Beer and Pavement

Royal Rye Wine

Posted in Beer, Challenge by SM on December 30, 2011

So, I figured I’d enter the contest. I mean, Mikkeller is easily one of my favorite breweries and I’d do just about anything to try this beer. But what sets me apart from other beer geeks who will enter this contest for such a beer?

Well, for one, I have written a ton here about Mikkeller beers despite the relative difficulty we have just scoring any in the middle of Missouri. Just look at the tag cloud to the right. No other brewery is listed as large as Mikkeller. I may have to consider changing the “beer” portion of this blog’s title to “Mikkeller”. Here’s a rundown of Mikkeller mentions over the last two years of posting…

So, to say that I am a huge fan of Mikkeller brews and support them every step of the way is an understatement. I just wish I had more access to more of their beer. Still, winning this prize of a bottle of Royal Rye Wine would cause me to make some promises I will surely keep:

  1. I will dedicate a page on this blog with it’s own Mikkeller-inspired emblem for all things Mikkeller, including the running list of posts.
  2. I will review the Royal Rye Wine complete with a playlist that pairs perfectly with the awarded beer. I’ll make the playlist available to my readers via Spotify and even send a copy to Mikkel Borg Bjergsø.
  3. I will write a post reviewing every Mikkeller beer I’ve ever had, even the ones I’ve completely forgotten about.

There. If this post doesn’t win me a bottle of Royal Rye Wine, I don’t know what will. Or maybe it’s just too difficult to ship a beer like that all the way to Columbia, Missouri.

Please give nothing but support for my quest and for Mikkeller’s beer in the comments. No comments about the cost of said beers. They’re totally worth it and I won’t have you disparage them.

Update: Tomorrow the winner of a bottle of Royal Rye Wine will be announced on on Facebook and on Twitter.

Double update: I won! Details to come.

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Lists: A Blogger’s Best Friend

Posted in Challenge, Uncategorized by SM on November 27, 2011

the list

When I’m desperate for a post idea, I just turn to a blogger’s best friend: the list. That’s why I’ve resorted to a top-5 list every Monday. (There should be one up tomorrow.) I’ve been impressed that I haven’t gone with lists all month, but now that December is upon us, I’m considering doing all lists, particularly year-end lists. However, I can probably only get away with so many top-10 beer and/or album lists this month, like one of each. Still, I’d like to exhaust the list posts all in one month.

This is where you, the reader, come in. Besides the inevitable top-10 albums/beers lists that will surely be posted here, I would like to do a list a day for all of December. Now, I doubt I’ll actually post 31 lists in December. It was hard enough to come up with a post a day in November. I’ll be lucky to post 15 lists, much lest 31. Still, I’d like your help. If there’s a list you would like to see in December, leave it in the comments. Although I prefer to write about indie rock and craft beer, I would be willing to entertain something different.

So far, here are the lists I’m considering, aside from the weekly top-5:

  • Best Albums
  • Best Beers
  • Best Songs
  • Best Shows
  • Best Breweries
  • Best Pairings (I’m thinking food and beer here, not music and beer, but it could still happen.)
  • What do you want to see?
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Indonesian Pirates, Hand-Cranked CD Players, and Magical Beer Chillers

Posted in Beer, Challenge, Intersections by SM on September 9, 2011

Somehow, Carrie the Destroyer was cropped out of her cast picture.


After my lame attempt at filling digital space on Wednesday, I figured that I would go with the suggestion that provided the best chance to write the most epic[1] Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement post ever. Then, I read the suggestions and decided to go with Carrie’s second suggestion anyway:

 You are on a cruise ship that gets ambushed by Indonesian pirates. You gave them a watch so they will let you live, but they are going to deposit you on an island with a machete, a hand cranked cd-player and a magic eternally chilly beer cooler that automatically refills when you run out–the only catch is that this magical beer chiller can only replenish the supply of 3 beers. They tell you that you may take only three albums with you. There is a good chance you might be stuck on this island for the rest of eternity. What 3 beers and what 3 albums would you choose to be on the hot, possibly enchanted, uninhabited island with?

I will get to most of the other suggestions eventually, but this is where I’ll begin. That said, expect another top-5 on Monday. Now, on with the exercise…

There are several factors to consider when choosing may three albums. First of all, I’m changing the rules so that it’s not a hand-cranked CD player and is instead a hand-cranked phonograph player. Just because I’m stuck alone on a deserted island doesn’t mean I won’t want to hear the warm crackle of some vinyl. That said, these three records better be so good that I won’t mind hand-cranking for my tunes, severely limiting my dance time.

