the beer and chocolate here were pretty mellow, on the whole. A good start.

Second Pair
Brooklyn Brown Ale
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn, NY

Homemade Brownies

Brooklyn’s Brown Ale is a stalwart in their line of year-rounders. The clarity is good, and the color is also cola brown, though a bit redder in the light than the Spaten, with a tanner head, and considerably livelier carbonation. The nose has a fairly strong aroma of floral hops and some nuttiness – hazelnuts and almonds. The start is very malty with chocolate notes, some brown bread, and a strong, fruity hop finish. This all coupled perfectly with the chewy, molasses-like sweetness of the brownies. The slightly cooked edge to the brownies also helped bring out a certain amount of depth to the brown ale that was then cleansed by the tart hops.

The chocolate, without the brownie or Riesen, or the Greatest Love of All.

Third Pair
Summit Oatmeal Stout
Summit Brewing Co.
St. Paul, MN

Dark Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans

This is a nitrogen-pushed stout, and provided an all-but-opaque blackness with some bruised purple on the edges when held to the light, and a tan head. The nose is very roasty with some coffee notes, as well as almond, vanilla, and smoke. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin, though not necessarily in a bad way. With such a strong aroma, this should come across as an aggressive stout, but the nitrogen system imparts a softness and creaminess. The dark chocolate and the espresso beans help elicit some of the complexities of the beer, but the texture of the beans as they’re chewed does more to create balance than the flavor alone.

Fourth Pair
Blue Moon Belgian White
Blue Moon Brewing Co.
Golden, CO

White Chocolate Cake Balls

This was not a pairing I was eager for; neither white ales nor white chocolate are necessarily my favorite, and I was perplexed by the choice of the M-C’s Blue Moon over something like New Belgium’s Sunshine Wheat which Gingerman had on tap, but I wasn’t so disappointed with the results. Predictably, the beer has a hazy hay-color, with some more lustrous edges of orange straw, all topped with a fine white head. The nose has a lot of lemon, bright orange, and hints of coriander and mustard seed. There is a decent mouthfeel, with lemon and orange being the predominant flavors, but there is no real tang to the beer. The cake balls were like lemon cake iced with white chocolate. They had a real sponginess with a slight bitter edge from lemon or orange juice. They were a bit heavy, but all the flavors worked well together and the beer was light enough to accommodate some sips after eating.

Beer nerdery at its finest

Fifth Pair
Rahr Bucking Bock
Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.
Ft. Worth, TX

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A maibock, this beer has ruddy hints of amber in its core but leans more towards pure gold in color. The carbonation is slow and steady and the head is just off-white. There is sourdough bread on the nose, along with something a bit sweeter, like honey or confectioner’s sugar. The flavor also touches on some of that faint sweetness, though a smooth buttery feeling is the main thing with just the slightest grassy hop kick towards the end. There is some warmth here, but this is a very subtle 7.5%ABV. The butter and brown sugar of the cookies helps accentuates this mellow brew and perhaps serve to dampen the alcohol kick that it possesses, even if you hardly notice it at first.

Sixth Pair
New Belgium Ranger IPA
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Fort Collins, CO

New Belgium Chocolate

This is a brand new release from New Belgium and deserves its own full review, which I’ll try to do this week. The beer is deep gold with a fine white, billowy head that rises from the pearl strand effervescence. The nose is all West Coast hops, definitely Cascade (plus Simcoe and Chinook, as I learned) with florals and more pine than citrus. The mouthfeel is full, and dry, while the flavor is peppery with some strong grapefruit touches. The chocolate is a dark chocolate with the New Belgium logo. You take a bite and get bitter dark chocolate as expected, but a slow onset spiciness rises up. Cayenne pepper in the chocolate helps you appreciate the spiciness and the sere quality of the hops.

Seventh Pair
Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Petaluma, CA

Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

As expected, this beer is almost entirely opaque, with a deep, dark plum tinge to it on the edges. The head is dark tan and full. Coffee and a woody roasted quality take over the nose, but this is mellower than the Summit. The mouthfeel is very full with tart coffee that hits on prune, with warming alcohol that brings out more prune and rich cherry. The deep dark chocolate is a bit too sweet, though I see what they were trying to do with the almonds to try to bring out the roasted notes of the brew. You’ll need more than a couple of almonds to help soak up the over 9% ABV here.

