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16 December 2007 @ 09:11 pm
Flying and beer  
I returned home from Cincinnati on Friday night. The flight experience was a pain in the ass. Did you know that a pack of Juicy Fruit's foil will set off a metal detector? I do now. Did you know that it helps to have a plane when you're planning on flying over 70 people from one time zone to another? Hopefully, American Eagle knows that now. Did you know that it helps when disembarking those people to have a gate with a plane NOT already at it? Our friends at DFW airport better damned learn that before I land there again.

It was generally a productive business trip. Three and a half days with both my bosses (one technical, one sales) and the new sales guy result in old memeage, apparently. The following phrases will now annoy the hell out of me unless spoken by someone who had to live through it with me: "Let's talk about pricing," "Is that a feature or a benefit?", "Would that involve a procedure?", and the word, "colonoscopy." On the other hand, I'm getting an Ironkey and probably a shiny new(ish) laptop to replace my desktop workstation. Being the only person at a tech company meeting using a MacBook apparently made my boss recognize the wisdom in giving me a work computer more portable than a mini-tower. The Mac kept up with the other boys' Dell toys well enough; Mac pride represented in the house. (grin) It did pay to have a Vista computer around when it came time to troubleshoot a Vista user's support issue, though. Speaking of new shiny toys from work, the boss gave us our Giftmas bonuses. Last year, it was an LCD, USB picture frame. The year before, we got sun lamps. This year? Oh, Marty Claus outdid himself. We each received a Belkin Tunecast FM adapter and a (product) Red model iPod Shuffle.

If you're ever around the Cinci area and feel like dropping a dime on dinner, I'd be willing to recommend the Reserve at Newport on the Levee. I would suggest staying away from the lobster appetizer, since a confirmed 3 out of 4 people who consumed it had digestive issues throughout the night and next day. (I didn't get to ask the 4th guy; he might have had the same problem, but I can't confirm it. Once again, I'm glad I don't like lobster.) Still, a good restaurant; I don't blame them for the waitress being somewhat scatterbrained, nor for having a pianist who only knows the standards. Gary (the manager) was personable and attentive. Probably didn't hurt that our boss' wife was a long-time friend, but that's just how things go.

Finally got to eat at Rock Bottom Brewery, a chain restaurant that Ali has lamented the loss of for about six years. Unlike Cadillac Ranch where we had dinner earlier in the week, this place was busy the whole time we were there. Also unlike Cadillac Ranch, the food was good. I see why Ali has raved about it and misses it so.

Derek and I took breakfast a couple of mornings at Cafe Martin, the house restaurant at Garfield Suites. The staff were reasonably attentive and the food was better than average for hotel fare. They brew Starbucks roasts, if that helps or hurts. They do lunch and dinner as well, but we didn't try those menus to tell you if they were any good. Expect to see me ask for reimbursement for the morning I paid, Derek, per Marty. Pays to have a generous boss, don't it?

Apropos of little, I have consumed more beer and/or ale in the past week than I had in the preceeding two months. Of course, I'd drank more beer in those two months than I had in my entire life before them, so I'm not sure if it's valuable for trending purposes. My whole life goes by and I think, blah, beer. Swill. I don't think I'm wrong about that; I'm mostly drinking ale lately, with a lager tossed in from time to time to mix things up. (grin) I know, it's hypocrasy. You don't have to tell me. Call it growth, call it change, call it finally recognizing the truth that American beers are pisswater compared to imports. For your brewing sorry, viewing pleasure, a list of beers I've tried recently and what I think of them.

Belhaven Wee Heavy: This is the ale that managed to attract my attention enough to get the ball seriously rolling. I like this. It's stout, it's higher alcohol by volume than anything else on this list, and I'm damned trying to find it anywhere but the Tipperary Inn. So far, I don't really want more than one in a night. Doesn't seem to be listed on the website, but what are you gonna do? One problem is that it is best when cold, but I don't drink fast enough for it to stay cold by the time I'm reaching the bottom of the glass. Not a deal-breaker, but a solution wouldn't go amiss.
MacTarnahan Amber: One of those I tried when there was no Wee Heavy available. I like this one, too. "Hopsy." I'd drink it again. Didn't go pushing for a second right away. This was the beer that made me pay more attention to ambers.
Harp Lager: Took a chance on this one at Jake's. I tried it rather than Guiness one day because I was a wuss. It's... eh. I probably won't have another. Has an aftertaste I didn't really like. Definitely have to drink it cold if I'm going to have it at all.
Guiness: Can't really talk about beer without having a Guiness. Actually, I had one and a half by accident. Pay attention when the waitress is taking; if you can't make out when she says, "Would everyone like another round?", don't agree out of reflex. Guiness isn't a beer you want to chug, especially the first time you have it. It is what I have always called it, "the beer that eats like a meal." Very dark taste, and the caramel melt they describe is certainly there. I don't enjoy drinking through the head on a beer. I prefer to pour from bottle to glass myself so I can minimize the foam. Guiness makes this impossible, so far as I can tell, simply by dint of the way it responds to being poured at all. Derek later registered surprise that I ordered Guiness at all, and even more that I had as much as I did the first time ever ordering it. I'd probably have one again; it's commonly available, which is one of the things I was looking for out of it. It isn't topping my list, though. Gods help you when you hit the bottom of the glass. The dregs are unpleasant.
Rock Bottom's whatever you call it pale ale: Rock Bottom names their microbrews for locally relevant things. I don't know what they call it where you live, nor does it matter. The pale ale we had was VERY "hopsy." I liked this. It was close to being an amber, which actual thing they were out of that night. Came close to asking for a second one, but we were getting near the end of the meal, so I didn't bother. I'd drink another, though it was really easy to taste the hops. It wasn't a smooth beer, is what I'm trying to say. The glass wasn't quite lukewarm when I hit the bottom of the glass.
Samuel Adams: Derek suggested this on the basis of comments I made regarding the pale at Rock Bottom. If I liked that, he said, I'd probably like Sam Adams. It's a fair lager, and definitely one of those that's going to be available nearly anywhere you go. Ali frequently comments that she prefers anything draught than out of a bottle. I'll give Sam another try the next time I see it available on tap. It was okay from a bottle. It didn't have time to get warm, if that tells you anything.
Newcastle Brown Ale: Now we're in business. Folks, I ordered a second one, and neither glass was warm by the time I had the last of it. Surprised the hell out of Ali. This is the smooth stuff. There is a light aftertaste and tingle, but I mean to tell you, very light. Does it tell you something that I'm planning to pick some up for the fridge at home?