Another factor to consider is the versatility of the music. My three favorite records might not be good for all occasions. What if I invite over a few head hunters for dinner and want some nice mood music? What if the party gets wild and I need music that we can thrash and dance to while cutting off the heads of our meal? What if we all enter a cannibal-induced  coma requiring us to relax a bit? What if I get lucky[2]? I need a soundtrack that meets many needs.

All that is true, but it has to be music with which I’ll never grow tired. We’re talking potentially an eternity. I have to be prepared. So, I picked mainly music from my favorite time period and favorite non-genre: 90’s indie rock.

  1. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by Pavement – I go back and forth whether this is my favorite Pavement album. It does fit the criteria I’ve laid out in that I love this record, it has a song for every situation, and I will never grow tired of it.
  2. Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair – I, like most men my age, love the idea of Liz Phair on Guyville. We like that she’s adventurous and just looking for a sensitive guy[3] and we think we can save her. Luckily, the reality of Liz Phair isn’t so appealing. Still, this is a great record that is fixed into my eternal top five or ten albums.
  3. Perfect from Now On by Built to Spill – I will need mood music that will also feed my anger and blood lust[4]. This record can do both and is really good.

Again, this might not be my top-3 albums of all-time[5], but they fit the criteria best. I’m also not trying to over-think this or – as I like to say – out-think the room. The goal was to pick three albums to take with me on a deserted island. Done. Easy. The beer portion of this post won’t be as easy.

The limitations are an unlimited supply of three different beers[6]. I figure one of those beers could be a beer one could drink all day long, a “sessionable” beer, if you will. There should also be a beer that will get me schnockered with just a few sips. I will need more bang for my buck. And when drinking the same thing all day or getting wasted is not my thing, I will need something I will really enjoy drinking.

Then, there’s the issue of style. I tend to prefer American craft styles over all others. So, that eliminates the imports. It’s a tough sacrifice, but I think that I’ll manage. Styles I like are Saisons, imperial stouts, sours, and IPA/DIPA’s. There are other styles I like, but these are the ones I generally reach for. The challenge will be to find three beers that fulfill my four (or five preferred styles).

I think I know what to do…

  1. Surly Furious – This IPA fulfills many needs. For one, it’s a hefty IPA that makes the DIPA unnecessary. Bitterness and citrus comes in a can, a very useful container on an island.
  2. Bell’s Expedition Stout – This is a case of me filling a need with a favorite. It’s boozy and sweet and ages well if need be. There was a temptation not to include an imperial stout since deserted islands tend to be tropical[7], but I decided to make sure that this flavor profile was covered.
  3. New Glarus Belgian Red – I was so going to go with a Saison or some extreme Russian River sour, but I thought about what this sort of beer can do. I decided that I needed a beer that fulfilled the sour/tart flavor profile while possibly providing an alternative that doesn’t taste so much like beer. Plus, this is a relatively hard-to-get beer[8]. Why not insure that I have an endless supply of a rare beer only sold in Wisconsin?
So, there it is, my altered desert island list of beers and records. What did I miss? What would you have put in place of my selections? Am I not taking head hunters serious enough? As usual, leave comments below.

1Can I now tell you how much I despise the over/misuse of the word “epic?” I fucking loath the way this word is used in everyday conversation and especially online. Now, I no longer can use the term “epic” to describe a Built to Spill jam or a magnificently huge DIPA. The word has lost all meaning thanks to the improper overuse of the word. Thanks.
2Is it me or did this post just get kinda creepy?
3To fuck. I just went creepy again.
4For wild boar. Nothing creepy. A man has to eat. This all brings new meaning to “I would hurt a fly.”
5However, I suspect all three are in my top-10, if not top-5.
6Can limitations be unlimited?
7Particularly those frequented by Indonesian pirates and their kidnapped victims.
8Although, one is sitting in my cellar at this very moment. It’s a good thing I know people who head to Wisconsin on a fairly regular basis.


Posted in Challenge by SM on December 1, 2010

As suggested by Steve, I’m posting the beginnings of several posts I’ve started over the past couple of weeks but never finished. There were more, but I deleted them. Honestly, most of this is shite (as Steve might say) and I haven’t read it since first typing it just to get something down. The only one I may still finish is the last one.

Ridicule me as usual…

I don’t tend to write much about TV since I don’t watch much TV. Aside from a small handful of shows and some sporting events, I find TV to be pretty detestable. So, when it was announced that Dogfish Head’s own Sam Calagione would be hosting a show on Discovery, I took notice.