They look messy...

Eighth Pair
Great Divide Wild Raspberry
Great Divide Brewing Co.
Denver, CO

Hershey’s Raspberry Bliss

Ah, fruit beer. While it flouts my sensibilities, it also shows the versatility and range that beer has. The color of this beer is beautiful – very red and deep amber with a lot of touches of crimson, and a white head. The nose is fruity, like a bowl of berries, but also pleasantly hoppy. The grapefruit of Cascade comes through, and berry is definitely discernible. The mouthfeel is good, if a bit perfumy, and there is a jam-like quality to the feel of the flavor. However, this beer is impressively balanced, and the fruit flavor is ambient and is tempered by some really nice floral hops. The milk chocolate is too sweet, emphasizing the fruitiness of the beer, but the hops manage to help tamp down the cloying candy. That said, even on its own, this chocolate isn’t that great, though the beer is a very nice surprise.

Ninth Pair
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
Sierra Nevada Brewing
Chico, CA

Intense Dark Chocolate

Joy of joys, a Sierra product makes the cut here. If Sierra Nevada started making laundry detergent, I’d drink it. The Bigfoot is paired with a big square of Ghirardelli (sticking to the West Coast) dark chocolate. The beer is deep orange, with vermillion and amber swaths running through it in the light, and some brown in the center. A yellowed head appears and sticks around, hugging the inside of the glass, too. The nose has the Sierra nose: strong florals, sticky pine, and ripe citrus. The mouthfeel is full and the hops certainly outweigh the malt, but some sweetness permeates the bite and accompanies the alcohol warmth which is certainly warm, but not uncomfortable. The whole thing has an exceptionally dry finish, even after the malt flavors come by, ending up with tart grapefruit. The dark chocolate is intense and mellows the beer a bit; the rich cocoa is almost fruit-like in its tartness and accentuates the hops in the back of the sip. This is a combo worth trying the next time you have some Bigfoot around.

Thanks to the Gingerman Dallas for a successful event, and for truly showing that I could live without chocolate, but never beer.

Fifth Annual Beer Olympics

Another winter, another Beer Olympics. No Bar Game Olympiad is complete without some difficulties, and this year was no exception. Nonetheless, the day was a success enjoyed by all participants.

Many slackletes were traveling far and wide, and though the Beer Olympics are the only thing to which its participants are truly dedicated, it is often tough to plan. I had recently moved to Dallas, Adi was in Uganda, and Bee was now teaching in the equally exotic reaches of Greenwich, CT.

Events were scheduled for December 23rd. For many of our seasoned athletes who do not reside in New York or who have serious jobs, this posed some difficulty. As participants age, get promoted, get married, or lose their competitive edge, our numbers dwindle. It takes real dedication to ditch your job and your wife for a day of revelry or, as in the case of some nameless persons, to lack a job or a wife altogether.

Adi, Rade and I met Bee and headed downtown to 99 Miles where Jabe was waiting. It was at this point where we realized we were going to be short the desired eight players. Pete was en route, as were Micah and Max, though Micah would be late and Max had to leave for a non-sanctioned event (squash). After several calls we had more people en route, including the crafty veteran, Mike, and the newcomer, Timmy.

At Bowlmor, names were drawn with those who were present and the teams were, in order of drawing:
Adi/Pete (with Mike to takeover upon arrival)
Afterwards, Max arrived and was paired with Micah, with Timmy to take over.

Jabe (l) and Rade (r) commence the day.

Bowling is always a tough start. With bellies full of cheesesteak, heads full of overpriced Budweiser pitchers, and muscles unready, slackletes often find it is the toughest sport to compete in without a warm-up.

