Monday, June 23, 2008

Who woulda ever thought?

Granted, this is as close as I got to an encounter with the newest outpost of beer ambassadorship while visiting San Diego over the weekend, but still. It's a trip.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meta-Pfiffing: Inside the stats

There's nothing original in posting the more *ahem* unique search terms used to find your site, but it doesn't make it any less entertaining, right? In pondering the question of what unifying, underlying traits adhere the Pfiff! community together, I thought it'd be good to share some of the recent routes by which readers have found their way here.

While the vast majority of you are looking for information about the Mill Valley Tourist Club, aka Naturfreunde, aka "The first rule of the Tourist Club is you do not talk about the Tourist Club" [to the person who typed in "secret tourist club muir woods hike miles", I can only say HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS, and UPHILL], and are looking for homebrewing tips [to "growing weihenstephan yeast from bottle", you know you can just buy it, right?], I recently gasped at the climb in readership here, and am thinking that these are the search terms that have captured the attention of you, Pfiff!'s loyal new readers. Please join me in welcoming them, won't you?

The violent types: drunken fighting, tiger fighting style, fightingstyle, history of drunken tiger fighting, tiger fighting, drunken tiger style AND drunken fighting style. Anyone who's been a regular reader of this blog knows you've come to the right place.

Obligatory WTF gems: every time you pick up a handful of dust and see not the dust but a mystery a marvel there in your hand, pictures and tips on the ornamental inedible orange citrus plant, oh brother where art thou pale make-up, what does annual mean in a cilantro plant, lydia the tattooed lady piano chords, and my personal favorite, 6 foot 2 300 pounds. That was before my new trademarked beer diet, kids!

Russian roulette googlers: regular, about, month, there, friend, chocolate, shoots, and net. Sort of a weird cross between basketball tips and a pregnancy scare.

And last, but not least, the fuel that keeps this worldwideweb a-humming: cats

That image above is for you, my friend! Thanks for reading, everyone!


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dada's bouncy house

Usually, I'm not one to simply repost something I've found elsewhere on the web (this time courtesy of Pete Brown), but this link resonates just too deeply with a guy in my situation. Behold! The bouncy house for my next birthday party has finally arrived!

As a relative newcomer to this whole parenting thing, and a shy entrant into the "making nice with other folks simply because they managed to produce their own offspring at a similar point in time" game, one of the things that's really rattled me is the sheer ubiquity of the noisy, stinky, hair-dryer driven backyard monstrosity known colloquially by its disarming nickname: the bouncy house. In some social circles - ones I drift wildly around - they're the de facto keystone in any respectable birthday party. This beauty above (the Hogshead!) has completely changed my mind on the matter, however.

That's right, kids. It's an inflatable pub. And it's awesome.

See you in September.

Thanks again to Pete for sharing this beauty. And happy almost birthday!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can the circle be unbroken?

It was bound to happen at some point: A photo by a beer blogger of another beer blogger who happens to be taking a photo (of beer!) while sitting next to yet another drink blogger, only to be published on (you guessed it!) another beer blog.

From Bill Brand's What's On Tap site, I give you the following ghostly image:

It's an uncanny apparition in reference to the piece I wrote about that stellar evening, and how it spawned a discussion regarding beer writing in the context of the direction of this particular blog. (Also note Des' sneaky move on the cheese plate while I was distracted by the panoply of beer glasses in front of me.) If there isn't a better portrayal of the little conundrum I find tickling away in the back of my mind about the increasingly crowded field of beer writing, Pfiff!'s role within that community, and the "inside baseball" nature of this chosen hobby, I haven't yet seen it.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Anyone up for a pizza and a beer?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WTF - Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja

A cat, in some sort of a swashbuckler or pirate costume, poses with a cunning, mischievous grin on his face while on board what one could only assume to be the schooner under his command, quite possibly christened La Roja. "Mahalo!" reads the label, Hawaiianly thanking me for giving this unique Jolly Pumpkin concoction a whirl. And oh, what a whirl. An amber, oak-aged (read: sour, not "oaky") bizarro-beer, this Belgian-inspired bit of madness comes from the obvious brewing mecca of Dexter, Michigan. And what's in a name, anyway? It's a joyous conundrum of weirdness that just begs the question of whether the contents of the bottle could possibly be as fun as the packaging and backstory.

Like the good people at Russian River, the Jolly Pumpkin folks post a bottle log containing release notes for each of their beers, giving consumers a hint at what to expect in terms of flavor, aging possibilities, and more, and as far as this batch is concerned: "Sherried barnyard funk" is right. This is a strange and wicked bit of brewing wizardry, this red cat is. Sour and fruity like a Flanders red, but way more dry, vinous and earthy than that, with a blending that's far more representative of the older barrels than the new, as in Rodenbach or Duchesse de Bourgogne, where the sweetness of the younger blends can make you believe there are cherries and currants floating in your glass. No, this is serious stuff, and brilliantly so. It's exactly what a barrel aged beer should taste like: worth cellaring, challenging to the palate, deeply rewarding once confronted, structured to match perfectly with fine cuisine, and richly nuanced enough to warrant 750 mL of tasting enjoyment. So to you, Captain Spooky Ron J (General Mischief Maker, chief squeegee operator), I say this: as weird as the voyage ahead appears, there will be no mutiny on La Roja. Lead the way.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

