Working on a charity cycling event has already started to teach me a ton about the cycling world. There are elite cyclists who are power athletes and could easily kick my ass. There are also the “messenger” cyclists who one sees on a day-to-day reeking havoc on the streets (aka not abiding by the rules of the road) and could easily kick my ass via running me down. Then there are the spinners – confined to the gym on stationary bikes listening to thumping music and adjusting resistance to simulate hills etc. They could probably kick my ass too, or at least find a big weightlifter to help out. I used to be a spinner, and have been seriously reconsidering getting back into a class. Anyway, while the pedestrian in me will always carry some sort of a grudge towards bikes and those who ride them, I have also found that I have one thing in common with all of these cyclists: beer.
While I do not condone riding under the influence, I do enjoy imbibing with this crazy group. One of the first events I worked while trying to recruit riders for the Audi Best Buddies Challenge was a time trial at the Harpoon Brewery. Basically, a time trial brings in the top cyclists to attatch their bikes to a stationary machine which also simulates a particular course, hills and all. The cyclists race each other in various heats, and the winners qualify to ride in a special Harpoon event. They also get to take home a glorious case o’ beer. The spectators, riders who have finished their heat and even the Best Buddies recruiters (hehe) get to visit Harpoon’s beautiful tasting room to test some of the freshest brews one can find. Personally, it was a Cider and a seasonal Celtic Ale for this cycling-world-newbie.
Beer is a fantastic way to strike up a conversation with people. It is an existing connection between people who seem to have nothing else in common. I think this might be one of my favorite things about my beverage of choice – the promise of a good discussion or a good laugh that comes with every pour.
I am fairly certain that this is just the first of many of my intersections of brews and bikes. Here’s a Stella Artois commercial that seems all too appropriate…Cheers!
Oh and just in case you were thinking about cycling in either of the Best Buddies Challenges, check out the Web site and we’ll get you signed up.
I don’t know if anyone ever expects to be laid off…I certainly didn’t. But on Tuesday morning, I, along with 17 or so of my fellow employees, were told our jobs were part of our company’s massive cutbacks. This is pretty much as close as anyone can get to realizing how horrible our economy actually is – when they are let go from a company who just a month ago boasted of the growth and success being achieved. In the past four days, an amazing network of people have helped me stay focused and positive about how this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. One of the other awesome omens for my big life change was when my fantastic bf, knowing about the day’s events and my love of all thing having to do with hops, walked into our apartment holding a six pack of Harpoon Winter Warmer…the next seasonal brew from Harpoon. It’s spicy and soothing, and perfect for the winter. After the icy shock of day I had on Tuesday, it was the perfect surprise. I don’t think it is technically transitioned from Octoberfest yet, but look for it soon.
Another upside to this whole “unemployment” thing is the chance to (finally) blog more. So expect more thoughts and suggestions on a somewhat regular basis. Oh and any tips about how to navigate my “time off” and my in-progress job search – any and all tips are welcome. And if by some stroke of luck you know someone who would want to hire this PR pro and lover of beer, (or any of my amazingly qualified colleagues) let me know. Cheers!
So a week from Saturday, June 21 (the first official day of summer), I turn 22. Also on this glorious day is day two of the American Craft Beer Festival (ACBF) which just happens to be in Boston. It’s as if the Gods knew that I would be looking for a way to celebrate my birthday and they made it happen. I still haven’t decided if I will attend yet – it’s $40 a session (yikes!) and my mother will be in town. Though the thought of introducing mom to the wonders of the Craft Beer World is quite appealing. Tickets are on sale now and you have three sessions to choose from: Friday night at 6, Saturday afternoon at 1, or Saturday night at 6. With the ticket you are authorized to test EVERY beer there. I think they are actually just posing a challenge, one I might attempt. You also get a souvenir glass, granted attendance at that session’s lectures and the respect of all your friends (and me!).
As far as who is going to be there, it looks like many brewers are from the good old North East. Lots of Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. OF course, as it is an American beer festival, brewers from the majestic purple mountains using their amber waves of grain to produce some of the best stouts, weizens, and IPAs we’ve ever known. Some of my favorites – Smuttynose, Harpoon, Sam Adams, and Dogfish Head – will be presenting. If you share my love for beer and happen to be in Boston next weekend, I really recommend that you go. It’s right at the Seaport World Trade Center.
So if you go, let me know. If you have any other suggestions for my birthday, also let me know! Cheers!
I realize that I have posted at least once before about summer beers, but I keep trying them and loving them. So here are a couple more…
Recently, my go-to bottled summer brew comes from Portsmouth, NH’s Smuttynose Brewery. The Summer Weizen was introduced to me on one of the most humid, stickiest days of last summer. It’s what a refreshing wheat beer should be – crisp and light, not too fruity, and exactly what I need to quench my thirst when I’m sweating out of places I didn’t know I could (gross – sorry – but true). After a long winter, and the promise of heat coming soon, I picked up a 6 pack of this fantastic stuff and enjoyed it as I prepared all of the fans in my apartment to cool us down. Turns out it would rain for the next three days and not break 65. But I still enjoyed it. Oh, and all of Smuttynose’s bottles have great packaging. They feature hilarious photos from a time when my parents were my age and silly caption. Besides beer, I love great packaging – Smuttynose = homerun!