Peter and Adi took an early lead in the first frames and did not relinquish it through 10 frames. A grand finish by Max and Micah pushed them up in the standings while Bee and I, reigning champs, fell apart in the final three frames. Rade and Jabe were the surprise here, mostly because Jabe is one-quarter grizzly bear and should be able to pitch the ball overhand, and Rade is from Buffalo and therefore should be good at bowling.

Scores were as follows (scores, in points, in parentheses, overall score in bold);
Peter/Ad 132 + 122 = 254 (4,4)
Max/Micah 123 + 123 = 246 (3,3)
Charlie/Bee 109 + 120 = 229 (2,2)
Jabe/Rade 97 + 99 = 196 (1,1)

As we headed up to the next venue, Plug Uglies, Mike prepared to meet us. Shufflepuck is perhaps his strongest event after Erotic Photo Hunt where, and this cannot be reiterated enough, he is the best around. Pool is played simultaneously at this venue. In order to save time, round-robin play gave way to a winner/loser bracket which eliminated one round of play per sport.

Timmy eyes his shot while Micah looks on

Pool progressed reasonably well with Timmy playing the pool portion with Micah. Perhaps still pondering their bowling miscues, Jabe and Rade put together some stellar games to take first place.

At the pool table, Rade & Jabe crush their enemies, see them driven before them, and hear the lamentation of their women.

Adi put his Ugandan bar techniques to good use on the table to help propel his team to three more points. As Bee and I played in the loser bracket, struggling for two points, an ill-advised jumpshot by one member of our team pocketed the cue on the eight-ball shot.

Jabe/Rade (4,5)
Adi/Mike (3,7)
Micah/Timmy (2,5)
Charlie/Bee (1,3)

We proceed to the puck table.

A Day for Pucking Around

Rade and Jabe continued their campaign of shock and awe. Despite stellar shots from all fronts, Rade’s finesse knockouts and Jabe’s incongruously soft touch led them to a first place finish on the hardwood. Mike, stepping up to perform as he always does at this event, paired well with his old friend to take second, while a six-point turn by me was all Bee and I could do to hang onto third place ahead of Max and Timmy.

Jabe/Rade (4,9)
Adi/Mike (3,10)
Charlie/Bee (2,5)
Micah/Timmy (1,6)

The day was early, but I was losing steam looking at our last place standing. Luckily, Bee talked me off a ledge, promising me that our best events were yet to come, guaranteeing me victories in BBH, the Yard Race, and Darts.

This is where our story takes an interesting turn. For those who may remember last year, it took all of Will’s considerable charm and lawyerly talent to convince the personnel at the Gingerman to let us carry on the tradition of the Yard Race. This year, fearing a similar episode, we did not call ahead and arrived en masse and demanding twelve feet of beer. We were summarily refused and, without Will there to help mediate, were sent away, empty stomached and more sober than we’d intended.

However, from tragedy rose a great success story – one that will rewrite Bar Olympic history. Since we needed to head uptown anyway to continue out mighty contest, we decided to start where it all began: Germany. Heidelberg restaurant was quiet when we arrived. The fraulein behind the bar (honestly, I think her name Greta, she had pigtails) welcomed us and, upon our request, started filling The Boot.

DAS BOOT! (Well, really I think it's "Das Aufladung")

She did it with glee, humored by what would no doubt be eight idiots attempting shocking feats of consumption. The Boot is a glorious glass, and decidedly more voluminous than its counterpart still sitting idly in its crook on 36th st. The Boot is the healthy German country maid to the awkward-footed yard, lank and waifish and overprotected by its midtown mothers.

A patron on a nearby stool watched with rapt attention, filming us on his phone though the footage did not survive the ordeal. Bee and I knew we had a serious task at hand. Nothing short of a win would bring us back from the brink, and the gallon of ice cold lager in front of us was intimidating. However, without Will present to shame us all, we knew we had the best chance. Luckily, Bee and I are practiced drinking partners, and our Boot passes were steady and guided, while our sips were full and prolonged, allowing the other’s brainfreeze to pass.