The show premiered a week ago and people had various takes on the program. The beer nerds in my circle mostly hated it, but I think they just wanted a show for them and not the typical Discovery Channel viewer. Twitter was mostly aflutter with glowing praise, but what else can you say in 140 characters about a TV show without coming off as a punk-ass Farker? And the blogospere was primarily taking bets on how long the show will last.

What’s missing is whether or not this show will prove to be good for craft beer. Like when indie kids lamented Nirvana breaking on MTV, beer nerds everywhere are worried their obsession will become no better than the watered-down, rice adjunct-ed swill they’ve rejected for so long. However, like the grunge kids, beer nerds need to relax. Brew Masters will not ruin craft beer. If anything, it should do the industry and community some good. Nirvana breaking big sure produced a lot of copycats for major labels with which to pollute the airwaves, but it also made a much wider range of music available to the average listener. There are still crappy bands, but we would have never heard so many great bands without Nirvana’s breakthrough. Brew Masters is craft beer’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or something like that.

Brew Masters is not made for beer nerds. Beer is but a medium for Discovery to tell a story. Sam Calagione is their protagonist, a compelling one at that. The show will spend an inordinate amount of time on the marketing of beers, trips to find new recipes and ingredients, and basically all the extraneous details that will go into brewing Dogfish Head beer. In other words, the show really isn’t about the beer. It isn’t a demonstration of advanced brewing methods for us to geek out on. The show probably won’t tell us anything we all didn’t already learn about Dogfish Head that we didn’t already know. I mean, craft beer is 5% of the beer market. I suspect homebrewers even make up a smaller percentage of the beer-consuming community than that. If Discovery were making this show for us, they…

This will possibly be the most overused Thanksgiving meme/theme of the day, but I don’t care. I’ve had trouble coming up with blogable topics and thought this might be an easy way to get going. Besides, there is really so much that I’m thankful for this year. Here are just a few of those things…

Waffle House – It is a Thanksgiving tradition for us to go to the Waffle House for breakfast before we get our cook on. Sure, the food is only moderately good, but we are all entitled this one indulgence. Besides, most decent breakfast joints are closed on Thanksgiving and we need to load up since we won’t eat until 5 or 6. The Waffle House fills those needs and provides a base for all the beer I’ll drink.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 – Typically, a nice Saison would ideally pair well with Thanksgiving turkey, but we smoke our bird. A Saison won’t stand up to the charred smokiness of our turkey. So, I turn the notch up and pour this perfectly balanced Belgian dark abbey ale to counter the strength of our main dish. Sure, there will be DIPA’s and imperial stouts poured before and after dinner, but St. Bernardus is our patron saint of the smoked turkey.

iPod Mixes – Every year, I attempt to mix some songs or simply throw albums-worth of music into a playlist that lend itself to the brisk autumn weather and a harvest time feast. In the past, Nick Drake, Feist, and José González among others have dominated the soundtrack. This year, it’s looking as if Sufjan Stevens and The Walkmen will be joining the fun. Plus, I may have to play a whole heaping serving of Pavement as this is likely the end of the road for my favorite band. At least I saw them two more times this year…

Buckeyes – All kinds of Buckeyes make me thankful this year. The horse chestnuts have brought me luck – I just haven’t been able to figure out what that luck has been. I’m making my own version of the candy sort, using high-end chocolate (without paraffin), natural peanut butter, and fleur de sel. It should be a good topper to Thanksgiving dinner or something good to munch on while I cheer the third sort of Buckeyes as they play their greatest rival this Saturday. I hate that team up north, I won’t even dare to mention their names on this blog. Just know that my Bucks are looking for their sixth straight conference championship, sixth straight win over their rivals (nine out of ten), and a shot at another BCS bowl with a win Saturday.

There are moments in life that define who we are. Hopefully, those moments are mostly positive, but some can be negative as well. These moments in our lives help define who we are, what we’ll become, and how we’ll be remembered.

For me, I can think of a few such moments. None were earth-shattering for anyone who’s not me, but they have defined who I am. There was the basketball game in 8th grade where I nailed the winning free throws on the same week I learned a new technique for shooting from the charity stripe. There was the night I was recognized for my service to a YMCA camp, earning an award that had only been given to one other individual in the camp’s 80-year history. There was the birth of my daughter.

All of these moments shaped me in one way or another. It was all mostly good.

Sometimes, these moments happen to one person who shines and defines his/her legacy. My Ohio State Buckeyes experienced one of those moments this weekend, specifically their über-hyped quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor seemed to be melting down as usual against a tough opponent. His third-quarter interception set up the Iowa Hawkeyes for the go-ahead touchdown.

