Monday, January 25, 2010

And My Mind Begins to Grasp the Notion of Hell...

Yesterday, Kathy, Emelia and I spent the day visiting with our friends Gary, Sharon, and their son Andrew. We spent the day in shifts, rotating which two adults would watch the kids. When we got there, we stayed for a little while, before Kathy and I slipped out for lunch. Upon our return, Kathy and Sharon went out for a movie, and when they got back, Gary and I walked over to my new favorite beer bar, ChurchKey.

There's something wonderful about having a great beer bar in town, particularly when it's only a couple of blocks for where a friend lives (no matter how much I'd enjoy it, that it's not a couple of blocks from my own house is probably a good thing).

It's not like I hadn't been there recently; in fact, it'd just been Tuesday night. And when I woke up the following morning, I had a terrible feeling -- I had undertipped "my" bartender, a guy who always looks out for me whenever he's working. So I walked in with an extra $10 bill to hand him in case he was behind the bar. He was, but he wouldn't accept the money, and swore that we were fine. No problem -- after another afternoon of stellar service, we just added the $10 to the tip on this bill.

Even having been there just five days earlier, there were two beers on draft and one on cask that I hadn't yet tried. And the AFC Championship game was on the TVs. And it wasn't crowded, which is usually the case when I go in the evening (at least the waits to get in on a Tuesday night seem to be a thing of the past). So we were able to get a seat right at the bar.

And because it wasn't busy, we were talking with the staff a little more than usual. We could hear the music that was being piped in, and as I do pretty much every time, I exclaimed at how similar the selections were to my own choices. Not just the likes of the Shins, My Morning Jacket, Belle & Sebastian or even the New Pornographers, but even less familiar stuff like the Jayhawks, Stephen Malkmus, and Band of Horses. So Gary asked the staff that was present if it was a station, and if so, which one. And suddenly, a scowl appeared, on all of their faces. Someone explained that it was the owner's iPod, and that it was the same thousand or so selections on shuffle all the time.

The rest of the evening, my mind stretched to fathom the idea of being subjected to that, where slowly my love for great tunes would turn inside-out, and I would come to loathe the very music I once loved.

Friday, January 01, 2010

My Top New Beers of 2009

Spurred by Eric Gajdzis doing the same, here are my top beers of 2009 (I gave all of these a score of 4.1 or higher) --
1. Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (as delicious as regular Yeti is, this is even better)
2. Birrificio Italiano Tipopils (after hearing great things about it, this Pilsner actually met my expectations!)
3. Free State Owd Macs Imperial Stout (finally got to try it after many years of wondering if I would)
4. Les Vergers Lafrance Bouquet sur Glace (ok, it's an ice cider -- sue me)
5. Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Extra! Ale (Lagunitas makes a bunch of beers like this, but they keep showing that isn't a bad thing)
6. Laughing Dog The Dogfather Imperial Stout (I tried this and the Bourbon Barrel Aged version. I like this one quite a bit better)
7. Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge (this is a great Sour beer, and has been available on draft in DC for the past few months)
8. Amager Fru Frederiksen (RateBeer raters don't know what they're talking about -- the smaller beer to Hr. Frederiksen is the better one ;))
9. Peak Organic King Crimson (from Peak? damn that was unexpected!)
10. BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru 2008 (Trousseau Barrel) (BFM is hit and miss -- this is definitely another hit)
11. Otter Creek Imperial India Pale Ale (Otter Creek? What's going on here?!)
12. Mikkeller USAlive! (my highest rated Mikkeller, which is saying something)
13. Lost Abbey Veritas 004 (it may not be Isabelle Proximus, but it's still grea