As our Boot heel reached the bar, we raised our arms in victory, then quickly returned them to our sides so as not to upset the sloshing in our gullets. Jabe and Rado were mere seconds behind. Jabe looked as though he’d just missed getting hit by a speeding bus, while Rade excused himself to get some air. Vomiting after the Race is a disqualifiable offense, but Rade soon returned without having purged. Jabe and Rade, after a valiant second place finish, drew a deep line in the sand after their Boot was placed on the bar. Micah and Timmy tried their best, but it just happened to be not very good. Meanwhile, Adi and Mike may as well have been using cocktail straws to complete the endeavor. Below are times in minutes and seconds, followed by the same scoring as above.

Charlie/Bee 1:24 (4,9)
Jabe/Rade 1:27 (3,12)
Micah/Timmy 3:40 (2,8)
Adi/Mike 6:50 (1,11)

The Boot is now a permanent fixture to the day. Gingerman, we love you for your beer, but your bar has lost an important tradition. Heidelberg, we’ll see you soon, and thank you.

The scores were tight after the only true drinking event of the day. We made our way – slowly – to the next venue, Ship of Fools, for Darts and Big Buck Hunter. Ship of Fools often serves as refueling for the slackletes because, well, their wings are delicious.

As the throws started, Bee’s prophecy started to be realized and, in a tight finals match of cricket, we kept piling on the points until a double-bull ended Adi’s brave efforts. In the next room, Jabe and Rade battled to stay alive while Micah and Timmy lay on the ground in the fetal position, praying for the beating to stop.

Charlie/Bee (4,13)
Adi/Mike (3,14)
Jabe/Rade (2,14)
Timmy/Micah (1,9)

Big Buck Hunter is an interesting event, pitting you and your teammate against a computer, but allowing a certain amount of predictability once someone has taken a turn. The variable is the bonus game, which gets more difficult and prevents competitors getting an edge by watching those before them. It is also late in the contest, which sees many slackletes crumbling under the pressure of the day, not to mention the beer.

Ship’s BBH was occupied – a sign that it was after work hours now and signaling that we had to keep plugging away to finish in time. We went across the street to Jack Russel’s. Adi and Mike went first, posting a good score, though Adi was visibly upset after shooting a couple of does. Jabe and Rade went next, rising to the challenge and besting their predecessors’ score. Bee and I followed, not only exceeding our predecessors’ scores, but also boasting a New Hunter Hero designation. Next, Timmy and Micah seemed confused about the rules. We just barely caught their final score. Bee’s prediction had come true, we’d won the events as he’d said. However, the scores were as close as they’ve ever been entering the final round, and Mike was ready to shine. BBH game scores are below, followed by the same scoring as above.

Big Buck Hunter
Charlie/Bee 8771 + 9742 = 18543 (4,17)
Jabe/Rade 7063 + 6967 = 14030 (3,17)
Mike/Adi 6383 + 5242 = 11625 (2,16)
T/M 11107 (1,10)

Bee was short on time, so Mike and Adi continued to Brady’s to start the EPH. Due to the close standings, we consulted the Bar Game Olympiad handbook for the rules concerning a close finish. In the case of a tie: sudden-death Beirut.

Posting a nearly indomitable score, Mike and Adi stepped aside for Bee and me to try our hand. We responded decently, but Photo Hunt is not our strength. At this point, Bee left, leaving Maceo behind as my partner if the scoring necessitated a sudden death playoff. Next up, Micah and Timmy seemed to pep up a bit, but poor communication cost them points.

As it stood, Jabe and Rade needed to at least best Bee and me to tie Mike and Adi. A first place finish would see them on top of the podium, but that was unlikely with Mike and Adi’s score. With the pressure mounting, the Photo Hunt machine proved a nasty villain, as Rade and Jabe chose the wrong moment to have their worst event of the day. EPH game scores, followed by the scoring as above:

Mike/Adi 635564 (4,20)
Charlie/Bee 445252 (3,20)
Micah/Timmy 150,000 (2,12)
Jabe/Rade 39179 (1,18)

A one-game Beirut showdown would be necessary. I had just lost Bee, my longtime Beirut partner, but I was still confident that Maceo and I had the requisite abilities to best Mike and Adi. We headed to Aces and Eights and found a quiet area with two tables that were not in use.