This one’s been on my back burner for a while. It seems every time I turn around, another alt/indie band from my (post)youth is reuniting for a tour or single show at some festival. I guess it means a couple of things: 1) I’m getting old and 2) indie rock really is successful.

One band that is regularly absent from the list of upcoming tours and re-issues is Archers of Loaf. They often come up in pieces where bands list their favorite bands or are included in cover opportunities on influential websites. They were all the rage for anyone in the mid-nineties between Pavement and Superchunk releases. Their live shows were proof that punk was not yet dead. They were fucking Archers of Loaf.

It all started for Loaf in 1990, but their first album didn’t come out until 1993. The hugely influential Icky Mettle had to have been one of the three most dubbed-to-cassette-tape albums of the 90’s. I had Icky Mettle and AoL’s follow-up Vee Vee on opposite sides of a tape that I wore completely out. I acquired my copies of their first two albums around the same time I saw the band for the first time. An Archers of Loaf live show was a thing of…

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The Six Degrees of Thurston Moore: Challenge #1

Posted in Challenge, Six Degrees of Thurston Moore by SM on October 9, 2010

You may recall that my last post proposed a theory that any indie or alt musician could be connected to Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore in six steps or less. I demonstrated this to be true with the likes of Ani Difranco, Deerhunter, and Justin Bieber. Then, I invited my readership to come up with some musicians of their own for me to connect to Thurston.

My loyal followers did not disappoint. The first three suggestions included a little-known Australian indie outfit, a local band from right here in Middle-Missouri, and a hard-rocking, bow-toting guitar hero. None are obvious at first, but all prove my theory.

First up: The Go-Betweens – This Australian band enjoyed some minor success throughout the 80’s with songs like “Streets of Your Town” and “Was There Anything I Could Do?”, but are they within six degrees of Thurston Moore?

  1. The Go-Betweens featured Amanda Brown on violin.
  2. Amanda Brown played violin for R.E.M. in several tracks and even appeared in their tour documentary, Road Movie.
  3. R.E.M. recorded “Crush with Eyeliner” with Thurston Moore on background vocals (and possibly guitar?).

Another route I could have taken is as follows…

  1. The Go-Betweens once collaborated with Nick Cave on a project known as the Tuff Monks.
  2. Nick Cave curated an All Tomorrow’s Parties in Australia.
  3. ATP has also been curated by Thurston Moore on two occasions.

Next up: The Foundry Field Recordings – This is a local band here in Columbia and if it works in five steps, I too will be six degrees from Thurston Moore (whom I’ve actually met in-person…wait…)

  1. The Foundry Field Recordings are on Emergency Umbrella Records.
  2. EU features Sinkane, AKA Ahmed Gallab, on its lineup.
  3. Ahmed Gallab is also a current member of Yeasayer.
  4. Yeasayer appeared on the compilation Dark Was the Night.
  5. Dark Was the Night featured Matador bands Spoon (formerly), Yo La Tengo, and Cat Power.
  6. Matador is the current label for Sonic Youth.

Yeasayer also opened for Beck on tour and that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Sonic Youth, but you get the picture.

Finally, stepping away from indie bands, my cousin suggested Ted Nugent. This might stretch the theory, but here goes nothing. I mean, how in the hell is a NRA, right-winged, hair metal nut-job only six degrees from one of my heroes? Watch and learn…

  1. Ted Nugent was in Damn Yankees whose label was Warner Brothers.
  2. Warner Brothers’ lineup includes The Flaming Lips.
  3. The Lips once famously opened for and backed Beck while he toured to support Sea Change.
  4. Sea Change was released on Geffen Records.
  5. Geffen started the rush for indie and punk bands in the late 80’s/early 90’s by signing (yes, you guessed it) Sonic Youth.

So, there you have it. The theory of the Six Degrees of Thurston Moore lives on! If you have quicker or more interesting connections than the ones I provided, please share. If you have musicians I can’t possibly connect to Thurston Moore, share those as well.

Decisions, Decisions

Posted in Challenge, Life, Live, Pavement by SM on June 30, 2010

So, this is happening1.

Basically every band I listened to in college (and many since) are getting together for one special weekend in Vegas. Matador, one of my all-time favorite labels, is throwing their 21st birthday bash in Sin City featuring – among others – Pavement, Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth, Belle and Sebastian, Spoon, Yo La Tengo, Cat Power, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The New Pornographers, Superchunk, Chavez, and many more yet-to-be-announced acts. I’m sure those still to be confirmed could include a reunited Helium, Liz Phair doing Exile in Guyville in its entirety, and maybe even a Sleater-Kinney2 or a Lou Reed3. Whoever fills the final bill, it will surely be one of the most amazing weekends ever for those perpetually stuck in ’90’s indie rock nostalgia4.