I feel the need to give Harpoon yet another shout out. This summer offering is delicious and the perfect addition to summer BBQs and pool parties. I’ve been enjoying it at my new local haunt, Costello’s in Jamaica Plain, MA. While watching the Celtics win (which they’ve been doing a lot of recently – YAY!), I keep the Harpoon Summer’s coming.
Two more quick things…first, Harpoon is having another party! The Harpoon Summer Session is tonight, June 6 and tomorrow, June 7! I can’t make it (damn!) but you should definitely check it out! Second, I’ve been getting a ton of traffic recently – more than ever! So thanks everyone. I hope you keep reading and like what you see. Please let me know if you have suggestions or anything! Cheers!
Standing around at a party a few weekends back, I was mingling with a few friends. The super-sized bottle of Harpoon UFO that I was nursing sparked a serious conversation. I began promoting, er, telling them about my blog (I have no shame). Then Jim, one of my friends, asked if I had ever had homebrewed beer. Nope, I said, but it got me thinking. I had recently read a post on Beer4Chicks about how ladies in California are having homebrewing parties – like Tupperware parties but more fun. According to Jim, whose friends homebrew, the cost of homebrewing is in getting all of the right equipment, but once all of that is paid for, a bottle of your own concocting would cost about 20 cents. Sounds like a good deal to me!
If you do homebrew, or are toying with the idea of it, here’s a little incentive: Homebrewing Contests. The American Homebrewer’s Association hosts a contest every year, looking for the best tasting beers from your kitchen. They are looking for amateur brewers from around the world to submit their best beers, meads and ciders (new this year!). After numerous rounds of judging the finals take place at the National Homebrewers Conference in Cincinnati in June. Medals are awarded in 29 different categories, not to mention the respect of other homebrewers and 15 minutes of homebrewer fame.
Sam Adams has a competition too, and they go a giant step further. The winners of the Sam Adams Longshot American Homebrew Contest get their beers mass-produced and sold under the Sam Adams banner. Last year a double IPA and a weizenbock won. Another favorite was a grapefruit ale. Anything goes, I guess.
If you want to submit to either contest the deadlines are fast approaching. The National Homebrew Competition will take entries through April 11. Sam Adams will collect entries through May 1 at 5 p.m. Check the websites for all of the particulars, but if you homebrew, like he does, or are thinking about it, I’d love to know more. Cheers!
Now, I know that my point in writing this blog was to share my ideas about various beers. For now, I’m going to take a small side track to another fermented beverage: hard cider. As with beer, up until about a year ago, I had only tried apple ciders that I bought at an orchard from Upstate New York. Delicious, autumnal, and non-alcoholic cider that made me excited about carving pumpkins and the leaves changing colors. But then, in one of my first Irish pub outings in Dublin, I tried a Bulmers Cider. (Side note: Bulmers is called Magners everywhere else in the world other than Ireland. Bulmers came first, and they exported the cider under a different name. Same cider, same logo, different name. It’s one of those fun little things that the Irish are proudly stubborn about.) Needless to say, I discovered that cider is a perfect middleman for beer and wine. It has the fruitiness of wine, but the bubbles of a beer. It’s not as sweet at the non-alcoholic type, and it is a lot more refreshing. I’ve tried flavored ciders, like berry and pear, and I wouldn’t really recommend them, unless you enjoy the cough syrup thing or want to really be reminded of your Juicy Juice days. Bulmers/Magners is available in most bars I’ve been to. I prefer it from the tap, but try it from a bottle if that’s the your only option. Definitely check out their website if you are interested in how it’s made and the great story behind the beverage.
Another option is Strongbow Cider, a favorite in the UK. Strongbow and Bulmers/Magners are huge athletic sponsors abroad, kind of like Budweiser and baseball in the US. Back to the taste, I think Strongbow’s a little less sweet than Bulmers/Magners. Maybe it is because of its slight tangy flavor that makes it easier to drink more of. For me, cider in take stops after 2 pints. Just like I can’t handle more than one “-tini” drink because of their sweetness, it’s hard to drink a lot of cider. Personally, I am partial to Bulmers/Magners versus Strongbow — I think its my way of keeping allegiance in the Irish-English competition.
As promised, I just got around to trying Harpoon‘s brand new cider. I must say that of the ciders I’ve tried, Harpoon’s take is the sweetest. At first sip, the essence of apple pretty much slapped me in the face. It brought me back to days on the playground and juice boxes, but not in the offensive way the flavored varieties had (see above). I nearly asked for a straw to aid in my slurping. It is perfect for the non-beer, non-cider drinker. It actually paired really well with the burger and fries I ordered. It reminded me of a cider I found at Trader Joe’s — my favorite grocery store, and place, on Earth. It’s called Newton’s Folly and it comes straight out of Natick, Mass. It comes in 2 varieties: The Original Authentic Draft Cider and a Granny Smith Cider. The Granny Smith is different because it has the sweet and sourness that people love Granny Smith apples for. Newton’s Folly and Harpoon both got the “apple” thing down.
Enjoy the ciders. Cheers!