Game Rules were to be Pro Rules
o 12 cups per side, 6 per player
o Rack on 6 only
o Double-up brings ‘em back
o No mid-turn re-racks
o Bounces in effect
o Deathcup in effect
o Nolan Ryan Rule in effect
o Girls and Greg Rule in effect

Sudden Death. GAME ON, SUCKAS.

The game was short-lived. While Mike and Adi did make it to a rack of six, they did not progress much farther than that as Maceo helped Bee and me to our second consecutive championship. Mike and Adi, with only one fourth place finish all day, took the silver. Jabe and Rado, after a strong start couldn’t quite hold on in final moments but took a respectable (and close) third, while Micah and Timmy, both newcomers, realized what it takes to partake of the Day of Days.

I’ll use this space to thank all the slackletes who participated. As always, the Beer Olympics prove to be one of the best days of the year, second only to the Fourth of July.

Final Scoring Chart
C/B 2 1 2 4 4 4 3 / 2= 22
M/A 4 3 3 1 3 2 4 / 1= 21
J/R 1 4 4 3 2 3 1 = 18
T/M 3 2 1 2 1 1 2 = 12

The face of a champion... who may have been drinking.

100 Posts

The last post was Brew York City’s 100th post. This calls for a celebratory beer for all. Cheers!

(C) 2004, Comedy Central

Fourth Annual Beer Olympics

Bar Game Olympics IV was an auspicious day. Held on the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, it was an apt day to celebrate beer. One last-second cancellation – I’m talking 11am before the Opening Ceremony at noon – left us in the lurch. Luckily, our man was willing and able to fill in. A slightly controversial early departure by Will was made known, but a planned afternoon switch with Rade would make it work. Better to have a new partner than none at all.

In attendance: Will, Jabe, Adi, Adi’s friend Tommy, Jason, Bee, Mike, and me.
After the Opening Ceremony, we proceeded to the first event, bowling. Before the event starts, teams were selected through the patent-pending BGOGC method. Without giving away too much, it involves small pieces of paper and a hat or similar concavity.
First team drawn: Adi and Jabe.
A formidable duo. Adi is a two-time Champ, winning back-to-back years in Bar Games II and III. Jabe is not only a professional athlete, but is good at every game I’ve seen him play, from ping-pong to ice hockey.

Second team drawn: Tommy and J.
This team is a dark horse, for sure. Both are newcomers to the games but both have been following the games for years. Strangers to one another, they share a common drive to prove that they belong and, more than that, win it all.

Third team drawn: Mike and Will.
This a powerful twosome, each playing to the other’s weakness. Mike’s strengths are experience, a strong showing at the shufflepuck inauguration in III, and an unrivaled hand at the erotic photo hunt. Mike’s weakness is the yard. Will is Yard Race record holder, one of the stronger darters, as well as a reliable all-rounder in bowling and pool.

Fourth team drawn: Bee and Charlie.
Bee and I could not have been more thrilled. Award-winning College Beirut partners, teammates in all imaginable sports, and drinking buddies, we felt confident. Bee is a first-rate Yard Race, a strong bowler and darter. My strengths have typically been shufflepuck, pool, and Buck Hunter. My biggest weakness is easily the Yard Race.

Adi + Jabe – 114 + 142 = 256
Tommy + J – 147 + 81 = 228
Mike + Will – 108 + 178 = 186
Bee + Charlie – 133 + 95 = 228


Mike's Infamous Sidebowl

Despite needing just six pins in the final frame, I choked, hitting exactly five, tying us for second, and only earning us 2.5 points.


Bowling Scores

Standings after one event
Adi/Jabe – 4 points; Tommy/J – 2.5 points; Bee/C – 2.5 points; Mike/Will – 1 point.

Shufflepuck and pool were combined at Plug Uglies where we walked in around 2pm to find the bartender eating lunch having just unlocked the doors.
In round robin play here’s how shufflepuck finished up:
Mike/Will took first, Bee/Charlie in second, Adi/Jabe took third, and Tommy/J in fourth.

Adi and Tommy compete in puck.

