Beertime.

A new brewery and two new beers have appeared at the local pub (conveniently called The Pub).

Upslope began distributing this past fall and has just gotten over the Divide into Winter Park. One of my options was an IPA: not my style, so I went with the Craft Lager. Just a hint of hops, but a very basic lager-type beer. Certainly drinkable, but not highly differentiable from its like-colored-brothers. Well, at least it’s a break from the 1554 I’ve been drinking all week (one of my all-time favorite anytime beers).

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Red White and Blue. With Love.

This holiday is already bad enough, what with the drunkards out in full force and not even pizza shops open to save them from their own inanity.

Why I felt the need to indulge in my bitter, self-righteous loneliness and complete unfeelingness twoards this day of eminent pointlessness (my uncaring is so strong I even had to hover over the Goog-icon until my Homer Simpson “doh” moment hit) is beyond me. Maybe sometimes you really just need that tiny push, that extra excuse, to grab a six of mediocre belgian-style wheat beer and two-day-old strawberry shortcake. Well, the strawberries were already macerated so it’s not as if I put any effort into this fandango.

What are we celebrating, anyway? The day a bunch of old (now dead) white guys signed a crinkling piece of parchment, announcing their grand intentions to cease, and I mean absolutely desist, paying any more representation-free taxes to the oppressive colonial powers that be? What, so we’re celebrating some version of our libertarian roots? Hallelujah.

Besides, it seems terribly ironic to celebrate what is ostensibly a holiday about America and freedom and independence and over-indulgence when ships full of people are being detained (for example) in Greek ports (yet another irony, o bastion, motherland of democracy) en route to protest against the inhuman suffering of one group of people at the hands of another, far more powerful group of people.

O, the humanity.

Woe, the humanity.

Independence from nothing but our own moral compasses and human responsibility. I’ll drink to that.

What makes our suffering more worthy?

When I was younger, the Haggadah we used at Passover had a farcical play in the back, jocularly re-enacting the story of the Exodus from Egypt. We used to perform it every year around the Seder table as our version of telling the story of Passover. There is one line from the play that has stuck with me through all these years, a line my sister and I quote to each other throughout the year, and one that seems particularly relevant as I look back at what I’ve just written:

“Woe to us, we are in trouble.”

Tonight marks the beginning of 192 hours of abstention from bread, leavening (except eggs), inflation (except beans), and alcohol (except wine, rum, tequila…oh hell, get me a beer). Why? So we can remember when we were slaves in Egypt. So we can pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world. So we can make our lives marginally uncomfortable for a while, to remember our history and to prevent us from experiencing it again.

Though noble enough in origin – as my father says, “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” – this holiday feels in a way self-righteous. Most haggadot (the Passover dinner-service guidebook) will, at least now, mention the hardships facing minority groups in other areas of the world. I’ve seen mention of Southeast Asia and the USSR, and in the 90s we were into the African dictators and Eastern Europe. Feminist haggadot often mention inequality for women in different parts of the world, and I think we have one in our house discussing sex slaves. These days particularly leftist haggadot will even mention Palestine.

But the buck stops here. We acknowledge the suffering of others; we hope and we pray that these people will experience freedom, justice, and liberty, just as we were freed from Egypt and wandered around the desert (independently!, mind you) for forty years. Hooray for us, now go find your own Moses.

We are so focused on preventing our own history from repeating itself, though, that we cannot see when we are inflicting terrible collective damage on other people. We – and all minorities – are and must be survivalist. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and if we don’t protect our clan, surely we will meet our demise. Thus we may only in good faith marry among ourselves, live in homogeneous communities, pray only for the health and welfare of our own kind, and while we wish well upon others, there is always the unspoken addendum to “may you be free”: “but not as free as we.”

Perhaps it is time for us to stop worrying about ourselves to the exclusion of all others. Perhaps it is time for us to give money to a charitable yet non-Jewish organization (like a Catholic or even secular hospital, for instance). Perhaps we ought to recognize that behaving with the clear and direct intention of simply preventing our own history from repeating itself will inevitably mean we, or others, will inflict the same hardships on other minorities, and we have set ourselves up only to be complicit spectators or active perpetrators of similar crimes.

Why do we, as people who have suffered, not hear the same cries for help, not recognize new histories moving down the same paths as ours once did, not step in and speak out? Half-drunk around the dinner table two nights a year is not enough.

With its spiritual and ideological focus on freedom, Passover is a time not to talk about our hopes for others, these fluid fragments of ideas, but to act on them. To actually believe in what we say, without addenda, and to put our idle words – all people will be free – into action.

