Archive for ‘Beer’

November 9, 2010

Where are you drinking in New York? The Long Room Irish Pub

With a name like McGinnis, you can probably guess that I’m of Irish decent. Its true and I do my best to connect with my heritage occasionally even though I’ve only been to the Mother Land once. I even have a shamrock tattoo. Imagine my joy when some friends stumbled upon The Long Room, an Irish gastropub in the heart of midtown and invited me to join them. I felt immediately at home even though I was on the road.

I quickly scanned the dozens of beer tap behind the marble topped bar and spotted a cask ale tap. I had to order it without evenRachel pulling the Devil knowing what it was. It turns out it was a HopDevil American IPA brewed by Victory Brewing Company out of Pennsylvania. What’s the fuss about cask ale? It’s unfiltered, unpasteurized beer that still has live yeast eating sugars and farting carbon dioxide in a secondary fermentation process in the cask. This makes for a much smoother, mellow beer that lets the true flavors emerge.

Because it’s served without added carbonation, the bartender has to manually pull it up with a handpump.  This is an added bonus when you have an attractive Irish bartender like I did. Rachel quipped that she would build big biceps serving too much of this beer. I liked it so much I ordered several. Here’s what it’s like.

Look Shiny penny copper with a creamy smooth head, the kind that gives you a “milk” mustache
Smell Shy nose of citrus and hops doesn’t come on nearly as strongly as it tastes.
Taste This cask pulled beer has low carbonation and is served at room temperature to let the full hops flavor of the IPA to come through. Its starts off floral and citrus, builds to a round, toasty biscuit followed by bitter pine.
Price $8 for a half pint

I would definitely go back to the Long Room. The dark wood, leaded glass, plank flooring, pressed copper ceilings all add to the ambiance of a traditional Irish pub. I didn’t try any of the 30 other beers they have on tap, 40 others they have in bottles or any of the traditional Irish pub food, but I was very pleased with my experience. I had a great time playing bar games with Keith to the mild amusement of the tolerant, smiling wait staff. Check it out when you are in the neighborhood.

What are you drinking?

November 8, 2010

Where are you drinking in Chicago? Bull & Bear

Chicago definitely has a healthy drinking culture, which is a good thing for your humble author. There are liquor stores and bars on just about every block in the city and the bars stay open late. You’re not going to go thirsty there.

I recently had the good fortune of being back in Sweet Home Chicago and my good friend, @kerrierieo, invited me to join her and her friends at the Bull & Bear in River North. The name is a dual play on the two prominent Chicago professional sports teams and the stock market. It’s a sports bar located a short distance from the Chicago Board Options Exchange. On any given night it’s full of financial types downing a few while glued to a game on one of a few dozen TVs. It’s also a hang-out for sports types too. Party boy Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks star that scored the goal to win last season’s Stanley Cup, has been known to frequent it.

Kerri and her friends like B&B for the people watching (i.e. lots of hot guys), solid menu with pub grub like burgers, truffle fries and nachos, but also for slightly nicer entrees like a seared tuna salad. They also like the pajama brunches, which unfortunately doesn’t mean sipping champagne with ladies in lingerie.

Lovely Stephanie pouring a draft at our table

But the real attraction here is the table taps. That’s right, table taps. They have beer taps right in table so you don’t have to wait to be served. Genius! Talk about a great drinking culture. This is the public equivalent of those enormous sectional couches that have the mini cooler and remote control holder built into the armrest. The only thing that could make it better is if they also had urinals under the table so you don’t have to get up to pee. Bull & Bear’s claim to fame is that they are the only bar in Chicago to have this brilliant table tap system.

There were two beers on tap at our table, Bud Light and Goose Island Beer Company’s Matilda, a locally-brewed Belgian style ale. Here is a look at the Matilda.

Look Hazy amber like a butterscotch candy with a mild cream colored head.
Smell Sweet dried grass recently cut and left to molder in the pallid November sun.
Taste Like a chilled glass of run-off from a compost heap. Herbaceous, sour fruit and cedar spice with a hint of caramel on the finish. I’ve never been a fan of Belgian style ales, so my description is decidedly biased. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine beer, but not my thing. I ended up drinking more Bud Light, not just because I could reach the tap without standing up, but because I actually liked it better.
Price $0.75 an ounce or $9 for a 12oz self-poured glass. The taps are metered, so you and the wait staff know exactly how much you’ve consumed. No honor system here.

All-in-all this is a pretty decent place to drink. Why just decent for a place that has serve-your-self-beer-taps built right into the table? Isn’t that enough to give this a Nirvana rating? It should be, but there is an unnecessary air of pretense to the place. Here’s just one example: they have bathroom attendants turning on the faucet and dolling out paper towels, mints and cologne. I gotta tip the guy every time I have to take a leak? That becomes a regulator on the self-administered beer. Need I say more about why this is just decent? At least the company was good.

