Beer and Pavement

Top 5 for August 22, 2011

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Top 5 by SM on August 22, 2011

I feel like there topics that slip through the cracks now and again that I don’t always have time to post. I might address them in my Twitter feed or some other social media outlet, but they fail to get proper treatment here at the coalition. This is where the top-5 list comes in. The easiest kind of post for a blogger to write is the list and this new semi-regular feature will allow me to hit those things that were passed up for this sort of thing.

That said, consider this to be the first in the series of top-5’s. Don’t expect this to be a list of five records that or five brewers who kinds of lists. This is more like those lame lists editors stick in magazines to fill space. None of the items have much to do with the other except that they all appear here, in the same list. If any of these topics need further development, comment and I’ll try to get back to them, but no promises.

1. The California IPA
This is old news, but few people still discuss the merits of the West Coast IPA over other IPA’s and DIPA’s. I have enjoyed several straight-up IPA’s from the west coast and have enjoyed what they have to offer. There isn’t the booze of the typical DIPA or the syrup-ness of the Midwestern IPA or the overly hoppy characteristic of the East Coast IPA. No, the West Coast IPA is crisp, clear, dry…It may be one of the most beautiful beers there is. It’s often lost as it’s not that big and boozy, but IPA’s from the left coast were many of the beers that turned so many of us on to craft beer in the first place.

2. Stephen Malkmus
With Malk’s fifth album, Mirror Traffic, coming out this week, I have been devouring interviews and his entire discography for the past week. There’s a lot to digest before this record arrives at my front door and I let you all know what I think. What I’m rediscovering is that Malk’s work since Pavement has continued to develop. There’s more to the man than his role as father of indie rock.

3. Discoveries in Richmond, VA
I was in Richmond, VA this past week and made several unexpected discoveries. First, I found a Vietnamese restaurant called  Mekong that specializes in craft beer. I showed up for some Pho and found that Mekong was celebrating their 16th year in business with a tap-takeover by Stillwater. For the second time this summer, I was able to hang out with Stillwater’s Brian Strumke. There, I was able to try several Stillwater brews, particularly the barrel-aged Stateside Saison and the Cellar Door from a cask. It was a chance reunion, but I nice way to spend an evening in a strange town with a new friend. (Admittedly, “friend” might be too strong a word, but acquaintance isn’t quite accurate either. Facebook friend? Two-time drinking partner? Stalker and stalkee?)

Other things I stumbled upon by chance included a few nice records in Richmond record stores, a brewery that will be up and running in the next month, and a nice little restaurant featuring a decent craft beer list as well as some expertly prepared eats. Be sure to check out Deep Groove Records, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, and Magpie the next time you’re in Richmond. Deep Groove is the ideal record shop with loads of quality finds, record players for testing the vinyl, and a knowledgeable owner. Hardywood doesn’t even have beer to sell just yet, but from the looks of their website and the brief chat I had with one of their owners, I can tell they’ll do craft beer right. A guy at Hardywood sent me Magpie’s way and I’m glad he did. Magpie is a nice place on the corner that served me this phenomenally-prepared fish (can’t remember the variety) over a bed of bok-choy and gnocchi. Best meal I’ve had since returning from Spain.

4. I just read the greatest single review of an album and it was a novel.
It took me a while, but I finished Camden Joy’s semi-schizophrenic  first novel, The Last Rock Star Book Or Liz Phair, A Rant. It’s not really a novel at all. Rather, I consider this book to be the most complete and obtuse record review of all-time. The man wrote a story about a fictional self who stalks Liz Phair (and/or his ex-girlfriend), blows up things in his boring hometown in Iowa that’s best known for the airliners that constantly encircle the town, and deals with the fact that his girlfriend may be the illegitimate daughter of the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones. Through all this, Joy gives the best reading of Exile in Guyville I’ve ever read or considered. He nails the cultural importance of that album and places it into its proper context of rock history.

5. Terroir.
I read this article about terroir which  is a French word that suggests things like wine or tea carry with them characteristics of the land from which they come. The article was in a beer magazine that makes the argument that beer also possesses terroir and I believe this to be true. There’s even the possibility that the people who produce such things also provide a bit of terroir to their concoctions. This idea made me think long and hard about how terroir plays out in music. Oh, there will be more to say about this in a forthcoming post, but know for now that the idea of terrior is on my mind and in my top-5.

What’s your current top-5 look like? Do you want to hear more about any of these? Do you think it’s okay to stalk Liz Phair? Does this explain her notoriously inconsistent stage fright? Should this post have garnered some footnotes?

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17 Responses

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  1. G-LO said, on August 22, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Interesting topics…

    I’m with you on the West Coast IPA thing. Imperial this and Imperial that is fun for sure, but sometimes they can be a bit too much. It’s not like a 6% IPA is weak by any stretch. Give me a Green Flash, Ballast Point Sculpin, or Stone IPA any day of the week. Comfort beers for sure!