There are a few more beers I can think of just in general availability that I'd like to taste test. A non-comprehensive list would include Killians Red, a couple of Shiner choices, things like that. I'll keep you fine folks informed. If you know of a brew you think I'd like based on my comments above, I'm willing and waiting for suggestions.
Current Mood: happy to be home
Current Music: theme to "House M.D."
Ace Lightning: drinkacelightning on December 17th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
fuck "global warming" - i think hell just froze over! you, drinking beer?! ;-)

i don't like any kind of beer; i can't get past the yeasty smell. but my menfolk are both beer snobs, and your opinions and descriptions are very familiar. you might like Bass Ale, which is basically what Harp aspires to be and doesn't quite succeed. you might even like a "half and half" or "black and tan" - that's a glass half-filled with either Harp or Bass, then carefully topped off with Guinness, so the dark layer floats on top and slowly diffuses downward.

and now you know the reasoning behind the following two jokes:

Australian: "Why is American beer like sex in a canoe? Because it's fucking close to water!"
British: "Why is American beer always served ice-cold? So they can tell it from piss!"


Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on December 17th, 2007 12:58 pm (UTC)
I've seen both Half and Halfs and Black and Tans being delivered at the Tipp Inn. They don't look at all appealing to me.

I knew the people who'd known me longest would be the most surprised by this. I'm surprised by it, myself, if that helps.
Ace Lightning: eats 01acelightning on December 18th, 2007 09:13 am (UTC)
your tastes in food and drink seem to be finally maturing; the last time we were together, you basically still had the culinary preferences of a ten-year-old - burgers, fries, soda, and chocolate milkshakes. (but at least i knew that if a restaurant served food you liked, it'd probably serve food i could eat!) but i hear you eat steak now, and drink coffee as well as beer. do you like any of the Asian cuisines? (don't worry, i don't eat raw fish either.)

p.s. - i got the snailmail card a couple of days ago. thanks!

Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on December 18th, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC)
I drank coffee then, and that's still most of my preferences in terms of food. No, still don't like Asian foods.
Ace Lightning: eats03acelightning on December 19th, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
nothing wrong with a good burger and fries, of course - in fact, that's what i'm making for dinner tonight.

the one Asian food you might like is chicken tempura - it's basically just chicken fingers, only with a somewhat crunchier breading. they serve some annoying breaded/fried vegetables along with it, but i always ignore them. anyway, if you ever get dragged along to a Japanese restaurant, that might be a decent compromise.

Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on December 19th, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
I've had something like that when Ali has ordered from Chinese delivery before, but it generally isn't satisfying.
Ace Lightning: eats 02acelightning on December 19th, 2007 07:51 am (UTC)
yeah, you generally only get three or four pieces of chicken per order - they expect people to eat the vegetables as well :-(

there's also "katsu" - comes in pork or chicken, usually. it refers to breaded and fried cutlets, which are then sliced crosswise into thin strips so you can eat them with chopsticks (although it's perfectly okay for a gaijin to use a fork). you usually get two or three cutlets in an order of that, and no vegetables, so it's pretty filling. they serve a brown dipping sauce with it, which i can't eat because it has garlic in it.

dammit, now i'm hungry for some ice cream tempura, and the Japanese restaurant closed at 10 PM... :-(

nata5 on December 17th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
Just to add:

Trav is not a happy chipper person in the morning.
Trav hates to walk and I have to agree with him on this. Cold windy nights suck ass.
Trav really left out the true "stomach" issues that I had after dinner. Lets say I think some of our servers have less paint on their chassis.

Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on December 17th, 2007 12:59 pm (UTC)
I was being polite. I was glad I was across a decently-ventilated room, that is for certain.
L Alouisadkins on December 17th, 2007 07:37 am (UTC)
mmmm..... Rockbottom .... *yum*
Dendewhitton on December 17th, 2007 08:04 am (UTC)
Newcastle Brown is a yummy beer.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on December 17th, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
I must agree. I'm thinking I'll pick some up later. :)
Sorciasorcia on December 18th, 2007 02:15 am (UTC)
When you guys come up we'll take you to Otto's. It's a local brewery and restaurant. They make good brews and really good ginger beer. :)
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on December 18th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)
Sounds good.
Ace Lightning: drinkacelightning on December 18th, 2007 09:14 am (UTC)
ginger beer as in a tangy carbonated drink, or ginger beer as in something fermented that's flavored with ginger? (i have got to figure a way to get out to visit you guys!)