What are you drinking?

September 8, 2010

Specialty Drinks for Livestrong

My Mellow Yellow Benefit is coming up on Saturday, September 25. I you want to be one of the lucky ones on the invite list, all you have to do is make a donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation on my page.

Entertainment will be provided by legendary DJ el john Selector of Thievery Corporation fame. Bring a wad of cash for the silent auction with lots of goodies like art, Mellow Johnny’s bike stuff, jewelry and more. We’ll of course have mouth-watering drinks provided by several sponsors including the Austin Wine Merchant, Live Oak Brewing Company, Republic Tequila, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Treaty Oak Rum and Graham’s Texas Tea.

 The good folks at Treaty Oak Rum and Graham’s Texas Tea have some great concoctions for us to try. Here’s what we’re making:

2 oz Treaty Oak Platinum Rum
1 oz agave nectar
1 oz fresh lime juice
3 fresh jalapeno slices
3 oz club soda

Shake first three ingredients with two of the jalapeno slices.  Strain over ice, top with club soda and garnish with remaining jalapeno slice.

Texas Fuzz:
2 oz Graham’s Texas Tea
2 oz still water
3-4 Fresh Mint leaves, torn
1 Fresh Peach, sliced into 8 slices

Muddle peach slice and mint leaves in 2oz Graham’s Texas Tea. Top with still water and serve over ice.

I’ll of course get some reviews of the drinks written up after the party, but thought I’d get you good and thirsty now. If you want to try this out at home, check out this video of Eric Thorton mixing a Pepperita.

Let me know if you want to come and I’ll send you an invitation.


August 22, 2010

Texas Shandy

It’s 102F in the shade. The heat index is in the neighborhood of 110. Too damn hot. What to do?

How about an ice cold Saint Arnold Summer Pils brewed in Houston with a shot of Paula’s Texas Lemon liqueur? That’ll do. A Texas pilsner with a Texas limoncello makes a mighty fine Texas Shandy give it a try and lemme know what you think.

August 10, 2010

Seriously, what are you *not* drinking at Lollapalooza?

Guest post from the lovely JenCad of “Oh, and one more thing…” fame. Thanks Jen!

Last weekend I was sent on a mission to ask the question “What are you drinking?” of the festival goers at Lollapalooza. After three days of investigating the behaviors of the broad spectrum of personalities that take part in boozapalooza each year, I believe it is most appropriate to change that question to “What are you not drinking at Lollapalooza?”

To the untrained booze mixing brain, the choices may have seemed limited. Particularly in the VIP lounges, where we spent the bulk of our time (yep, spoiled VIP snobs, and proud of it), we were essentially bound by beer, wine or vodka drinks. Mixers included all the Sweet Leaf Tea flavors, Red Bull (regular and the awesomeness that is chemical laden sugar-free) and soda or tonic. Well, mix we did. When it’s all just there and so readily available, your are often tempted to try something different every time. It was really interesting to watch what everyone else was swirling/sloshing around in their plastic cups.

There were the done up ladies that pretty much stuck to wine whilst sitting in the shade and fanning themselves.

Macho men that bragged about how many tall boys they could suck down in an hour.

Dancing Queens that just wanted to take down as much vodka as they could, as fast as they could, so they could get on out in front of a stage for some booty shaking.

And, the well-rounded folks (such as me and my team), who were just trying to take it all in. And by take it all in, I mean come up with every concoction possible with the ingredients provided.

It is when we left the VIP haven, though, that things really got interesting. Depending on who was on stage, or which stage you were hanging by, people’s beverages differed as much as their outfits. The Perry Stage (affectionately referred to by me as the barfing stage), was the most entertaining. Not because of who was on stage (all DJs) but because the crowd consisted of all the teenagers who had just swallowed four bags of magic mushrooms and consumed whatever liquor they could sneak in from their parents’ stash. Makes for one crazy dance party.

Don’t even get me started on Wolfmother. Let’s just say that mullets and beer really do go hand in hand.

At the end of the day, just like the music, the outfits and the company, Lollapalooza drinking preferences, are just that…preferences. Here, anything goes. We even created a new drink, that we are now calling Arkansas Sangria, during a pre-party lunch. Red Wine mixed with lime flavored La Croix soda water. Yum.

What I do know, is by the time the end of day three rolls around, many people followed this little man’s lead. Three days of Lollapalooza is a long haul and, if you are smart, at the end of the road hydration becomes the leading motivator!

Ahhh. Water.


July 29, 2010

Fuller’s Vintage Ale, My Magic Carpet Ride to London

My friend G brought me a bottle of 2008 Fuller’s Bottle Conditioned Vintage Ale. Yep, this is the same guy that brought me a sixer of Bud Light Lime. He followed that with a limited production (I got bottle 135,933 out of 150,000 made) vintage ale from London that came in a fancy red box? What? Well he actually has refined taste. In addition we both had the good fortune to have briefly lived in London; he in Chiswick where Fuller’s is brewed to be exact. So its completely in character for him to bring me a fine brew.