For those of you who really like Heineken

At first, I thought I was just witnessing the next stage in the "beer as gourmet" evolution that's been exhibiting itself through the retail catalogs lately, one you could follow from the monogrammed pilsner glasses to the stainless steel kegerators to this: A countertop draft beer system, offered by the discriminating home kitchen retailers Williams & Sonoma, complete with level indicator, temperature gauge, and full-on LCD hoo-ha fanciness. An item which, for all intensive purposes, should have rocketed to the top of my overly-optimistic wish list and force me to consider which of our current kitchen appliances would have to make way for it (toaster?), this little contraption is sure to win over a certain cervisiascenti with its charming good looks and clean lines. But the catalog image (which isn't reprinted online) betrays its sinful limitations: A Heineken logo on the tap handle. Maybe, you're thinking, this thing is so cool that it comes with a whole pile of beer Pogs (remember Pogs?) that you could sort through and insert in the display on the handle whenever you change kegs? No. You do not change kegs. You do, however, pay $299 to essentially buy a nice fancy case for something you can buy at 7-11 for $20. So before you go and order this for your sweetie (Mother's Day, anyone?), be aware that a) it cannot be gift wrapped, and b) it's kind of a crock unless you really, really like Heineken.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hoptical illusion?

While curiously scouting the newest offerings from the regional brewers in hopes of backing up the claim from my last post that we'd be seeing a reaction to the current hop fiasco via low- and no-hop beers, I stumbled upon something that looking as foreboding as black clouds across the beer horizon: Cascade-afficionados Sierra Nevada has started putting an ESB - "Early Spring Beer" [their words, not mine] - on shelves. I can't remember seeing this submission from our friends in Chico in years past, and is even conveniently labeled (in case you find some in an abandoned trailer party time capsule in the future) as the "2008" vintage. After trying it, both Des and my initial reaction was that it's essentially a de-hopped amber ale pitched as being in the British brewing tradition of balance over bitterness. (Frankly, I pictured them standing in a near-vacant hops warehouse and trying to figure out how they were going to be able to brew enough of their bread-and-butter SNPA for a summer's worth of barbecues and baseball games.) But oddly, its (uncited) entry on Wikipedia lists it as almost 10 IBUs higher than the iconic pale ale. What gives? Of course, my taste buds could also be shot - the best use we found for the ESB was in a cream sauce for some chicken cordon bleu - but still, Des' nose never lies.

Of course, it's probably not wiki-vandalism at work, but rather the concept of hop bitterness perception versus actual IBUs. Could it simply be the crystal malts masking the hops, or a difference in water treatment, or even just a different level of carbonation?

So while I haven't yet found the smoking gun to prove my theory on the move to reduced hop usage, one interesting point did crop up in the research on the ESB [and please, people, it's extra special bitter] that Sierra Nevada's offering as its spring seasonal: The hops used - English Challenger & East Kent Goldings - are imports, rather than varietals from the West Coast's Yakima Valley stable. And it's even dry-hopped! Maybe the winds of change are already blowing...

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Highway to helles?

Hey kids! Find the six differences between these two images:

The question remains as to whether our good friends on Haight Street caught the irony of the parody... almost to the day! *shudder* Enjoy those strong ales responsibly, kids!

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

WTF - Wenches??

I'm sorry, but no. M'main man Alex done hipped me to this most egregious affront to all that is decent and pure about getting schnockered. Maybe - just maybe - after tasting 80 (!) beers in a row would I consider using the word "wenches" in a press release. But really? Seriously? Be sure not to miss the "Beautiful servers/ambassadors dressed in Specially designed sexy costumes with an around the world theme", a number of whom are depicted on the site. I can't wait to join the bros and "gauge stylistic preferences against my own personal preferences" of the exotic ales of Skankistan!

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Monday, July 30, 2007

WTF - Git-R-Done Beer

So I promise that the beerapalooza that is Pfiff! will return full-force in the fall, what with such delicious items to comment on like Toronado's upcoming 20th anniversary party, the bottling, tasting, pairing and cocktail-izing of 10 gallons of oaked barleywine, reviews of the delicious bounty of Spanish-titled, cat-emblazoned, pirate-themed Belgian ales from the East Coast, and so so much much more more... But until then, let us meditate on the deeper meaning of this: Git-R-Done beer. No, really. I couldn't find an image online of the bottle (can?) label, so I thought this would pretty much sum it up:

Until later... Off to Montana in a few days to relax and imbibe some Big Sky goodness. Hopefully I'll have some moose/bear/marmot themed beerverages to comment on upon my return.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

WTF - Yerba mate beer

John, this one's for you... Springing up in all the appropriate shopping venues lately (read: places that sell bulk organic spelt flakes and fair trade buckwheat grouts) is this latest spin (read: gimmick) on herbal beers: Mateveza. Get it? Yerba mate + cerveza = mateveza. But I can only tease so much, since it is caffeinated, and it does happen to be brewed by a local (Chico!) brewery that's been waving the organic brewing flag for a loooooong time. And yes, of course, I'll inevitably try it at some point, guaranteeing them at least one more 6-pack off the shelf. I just can't imagine it'll have a spot on that shelf for very long. If only the bottles suggested you drink it through a bombilla in the same way Belgian ales suggest tulip glasses...

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