    Terroir is also quite intriguing. I’m not sure how it would apply to US craft beers though since alot of them seem to source ingredients from all over the country, and all over the world. If I understand terroir correctly, the emphasis is on locally grown ingredients going into a particular product, i.e. French wine made from French grape varieties that were grown in the same region as the winemaker. Let’s take the Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA as an example. It uses hops grown in Germany, England, and the Western US. I don’t think terroir applies to this particular beer. Perhaps Auteur Theory is more at play here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auteur_theory). Thoughts?

    • builderofcoalitions said, on August 22, 2011 at 9:15 am

      Ooh, I’ll have to check out Auter Theory. Thanks. I may have to re-read the article on terroir, but I think part of the argument is that the people play a role as they can create something of local ingredients in a decidedly non-local place. For example, when Chimay was undergoing some remodeling, they actually shipped their water to another brewery so that their beer would taste the same. Another example is when Orval cleaned some calcium build-up in their water pipes and it changed how their beer tasted. Orval was able to use the dregs from vintage bottles to recreate the original flavor. It’s an interesting read, but I suspect it requires more study.

  2. Mike said, on August 22, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I hadn’t heard of that book before. I’m intrigued by the idea of stalking Liz Phair, even if I never would myself, since I don’t know where she lives.

    My top 5 would look something like this:

    1. Sudafed: This sinus infection is driving me crazy. Sudafed to the rescue! It almost works and it gives me mental clarity even at recommended dosage levels.

    2. Provo/Salt Lake City: I’m debating whether it’s worth it to take a day off work (and drive nearly 10 hours one way) for a concert weekend behind the Zion Curtain.

    3. The unruly blog post I’m working on: Perhaps some Sudafed will help.

    4. Breaking Bad: Anyone who says that you should get rid of your TV clearly isn’t into Breaking Bad.

    5. Whole Foods Market: The store near my office is beta testing their hot food bar, so I’m beta testing eating there every weekday.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on August 22, 2011 at 9:11 am

      I have the same feeling about the stalking and that’s not even the worst thing the protagonist does in this book. It’s an entertaining read, but I think he completely botches the ending. It feels unfinished.

      Excellent list! I think you should go to Utah. What show(s)? Unruly blog posts are the best. I may have to check out Breaking Bad. I heart Whole Paycheck.

      • Mike said, on August 22, 2011 at 9:38 am

        If you go down the Breaking Bad rabbit hole, start at the start. Too much backstory to fully enjoy the new episodes if you’re just starting out, I figure.

        If you need a satisfying rock n’ roll book, pick up Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. It deals with the perils of being an aging punk rocker/fanboy quite nicely.

        I’d go to Utah for Low and would stick around another night for the Fruit Bats. Salt Lake has a pretty good music scene so if you’re ever there chances are you’ll find a show or two worth going to, but the beer situation is the worst in the country.

      • carriethewade said, on August 22, 2011 at 11:07 pm

        Yeah, Gotta concur with the Breaking Bad here. I’ve been a faithful viewer from the start. There’s a lot of meth in it.

      • builderofcoalitions said, on August 23, 2011 at 8:36 am

        And we all know how much Carrie loves her meth.

  3. jeffmenter said, on August 22, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Here’s my top 5, (top 5 what?):

    1.) The mobile landscape.
    The recent throwing in of the webOS towel by HP, the acquisition of Motorola’s mobile division by Google, and Microsoft’s continual failure to make a dent in the mobile market are all absolutely fascinating to watch. The term “Post-PC” seems to get thrown around a lot (usually in an attempt to make the writer seem more smart) but we really are moving away from “the box that sits on your desk” to “the thing you keep in your pocket.” I know who I’m rooting for but if the competition is interesting then everyone wins.

    2.) 1-year old.
    My son just turned 1 years old yesterday. It’s been an amazing year and I’m super-grateful that I got to spend the year being a stay-at-home dad. Too much to say about this for an accurate summary.

    3.) Brewing is fun.
    Brian and I have brewed a 5 gallon all-grain batch of beer every single sunday (except on Father’s Day and Xander’s birthday yesterday) for the past (5?) months. There are no plans to slow down. It’s been very fun and educational. I feel like I’ve learned as much in these past 5 months about brewing as I have the previous 4 years doing sporadic batches on the stove.

    4.) Writing music is hard.
    Rather, writing decent music is hard. It takes a lot of work. I think I have found a song writing partner. We have a song or two mostly done and she’s written some very nice lyrics. I’m eager to see where this goes.