If you’ve never had a beer from Fuller’s, you need to rectify that. They taut themselves as the only remaining traditional family brewery in the city. They’ve been in business since 1845. If you are driving from Heathrow into central London, you’ll pass it on the way. Fuller’s bottles a dozen brews and some seasonals on top of that.  I see the ESB fairly often and love to have a pint of it when I do.

Drinking this beer tonight was a magic carpet ride, instantly transported me to London. I relived a few afternoons in the pub with Beautiful Wife watching Chelsea march through the season on the way to winning the Premiership. I sat lakeside in Battersea Park, eating lunch in the sun as our young son slept in his stroller. I stood on the sidewalk in the sun outside in the late afternoon spring sun with my coworkers making up puns and double entendres. Clearly my hippocampus has associated pleasant memories of London with excellent Fuller’s beer. One drink and my long-term memory went into overdrive.

Damn you G. Damn you for only bringing one bottle of this fantastic time machine beer. Thank you for bringing it too.


Creamy egg shell head over hazy dark amber beer


Sweet corn and dry grass


Silk mouthfeel layers on butterscotch hops, carmel malted orange peel and a slightly bitter alcohol bite at the end. The sweetness and boozy bite are to be expected from a brew that packs in 8.5% alcohol.


Haven’t a clue

 The vintage ale is bottle conditioned with the yeast still in it to give it plenty of aging potential.  Fuller’s recommends that you lay this beer down for 3 to 4 years. I couldn’t wait, so 2 years is all it got. Hey, if I hadn’t drank it, Beautiful Wife would have.

July 16, 2010

What is your drink of choice at #BATHH?

Tell me what you plan to drink at BATHH (Big Ass Twitter Happy Hour) on July 22 at Union Park. I’ll compile the top drinks and will write about the most interesting ones. Thanks!

July 12, 2010

Down at the Trailer Park

I went to Dirty Bills last night for a few beers with JC (not the JC) and some other fun friends. I started off with some delicious IPA, but an interesting concoction caught my eye: The Trailer Park.

This is a down market twist on the lovely summer shandy. The Trailer Park is a Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boy pour over ice with a few lemon wedges.

So how does it taste? Like watery, lemony, cheap beer. At least it’s cold with all of that ice. And hey, at least all the extra water helps you stay hydrated.

I got mine for $2.50 at Dirty Bills, 511 Rio Grande St., next to Wahoo Taco in Austin . Enjoy

July 6, 2010

Dignified Drinking or “How I Shotgunned a Miller Highlife Camo Tallboy at my 4th of July Party”

Planning the perfect summer holiday party takes a lot of thought and consideration to balance the traditional patriotic food – always dead animals on the grill – and festive beverages. This year we had a few neighbors over and served the most American beverage we could think of: beer. Not just any beer, but ‘Merican beer from a variety of producers. We had a selection of microbrews from both Texas and Oregon on hand. Some delicious stuff, but I’m not going to give you my tasting notes on any of them.

Nope. I’m here to share the best part of the afternoon. Shotgunning a Miller Highlife tallboy in a camoflauge styled can. Now that’s class.

I have no idea the origins of this binge drinking method. I assume it was invented by some frat boy. I do know the purpose. Instant buzz. Do you remember the first time you did it? Was it in high school or college? I remember trying to teach a friend, Robbie, in high school how to do it in the mall parking lot right after work. Robbie spilled the better part of three beers down his shirt before we were interupted by the local law enforcement. We quickly tried to kick the empties under my car, but that was no use as the cop car spotlight illuminated everything going on. It turns out the cop was the dad of a kid that we played soccer against at a rival high school. We started talking about the game and his son, and he let us off without so much as a ticket. Luck.

When’s the last time you shotgunned a beer? I’m can do it pretty quickly, but was never the fastest. My friend LFBIII always beat me in high school and college. How fast can you do it? Looking at the counter on this video, I sucked down 16ozs of golden bliss in 8 seconds. Can you top that? Post your best time here and let me know what you are drinking.

July 2, 2010

Bar night waiting for the band

Some nights are grown up and responsible. Those nights specialize in deep conversations and thoughtful exploration of sophisticated wine. Tonight is not one of those nights.

Tonight is a boys night out at the hipster bars in Austin. Cheap beep, burgers and Indie bands dictate the agenda.

Started the night with a Miller High Life tall boy at Shangri La. Some Brooklyn Lager helped us segue to Harpoon IPA at the Brixton. Back to Brooklyn on tap at the Jakelope. Next up, we’re goin to see The Non at The Mohawk.

Not sure what we’ll drink next, but guarantee it will be less nuanced than a nice Cotes du Rhone.

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