Adi and Tommy compete in puck.

In pool, Tommy and J came roaring back, taking a critical first place. Bee and I maintained with second place, Mike and Will came in third, and Adi and Jabe took an uncharacteristic (especially for Ad) fourth place.

After three events:
Bee/C – 8.5 points; Tommy/J – 7.5 points; Adi/Jabe – 7 points; Mike/Will – 7 point.
It’s still very much anybody’s game, particularly with the Yard Race approaching. The Yard Race really is the great equalizer and the only necessarily alcohol-related event of these most heralded of games.

Last year was a record-setting day of Phelpsian proportions at the Gingerman. The previous record of 48 seconds set by Owen and Will was beyond the four-minute mile. It was untouchable. Their combined passing and chugging abilities were a maelstrom of disappearing lager. However, that record was crushed twice last year, and the current record sat at 38 seconds, held by Adi and Bee, who went on to win it all in III.

I’d like it to be known that this was our fourth consecutive year. We entered the Gingerman and asked for the requisite glassware, only to be rebuffed and told they were “for show”. We sent our lawyer (Will) and our most-respectable and charming participant (also Will) to talk to the management. Needless, to say we persevered, though one of the giant glasses was missing – no doubt broken by some unprofessional clod.


Yard by Yard

We used two glasses, letting two teams participate at a time. This prevented the awkward meeting of bulbs that often occurs when eight slightly inebriated contestants stand in a semi-circle and lift a three-foot glass at the same time. Gingerman management, take heed: We will be back this year. Please do not deny us.

With Max timing us, we set out. Fourth place went to Adi and Jabe whose chugging abilities while not poor, did not do them any great service. A poor pass also hampered them and they limped in after 1:20. Tommy and J came in third, around 1:15 or so, while Bee and I completed the drink in a minute flat.

IMG_1700However, there was awe amongst the many onlookers at the Gingerman this day. Mike, who started for his team, breathed in beer and nearly drowned himself. Will, seeing his partner in distress, grabbed the chalice and lifted it to the sky as though sounding a great oliphant to Charlemagne himself. Max, slack-jawed at the performance, barely remembered to tell us our time of one minute. Will and Mike had completed the Yard Race in a mere 28 seconds. In the presence of life-altering events, people remember moments differently. Will recalls a 26-second draft, while other recall up to 31 seconds. Either one is a Herculean feat.


A Champion at Work

Following the Yard, was Darts. Ship of Fools and its multiple boards gives us the most economical way to perform this event. Likewise, they have Big Buck Hunter and outstanding wings. Bee/Charlie came in first, then Adi/Jabe, Tommy/J, and finally, Mike/Will.

After the Yard and Darts, the standings:
Bee/Charlie – 15.5; Mike/Will – 12; Tommy/J – 11.5; Adi/Jabe – 11

With two events left, Big Buck Hunter and Erotic Photo Hunt, Bee and I knew we had to perform with the plastic shotgun. Will and Mike are both seasoned BBH marksmen, and Mike’s nude image sleuthing is legendary.


Jaber on BBH

Adi and Jabe went first, posting individual scores of 4642 and 4505, respectively. Strong showings, considering our mental states at this point after a day of fierce competition and cheap tap beer.
Bee and I were next. Bee put up a seemingly overpowering 5320, while I put virtual White Tailed Deer on the endangered species list with a 6310. Mike, with new partner Rade, shot an outstanding 4674. This could be enough to push them ahead as Rade, fresh from work and ready to kill, put up a 5283. Tommy and J, perhaps out of figurative ammunition, posted 3786 and 3896.
BBH Totals:
C/B – 11630; Mike/Rado – 9957; Adi/Jabe – 9147; T/J – 7682.

With only photo hunt remaining, we had previously decided to move onto Aces and Eights, in case a tie-break Beirut game was necessary. However, with our win on the gun Bee and I clinched the Gold and decided to celebrate by, well, playing Beirut.


Photo Hunt #1. Or is that a 2?