I believe in “next year in Jerusalem,” but I also believe in next year in Damascus, in Ramallah, in Amman, in Jeddah, in Cairo, in Manama, in Gaza City, in Tunis, in Benghazi and Tripoli, in Paris, in Havana, in Augusta and Madison, in Tokyo, in Naypyidaw, Burma, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and throughout the world. We deserve freedom no more and no less than anyone else, and if we are going to spend 8 days a year saying it, we’d best start spending 365 days a year believing it.

Avancé

A friend and I met Allagash brewer Ryan at Novare Res on Friday night, and he let us in on this little secret: Avancé. Avancé seemed to be his project; aged for two years, with two hundred pounds of strawberries, and finally bottled. Sometime in the last week or two, the 500 bottles of Avancé were released at the brewery retail store only.

Avancé is kind of a big deal in the beer geek world. Ryan encouraged us to get our bottles ASAP, as they were sure to run out.

And running out they were. I was in Allagash at 2:30 on Monday, none of the singles were left. I had to buy Avancé gift bags, which include small chalices and a bottle opener. Snazzy! But after me, there were probably about ten bottles left. Total. That’s it.

The saddest part? Brewer Ryan only got one bottle for himself!

Now, I am not a huge beer geek. I don’t really care about all those technical differences in the brewing process that make a beer more x than y or y than z. Whatever. I get it, it matters, but don’t tell me about it.

Beer appreciator, certainly. Strawberries I get. Molasses I get. Allagash I get. So when I do get around to tasting Avancé later tonight – hell – I don’t care about the details of the brewing. I care about how it tastes. And the label, of course, because I might be a marketing geek.





So it definitely tastes like strawberries, and the molasses flavor isn’t heavy but certainly discernible, at least if you know what it is. Not the most amazing beer ever by any stretch, but good. And, you know, bonus points for being all special and exciting.

Darker than expected, the nose was sort of spicy/fruity/almost woody, which of course you’d expect from a dark Belgian with … strawberries and molasses.

About halfway through my small chalice (came with the gift packs), I revisited the nose. And this time – I don’t know if it’s because the beer had more time to breathe, release it’s flavors, whatever – I caught a distinct whiff of childhood. What is that? Pine? Oak? Cedar? And then it hit me; nights on my parents bed, my sister and I taking turns picking songs from the worn, torn, split-down-the-spine Grateful Dead Anthology, and my dad picking out the chords on his guitar. This beer SMELLS LIKE MY DAD’S GUITAR CASE.

I am not kidding. It sort of made me want to stop drinking; the inside of the guitar case doesn’t exactly smell great. But as long as I focused on the fruity sweetness, and the fact that, unlike a guitar, this beer was 10.8% ABV, I kept on truckin’.

Ah, another important characteristic of Avancé, and one that critically makes it a really good beer, is that it DOES NOT taste like a 10.8%-er. Normally with that high of an alcohol content, you’re looking at those imperials that definitely taste boozy, with heavy chocolate or coffee tones to pseudo-mask the bite. This baby’s got no bite. Smooth as Skippy.

All in all, worth it for the experience of being one of a few hundred people with bottles of this stuff. Exclusivity has its price. And it was a good beer, would have expected nothing less of Allagash. Stoked for my next insider’s adventure into beer geekiness.

FMI on Avancé here and here.

Adjustments

Dear World: I am so sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted!

I got back to the states, what was it, two weeks ago? and time has veritably FLOWN by. I’m enjoying the luxury of kind of having two and a half jobs, which keeps me in yoga classes and beer, but simultaneously unfortunately keeping me away from writing as much as I’d like. But I’ve still been able to have a few posts on Mondoweiss, which is always nice. Especially this revelatory revolutionary one. I LOVE FEEDBACK and discussion.

If you want to follow my thoughts and actions more closely, there’s always Twitter. And we’re keeping midthought going, but it’s harder now with the dispersal, or Diaspora, if you will. Again, we love feedback, comments, criticism, and contribution!

Okay, no more shameless plugs.

It’s been a hard adjustment coming back; luckily I’ve been so busy and distracted I haven’t yet had the expected life panic breakdown. But silly little culture shock things are still affecting me. It’s cold. I do double-takes when I hear English on the street, I have a craving to talk about Israel ALL THE TIME (politics, not omg-how-awesome-living-abroad-is), and I miss watching muted Futurama at Dunk. And Staropramen (even though I totally appreciate the variety of taps at Novare). Sad! But I am working on getting integrated into whatever sorts of activism I can – like making the descriptions of MJFF movies more leftist-friendly. He he. Quelle scandale! And emailing everyone I know (of).