Now comes the decision part. Seems easy, right? Find a way to go, never regret it. Well, not so fast.

I already booked my trip to Pitchfork in Chicago in a couple of weeks5. That’s a three-day pass, train ride, and hotel stay over a long weekend that might not afford me another getaway this year. Besides the cost, there are things called “familial responsibilities” and a “job” to consider. Can I really leave my family for yet another long weekend for rock ‘n roll indulgence? Is it fair to my partner or child? Am I slacking on my work responsibilities?6

So much childcare already falls on my partner. Is it cool that I just take off for a weekend of rock shows while she’s stuck at home, alone with a two-year-old? What message does that send to my daughter that Daddy takes off for weekends at a time whenever he wishes? What about a family vacation, something we have yet to do7?

My job is another issue. I work with schools. This trip would easily require me to take two days off at maybe the busiest time of year. Am I doing a disservice to my employer and my clients by taking off at such an important time?

And back to the cost. Doing some estimates with my cousin, it’s looking like a $500-$700 trip before the tickets. After Pitchfork and all the beer and records I’ve purchased (or have committed to purchasing), my bank account is starting to dry up. I’m just ahead of my credit card, but that could shift if I fall behind at any point, easy to do with a trip coming up.

I figure I’ll have to make a few sacrifices to make this trip happen. First, there will have to be a promise that our family will travel. I’m proposing a trip to wine country over the winter holiday. My partner has always wanted to go back to that part of California and it would be a legitimate chance to get away. It may cost me more money in the long run, but it might be worth it for the sake of the familial unit8.

Work? Well, I have the days. It will be fine.

Money is a bigger issue, but I have that figured out as well. With my cellar filling up as I type this, I won’t really be in that much need of beer. I could still have a beer here and there, but the mid-week beer with dinner would stop. I would cease to buy beers just because they’re in the stores and not in my cellar. The craft beer aspect of this blog would suffer9 , but it would be in the name of the ultimate concert experience. I would surely make it up with an epic tale of indie rock excellence like no one has seen before10 .

That leads me to the payoff. I would actually put my money toward one tangible thing and not spend it willy-nilly11. My liver would surely recover as I could imagine my beer consumption to drop incredibly12. The number of records delivered to my front door would also drop, but this would allow me to appreciate the new music I am able to consume and let some of the faddish stuff pass on by13.

There really is only one choice. I just have to make it work. A slip up in finances or an inability to make a cohesive argument to my partner14 could cripple the plan before it’s hatched. It will take careful planning and persistence, but I think I’m up to the task.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Update: I have the green light. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out the details. Tickets, rooms, etc. If I write more about it, it will mean I was lucky enough to land some tickets.

1Which I basically knew once this article hit my Google Alert.
2They’re on Matador’s Euro label and have hinted at a reunion themselves.
3Reed has one release with the label.
4Which describes me perfectly. The funny thing is that I’ve seen almost all the bands mentioned so far. So, you’d think that seeing them in their primes would be enough. Apparently not.
5I’m still very excited about this festival as there are plenty of bands I already love playing as well as a few I’m interested in seeing for the first time. Plus, there is the whole Pavement and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion reunions.
6These are sad ironies for the mid-thirties indie rock geek. I can now afford to go to such events, but I don’t really have the time to do so.
7Yes, we have traveled, but other family was involved. Sure, seeing family is nice, but it’s not a vacation. Sorry, I love you all, but it’s no getaway.
8That and there are some pretty amazing breweries in wine country. So, I would not go without a luxury of my own. Russian River, here I come.
9 Of course, most of you could care less about the beer posts and I only post one to two times a week. how much suffering is that really?
10 In other words, the post for that weekend should be as epic as anything I’ll post here. The pictures alone should bring a tear to my readers’ eyes.
11 Meaning that I will not buy cups of coffee on the road or bottled water. There won’t be that lunch at Subway because I forgot to pack a meal. I’ll simply plan better or go without. It also means that I won’t buy records and beers just because I can. It will be good for my spending problems.
12My liver and my waste would benefit greatly. I’ve needed to cut back for a while now. This might be what puts me over the top.
13There are some releases by bands I know and love that will still be pre-ordered in the coming weeks no matter what I decide.
14This is harder than it sounds as she is a rhetorician by trade. She studies arguments. That’s not any easy debate to win.

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