Photo hunt tallies:

Mike + Rade – 375044 + 204300 = 579344

J + Tommy – 235250 + 325464 = 560714

Jabe + Adi – 213942 + 145500 = 359442

Bee + Charlie – 191724 + 95553 = 287277

The final tallies on the day:

First Place: Bee and Charlie – 20.5 Points
Second Place: Mike and Rado/Will – 19 Points
Third Place: Adi and Jabe – 15 Points
Fourth Place: Tommy and Jason – 13.5 Points

All in all, a successful Olympiad, my first win and Bee’s second consecutive. With newcomers and visitors, World Records, and Beirut, it was one for the history books. Or at least the beer blog.


A Disappointed Adi had hoped for a three-peat. Charlie, left, finish first with Bee. Mike, right, finished second with Will and Rade.

Macallan Scotch Tasting

While beer makes my world go ‘round, I am not one to turn down a new experience. So, when Ad told me about the Macallan scotch-tasting he had passes to, naturally I had to accept.


I know nothing about scotch except that until a matter of months ago, I could barely look at it, let alone smell or taste it, without retching. However, I have opened my mind a bit and was ready for this single malt. Again, I have very little idea of the difference between a single malt and a blend.
When we got upstairs, we were welcomed with a fine oak 10-year scotch, either neat or on the rocks. We took a seat and grabbed some hors d’oeuvres one of which was perhaps the best I’ve ever had. It was thick-cut, maple bacon with some sort of chutney on top. I don’t really know what type of chutney it was—it’s unimportant when compared to the bacon.
Anyway, after the 10-year, we were given a brief presentation by Graeme Russell, a Macallan brand ambassador. The presentation was essentially a VH1-style clip show featuring goings-on from the year the scotch was made.

Four Scotches

The first scotch was a fine-oak 15, matured in 3 different types of casks. The nose had hints of cinnamon, the palate was vaguely fruity—orange and raisin mostly—and the finish was lingering.
The next was a fine oak 17, a really pretty amber color with a more floral aroma and a peatier taste and citrus finish.
After these, we had two sherry oak scotches. That is, these were aged in barrels previously used to age sherry. The color of each of the second two was more amber, deeper, and less gold. The sherry oak 12 was very smooth with hints of caramel in the nose, vanilla in the mouth, and a moderate wood finish.
Finally, the sherry oak 18 had a much stronger, more astringent mouthfeel than the others. There were hints of ginger, which gives you an idea of the type of almost-bitterness that it had.
The presentation was well-done and my favorites were the fine-oak 15 and the sherry oak 18. And of course, they all went very well with maple bacon.

Maple goodness

Greatest Office Ever

I figured I’d get this post out of the way before December. My office had an Oktoberfest (I KNOW, I SUCK AT THIS) and it was strong to quite strong. Louis–pronounced “Loo-ee”–our resident Frenchman, who has since left, went and purchased a great deal of beer for us all to sample. I also brought in a double-deuce of Pilsner 89 for everyone to enjoy and it was met with a decent amount of enthusiasm. The common phrase seemed to be: “You brewed this? It tastes like beer!” Music to my ears. Anyway, the beer selection included some I’d already tried. Here was what was new to me:

  • Innis & Gunn
  • Fischer Amber
  • Black Sheep Ale
  • Tusker
  • Pinkus Pilsner
  • Oude Geuze Boon
  • Young’s Chocolate Stout
  • Heller Bamburg Aecht Schlenferla Rauchbier
  • Scaldis Dubuisson
  • Sam Smith
  • Ayinger Oktoberfest

Special shout out to the Heller Bamburg which had so much smokiness, it was like drinking a meat tray. It is certainly a unique brew and certainly not a session beer by any stretch, but well worth trying, especially in winter time. The alcohol does not overwhelm as the main flavor is pure smoke.

Also Innis & Gunn uses oak bourbon barrels which imparts a fantastic earthy vanilla flavor and thick malty mouthfeel. Again, worthy of whatever your local distributor charges.

Oude Geuze Boon was, to me, more a sparkling wine than anything else. Many of my coworkers thought it was champagne. Certainly there were strong apple notes and the carbonation was reminiscent of a lambic.