    5.) Politics sucks.
    The political right in this country are morally bankrupt and make me ashamed and embarrassed. The left has no backbone and is mostly in the pocket of powerful institutions. The middle class has been decimated for a generation and even though you have billionaires calling for higher taxes on the wealthy (Buffett, Gates, etc.), this option is not even on the table. Using any success/happiness metric you like, the US continues to fall and it’s obvious that the political class aren’t interested in doing a damn thing about it. If there is hope, it lies in the proles.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on August 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

      That’s right. Happy birthday, Xander! I have to make it out for a full brew session one of these days. As I make the eventual move to all-grain, I still have to see the process from the beginning to get a full grasp.

      Politics do suck ass.

  4. Mark said, on August 22, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Re: Terroir – I think G-Lo has an interesting point – many breweries source non-local ingredients. But there are definitely examples of beer terroir. The first thing that comes to mind is the water in Burton on Trent (it apparently contains a nice mineral component which allows greater interaction with hops). VIctory is my favorite local brewery, and they source a lot of ingredients from Germany, but when they released their latest flagship, Headwaters Pale Ale, they optimized the recipe to emphasize their water source. Not sure how much you can really taste that, but it is a very clean beer… There are lots of northwest breweries that get their hops locally, I believe, which leads to those great, ultra-fresh wet hop beers…

    For my own top 5… which I presume is really just, like, 5 things I’m really into right now:

    1. Dark Beers – I think I’ve burnt myself out on saisons, light wheat beers, and even stronger pale Belgian ales like tripels this summer. It seems that whenever I reach into my fridge, I seek out darker beers these days. I guess it’s a good thing my latest homebrew is a stout!

    2. Horror Movies – This hasn’t really taken center stage in the realm of my obsessions yet, but every year, I do a 6 week horror movie marathon leading up to Halloween, and I’m starting the planning phases of that now. I’ll also be attending Fantastic Fest in Austin this year, which I’m extremely excited about…

    3. Star Wars – I know it’s trite and kinda lame to be into the over-exposed Star Wars at this point, but I’ve actually been rediscovering my love for the series now that my nieces are discovering it for the first time…

    4. Inherent Vice – Thomas Pynchon wrote a noirish detective novel? Bitchin.

    5. Vorkosigan Saga – The nerdiest sounding series of SF novels ever? Whatever, they’re fantastic fun. I’ve read 7 of the novels so far this year, and I’ve got 4 more on my shelf!

    • builderofcoalitions said, on August 22, 2011 at 10:59 am

      I’ll have to dig up the article on terroir and find the point about the role people play. I think it advocates for a wider definition, but I could be mis-remembering it. Either way, I will certainly bastardize the term for my own devices.

      I keep accumulating dark beer, but I’m not there yet. It will probably happen once the weather in Missouri shifts in the next month.

  5. carriethewade said, on August 22, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    My Five:
    1. Bananagrams – It’s like speed scrabble, but portable, and not for points. Also wins big points with me for excessive use of banana terminology.

    2. The Eschaton Scene from Infinite Jest appearing in a Decemberists’ video – I like DFW, and I like Michael Schur, but I cannot stand the Decemberists. Colin Meloy showing is stupid face (and his stupid voice) in that video just makes me want to go perform some post-natal abortions.

    3. Hyperbole – my brother brought it to my attention that I am a frequent user of hyperbole. I do not intend to change this. I will continue to refer to Ragu alfredo sauce as “smelling like an old, wet bathing suit and tasting about the same.”

    4. Weird Al Yankovic – His new album is pretty good.

    5. The Sot Weed Factor by John Barth – I had a creative writing teacher tell me to read this a few years ago. Now I know why. It’s probably the hardest book I’ve ever read, but it is immensely rewarding. I’ve been working on it for at least 2 weeks now, and I’m a little over halfway through.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on August 23, 2011 at 8:40 am

      You? Hyperbolic? No way. You would much rather slit your wrists with a butter knife and thrust yourself off an overpass onto I-70 with a banana jammed up your ass than stoop to hyperbole.

    • Mike said, on August 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

      I have The Sot Weed Factor buried on a bookshelf somewhere. I’ll pull it out soon. I’ve developed an aversion to John Barth, mainly because he’s influenced a lot of really bad postmodern writing. (DFW is already developing the same sort of detractors, but I’m cool with him because he’s influenced a lot of my own bad writing.)

      But my reluctance to embrace John Barth is nothing compared to my Colin Meloy hatred. Jesus Christ I can’t stand that guy.

      • carrie the destroyer said, on August 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm

        I’d tried to read John Barth before–some of his more recent writings, which are largely unimpressive. The Sot-Weed Factor is pretty stunning, particularly to someone who tried to write a pretty similar narrative (the key difference being that SWF has pirates where I have religious zealots) before I ever knew of the novel’s existence. It’s pretty tidy for a post-modern narrative, and his use of language is pretty stellar, if not incredibly challenging–a good deal of the dialogue (which there is a lot of) is in early modern English. but I’m an easy sell when the idiom, “two-backed beast” is involved.


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